Monday, April 18, 2022

Herstory

 Every Wednesday, during our devo time at work (9am, on Zoom, with 35 - 50 people in attendance, all across Canada, someone on staff is interviewed. The 4 questions are: 

1.Tell us about your early years...

2. What is your faith journey?

3. How did you come to work at Focus?

4. How can we pray for you?

Last Wednesday it was my turn. 

The Reader’s Digest version of my story is:

I was born and raised in a Christian home, along with my younger brother and sister. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 5 and He’s been there ever since. Got baptized at 17 and went to Bible School after I graduated from High School. Got married. Had 3 kids. Got divorced. I was unemployed in 2012, so I applied for a job at Focus. Got hired. Been here ever since. Please pray for my kids.

The Extended Play, Editor’s Cut Version where I totally overshare the details is somewhat longer:

My beginnings. I guess they started in 1905, which was when my Omi was born in Ukraine, the third of six girls, including an older and a younger set of twin sisters. Two of her older sisters died a few months before she was born, so those two sister’s names were recycled and used again. Despite that hard year, life was good in the Niebuhr home. If this were a Disney movie, you’d see a lovely, love-filled family living in a beautiful home with wood floors, hired help, a large successful farm and blue birds sewing ball gowns for a gaggle of giggling girlies.

Tragedy hit in 1914, when their 40 year old dad died, leaving Margareta, Omi's mom alone with her 4 girls. She sold (?) the farm and got married to Widow Hildebrandt, who lived in another village. He had an older home, with a dirt floor, and 10 children. (Coincidentally, apropos of nothing, there were 4 Hildebrand daughters with the exact same names as the 4 Niebuhr daughters; Elisabeth, Helen, Margaret and Anna.) (Those names are still in circulation today; my Omi (Elizabeth), named her daughter Margaret, who named her daughter Elizabeth, who had twins and named her daughter Anna.) In case you were wondering. 

Anyways, fast forward a decade, after years of maturing and working, Elizabeth, my Omi, got married, as you do, and had three kids with her husband, Johann. First, a son, John, then seven years later, a set of twins: Peter and Margaret. Peter was my dad.

Even though my family lived in Ukraine for generations, we were not Ukranian. I hail from a Mennonite family that moved from the Netherlands at the invitation of Catherine the Great. She welcomed the hard-working, highly principled, family-oriented faith-based people group to settle in her country and work the land.

One night, when everyone was sleeping, there was that knock on the door. Johann Klassen my grandfather was beaten, then dragged from his home. Two weeks later he was executed, leaving my Omi alone with an eight year old and twin one year olds. She was put to work on a communal farm, milking cows 4 times a day, and John was pulled from school to care for his younger siblings.

Eventually, she, and her sister, and two neighbour women, all in their early 30’s knew they’d have to leave their homes in Ukraine and try to start life over elsewhere. So they, along with their combined 13 young children, packed up their belongings onto two carts pulled by horses and oxen and on foot, followed the retreating German army, westward, away from the advancing Russian army.

It was a long walk, with a few train rides, harrowing stories and a bunch of miracles along the way, but eventually the women and children arrived, first in Germany, then in Canada in 1948. My dad was 12, didn’t know the language and had had no education. He was enrolled in elementary school in Boissevane, but higher learning was not for him. So at 15, armed with a third grade report card, he quit, and worked as a hired hand on the Hoeppner’s farm in Winkler. After 3 years, at 18, he knew his future was not farming, so he asked for his wages, gave them to his mom, and she bought him a one way  train ticket to Vancouver to stay with his older brother.

On his first Sunday in Vancouver, he attended the 43 Ave Mennonite Church and sitting in the back row with his black leather jacket and stride pants (his role model and wardrobe stylist was actor James Dean) he noticed my very royal 13 year old mom, still riding through life on the confidence of being The Vancouver May Queen, and said to his buddy, “I’m going to marry that girl someday.”

And it came to pass that he did. She was 19, he was 23 and they were crazy about each other. Two years later I was born. It is not a surprise to anyone that I am a first born daughter; I proudly claim 100% of all first born traits. I have a younger brother and sister and we all got J names: Jane, Jim and Julie.

We lived a charmed life, my dad, a self-employed countertop guy and sometime house-builder, provided us with a very comfortable home on a 25 acre hobby farm. We had dirt bikes and go carts and barns to play in; we went camping every summer, to Palm Springs every spring, to church (Killarney Park MB) every Sunday (twice) and had huge parties with dozens and dozens of friends all through my growing up years.

When I was 15, the cute guy at school, the Student Council President, asked me to be his date for the School Christmas Dance. My mom and dad, cutting edge ‘cool’ Mennonites (my mom wore mini skirts with white plastic go go boots and my dad had a perm. And they were still crazy about each other) they were encouraging me to go. I was scared. Two reasons: Based on the stories of my life, I was the age at which I was to choose my life mate. And as cute and interesting and fun as Mark was, was he the one? And second – he wasn’t a Christian, so he couldn’t be the one. So why would I go on a date with someone I wasn’t ready to marry? WHICH DROVE MY PARENTS NUTS. “Just because you go to a dance with him doesn’t mean you’re going to marry him. (Spoiler alert. They were wrong. I did marry him.)

Anyway, I told Mark I’d let him know about being his date the following day, and that night I went to Youth Group Bible Study. We sat around on the floor and long-haired leaders with guitars and mood rings would lead us in singing 70’s choruses. THIS NIGHT. AND THIS NIGHT ONLY, as I’ve never sung this song before or since, we were introduced to a new song, and sheets were handed out. The Song was Lord of the Dance. And my prayer’s of ‘should I or shouldn’t I go the dance’ was answered, it seemed, in a profoundly personal way:

Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he

So I said yes to the dance, and seven years later, I said yes again to marriage.

(He had become a Christian the year I went away to Bible School.) We got married after we’d both graduated from BCIT with degrees in Marketing Management.

We based our homelife, on the idyllic childhood I had growing up. He worked for his family business, and after a stint in real estate, then managing a cabinet manufacturing office, I opened a retail store with my mom in a Victorian-style home my dad built for us. It was called Billie’s Country and THESE WERE (supposed to be) MY GOLDEN YEARS. We had three brown-eyed, left-handed, wildly-cute and wickedly-smart boys. Were apart of a Mennonite church plant in Fraser Heights. Took the kids to California, prayed with them every night and got them to mid-week kids clubs. And I felt, like so many young moms do, that I wasn’t good enough. House wasn’t clean enough, meals weren’t creative enough, when I was at work, I felt guilty for not being at home, and when I was home, I longed to be at Billies. When the kids were super little, I took them to the store with me, and as they got older, I’d drop them off at school, and pick them up when their day was done. I was trying to a super woman and ended up just being exhausted.

And then in 1998, he told me he didn’t love me anymore; I wasn’t fun or something. So he left that Christmas. My boys were 12, 8 and 4 and this was the start of the season of D words for me. Divorce was the first one. It was finalized a few months before he had his fourth son with his new wife. I felt ‘less-than’.

Coincidently, our church closed down within a few months of my marriage ending. And my dad had a life-changing heart attack a few weeks after that.

Oh, and Billie’s Country? My lovely store? We decided to close it. I needed to have a job FOR MONEY not just fun. I needed a job to support myself - a big girl career. 

If you’re keeping track, I lost my husband, my church, my job my identity, and the strong dad I’d been leaning on heavily.

Know what’s left? God. Just God. I was sitting on the porch of the house I’d just bought, and with it’s dark stucco walls, facing north, I felt like I was in a cave. I was reading only the Psalms in those days because whiny David was MY MAN. He was speaking my words, we were kindred spirits. His prayers became my prayers and His God became MY God. My faith became real. Up til now I was a Mennonite Christian, just like I was a first born blonde. It was just part of my DNA. But at THIS POINT in my life? I became a bible reading GOD FOLLOWER. He may have been the God of the Dance, but now I needed the God of the Divorce to lead and guide me.

I sold that house and bought again in Murrayville and the boys and I started attending Murrayville Church, kids were still going to Fundy and Poppy schools, and I reinvented myself. Made all new friends, got a job with Arrow Leadership, took my kids on a Mexico Missions Trip as well as Spring vacations in California. Clint and Max both got baptized. And then November 2007 happened.

 

My dad’s brain broke and my mom’s bowel burst and Max started using drugs. The other two D words hit simultaneously. Dementia and Drugs. I can’t even. Divorce is terrible. Horrible. Lonely. Scary. But it’s got nothing on having a child addicted to opiates. The fear for your child’s life settles on top OF EVERYTHING. So while he was pushing me away, my parents were holding tight. Watching your strong, loving, larger-than-life dad babble like a baby, while your mom is struggling and angry about her surgery, had me on my knees again. My God of the Dance and Divorce also became my God of Terrible, No Good, Very Bad, Very Sad, Things. My prayer life became one long PLEEEEEEEEASE help me. Please please please please. I recognized my complete inability to handle All The Things. I needed Him.

 

In 2011, Max asked for help, praise God. His drug and alcohol use had turned into a full-blown, out-of-control addiction. We got him into a men’s residential rehab facility that saved his life. Eleven years later he is still clean.

In 2012 (don’t worry, I won’t do a year-by-year summary), I lost my job, my dad had a massive stroke that left him paralyzed, unable to walk or feed himself, so he’d need to go into full time care. He cried/wailed EVERY DAY, ALL DAY LONG, for MONTHS. His dementia was off the charts and he just didn’t understand. On Drew’s graduation night, our home was robbed. They came back the next day, with the spare set of keys they’d taken, and stole my truck from the driveway, doused it in gasoline and lit it on fire. Rodents had taken the cedar shakes off my roof, leaving an opening the size of a door  – which was an invitation for every rat and opossum in the neighbourhood to come on in and make themselves comfortable. The septic at the lake backed up and I had shit floating in the yard ON THE SAME DAY that I was hosting a wedding up there. Drew moved out, at 17, to live with his dad – the break-in left him feeling unsafe. I didn’t see him again for months. Oh, and the church voted to close down. YES, this is the second church that I was all in to, that shut it’s doors when I needed a church NOT TO SHUT IT'S DOORS. And through it all I NEEDED A JOB. I was applying everywhere; reminding God that my Unemployment benefits were running out. I needed a job by Nov 28. I had applied and interviewed for about a dozen good jobs that fall, and on Nov 28, I received a call from Natasha at Focus, offering me the position I’d applied for. THAT GOD. HIS PERFECT TIMING ALWAYS SEEMS LIKE THE LAST MINUTE TO ME.  I accepted, obviously. And that afternoon, I got two other job offers. Which, was God just showing off.

I started a few days later, then got lost on my way back from Cultus to Langley. And couldn’t sleep. And started crying. Then my front tooth fell out. I went to my doctor, asked him what was wrong with me, and he told me my body was catching up to the traumas of my year. He gave me some drugs, and I went to see Derek to quit. Told him I wasn’t the person he’d hired, I was a mess. He told me he’d pray about it, and we’d talk after the weekend.

When I saw him on Monday, he said to me, “ You’ve just lost your way. But I believe you are exactly the perfect person for this position. Your references were very convincing about your gifts and abilities and they know that you can do this. You absolutely can. So do what your doctor says, and tell me how I can support you.” We came up with a plan based on trust and confidence; I’d work as many hours per day as I could handle with Laura, his assistant, helping for as long as I’d need her. Within two months I was back to my old self, able to work 8 hours a day and not needing Laura’s help. THAT EXPERIENCE more than anything impacted my leadership style and my commitment to this organization.

Fast forward to Summer of 2019. (And the start of the C words…) Nothing gets you prepared to meet your maker like a doctor saying, “I have bad news, you have breast cancer. Sorry.” So I prayed. And cried. And prayed some more. “Ok God. My life is yours, anyways. Is this how you want my story to end? With cancer? Am I going to die of this? Could I NOT? But if my death would be the thing that you could use to bring my boys back into a relationship with you – OK THEN. That’s a fine idea. Their salvation is more important to me than living out my last wrinkly years on earth. But. Uh, could my death not be painful? Or icky?”

I had surgery. And daily radiation treatments. And one month later Covid hit. (The second C word…)

Covid on the heels of cancer is a strange thing. I got the shots, wore the masks, looked after my mom, fed the homeless, started painting rocks, made some new friends, opened my life up to whatever God was asking me to do. Which thankfully, so far at least, doesn’t involve travelling to India.

And just as it appears the pandemic is ending, we have another C word: CONFLICT, otherwise known as WAR as Russian invades Ukraine again – just like it did in the ‘40’s.

On Feb 24, the day it all started, I thought of all the family stories I’d heard growing up. They were like Bible stories to me. The Mennonites and Jews were the same in my young mind. Fleeing from bad guys and getting married young. But now, as an adult, my heart ached for another generation of Ukrainian woman who were leaving their homes, and taking their children to someplace safer. I may have been the first in my extended family to get a divorce but I’m not the first woman to do life without a husband. And I may have been the first in my extended family to get cancer, but I’m not the first to experience pain and suffering. The God of my Ancestors, is also The God of Jane. He is good. Always.

 

My Bible verse during the first trimester of my life was given to me by my mom: Romans 8:28.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

During the second trimester, given to me by a pastor was Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And now, in my third trimester,

 

And Isaiah 43:1, given to me by my team at work:

Don’t be afraid, I’ve called you by name.

You are mine, Jane.

When you go through deep waters and great trouble,

 I WILL BE WITH YOU

When you go through rivers of difficulty

YOU WILL NOT DRQWN

You are precious to me,

I LOVE YOU.

And

Habakkuk 3: 17 – 19 - from a sermon I heard in 2019:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,

And even though my husband divorced me

And my son got addicted to drugs,

And even though I got a cancer (but not Covid, so far…)

And even though there is a war going on in Ukraine,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    and bring me safely over the mountains.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Easter 

2. Weekends

3. The colour orange

4. Sneezes

5. Long, drawn out, conversation-filled meals

6. Yams

7. People who pray

8. Friends who help friends

9. Elevators

10. Forgiveness and grace

11. Memories

12. Anticipation

13. Enthusiastic responses

14. Glow in the dark Paint

15. Leaders who lead well

16. Pansies

17. A job

18. Lavender filled magic bags

19. Laughter

20. Wonder

21. That Weeping Willow tree

22. Stories

23. Ice water

24. Strong men who lend their muscles when needed

25. Expressed appreciation


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Wash your hands, say your prayers, be kind always,

xojo

 


Sunday, February 13, 2022

Teeth, Rocks, and Neighbours






















"Confirming there will be street parking on 201 Street?" (I asked when I purchased my condo.)

"Absolutely."

"Confirming there will be street parking on 201 Street?" (I asked again when I moved in on Dec 1.)

"Yes. Definitely."

"And will this guest parking gate be open for guests to use?"

"Yes. Of course. Open daily til midnight."


Email, received on January 4:











I was too busy at Cultus dealing with a frozen lake house to respond. But thought to myself, "Oh well, there's always the underground guest parking for my family and friends..."


Received on January 27:



















So. One guest per suite. Additional guests can park on the streets where they will be towed because there is absolutely no parking allowed on the streets. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

My brother was going to come and give my laundry closet some love n attention this weekend, and Mark was gonna install a light fixture above the dining table, where there was wiring, but no light. I asked the onsite building manager if I could get a temporary street parking pass for an oversize vehicle, for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. Apparently this was beyond the scope of her job. So I asked her boss (the one who sends out the emails) and he said: 

Hi Jane,

 

 

Please note that any renovations, even within the suite, must be approved by the Council and an indemnity agreement be provided. 

 

Regarding trades parking, as long as there are no other pending moves at that time, we should be able to accommodate the trucks parked on the street in the loading zone. The onsite building manager can help you wit that. I would advise you book the elevator through the community website for this as well to ensure the trades have access.

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~

She, the onsite building manager wants nothing to do with this. I approached her a second time and she said she can't authorize illegal parking; no guarantee it won't get towed. 

And I gave some pushback regarding the definition of "renovations/alterations". According to our Strata bylaws: 

Owners must obtain approval before altering a Strata Lot 5 (1) An Owner must obtain the written approval of the Strata Corporation before making an alteration to a Strata Lot that involves any of the following: 

(a) the structure of a building; 

(b) the exterior of a building; 

(c) chimneys, stairs, balconies or other things attached to the exterior of a building. 

(d) doors, windows or skylights on the exterior of a building, or that front on the common property; 

(e) fences, railings or similar structures that enclose a patio, balcony or yard; 

(f) common property located within the boundaries of a Strata Lot; 

(g) those parts of the Strata Lot which the Strata Corporation must insure under section 149 of the Act. 

(h) installing hardwood, title or other hard floor surfaces in any 2nd through 6th story apartment style strata lot.


I suggested that I was doing nothing to the structure, the exterior, or the common property. I was simply finishing my unit. It needs a light and it needs a few shelves. I wasn't RENOVATING anything. Just getting settled. 

He came back at me with section 149: 

The SPA clearly notes the following:

Property insurance required for strata corporation

149   (1)The strata corporation must obtain and maintain property insurance on

(a)common property,

(b)common assets,

(c)buildings shown on the strata plan, and

(d)fixtures built or installed on a strata lot, if the fixtures are built or installed by the owner developer as part of the original construction on the strata lot.

 


 

~~~~~~~~


Which means the Strata Corp has insured all the original fixtures in the units and we can't adjust, remove or replace them because we don't own them. My last bit of communication with him pointed out that THERE WAS NO LIGHT FIXTURE INSTALLED BY THE DEVELOPER (my unit is pretty dark now that my Christmas Tree is boxed and buried in the bowels of the building) and there ARE NO SHELVES in my (joke of a) LAUNDRY ROOM. So Sec 149 doesn't apply as there was nothing to insure.


 Jane: Please note - 

A renovations request is required for EVERYTHING aside from painting; mounting your TV on the wall, changing your shower head, screens, curtain rods, shelves ... everything needs to be installed by someone with a business license in Langley, has the correct insurance and is willing to sign an indemnity agreement. 

































~~~~~~~~~


Meanwhile, Terry's father-in-law died, my brother-in-law's dad died, Maxine's mother-in-law died and I attended the funeral of a friend's husband who died in December. A heavy season for me, feeling the weight of these deaths along with the announcement of a friend from work who was just diagnosed with cancer. 


I let go of the 'renovations' issue; the timing is just not right for me. And to be honest, I am JUST SO DISCOURAGED. Where will my kids park if they ever come over for a family dinner? Where will my book club park? Where will more than two friends park? How many forms am I going to have to fill out for everything a handy husband would do without a second thought or a permit?


My right hand helpers (my sister and Maxine) both experienced deaths in their families in the past few weeks, so providing the January and February meals for the homeless has been my priority. I've used up all the funds I'd raised before Christmas, so I painted another batch of rocks, which surprisingly, sold. So I've got $$ for the next few months. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who buys my dumb rocks and supports my efforts at feeding some hungry people in Abbotsford. 































At the lake, I've had the furnace repaired, the plumbing issues fixed, the septic tanks pumped, and next Friday I'll get the natural gas leak unleaked and the LIVE (don't go near it!) 120 volt wire under the fireplace unlivened (?). 


Despite setting the fire alarm/smoke detector off 5 times since Dec 1, (the most recent case was last Tuesday when there was an actual fire with flames on both sides of the oven), my unit is still standing. It's a steep learning curve for my mom; natural gas appliances have her flustered...


To add interest to this month's happenings, the temporary crown on back molar has fallen off five times since Dec 22. 

























That ^ is Thursday's temporary crown. It was cemented in place after over (another) 2 hours of work was done. (I really want to save this molar, the two behind it are gone. I absolutely need at least one chewer tooth back there...) It fell out on Friday at 2 pm. 

I went back on Friday at 4 and had it cemented back in place. 

Here it is 7 hours later:


























It's Sunday night. I have a sharp ugly black thing at the back of my mouth that's wreaking havoc with my tongue. But I'm not getting another temporary crown. My final appointment, with a PERMANENT shiny clean, smooth crown is this coming Thursday. I can live like this until then.

(And then we get started on the OTHER tooth that needs attention.)

Seriously. 
Of all the things to inherit from both my mom and my dad - it had to be bad teeth? 

Grateful for my dentist and his determination that I have a lovely smile, with teeth behind my lips. 



On Friday, just before that crown fell out, I zipped over to Susan's to pick up my Valentine's cookie order:




GORGEOUS, yes?

I made up little love bags for everyone on my floor and hung them on their doors.
I wished them a happy Valentine's Day and hoped they'd be able to enjoy a beautiful weekend. I added, 
"if you ever need an extra guest parking pass, just text me. I'm happy to lend you mine for an evening when I'm not using it" (in the hopes that at least one or two of them would respond in kind...)







































(So far no responses from any of my 5th floor neighbours.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm a member of a closed Facebook group for owners of Latimer Heights Condos. 
It's a place to keep each other up to date, to share ideas, subtrades, and to generally get to know each other. 

One day last week, someone from Building A, (the one closest to 200th Street) (they started moving in, in September 2021) announced that the elevator fob system has been activated. (Meaning, you'll need your fob to get the elevator to move. And you'll only be able to advance to your own floor.) There was some discussion about getting delivery people into the building, along with guests and how cumbersome the process was. 

I'm in Building D, and we're about 4 months behind Building A, and this new process isn't like I was told when I moved in. So I posted a question on the thread, asking for clarification regarding letting guests in. ("So, if I am expecting a guest, I should wait for them on the construction access road at the top of the ramp? Then walk down the ramp, use my fob to open the guest gate to allow them to drive  in? Then give them a parking pass so they don't get towed? And escort them to my place using the fob to open Gate 2 and the elevator? And at the end of the evening, escort them down to P1, (which you can only access with a fob), then walk with them to the guest parking to retrieve the pass? And open the guest gate so they can leave?")

The responses from the first 4 - 5 owners was yes. Yes this is the new system and it's kinda dumb. An enterphone should have been installed at the guest gate, ESPECIALLY IF THERE'S NO STREET PARKING. 

And then. 
And then a woman from Building B, Penthouse Level, posted a response:

"Jane. You now live in house/building with hundreds of other people. Our number one priority is SECURITY.  Resident safety is the main concern; not how difficult it will be for your friends to visit you. This is what condo life is like, get used to it. If you'd wanted easy access for your visitors maybe you should have bought a HOUSE with a driveway, or a townhouse instead." 

Oh my goodness, I felt like my face had been slapped. I was so embarrassed and sad. My head was full of sarcastic words but my fingers typed out a lovely response. (" I'm new to condo-living (haha, obviously) and was just confirming the guest process (which is quite different to what I was told during my move-in tour.) I know I'm at the bottom of a steep learning curve re: condo life. Thanks for your patience as I ask questions." I closed my computer and wondered if I should put my place up for sale. Living in a condo, aside from the downsizing issues, and lack of garage issues and absolutely no storage space for seasonal things or homeless dinner things or rock painting things... there's this other issue. Getting along with hundreds of neighbours who all live in on a tiny plot of land. It's a challenge, yo. Dog owners vs non-pet owners. Owners vs renters. Security-first people vs logical-procedures people. 

It's hard. 

But I believed, on Feb 8, when I purchased the condo, that it was God's gift to me because he loves me and wanted me to have that sun-flooded deck. Haha. But as per usual, there are probably other gifts tied up with this one that I'm not seeing clearly right now. Because I'm lazy and want everything to be easy. 






































A few hours later, I went back online and noticed that Penthouse Lady's response to me had ruffled a few feathers. 

  • To N - You are not being fair. Reasonable systems work in other condo complexes. Hoping ours will one day. And not everyone can afford a house!
  • To Jane - You have every right to question things around here. What we'd been told originally and what's actually happening aren't lining up. Don't apologize for asking a question. 
  • To N - I completely disagree with you. Our condo's system is completely illogical. Jane you are absolutely right to ask questions - that's what this page is all about. 
  • To N - THIS SYSTEM IS NOT NORMAL

Also? She removed her original comment. I feel bad for her; I don't think she was expecting the backlash from other owners. I'm guessing she's had some scary experiences in the past if she's living in fear on the top floor of her building. Poor thing. I hope she feels safe, regardless of our fob/elevator system. 





























Just before I left for the lake on Friday night (after a day week of whiplash emotions and an unexpected dentist appointment) I saw a post from someone in Bldg C offering a large selection of scented candles that she'd never used and didn't fit into her condo. Did anyone want them for $25? I sent her a private message and said if no one else had contacted her, I'd love to buy them (for the lake house). 

Her response (after she'd creeped my page, I guess...)




So. That was a fun, surprising gift. (From God? Probably.) She's a young pregnant mom with, what looks like, a 2 year old daughter. I'll meet her this week and give her the last of my ladybug rocks. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Max is on a business trip in the States. First week was in Austin, Texas. He flew to Phoenix on the weekend, staying in Mesa. Possibly over to Altanta later this month. His posts to Instagram Stories are making me smile and feeling like we're connected. SO so so grateful for social media platforms. Especially Instagram. Every single time he posts, I pray, "Thank you God. Keep him safe."

2. On my way to the lake, one of my (4 stops) was to drop off some cookies to Drew and Dani. Happy Valentine's Day, kids. I usually just drop things off at the door, then carry on. Friday is gaming night for Drew, and Dani works late. But on THIS Friday, Drew texted me to wait. And he came out. And we talked for half an hour. And while he's talking, I'm praying, "Thank you God, for THIS."

3. My new phone is a thing of beauty but it has caused me MUCH grief. Even though Telus Guy said he transferred over all the apps and their data, HE REALLY DIDN'T. (For example, your accounts with Google Authenticator DO NOT TRANSFER. You need your old phone to do a QR code thing. So doing my timesheets for payroll was impossible without getting our IT and our JR Acct involved after 4 hours of me researching and googling.) And my Nest account was deactivated. If I had any idea what my user name and password are, it would be helpful but Clint set it up and well. It's a mystery. 

So for the past three weekends, on my way to Cultus, I give my oldest a call. 
"Hello?"
"Hi! How're things with you?"
"Fine."
"Are you busy?"
"Why?"
"Wondering if you can turn on the heat at the cabin, I'm on my way up."
"Yeah, I can do that."
"Thanks. Love you."
"Bye."

It's not much of a conversation/connection, but it's something. And every week, when I arrive, the cabin is toasty warm. And I thank God for my oldest boy.

4. And then there's Danica. She texts about once a week. Does my hair every 8 weeks, where we deep dive into meaningful conversations. And she lets me know about her and Drew's travel plans before I discover them on Instagram. Haha. She is such a gift from God. 

I'm grateful that I am a mom. Some stages of life/parenting are easier than others, but I can't imagine life without them. If you're in that struggle-stage, know that it doesn't last forever. 

Stay safe, hold your loved ones close and blow your nose. 
xojo

















Thursday, January 20, 2022

Words. And Images.

Are you on Facebook? 

Don't you just love the Memories feature? Well, I sure do. I've had so many good days. And some dates just explode with fun events to recall. 

For example, on this day in 2008, I was on my very first trip to Mexico. Sandra, Maxine and I flew down together to stay with Rose. I'd never been before and every day was a potpourri of new sights, sounds, tastes and experiences. I LOVED that trip. The photos from Jan 19 brought it all back. 































I got a little lump in my throat realizing I may never get to Mexico again. 

On this day in 2009, Sandra and I took Drew and his Christmas gift (a Nikon camera) on a photo walk. We wandered around the seawall in Stanley Park then drove to Horseshoe Bay and Cypress Mountain. 
I remember this day so vividly. It was pure awesomeness. 


























Drew's photography hobby lasted one year. Then he sold his camera for parts for his drifting car; a far more expensive hobby. But for ONE DAY, he and I both enjoyed our cameras. Together. At the same time. 

On this day in 2010, I hosted a baby shower for Ryan, Michelle's second son. My Murrayville house was full of happy faces. Looking at these pics, I smiled as I recognized young women I haven't seen in years. I smiled when I looked at my friends and realized none of us has changed much in 12 years. And then I went through all the pics again, and LOOKED AT MY HOUSE. My things. The furniture. The walls. The accessories. I really loved that house, the things in it and everything that happened in there. I was getting emotional just remembering...



























And on THIS day in 2011, (ten years ago), I hosted a craft night. And when I saw these pics (far below) I started to cry. I've been trying to think of a way to make these paper heart things, with friends, THIS year:








but:
1. I live in a condo with an 8 x10 living room and a 10 x 10 dining area.
2. Covid. Even if I could fit 8 people in here, would that be safe/responsible? 
3. The parking situation here is horrific. 
4. Driving to my place on rainy nights is an adventure for only the bravest; the 'street' is an unmarked construction access alley.
5. It's winter. So I'm sad. (But only sometimes. Sometimes I smile.)





























Yep. Just had a good ol' sob. 

I knew how to be a Mom with a House. 
(Today's pics happen to have girly events, but there have been MANY, MANY Facebook memory pages filled with boy pics. And I loved those days too.)

When I sold my Murrayville house, one of Clint's girl friends said, "But who are you going to BE if you don't live in THIS house?" 
Indeed. 

For the last eight years of living in my mom's basement, I was footloose and fancy free. I was Jane With No Home. That Jane went out every night with a friend for a walk, talk, tea, dinner, movie, talk, pray, talk and talk. I may have hosted a thing or two or twenty, but it was always my mom's house and her things. 

Who is Condo Jane? What will her life look like? Am I having an identity crisis? Anyone else have their personality linked to their living conditions? How stupid am I? I am who I am, regardless of where I live. Right? 

I was chatting with a friend last week and she said, "I figure we've got, at most, ten more good years ahead of us. IF THAT." 
Ten. Good. Years. Left. 

Am I having a late-life crisis? 
Only ten years? To do All The Things? 

What things, erhhhmm, exactly? 
I should make a bucket list, I guess. 
With realistic things to do. 
With meaningful things to do.
With fun, holy, life-changing, legacy-making, affordable, mostly-local, challenging things to do. 
With beautiful things to do. 

Speaking of beautiful things to do, I took my mom to Homesense tonight to look at decorative things for my new living space. I don't have anything from my past Jane-owns-a-house life. I'm starting over. Turquoise/aqua? Is that where I'm headed? Like my mom? And then I saw a dark blue and bright yellow serving dish. Looked like something from Mexico. I wondered if I could make that work? Yellow is bright and cheerful. Dark blue is solid and dependable. It would anchor the floaty yellow. 

Then I saw this bar of soap and wondered if I should lean in that direction:









It matches my bedding?

It was the colour of my bedroom growing up on the farm. Some things never change? I'm back to green? With yellow? 

Green is my fav colour. Although I have a very strong affection for blue as well. However, rock painting has shown me how much I love a riot of cheerful colours. Might not be relaxing but it does lift one's spirits. 

Maybe I could redo my accessories every year for the next ten years? Change it up. Buy cheap, then give it away and start fresh every January? Just work my way through the colour chart? Starting with green. 


I have many words in my fingertips so this post is going to wander hither and yon. 

This is my reading log. Notice that it's personalized? Everytime I read a book, for the next ten 'good' years of my life, I'm going to write it here. We are 20 days into January:
















My Kindle is loaded with 4 new titles. And I bought two huge (many many pages) hardcovers. (Actually I bought three, but I can't remember where I put this one):













It's occurred to me as I type this out that just one month ago I promised myself I wasn't going to buy another thing EVER. And here I am talking about books I've purchased, and fancy soaps I recently bought. 

I'm OK with this. Soaps are consumable, and books are a necessity. 

Moving on. (To a new topic.) (I'm not moving anywhere. I'm Condo-Jane.) 

One of the editors on my creative team at work writes columns about topics. As they do. One of his more recent ones is posted here. The title is: 7 Things to Look for When Reading Through the Bible. Seeing I'm attempting to read through it again this year, I gave his column a look. I didn't get past the first thing. Maybe next year I'll read it looking for the second thing. (Spoiler alert: Thing #2 is Grace)

God

It may appear self-evident that readers of God’s Word should first seek him within its pages. And yet, people typically approach the Bible by asking, “What does this passage say about me, and how does it apply to my life?” Those are valid questions, up to a point, but they’re not the most important ones. In fact, they can be used to distort the meaning of a passage by reading one’s own experiences into it.

That’s because from start to finish, the Bible isn’t primarily about us, but about God. To be sure, Scripture has much to say about human nature and culture and history. But it addresses all those subjects solely with respect to God.

Through human language and the written word, the Creator of the universe has chosen to reveal himself – his character, power and purposes – to his human creatures. He has told us who we are, why we’re here, and how we can be what he created us to be, in a loving relationship with him.

And so, the first questions to ask when reading anything in the Bible are: “What does this say about God? What does it reveal about who he is, what he’s done and continues to do? How does it help me know him and trust him and love him more?”



 














There sure is alot to underline and highlight and ponder if you're looking specifically for what the passage says about God. 

Speaking about work, (I kinda referenced it when I linked to Subby's article), this is a plug for our resources. We have, for free, SO many relevant, helpful, timely video series, downloads and articles on our website. They really (no, I mean it, REALLY) are well done. Very professional. Our most current offering is a free 16 page booklet on Depression. If you or someone you love is struggling with this, please download it (or get in touch with me and I can get you a beautifully printed one.) Daily Broadcasts on just about every topic imaginable are truly awesome. Maybe you would benefit from a half-hour of positive input from the studios at Focus US into your brain? On a wide variety of topics. All from experts, professionals, who know how to communicate and get to the point. 

And Focus US is still producing NEW Adventures in Odysseys. The collection is up to #71:








End of shameless plug for the organization I work for. 


New topic. 

I have an old oak bookcase beside my desk because my desk (sofa table) doesn't have drawers. It's mostly a mess. But I have cleaned up one shelf. Wanna see? 













Of interest (possibly?) is the pottery piece that WAS filled with chocolates. But is now empty because I threw all the chocolates away this morning. I have to have that blood test done, and I want to pass, so I'm limiting my sugar intake to fool everyone into thinking I eat only wheatgrass and turnips. The dish, by the way, is a piece of Pottery made by Delphine and was a shower/wedding present from Hildegarde. I guess I should fill it with roasted chick peas. 

The painting is the only one I have from my granny (my mom's mom). She was artistic x 1000. And musical. (She could play strings and keyboards BY EAR. No lessons. Just listen to a song, then play it on her mandolin or organ.) Sadly those genes didn't pass down through to my mom, nor to me or my sibs. And none of granny's great grands can play an instrument or paint a tree. She would paint on anything; glass, wooden disks, plates, canvases, shells ... but not rocks. She would've though, I bet, if someone would've brought her some nice smooth flat ones. 


Maybe I'll take a pic of another shelf, tomorrow. This is called a cliff hanger. 


I was having a private Instagram conversation this afternoon (SO many platforms on which to converse with people nowadays. It used to be the telephone. Or in person. Or, maybe a handwritten letter. BUT NOW. Holy gamoly. There's like, eleventy million. And if you want to go back to refer to something someone said, you have to remember, was it on an Instagram post, or in the direct messages? On Facebook? Which post? Or in Messenger? A text? An email? To which of my 4 emails accounts? And so on til the cows come home),  ANYWAY, on that private Insta convo, I was moaning about how slippery the Vedder Trail was on Saturday, and she responded with links to Canadian Tire shoe spikes. Yes, LINKS. Many options. I acknowledged her enthusiasm...

She: I'm a zealot. I want everyone to be outside and SAFE.

She: Who has it in their emotional budget to fracture a wrist right now?? Not me!!

And those words, "emotional budget" just tickled my ear all the way to my brain. YES! That's what it is, isn't it? Our emotional budgets and how prepared we are for the weight of another year of pandemic living. News about variants. Debates about vaccinations. Limitations on travel, exercise, gatherings, craft nights. Job uncertainties. Labor shortages. Paper shortages. Blah, blah, blah. INDEED - who has it in their emotional budget for a fractured wrist. Or a lump in their breast? Or a blown gasket? Or a leaky pipe?

We might be getting used to pandemic life, but it IS draining our emotional bank account. A steady withdrawal of funds will have an impact. 

So, as my young friend says, BE SAFE. As much as it is within your power, do things that don't drain you. 

Another topic: church. Northview has a 2022 challenge. It's 5 x 5 x 5 ...

Choose 5 people to pray for, 5 minutes per day, 5 days per week:















If every praying Christian asked God to move in the lives of 5 people, well, the results could be crazy, yes? Do you have 5? 


And lastly. 

Have you watched The Chosen yet? WHY NOT? 

It reallly is good. I am NOT a fan of faith-based entertainment, but this series is actually gripping. The acting, the script, the production quality - all of it is top notch. I highly recommend it. It's the life of Jesus and his disciples. And I'm (im)patiently waiting for season 3. I binged the first two seasons. 

Go here to see what I'm goin' on about. And then you'll wish you were me. Haha. I made a donation at the end of 2021, to speed things up with getting this thing done, and I just got an email letting me know I've been selected to appear AS AN EXTRA in the episode about the feeding of the 5,000. Filming will take place this Spring, in Texas. I'm to bring my own costume, pay for my own flights to and from Texas, rent a car, book a hotel all so I can enjoy the experience of sitting in a Texan field. I am so in. And if I pay an additional $100, I can bring someone from my immediate family. Yup, yup, yup. You just wish you were my child right now, don't you. 


OK. I'm done. 

Three Things I'm Thankful For:

1. I really do love how peaceful and lovely my lil condo nest is at night. 

2. I'm thankful that even tho it's a risky business turning left out of the construction lane onto 200th street during rush hour, I live one song away from work. (That's about a 3 minute commute.) Mitzi only knows one song. I hear it every time I start the engine. So I'm thankful it's a happy tune. 

3. 












I'm thankful it's only 59 days til Spring. When I upgrade my phone, Ima gonna get that app as well. 


Walk gently, love loudly, stay safe,

xojo