Friday, July 27, 2007


Having gone to the Salvation Army church until my late teens, the first thing that comes to my mind is the old song "Victory in Jesus." I tried to find it online but there are mostly horrendous .midi versions. In case you've never heard it, I did find a fancy piano version (I have no idea how to embed it), but I always imagine a brass band, tambourines and triumphant voices in harmony:

I heard an old, old story,
How a Saviour came from Glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood's atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Saviour, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow'r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and bro't
To me the victory.


I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in Glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory.


E.M. Bartlett 1939

The words are inspired by 1 Corinthians 15:57, "But thanks be to God, which giveth us
the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." This song was all I could think about today, despite today being a day of victory for me: I finished two more classes toward my degree. A victory dance (like one my friend Michelle saw in the hallway when a guy finished his last class for his degree) is all very well, but it isn't representative of the kind of victory that lasts forever.

The only victory that can last is victory over death. God gave Jesus this power: He rose after three days in a tomb. And now, when someone accepts Christ as their Lord and Saviour, they too gain victory over death. Not the kind where they inhabit the earth after they die, but an even more glorious victory! Anyone who accepts Jesus into their heart has everlasting life in Heaven, in "a mansion [God] has built for me in Glory." We need not fear death when there is something better than life on earth awaiting us. There is no better victory than victory over death.

Some of you are aware that I have two friends whom I call "Aunt" that are battling cancer, which is why I am doing this blog-off. I've consciously tried to withhold cancer references from my posts, trying to see each week's word in a different light. But this week is different, because tonight I heard that Aunt B has chosen to enter hospice care. She was diagnosed almost three years ago and told she had six months to live, but she's still with us... it's only now that she feels it is necessary to leave home for more constant care. She is one of the most incredible women of my acquaintance: a gifted musician, very caring, genuine, and a strong Christian. She is also one of those rare people who ask "How are you?" and really want to know.

Thinking about music, and in particular a song I learned at the Salvation Army, brought Aunt B to mind. Tonight's phone call really struck me: I had to write this post about the old chorus, and about a woman who has been victorious in her battle with cancer thus far. She said to me several months ago that she didn't want to go yet, because she still had work to do for the Lord. Yet she will be content when God calls her home, because she will be going to that mansion, and she will leave the earth knowing God has secured her victory over death, the one thing which so many people are afraid of. While it seems to the medical profession that Aunt B has had an "extra" two and a half years, not to mention a time yet to be determined, none of this is truly borrowed time. It is all in God's plan. Her victory is in Jesus' name, and with Him on her side she has nothing to fear.

Victory does not wave a white flag. It goes down fighting the good fight.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Where'd the sunshine go?

And now for something completely different from my rant (below). I wrote this this morning waiting for class to get interesting.

What's a girl gotta do to get some sunshine?
The first half of July, it seemed we were finally blessed with summer weather. It was so hot I complained, even though I swore I wouldn't--but it was only because of the ridiculousness of sitting in a non-air-conditioned classroom for 2 classes X 2 hours in the 30+ heat.

So now, it's foggy and raining and humid, meaning you need to cover up against the raindrops but your fall jacket is too warm. It is disgusting. This is the West Coast! It's supposed to be beautiful, warm weather, not fall-like and dreary.

I was really looking forward to summer, not to mention all my cute summer clothes! I didn't get to wear them last year. There is no way I should be wearing jeans, long sleeves and a jacket on the 23rd of July. After spending 3 months of last summer in South Africa's winter season, with an average temperature of 20 in the daytime and 0 at night, I was due some sunshine!

I had visions of reading books for my summer classes in the backyard in the sunshine, with an ice-cold drink, or heading down to the beach for ice cream. Instead I've been making tea and hot chocolate, craving the comfort of grilled cheese and soup at lunch, and reading on the couch. Backyard reading has been out of the question for the past 10 days; it's just too depressing compared to earlier this month when I sat outside in my sundress in a camping chair with a drink in the armrest and Shakespeare in my hand.

Seriously... there is no reason for it to be this un-summery. That may not be a word, but I think it should be. It's the only thing that describes the weather lately.

Spinach? Why didn't I think of it before?!?

This is a rant.
I just got on my bus. I was sitting on a bench at the bus loop at school, and a grizzled 40something man in a wheelchair rolled up. He asked if I minded if he sat down and I said no.
Then he added, "I smoke."

Immediately I replied, "Then I do mind, because I have asthma." I was firm, but not judgmental about his life choices, though I was curious why he was in a wheelchair when he so easily got up to move to the bench.
I saw a bus pull up and said, "Never mind; you sit down--that's my bus anyway."

Then he proceeded to tell me I should get rid of my asthma! "Eat some spinach," he said. Apparently this is how to free myself of the wheezing and coughing and general discomfort of trouble breathing, particularly when I'm exposed to smoke, dust, animals and mold.

Oooh, that annoyed me. "I can't get rid of it," I told him. "I've had it since I was a baby. My grampa still has it and he's in his 70s. It doesn't go away."

I had gotten up to go to my bus--which mercifully kept its motor running and left in under a minute--and I heard him say, "And put some meat on your bones!"

Great. So now he's staring at my ass under my backpack and telling me how to cope with my lifelong affliction! I am so sick of people who think they know what it's like living with asthma. "Take a pill," they say. "Get allergy shots."

No, thanks. I don't want to put any more chemicals in my body than I already do with my two separate inhalers (which I take as infrequently as possible). And I certainly don't need someone who smokes telling me to improve my health by putting on weight and eating more spinach. Anyway, aren't the two mutually exclusive?


Friday, July 20, 2007


Well, I must say that I never thought I would title a blog entry "Breasts." But in the interests of the Blog Off for Breast Cancer, here goes!

I have a friend called Ian. (Cue Evette slapping her hand over her mouth--yes, Evette, *that* Ian.) About five years ago, Ian was invited to dinner at my best friend's parents' house. I wasn't there, but our friend who had a little crush on him was, and by the time the evening was over her crush had waned a bit.

The good dishes were on the table, and a nice meal had been prepared. By the time dessert was ready to be served, Ian was full of good food and feeling very comfortable. He began sharing stories about his recent trip to France with his best friend Dave. One of these stories began, "Dave and I found a great beach, eh?"

Turns out it was a topless beach, and Dave and Ian, who were in their early twenties, really enjoyed their afternoon. Ian, who has never been shy or self-conscious to my recollection, thought nothing of sharing his thoughts on the subject of the topless beach. "Bruce," he said to my friend's dad, "I'm sure you'll agree with me. And Margaret, you're a woman. So I just have to say this:
Breasts are beautiful!"

So, there you have it! Breasts are beautiful.

Take it from Ian.

Click if you can give a donation to help Courtney with her 3-day walk!

If not, please click to fund free mammograms. The breasts will thank you!

Friday, July 13, 2007


Today marks two months of marriage for Jody and I. It seems appropriate that this week's word is something that has been pivotal in our relationship.
When we met for the second time (the first being several years ago and briefly), I wasn't expecting him to be anything more to me than a great ballroom dance partner. I'd just gotten out of a relationship that had never reached great emotional heights, and went to a casual swing dance, where I was surprised to see Jody. We partnered each other for most of the night--which was unusual for me--and found that we moved really well together. When I asked him, he seemed really interested in taking some ballroom classes with me. And at the end of the night, he walked me outside and wouldn't go home until he saw me safely onto my bus. He said a lady shouldn't wait alone at a bus stop, which made me wonder all the way home.

It appeared that Jody had harboured a hope of dating me since the spring, and a summer of my seeing someone else had only dimmed it a little. He arranged for us to practice dancing at the fabulous Butchart Gardens, and once we were there I couldn't help but suggest we stay and roam around once the dance was over. I hoped the connection I was feeling was more than dance connection.
At the wishing fountain in the Rose Garden (pictured), we discovered that our hopes were not unfounded.

A few weeks went by, and we were entertaining thoughts. Serious thoughts. Yet we both felt unbalanced, insecure in our burgeoning feelings, certain we must be imagining something so suddenly wonderful. But we continued to hope, building our relationship around that light, enveloping feeling that we belonged together. We mentioned hope constantly, trying to hold onto it, as though we were afraid it would slip away.

Eventually we realised that our hope came from a genuine desire to commit ourselves to each other. The hope that we would still be involved with each other next week, next month, next year, became love that was founded in a mutual trust in that initial wisp of emotion. Hope is sometimes seen as a dangerous sentiment, one that can carry us beyond the realistic plans we make for our lives. "Dare I hope?" you might hear someone ask. Hope carries a certain amount of risk. It is only a positive feeling because it lifts us away from believing in a negative alternative.

It's as though it's as weightless as a balloon, this emotion that buoys us and gives us a childlike trust in the unbelievable. And like a balloon, hope is hard to hold onto. It might vanish into the sky at any moment, should you let go. But it is worth holding on. It makes all the difference.

Click the banner above if you can help Courtney by giving her a donation in support of her 3-day walk!
This post is part of the Blog Off for Breast Cancer.

Friday, July 06, 2007


And so begins the second round of the blog-off! Our first word is SURVIVOR -- read my post below, please. I am really excited to be doing this; hopefully it will kick-start my creative noodle as well as raise money for a good cause. Check out Five Second Dance Party, Courtney's site, for more info. Kudos to her for doing a three-day walk to fight breast cancer!

You can also click the link on the right to fund mammograms.
Thanks for visiting!


For some, it's a reality TV series. For others, it's a media-made hero who walked away from tragedy, or a friend who lived through a ravaging illness. But not everyone has FOX, watches the news, or has an inspiring story that begins in a hospital bed.

There is another kind of survivor: yourself.

You don't have to be Lance Armstrong to be a survivor. Just as your picture on the cover of TIME Magazine or a million dollars would alter the course of your life, so can the simple realisation that you are already a survivor. You've come this far, haven't you? Made tough choices, worked hard, maybe uprooted yourself or made a stand in a crowd.

Each day you inhabit the earth with purpose, you survive.

I know many people who belittle their victories. They're afraid to share what they've accomplished, certain they'll be seen as arrogant. While their high school friends are working, they're the ones at college, pretending to like it but feeling alone--yet they will themselves to go to class, focused on the goal. There is the young woman who fought her way out of an emotionally abusive relationship, and later opened herself up to the possibility of a new love.

Why should these types of victories be any less of a success than the "outwit-outplay-outlast" mentality of Survivor? The so-called reality show pits contestants againts each other in a short-term, all-out battle for money and notoriety. Theirs is a battle of strength and wit, but nothing at all like the daily battles we each face. The toughest opponent you will ever know is yourself. And when you fail, it is on your own terms, and you can't vote yourself off the island. You still have to pay your bills, even if it means there is nothing to eat but tuna and apple juice for a week. You still have to go to work, even if you have been demoted unfairly, until you find a new job. You still have to communicate with the outside world, because life doesn't stop while you get yourself together.

If you're a survivor, you will find a way to overcome the things that burden you. Not ignore them, but overcome them, no matter how insignificant they may seem alongside political disasters or grave illnesses. We all bear different burdens, strengthening our spirits in the process. Many of us are quietly surviving, with others unaware of the struggles we face daily. Perhaps we ourselves are unaware of this tenacity we bring to every day. Each of us has a purpose to discover, a quest that tests and fulfills us. Giving yourself over to that purpose, every day, is what makes you a survivor.


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