Saturday, November 16, 2013

Highlights of last night's date...

...with the kids. (I knew that title would draw you in.)

In the six plus years I have lived with this family, my heart home, there are moments where I am stopped in my tracks and simply thankful for the opportunity to be here. There's so much in life I spend time hoping for, my future dreams, but I am also keenly aware of the gift I have been given in my current situation. I am thankful God puts nights like these in my heart to remind me of what He has given me. 

Last night's highlight for me was Bo. The newest 6 year old in the family. All three of the kids were exceptionally great: listening, helping, lots of hugs, kisses, and thankful hearts. (Charlee also let me know that I'm welcome to live with them for as long as I want, and that maybe if I get married, my husband would move in with us. I told her we'd have to ask him, but thanked her for the offer.)

There were some especially great moments last night where Bo showed his heart. 
So I share them here that those reading might be encouraged.
And so that I can read it at his wedding one day.

My housemates were out for the night, so I packed up the three kiddos (well, honestly, they packed themselves up), and we headed out for some adventure.



Target's toy and Christmas aisles. (It was dark and raining...)

In the car on the way there, I was explaining to the kids that I wanted them to pick out some gifts for our Guatemalan friends for Christmas, when Bodhi piped up: "Kathleen! You can use my money. Or my cards." 

Bo proceeded to show me his dad's old wallet, covered in duct tape, filled with points cards. His cards.

I explained that they probably wouldn't work at Target, and thanked him for his willingness to share. 

"Well, mom says that I should use my money to give to people when they need it. So I thought you might need it."

Once in Target, we found ourselves in the toy aisles pretty quickly. But then, the Christmas aisles were just a stone's throw away...and they beckoned. The kids were in awe. We compared Christmas ornaments and looked at all the beautiful, small, and breakable items. I had mentioned repeatedly that they needed to be so careful, and not to grab everything they saw. And then I heard an ornament fall. I turned to see Bo's big eyes staring at me, ornament in hand. He had caught it just after it bounced off the shelf...still in one piece. He carefully put it back, and while the girls were still enamoured, the magic had faded for Bo: "Can we leave this area? It's concerning me."

We headed back to the toys, found some items for our friends, and headed to the check out. 

As soon as I was pulling out my credit card to pay for the items, Bodhi stopped me: "Wait, Kathleen, I might have that card!" I showed him mine and explained that it was probably a little different than the ones he had. He just wanted to share. To pay his part.

I had promised the kids cheeseburgers and chicken and fries after Target; their main concern was to find the best play place, and so we tracked it down (it might not have been, but don't tell them that). 

We had eaten and the kids were racing around the play place. It was one of those chaotic nights: approximately 15 kids racing through the play place in their socks (I get the sock rule, but mixing those socks with slippery plastic is like a lawsuit waiting to happen...). 

Anyways, the girls had found another girl to play with, and Bo had found two boys; they were all playing a racing/hiding game (girls vs. boys of course). The two other boys started to get quite rowdy, and I was about to ask Bo to come join me for a couple minutes just to get some space, when I suddenly saw him stop them:

"Okay, guys. See those two girls? (arm extended, finger pointing to Charlee and Jane) They are my sisters. You don't do any ninja moves on them, okay? Cause they're my sisters. We're on the same team. No ninja moves!"

The two little boys agreed, and raced off with Bodhi, and my heart just burst. 

After the kids had gotten sufficiently sweaty, we came home. 

Once everyone was in pjs and clean, and after some America's Funniest Home Videos (because what date night is complete without it, really), it was bed time. 

Making the rounds for back scratches and prayers, I told Bo how proud I was of the way he protected his sisters at the play place. "But Kathleen, they were just little kids. They were like, 4 years old." I told him it didn't matter, he had made it his job to protect his sisters, and I was proud. His grin stretched from ear to ear. Then he tried to tell me a fart joke (because he IS a 6 year old boy after all). And then he fell asleep. 

I was blessed. 

Bo demonstrated a heart filled. Wanting to be generous. Caring for his sisters. 

I felt like I got a glimpse last night of the man Bodhi will be. 

And it was great.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Well that's fantastic!

(This title is for Steve Klassen...because he will get it.)

Enjoy the latest snippets from my wee friends.

Jane and I are sitting on my bed looking at my old pictures from college.

Jane: What's that girl's name?
Me: Her name is Erin
Jane: Oh! Like..."I gotta go run an erran...?"
Me: Yes. Just like it.

Our friend Vanessa comes over to cut our hair. Gary has to go to work and Carleigh needs to go 'run an erran' and so the kids and I are colouring at the table while Vanessa finishes her work.

Bodhi: Jane! Your hair looks amazing.
Jane: Does that mean you want to kiss me?
Bodhi: No.

Bo then looks at me...

Bodhi: Kathleen. The girls. Are. Weirdos!
Me: Oh, but you love them.
Bodhi: Yes. And they are weirdos.

Charlee, meanwhile, has been working on some sort of craft at the table. She suddenly announces she is finished, and holds up what resembles a flash card, made out of kraft paper, with her name proudly written on the front. 

Me: Oh wow Char, what is this? Is it a card?
Charlee: Yes. It's my card. I'll give it to people and they will say 'that girl can cut hair!'

(Perhaps this was influenced by the fact that Vanessa had just brought us a few of her own latest business cards...)

Vanessa: Charlee, what is the name of your business?
Charlee: Um...Charl..e...Charle...Charles Darwin!

(Vanessa and I exclaim our interest in this new name...)

Vanessa: So, Charlee, what are your thoughts on Charles Darwin?
Bodhi: She doesn't have thoughts. She just blogs, and twirls, and plays. She doesn't have thoughts.
Me: Really, Bo. Wait, did you say she blogs?
Bodhi: Yup. She blogs.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


It is 9:20pm. 
The rain is softly falling outside, and I am thankful that the garden is being refreshed.
I am inwardly relieved that the rain has returned (although hoping it is a brief visit).
It seems appropriate now to pull out a book my dear friend Shari-Anne has lent me...and I marvel in the poetry of Mary Oliver.

Given my recent travels, the longing for adventure that this inevitably re-ignites, and a recent ongoing internal dialogue about my life and purpose, I am drawn to this poem...may you enjoy as I have. (Missy, this one's for you...)


Like Magellan, let us find our islands
To die in, far from home, from anywhere
Familiar. Let us risk the wildest places,
Lest we go down in comfort, and despair.

For years we have labored over common roads,
Dreaming of ships that sail into the night.
Let us be heroes, or, if that's not in us, 
Let us find men to follow, honor-bright.

For what is life but reaching for an answer?
And what is death but a refusal to grow?
Magellan had a dream he had to follow.
The sea was big, his ships were awkward, slow.

And when the fever would not set him free,
To his thin crew, "Sail on, sail on!" he cried.
And so they did, carried the frail dream homeward.
And thus Magellan lives, although he died.

- Mary Oliver

Friday, July 26, 2013

Why we travel.

When I was 11, my parents chaperoned a high school trip to Italy, and due to the low numbers of attending students, I got to come along. 

It was 1993. 
10 glorious days touring Rome, Florence and Venice. 
There were 3 guys and 5 girls between 15-17 years old, my parents, and me. 
As my dad taught at the high school, my parents had done a few of these trips in Europe with the students, and had developed a practice of providing free time each afternoon. Dad would tell the students something like, 
"Ok, it's 1pm. You need to be here by 4pm. If you don't make it, you need to find the hotel. Here's the address. Make sure there's at least 2 of you. Any questions?" 

Remember, it was the early 90s.
No one had a cell phone.
But also, neither of the "Taken" movies had been made yet.

Because the boys were interested in Italian women...they tended to take off together and see what they could, well, see. 

Because it was the early 90s, 4 of the 5 girls on the team were enchanted with pink leather. They spent most of their free time bartering with Italian merchants and trying to convince them that Canadian stitching would have been done with better quality, and therefore they should get a discount. 

The 5th girl, Nicole, was 16, well-read, an explorer, and not particularly interested in pink leather. She was, as she pointed out to the girls, in Italy....ITALY! She could shop at home. She wanted to see the sights and go exploring. So, Nicole, being a bright, responsible girl, who also happened to have an 11 year old sister at home, approached my parents with a proposal. 
"Seeing as we need to have 2 people in a group during free time, and the other girls want to shop...what do you think about me taking Kathleen?"

As I pointed out to my parents just last month...

"What were you thinking?"


"Thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking that risk"

Together, Nicole and I explored Rome, Venice, and Florence. 

I have incredible memories of those days. We covered a lot of ground. Found lots of unique spots I don't think I could find again now if I tried. After 10 days of exploring, taking awful photos, and that one moment where I thought I was being mugged (which in fact was my dad, pranking me...), we returned home.

And I have wanted to go back ever since.

So, after originally, stupidly, saying "no thanks" to this latest trip proposal...I re-evaluated and agreed that I was being stupid. As Carleigh told me one day in the kitchen: "You just need to do it!" 
She was so right.

16 days in Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Athens, Delphi, and Santorini.

There is no way to summarize this experience properly. The sights. The smells. The food...oh the food. The art. The people. The politics. The transportation (of every kind).

One of my last nights in Santorini, I pulled out a small journal I had brought along and started making notes. The magic of Italy the first time around was found in those moments where Nicole and I went off the map...perhaps got in trouble, perhaps got lost, perhaps were a little naive...but I never forgot it. While I may be 20 years older, I wanted to recapture the essence of what it felt like to come home from a time that could only be described as magical. 

I hope that in sharing these moments, you may reminisce in your own adventures, borrow mine for today as you need, and/or dream of your own moments in whatever adventures lay ahead. I thank God for the opportunity we have to adventure and journey....whether 5 minutes from our homes, or across the sea.

My favourite moments from Italy and Greece 2013... in no particular order... told in present tense, in a desire to keep living the moment... shared with a smile on my heart.

* Freddocino. Cafe freddo (frozen cafe latte); my first taste is in Rome's Termini station, and the last in Cinque Terre; they provide me a small cup with a tiny spoon of perfectly blended coffee, sugar and milk, and I know this is my ideal way to both cool off from the heat and aid my coffee-withdrawal headache.

* The haze settles over the Greek islands as the sun sets over Santorini. From my chair I marvel at the pink hue bathing the white washed homes, as I sip on my wine, feel the breeze on my skin, thankful for it after two weeks of heat. While the sun sets, the moon rises. Eventually, all that is left is the moonlight over the Aegean, showing me where the wind is continually urging the water towards the shore. I begin to hear the soft lullaby of a mother singing with her children; their night time ritual. A sweet melody, the children's voices so precious as they crackle with tiredness.

* My eyes catch a nun in St. Peter's as she paces slowly in an area cordoned off from us visitors. She walks rhythmically; is she praying, pondering, perhaps counting rosary beads? I ponder the reality of St. Peter's as a regular place of worship for her.

* Walking the streets of Corniglia, I encounter small pockets of basil everywhere I look. A large sign shows us we have arrived in the week of the annual basil festival. The gelato place is serving basil gelato for this week only. I ask for a sample, and am delighted by how refreshing it is. We have arrived at the birthplace of pesto. These people know what they are doing with basil.

* Slowly ascending the hill of the Acropolis, with each corner we turn, the view encountered is more impressive than the last. As we wander amongst the building sites...these temples, places of honour and worship for the Greek gods, I cannot help but think three things: 1. How the heck did they accomplish this? (Granted, I think this at most historical sites).  2. What would I have been thinking and feeling as an Athenian, climbing this mountain to give my offering, to engage in dialogue and debate, to worship and admire?  3. When should I start my new career as an archeologist?

* Arriving in Manarola, we quickly discover our accommodations directly outside of the train tunnel. Beauty. We buzz the door, and are greeted by Franco, our Italian pensioner landlord. He is mischievous, which is my favourite kind of Italian pensioner. His eyes tell me he is joking even though his English is too limited to fully tell. Kelly asks him, "do you speak English?" Franco replies, "No, I speak Chinese! You speak Chinese?" We laugh and tell him no. He tells us that's a problem. Then he brings us limoncello, made with the very lemons he grows, makes us cheer to our health, but won't drink with us. He makes re-appearances throughout the next three days...mostly yelling at me from three flights above. I peer up the circular staircase to find his smirking face, "All GOOD?" "Yes, everything is great!" I yell back. He doesn't understand me. We do thumbs up, and he disappears back into his apartment.

* Gelato. Coconut gelato. Creamy coconut gelato. 

* The leisurely glide of the gondola. The serenading crooning of our gondolier, who pauses to tell us there are 409 bridges in Venice. Slipping into what feel like side alleys, we discover backdoor entrances to hotels, and homes, and stores. I consider the past, and what it would continue to require today to bring supplies in and out of Venice. A small motorboat turns the wrong way on the waterway (yes, there are rules here...), and creates a gondola traffic jam. The gondoliers yell back and forth their disparaging comments, but from their tone you can tell these comments are not fuelled with frustration, but rather serve as fulfillment of an expectation to express disgust. We continue on. Our gondolier, forgetting his script, again informs us there are 409 bridges in Venice. The songs of the passing gondoliers float on the water and slide up the walls to the sky.

* Everywhere I look in Rome and Athens there are cars. Scooters. Motorbikes. It feels as though they are crammed into corners and spaces which seem impossibly tight. And then we transport to Venice, Cinque Terre, Santorini...and I am overwhelmed with the comparatively quiet air of voices and footsteps. We walk empty sidewalks, save the tourists, whose eyes are glued to the sky, the camera, or the map. In Rome we sidestep cars; In these places we mostly just sidestep tourists. And sometimes we are those tourists. Out of habit, I apologize in Spanish. And then shake my head.

* Greek salad. Slabs of feta. Capers. Dripping in olive oil.

* Greek yogurt. With honey. With nutella. With jam. 

* As it is July we find ourselves in tourist-laden locations. But there are always the locals to be found if you are close to watch. I am enchanted with them. The older women, who wear shift dresses, and pantyhose, and thick sandals; they hold each others' arms as they walk, their free hand gesturing as they talk. Grand, sweeping motions. Slow steps. Deliberate. In Greece, we encounter spitting men. Engaged in debate, hands held out to make a point, and then comes a breathy spit to finalize that point. I have to laugh. Where did this start, and how did it not make its way to us? Why don't we spit when we make a point? What makes it acceptable in their culture and rude in ours?

* Eight bells from the church in Manarola means I might as well wake up, check Facebook and see what happened at home while I was sleeping. I hear the train rumble through the mountain. A new day has started.

* Expressions of love. A two year old sits on his mother's lap on the bus. It is mid afternoon, and in the heat, she begins to doze. He reaches up and strokes her face gently. We get off the bus and wait for our transfer. A young man leans over to his love, pulling her toward him for a gentle kiss. She pretends not to be interested. He, slightly shocked, confused, pulls back. She smiles, knowing she's tricked him, pulls him in and offers what he was looking for. These moments throughout our travels both fill my heart and tug at the longing. Observation is beautiful. Experience is precious.

* After climbing down the Acropolis, we wander over to Mars Hill, overhearing tour guides giving short Bible studies to groups of teens trying to find shade in the square. We climb the steps to the top of the rock, and I am awestruck. I think of the audacity, the courage it would have taken for Paul to climb that rock, and stare out at the Acropolis, looming with the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and a 30 foot tall bronze statue of the goddess Athena complete with spear ready to pierce the air, declaring her power. Legend states her spear was visible from sea. Paul must have taken a deep breath in prayer before he spoke of the one true living God, who came to live amongst us, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us...and who rose from the dead, "For in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Did he turn and point to Athena? Acknowledge her prominence in the hearts of the Athenians? As I turn to walk down the hill, I acknowledge something new tugging at my heart, igniting the meaning in a passage I have read and studied extensively...the moment changes me. 
This is why we travel.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Welcome home.

After 16 days in Europe, and one really long day that included a crying Air Canada ticket agent, I am home. 

(And, to note, I wasn't the one who made her cry. Side note: I never ever want that job. Ever.)

I love travel.

I also love my bed.

8:09am this morning (after finally falling asleep around 2:45am), I awoke, hearing the kiddos upstairs. I immediately smiled, and decided I was truly awake; I was too excited to see them. 

And they, thankfully, felt the same. 
There's nothing like coming home to lots of love.

I am working on a fun post about my travels through Italy and Greece (well, I think it is fun...). 
Along the journey, I tried my best to write down those favourite moments; the ones that hold some magic.  
I look forward to sharing them with you.

In the meantime, enjoy some of the interactions that the kids and I had today while Gary was working and Carleigh was out... I find them hilarious, I hope you do too.

After giving the kids their little presents from my trip (venetian masks that they get to decorate themselves, mini-nutella packs, and Euro pennies), Charlee announced that it was the best day ever. She's pretty easy to win over. I had cut some bread for the kids, and Bodhi, while awkwardly spreading nutella on his slices, had some questions for me about my travels.

Bo: So, Kathleen, like did you really eat this when you were gone?

Me: Yeah Bo, I did...sometimes for breakfast!

Jane: (piping in from the dining room) Kaleen! Did you sleep there? 

Me: Yes, Jane, I slept there!

Bo: Hey Kathleen, did the Chinese people...or well, whatever world you were in....did they have (he then coughed for me)

Me: Yes, Bo, I do believe I heard some people coughing like that...

Jane: Chinese is a language!

Me: Yes, Jane you're right, Chinese is a language!

Jane: I don't know Chinese, but I know a language. It says "hola!"

With this very multi-cultural conversation, we moved to the dining room table, where we started talking about Charlee's upcoming birthday. The kids had also recently discovered new lanterns (the outdoor paper kind) that Carleigh had acquired, and that got Charlee thinking...

Char: I want to have a China birthday!

Me: Oh really? (these kids really have China on the brain...)

Char: Yes! I really do! I want a China birthday party!

Me: Well, that could be fun! You could have Chinese food, and fortune cookies, and...

Char: Oh...we would have to have chicken noodle soup!

Me: Chicken noodle soup? Is that Chinese?

Char: Yes, Kathleen! Noodle soups are Chinese. So...that means that chicken noodle soup is definitely Chinese. But maybe we could put a flower in it, or something, and then it would really be Chinese.

They never ever cease to amaze me...

Jane: When I turn five-teen, I want a Spiderman party!

Bo: You can't have a Spiderman party, Jane....and you'll be fifteen, not five-teen....maybe you can have a princess party.

Jane: Nope. I want a Spiderman party. With cheetahs. I love cheetahs.

And then, Bodhi, having put his dirty dish away, comes back to the living room. 
One sock is on, and one sock is off.

Bo: Ok guys! So, what do you think? One sock on, and one with no sock. Is this weird? Or is it cool? 

I missed them.

Monday, June 03, 2013

When serendipity reminds you...

Sometimes I want to control my life. 


Make that pretty much all the time.

I think we all do this to a certain extent. (And so I'm hoping you can relate to at least some degree...)

We dream.
We plan.
We make 'goals' (even if we don't call them that).
We create pictures in our minds of what life will look like.

And then things don't happen the way we picture.

Sometimes that's an amazing thing with results that we couldn't have even dreamed for ourselves.
Sometimes it can just plain hurt. 

Sometimes we get caught believing we did something wrong. We didn't dream big enough. Or we didn't plan enough. Our goals weren't "smart" enough. The pictures were naive.  

This last week, I was reminded in a big way of how God can surprise us, in ways that only He is capable of.

My boss Stan and I were at the Abbotsford airport at an ungodly hour waiting for our plane to take us to Hamilton for a conference. We had discovered that for the first leg of our trip (to Calgary), we weren't sitting together. And so while Stan and I were chatting (mostly about how ungodly the hour was...), I started getting curious about who I might be sitting next to. Soccer mom? Business dude? Ex-biker-gang-member-now-radically-reformed-into-a-wedding-florist-type?

I stepped onto the plane and walked towards my seat. 

And there was my friend Karen. A dear woman. Who's seat was right next to mine.
I hadn't seen Karen for about a year, since she moved to Saskatoon. It was so perfect.

We spent the next 54 minutes catching up and covering as many topics as possible. (Stan confirmed with me later that we were 'those' women...yup, the chatty that ungodly hour...and I didn't even care). It was good for my soul. And I hope it was for Karen's too. 

After saying our goodbyes (and after running into both friends from church and some fellow which Stan was laughing at me for the random run-ins I was having), we got on the plane for Hamilton. I was getting excited about the conference and about re-connecting with those I had met at last year's conference.

(Side note: This conference is for student development professionals from Christian colleges and universities across Canada. It is my favourite event. It is a place where I feel incredibly normal. And where I can ask questions of my cross-Canada colleagues: the "what the heck do you do with this situation?" questions. We also get to share war stories and the latest college pranks. It's pretty incredible.) 

We were staying in the dorms at Redeemer University College, and when we signed up, I had (in order to save the college some money) volunteered to room with whomever the conference organizers wanted to pair me with. I was honestly slightly nervous about it, just because all the other women I knew going already were partnered with their co-workers, and I wasn't sure who I would end up with. It felt a little bit like college again. 

I arrived at the dorm room. 
On the door was my name, and the name of a girl who I had gone to CBC with 11 years earlier. 

Like. Really?

I didn't even know Megan was working in student development. And in fact, she hasn't even started yet. Her new role starts in July. 
It was fantastic. 
We laughed. We shared about anxieties, and joys, and grad studies, and being single, and ministry, and (of course) Arrested Development.

I could not have planned it any better.

Because I didn't.

I simply put myself in the way of it all. 
I got on a plane.
I volunteered for a roommate. 
I really tried not to 'play it safe'. 

There were lots of little things that happened throughout the week that felt like reminders from my Creator that He has things under control.

He wants me to dream and plan and make goals and create pictures...

...and He wants me to hand them over. 

And let Him make them better.

Monday, April 22, 2013

out of the mouths...

I love the kids I live with more than I think I can convey.

God has granted this only child such amazing nieces and nephew.
He has provided me with such love through them.

So here's the latest... (for you, Melissa Helme, so your heart can smile...)

Tonight outside after supper, enjoying the remaining sunshine for the day, Jane (almost 4) and I play together...

Jane: Kaleen, I'm pretending I'm asking you what you want to eat, okay?

Me: Ok, go ahead Jane.

Jane: So, what would you like to eat?

Me: Um, can I please have a grilled cheese sandwich?

Jane: Yes you can.

(She scurries away and returns soon after)...

Jane: Um, so you can have peanut butter. And...a scratchy bun. It's all we have. We don't even have chicken and fries.

Me: You don't? You only have peanut butter and a scratchy bun?

Jane: Yup. There were all these kids and they ate all the chicken and fries. So you can have peanut butter. And a scratchy bun. It's all we have.

Me: Wow. This is quite the restaurant.

Last night at dinner, Bodhi (5 1/2) started the conversation with this one...

Bodhi: If you do not have a brain, please raise your hand!

Carleigh: Are you thinking someone here might not have a brain?

Bodhi: (with tears in his eyes)... Well, I'm just kinda worried one of us might be a robot....

And Charlee (almost 7) and I had this conversation a little while ago...

Charlee: Kathleen. When are you not going to have to go to work? Like, when can you just stay home and never go to work?

Me: Oh, well, Char, I go to work to make money so that I can afford to live with you and to eat food and to drive my car. If I didn't go to work, I wouldn't have money, and I wouldn't have a place to live, or food to eat.

Charlee: Oh Kathleen. We would always take care of you.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Long overdue...and yet not.

It was the beginning of December.

My heart was pretty heavy with grief, sad for my little family. 
Truly, I was just trying to make it to Christmas break. 

And then the packages started. 
Each wrapped in brown paper and string, with the printed words attached. 

I came to my office that first day, and found this one in a grocery bag, hanging off the door handle to my office:

It was cute.
It was thoughtful. 
It made me totally curious.
And it continued.
For 12 days...

Day two was equally clever...

Day three was timely (I think I was sick...)

Day four I was in disbelief that this was really happening...

Day five I found this in my purse after a Christmas party with our student leaders. 
I still don't know how they managed to slip by me like that.

Day six (which came after a weekend, and therefore was joined with day seven's package) proved a happy day for Charlee, Bodhi and Jane!

 Day seven, my curiosity was killing me.
My eyes were definitely open, trying to catch these clever gifters.

By day eight, I was in total amazement of whomever this was. 
They were dedicated. And I was eating a lot of chocolate by this point.

Day nine was rather ironic.
I had given this CD to MCC the week before. 
I was just purging, and slightly hesitated to donate Christmas music right before Christmas, but remember, my heart was heavy with how short life is and what really I was purging my material goods.
And then day nine came, and I got the same CD back.
I was curious if it might actually be the very same CD...

Day ten was a flashback. 
When was the last time I had ever eaten Cracker Jacks? 

Day eleven. I was dying of curiosity...
...while I enjoyed a hot cocoa.
And tried to spy out any suspicious behaviour in my students.
I was looking for clues.

And then day 12 came.
And I didn't get to find out who it was.
Marlene (the Student Development Associate) hinted that she knew.
And then swore she wouldn't tell me...
I believe her exact words were,
"if you ask me in February, I'll tell you in March".

And so it's April. And I still don't know who blessed me in this way, but every time I think of it, I get a little teary. Steve (my coworker) keeps bugging me to ask Marlene, because he's just as curious. 

I know it's kind of anticlimactic, all this build up without the revelation of "whodunnit". And yet, while I'm so curious...I'm also hesitant to ask Marlene and find out who it was. 

You know why?

I can think of many different students that may have blessed me in this way.

And I love that.

I don't have an automatic "oh, it's definitely this person"...which for me, speaks to the character and the love my students (plural) demonstrate. 

It was the end of the semester. A time of final projects, and of exams, and of sheer tiredness. And yet these students were so committed to blessing me that they made sure, every day, there was a package waiting for me. 

Exactly when I needed it the most. 

It's April.
In 4 days, my students will be done. 
Many will graduate on Saturday, some will move on to other education or the work force, and others will simply leave for the summer to work and rest and get ready for next year. 

And while I think we're all ready for a break from each other (cue roommate conflict), these brown paper packages wrapped in string remind me of the favourite thing about my job (even in the midst of discipline and drama)...and this is it:

I get to work with some pretty awesome people who love Jesus, 
who try to follow Him, 
and who are learning to rely on His grace when we fail; 
and we're all in it together.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"What do you do, anyways?"

Why is it that in exhaustion, I cannot sleep? And thus I blog.

March madness is upon me. The student development kind...not the basketball kind. It is in this time that our team at the college puts in extra hours. We interview students interested in leadership positions next year and we spend a good amount of time rushing to fulfill our regular jobs...all while we pray for much wisdom. Grace. Caffeine. Sleep.

It is in these weeks that I also feel like a horrible housemate. I publicly apologize here to Carleigh and Gary. They show me so much grace.

Sometimes people ask me, "what do you do at work?"

I don't always know how to answer that because I spend a lot of time with people. I hear what's going on in their lives. I challenge. I encourage. I pray. I'm not always great at it. But I keep trying because I believe I'm supposed to and I genuinely love these students.

This means a lot of coffee dates. A lot of texting. And a lot of prayer. Sometimes, to be honest, it includes an anxious heart. (Part of why it's 12:52 am and I am blogging). My job is actually, truly, meant to be a place where I build relationships and share the hard stuff in people's lives. We come up with accountability plans and resources for that hard stuff. I've grown to see the possibilities that come through conflict management.

Then there's the task stuff. Writing policy. Reading about the latest "higher ed" trends and what it means to work with the next generation (cause I'm now old enough that I'm not part of it...). Ensuring that my student leaders have what they need to do their jobs. Keeping the commuter lounge stacked with bags of coffee (according to them, this is probably the most important thing I do).

March madness looks a little bit crazier.

10 meetings.
5 cups of coffee. (My usual day has 1 1/2).
13 hours from start to finish.
2 heart breaking moments.
1 heart lifting moment.
$15 spent in the cafeteria.
15 minutes checking and responding to email. (At 9pm).
1 half eaten muffin. (Breakfast did not fully happen today).
7 student stories.

Tomorrow will look similar, although I get to come home earlier. That being said, I also know this about my job: you never know what will happen in student development. With this job, unless you're getting on a plane, you are "available".

After telling you all that, as much as I generally love my role, I want to clarify that I'm not what you'd call a "career woman". A lot of people think I am because I'm 31 and single and have a career. Somehow I got pegged. I love my students (most of the time), but I don't do this because I desire to "climb the ladder". (If you're married and have single friends like me, please don't assume they're career women. Some women appreciate the title. Others don't.)

Truthfully, I struggle with envy toward my friends who are moms. I know that they have a hard job; my envy is based on my own passion and desire, not on the misbelief that being a mom is somehow easier (where did that lie start anyways?). I hope you know that if you're a mom, I have great respect for you. I know you don't get breaks and there are constant demands. I know there's also amazing moments where you feel completely blessed. I pray I might get to experience it for myself. I also know I might not get to.

This is where God has me in this season.

This is where He wants to use me right now.

So, tomorrow, I will pull myself out of bed. I will drink more than 1 1/2 cups of coffee. I will hear stories, experience heart breaks and heart lifts. I will come up with accountability plans. I will interview students who want to be leaders and figure out who makes the cut. I will pray.

I will also seek to wrestle with my own heart. The envy that I struggle with. The insecurity I feel about my ability to do this job. I will need to look for truth and acknowledge the untruths. I will accept my daily bread and try not to look too far beyond.

*deep breath*

Thanks for listening.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The ugly UNtruth.

Tonight I write with a face full of the ugly tears.

It is rather ironic when I realize my last two entries were so positive...that now I write almost with the opposite experience. But I think it shows the balance. And the truth about the untruth that I sometimes believe.

Today's untruth I believe:

I am unloved. And I am unlovable.

I feel alone. And whether or not that is true, it is what I feel.

I think everyone else is privileged and favoured to have a 'someone' who loves them. And whether or not that is true, it is what I feel.

I want to know that I will have a story in which I will find a love, have babies, and raise a family who loves God and loves one another; I believe I'm running out of time. And whether or not that is true, it is what I feel.

I think there must be something wrong with me that is keeping me single. And whether or not that is true, it is what I feel.

I know part of my angst, part of my willingness to believe this untruth is tiredness from working 12 days straight. I know part of this is lack of time with friends who speak truth to me. But I also know there is an enemy who is seeking to destroy me. He knows exactly where to target me.

I share all of this not to seek your pity or your guilt.

I ask that if you read this, you today encourage someone you love, maybe someone you haven't seen in a while. Speak truth into that person's life. Remind them that untruth is a lie.

Because I know I'm not the only one who has a target on her.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

on repeat.

This week's "on repeat".

Between that singleness article and this song, I have been incredibly blessed with truth.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Took the words right out of my head...

Check it out...

This is the best article I have ever read on singleness as a Christian.

Hands down.

If you've been wondering what's going on in my head, this lovely woman just said it all.

(If you're a married friend, would you also take the time to read this? It would really benefit all your single friends. And if you don't have any single friends, may you be encouraged to make some. Because we need each other.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kid History.

Carleigh just introduced me to these videos.
How have I never seen these?
(Thank you, Car)

This level of creative hilarity is freaking awesome.

Please watch.
And enjoy.
(And perhaps set aside an hour...cause once you get started, you won't be able to stop...)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Some days the grey (gray?) of this constant January rain, rain, and more rain, can get to me.

Some days my hope gets...misplaced. Perhaps one day I will share more of those thoughts here, but today I need to share of joy.

It is hard to stay too long in a miserable heart place when you live with the kind of kids that I do.

Tonight I got to watch the kiddos while Carleigh and Gary went out for dinner.

And it was fantastic.

A summary:

Jane shared all about Chris and Martin (of the famed Zaboomafoo/Wild Kratts variety); specifically about how she wants to kiss Chris, go into the tv and play with him...and kiss him again. She also reminded me that we have popcorn in the house (a very important fact, I guess, for a 3 year old).

Charlee talked about her first horseback ride on Midnight, the "kindest and gentlest horse of them all". Her eyes lit up just thinking about it. And she mentioned how she had to be very careful with the "tissue in between his hooves" (um, are you 6 or are you 20? geez these kids are growing up too fast).

And then there's Bodhi, who talked all about Rachwalski (see pronunciation above), his kindergarten learning center teacher. I love, love, love that Bo doesn't call her Mrs. Rachwalski, but just "Rachwalski", like she's some sort of business partner:

..."Yeah, Rachwalski tells me to put my hand up when I have a question"
..."I made cookies with Rachwalski"
..."Yeah, that's what Rachwalski does"

I'm half expecting to come home one day and have Bo tell me "Rachwalski said that we should diversify our portfolio".

But the best heart moment was when Bodhi, upon downing his post-dinner treat of marshmallows and hot chocolate, sighed loudly and breathed out a, "thanks for the treat, Kathleen". He then turned to me and announced: "When I'm grown up, I'm totally going to buy you a package of gum".

His chocolatey-marshmallowy finger pointed to Charlee, "not you!", and to Jane, "not you!", and then to me, "but just for you!"

In the mind of a 5 year old, that may count as a marriage proposal. I'm not exactly sure.