I attended a funeral today, one that made me really pause and think about life. I haven’t been to many funerals in my life, and I know there’s much to celebrate at funerals. I was so touched to see everyone come together and celebrate the achievements, the humour, the stories of this person whom we all had in common. Amazing how we’re all connected, and how the stories that shape us actually shape others as well.

What got me most choked up was that there will be a season in my life when death will be the inevitable event. Our parents, as they age, will go through this, but we, the children are the ones who will be left grieving. We are the ones who will be doing the remembering, the storytelling, the sharing of things.

Our lives go by so fast, and I know that the smallest things make us think too hard or too long; we get too caught up in the littlest of things.

I had the thought of myself being grieved over, and how terribly short life is to do the things I’ve been doing. There’s no sense in it. We are designed for much, much more than this.

It’s a birthday that some approach with humour, partying and frivolity. For others, it’s a day taken with some reluctance. Turning 40 is not always what we think it’s going to be like.

Perhaps it’s the feeling that we’re no longer in full control of our lives, the sinking feeling of being in a silo: we have our careers, our families and loved ones, our stability and predictability. It’s funny how we work hard to achieve those things, and then we feel a tangible, noticeable feeling of being constricted or limited.

I remember turning 20 thinking of all the possibilities that were ahead. Turning 30 was wonderful, as I was married and had our beautiful marriage to spend together. Now at 40, I have a beautiful family, a stable career, a healthy income, two growing kids who are exceptional in their own ways, and a life that I couldn’t have imagined was possible, especially not at the beginning of the creation of this blog.

Years ago I created this blog to lay out my life, at a time when being digitally present wasn’t the ubiquitous habit it is today. Smartphones were still in their infancy (BlackBerry was still the leader). The things that I blogged about were personal, as they still are today, but I also feel that I haven’t done much justice to this site in the past few years. I’ve always noticed how after writing a post, and then received feedback, I always felt rather justified in my writing pursuits, as if I had invested my time and efforts properly.

The idea of 40 is probably more fear-inducing than the reality of 40. When someone asked me the other day how old I was this year, the words practically stumbled out of my mouth. Am I where I thought I’d be at 40? Why is this milestone such a marker? How is it not much different from other birthdays and calendar milestones?

Here are a few things I’m resolving to do, change, and improve upon in my life.

1. I will exercise more regularly: at least once a week.

2. I will spend less and save more.

3. I will pray more consistently on a daily basis.

4. I will read more books and spend less time on my smartphone.

5. I will pour even more love into my family life.

It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re leaving 2012 behind. We spent this morning listening to CBC radio and interviews of people’s highs or lows of 2012. I thought it’d be nice to jot down the highs and lows of my life from 2012.

1. For my job, getting a full 1.0 and a pay scale rise based on prior teaching experience was a huge answer to prayers. This secured many things for me and my family, including full health insurance and benefits. It also meant I am able to teach music, a subject I’ve always wanted to teach.

2. Purchasing the house. Our house hunt began at the beginning of 2012 in the middle of winter. We spent countless hours huddled around the computer, looking at neighbourhoods, school zones, house listings, and mortgage calculators. We prayed, we wondered, we waited. Our price point began right at the bottom of Toronto’s housing market. We wondered how we would ever be able to afford a 3-bedroom home that didn’t require massive renovations, that wasn’t in a “bad” school zone, and wasn’t in the far suburbs. We went to open houses, trying our best to educate ourselves of the fast-paced, seller’s market.

Little did I know that the paperwork I had submitted to the school board in December of 2011 would eventually help us shift our price range. In June of 2012, I finally received the official word that my salary scale had been raised significantly. This meant that the borrowing amount for our mortgage was raised significantly as well, which meant we could search for homes in areas where we wanted to live in.

We were only serious about a few properties, but the way the market was going, we felt we were in for a difficult ride. One property ended up going for nearly 70K over asking in a bidding war, which was pretty ridiculous in our eyes. A little disheartened, we weren’t sure if a family home was even possible.

At the beginning of July, my wife had found a listing that hit almost all of our check marks. We had a look together with our realtors. We walked the street and neighbourhood after dinner that night. I went back a third time well past bedtime to see what the neighbourhood was like at night. We were on the verge of putting an offer on the home.

That weekend, we went camping at Sibbald Point, and we had an anxious time thinking about the house, trying to have fun camping, and managing our emotions. We both felt more and more confident about the house, and decided to place an offer on the house the following week.

When we returned to Toronto, we booked a home inspection for the house, got a bank draft for a deposit, and prepared to enter a bidding war for the home.

On that hot summer’s day, the two of us huddled at a Tim Hortons awaiting the verdict, our realtor let us know that we had to place a higher bid in order to secure the property. We went in with our highest number, as high as we wanted to go, and waited anxiously for the news.

About an hour later, our realtor came in smiling happily to let us know the offer had been accepted and we were the new owners. Our 6-month search, our 6-months of wondering and questioning, our 6 months of praying, had all come to a perfect ending. We now had a home to call our own.

3. Car problems. One of the biggest stresses I faced in 2012 had to do with car problems. Engine cooling problems that continued for about two months, finally resulted in a quick and tearful sale of the car. this was all during the already stressful time of moving to our new house, and starting my assignment at a new school. Thinking back, I can see how that period of high stress helped to shape my character. We certainly had plenty of answers to the problem. We were given extra financing from the bank, 0% interest from the dealership, and we were able to confidently buy a new car, something we had never expected we’d be able to do. I am thankful that throughout the month of extremely high stress levels, we were all able to come out of the time with clearer heads and stronger faith.

My decision to write a post today came after a long, long absence from online writing. I simply felt motivated to put something out on the web, and hopefully to encourage readers and wanderers.

So much has changed since my last post nearly a year ago. As I look back on just the last five or so posts from 2011, I can see a picture of me as one who’s searching, clinging, and desperately trying to climb out of a valley. Here we are at the end of July in 2012, and I see myself as having climbed out of that valley. I’m in a full-time position, about to do something I’ve been waiting to do my whole life, recently bought a house, and living a life that I’ve waited to live for so many years. At this point, I can enjoy life in a way I couldn’t have imagined back in 2011.

There are plenty of struggles still, ones that are deeply set in my own mind and past. There are physical struggles, emotional struggles and relationship struggles. You see, these struggles never disappear. They are struggles that we face at every stage of our lives. Hundreds of readers arrive on this site searching, so it’s important to knkow that whatever struggles we have, they are not unique to us alone.

 

I love September: the start of school for millions of children (including my own), the start of cooler weather and autumn colours. It’s a time of the year that, like the first days of spring or the first snow fall, remain deeply engraved with vivid memories from both childhood and adulthood.

I haven’t written much in the past few weeks, owing to a completely and insanely busy season in my life. Life has been moving ahead so quickly, and I’ve been–by the grace of God–able to manage 16-17 hour days, two jobs, a university course, family, and further job searches. I know that God’s going to give me the time and energy to do what I need to do. My body has started to weaken, and on Saturdays like today, I find that I need a good two-hour nap to reset every cell in my body.

The future is much, much brighter than a year ago. I’ve made some good connections with people, and having finally gotten my foot in the door in the field that I’ve long wanted to be in, makes all the waiting, effort, stress, frustration and worry worth it.

A new season is fast approaching. I’m praying that God would continue to enrich our lives with amazing experiences.

I couldn’t feel happier for the Japanese women’s soccer team, having won an amazing victory for their country. Brings up a storm of emotions from the past few months since the earthquake, and I’m so glad they were able to win. I can only think of how happy and proud millions of Japanese are of their team. Well done to the Japanese team!!

There are days at work when I’m filled with self-loathing, believing my situation is worthless. The work I’ve been given to do is not especially difficult or stressful, which is perhaps the primary challenge for me. I’m seeking work that will not only reflect what I’m capable of doing, but work that reflects who I am as a person. I know very well that we shouldn’t identify ourselves with our work, but that nagging feeling that I should be doing something better or more important still seems to plague me.

On the flip side, I know that I’m there for a reason, however temporary that might be. I have my sights set on something a few months down the road, but what if that goal never materializes? What then?

I have to constantly remind myself to keep walking, to not look at my situation in the now, but to set my eyes on things above. It’s hard, I’ll tell you, but what good is it to keep my sights set on my own worries?

I’m praying that this time of work is fruitful, in whatever way possible, and that I continue doing my work diligently.

I know a lot of you are waiting………….waiting for an answer, for a decision, for a blessing, for an idea, for some green shoots, for work, for family, for healing, for the pain to end, for the suffering to cease, for a letter in the mail, for a delivery, for a birth, for a death, for an announcement.

Waiting is so difficult, and I continue to wait for my own prayers to be answered.

The past few days have been incredible. On Friday, I received a significant amount of money that came totally unexpected. I had been praying, worried sick about what might happen to our finances. We had just converted some American dollars to Canadian, and I was mentally preparing to sell off part of our investment portfolio. I had felt so desperate that I applied to all and any job that I thought I might be able to do and still feel okay about doing. In that regard, I got an interview and there’s a glimmer of hope that I might get some work in the next few weeks.

I don’t know how God works. I know nothing about His omniscience, power, or grace. I have, however, felt his grace in the two occasions Í mentioned above.

When that moment comes, after waiting, worrying, and wondering, it’s an awe-inspiring moment. I can only think of how silly I’ve been to worry about everything, to think that God had forgotten about me and my family, and to entertain all the negative and self-destructive thoughts. God cares, simply put. He is so, so, so much bigger than our little problems and worries. I encourage you to keep looking up to God.

Get your eyes off of yourself; look to the heavens and not at your situation. Remember that God is in control and cares for you, and trust that your life is secure. The things around us may crumble, things we’ve spent time in accumulating or building. At the end of the day, God is the only thing that remains, and as such, is the only thing worthwhile. Keep your eyes on God and pray.

Where are you from?

Clustr Map

Flag Counter

free counters

Blog Stats

  • 109,600 hits

What I’m reading now

"Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel," by Laura Byrne Paquet (Fredericton:Goose Lane Editions, 2007) "The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping malls, and the Search for Home," by Pico Iyer (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2000). "Outliers: The Story of Success," by Malcolm Gladwell (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2008).

Flickr Photos

List Universe