Thursday, December 27, 2007



Ontario Man to Wed Island Girl – She Said Yes!

Waterloo, ON — Dec. 24, 2007 — Christmas came a few hours early for Ellen R. Graf this year. Dan J. Martin of Elmira, Ontario presented a sparkling diamond ring to Ms. Graf (formerly of Nanaimo, BC) while on a snowy Christmas Eve walk to admire the Christmas light sculptures in Waterloo Park. While the Bride-to-be looked on agog (slightly resembling a fish out of water) the Groom-to-be knelt and pulled out a ring box and asked her to marry him. Although Ms. Graf had stopped breathing temporarily, his repeated asking prompted a response of “uhuh, yes, mmhmm, yes” accompanied by strong nodding of the head. She is currently being treated for shock. Mr. Martin is being treated for compulsive grinning.

Friends and family are thrilled for the couple and have offered their heartfelt blessing. Said the Father of the Bride, “At last!” The Bride’s mother advised “You make a great couple (keep him, he does dishes!)”. Other reactions have included “Yahoo”, “YAY!” and high pitched loud squealing noises. Ms. Graf and Mr. Martin are sincerely grateful for the prayers that have been offered on their behalf, and are so honored to have friends and family who have encouraged and loved them while their relationship has developed.

While a date has not yet been set, the couple will be married in the New Year. When asked about the date, the groom advised “Sooner than later!” After the wedding, they will reside in Waterloo, Ontario. The bride’s process of ‘clutter reduction’ has already begun so that her husband-to-be might have at least one shelf in the closet to call his own.

Mr. Martin hails from Ontario, while Ms. Graf was raised on Vancouver Island, BC. They realize that this is a cross-cultural relationship and have enjoyed learning about each other’s respective backgrounds – especially the foods.

Both the bride and groom are available for interview (they’re regaining their coherency by the day) and the ring is available for viewing. Photos available upon request.

# # #

Monday, December 17, 2007

Un-Fortune Cookies

Okay - I confess. I love fortune cookies.

I can't eat them, but I can't wait to break open the crispy little creatures and see what they're going to tell me. But really, the fortunes are dumb, aren't they?

Today's fortunes:

"We would often be sorry if our wishes came true."
"It is quality rather than quantity that matters. Do a good job."

I feel ripped off! Those aren't fortunes at all! Grrr... Wings 'unfortune' cookies! Who thinks of these things?!

According to Wikipedia: The Fortune Cookie is a crisp cookie made from flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk which is baked around a fortune, a piece of paper with words of faux wisdom or vague prophecy. ... Despite conventional wisdom, the cookies were invented in California.
Ahhh... they're from California. No wonder they're bizarre and don't make too much sense! :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Own Personal Ice-Capade

This weekend will go down in Danellen (our celebrity nickname) history. After finishing up a bunch of Christmas shopping and enjoying a wonderful meal at Milestones, Dan had the fabulous idea to go skating in the outdoor rink at Nathan Phillips Square in Downtown Toronto, which was really fun. My skates were sharp, my spirits bright, and we were bundled up like Ralphie in A Christmas Story.

It was kind of like the movie Serendipity, but not quite.

So, it's been a few years since I've skated, and it wasn't the best conditions to practice on for the first time again. There were hundreds of people on the ice, and it was totally chopped up.

Although I had a fairly tenuous start, I was doing good, but getting tired. And, I guess I wasn't picking up my feet enough because I was getting lazy and my pick caught, and I did a HUGE belly flop on the ice. No normal falling for me. None of the falling on your butt, side, etc. I fel directly on my stomach and arms. Flat. On. My. Face. I slid a little ways, and was absolutely covered in snow when I stood up.

Dan was in so much shock, and I was in shock (and I knocked the wind out of myself) but all I could do was laugh hysterically. I could hardly skate back to the bench because I was laughing so hard. I bruised a rib, my shoulder is hurt, and I'm still laughing (although it hurts because of my rib). Seriously, I'm still aching all over.

Poor Dan, planning a romantic winter evening and I'm just... typical Ellen. I think I get it from Grandma Ellen. She had a rather miserable track record of broken arms and legs from roller skating and water skiing.

Fortunately, I also got her sense of humor, which came in handy when we got back to the car and realized I had forgotten to take the tag off of the top of my toque and had worn it all over Toronto that night. Sigh. Some things never change.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Face to Face

This past Friday afternoon, one of my friends met Jesus face to face. That alone makes me thrilled for her, regardless of promises that she will know no more suffering, pain, regret or anything else that is broken and sad. Of course, that means that we won't see her here again, which makes me grieve for us and our loss. I'm sad that Lisa won't be here for birthday parties, births, Anne of Green Gables parties, Thanksgiving, Easter... all those things.

It's such an odd mixture of feelings as we follow St. Paul's instruction that "we do not grieve as those without hope". What does that look like practically? How does that work out for Lisa's best friend who never planned for this to happen? How does that look for Lisa's sisters who don't have her support? How does that look for me who needs someone to challenge me like only Lisa did?

But then...I remember that Lisa now knows the answer to the questions. Although we can only imagine, Lisa knows the answer to "will I dance before You Jesus, or in awe of You be still?" She knows what the rooms look like that Jesus had prepared for her in His father's heavenly mansion.

At these times I remember that my understanding is so small, and God's plan is so big. In fact, it's like seeing through a foggy glass window - we can't quite discern what is on the other side. And that's okay. The most important thing is that we know there is something big happening on the other side of the fog and the mist, and that one day we will be a part of it.

"We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly as He knows us!"
The Message / Bible (I Cor. 13:12)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Attempting to Unplug

Okay - so i'm finally getting some down time, and it's about time, if you ask me!

Dan is happy I'm taking time off (he's probably wondering where his relaxed, happy girlfriend went) and I'm happy too. However, I'm finding it really hard to totally relax. It's been a year packed with drama, drama, drama. Too much drama - which leaves me feeling slightly on the edge, even when I'm supposed to be relaxing!

Unfortunately, I think I haven't planned my days off well enough. I haven't laid around in a lounge chair yet. I love to organize things, cook, sew, watch movies... and I've done very little of that thus far (with only two days at home under my belt). Let's see what the next couple days hold - hopefully lots of organizing stuff, cooking, and more sleeping in - and more reading. (I'm currently enjoying a thriller entitled "The Pawn" - one I'll definitely have to pass along to my mom).

The way things typically go, probably by the time Monday rolls around, I'll have just figured out how to rest. Maybe I should have taken two weeks. Oh well, at least I'll not be sleep deprived any more!
Anyone got any tips?

Monday, August 27, 2007

REALLY Eating Royally

Okay, so more payback for my not-so-good week? Well, tonight I got the chance to dine at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Turns out, one of the benefits of touring with a famous chef is fabulous food and remarkable service. Good thing that it doesn't happen very often, or i'd have to buy a whole new larger wardrobe (or some really stretchy pants recommended by Julie Barnhill).

Anyhow, we just enjoyed one of the best meals i've had in a long time.

Oh. My. Word.

The chef, Jess, was fantastic. This afternoon he allowed us to take over his kitchen for a short while in order to shoot some film for an eTalk Daily interview, and then he invited us back for dinner.
The Ahi Tuna appetizer was delicious. The steak was absolutely incredible (and who knew you could cook ANYTHING at 1800 degrees?). The asparagus perfectly al dente. The creme brulee was PERFECT (and my favorite dessert), although Darren wouldn't allow me to lick the spoon or bowl (apparently it's not a compliment to the chef - could've fooled me!). And I topped off my perfectly round meal (and belly) with a decaf Americano that beat Starbucks hands down (and you KNOW that point is hard for me to surrender).

So, I guess the diet starts tomorrow... after lunch with Darren, of course. As one friend said to me once "I can almost hear myself getting fatter". But tonight, I'm smiling like a happy cat.

Eating Royally and The Rock

This morning was odd in the best sort of way. I am on an author tour with The Royal Chef. We were at Canada AM first thing this morning, and the guest interviewed right before Darren McGrady demonstrated his world-class, Princess Diana Bread and Butter Pudding was... you guessed it... The Rock.

Yes, The Rock. Also known as "Dwayne Johnson".
The man characterized by the phrase "Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?"

Oh, the irony. And really, it's just weird. But, it was cool to get to see The Rock in person, even if his biceps were outshined by his 7 year-old movie co-star as they promoted it in their interview.

Although it seems like perhaps it's divine justice for having such a stressful weekend, Dan said it's just not fair.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Life Unplugged

Since i've been disconnected, i've been fairly disconcerted.

When I started University in 1994, I got my first email account. I remember typing in a little computer lab on campus, and printing out my email on dot-matrix printers. In 1997, when I spent a year on a ship in Central America, email was a luxury that kept me connected to my family & friends. This week, 13 years after I got my first email account, with no internet connection, I didn't even know how I would communicate to plan an event. I couldn't print out directions. I honestly don't know how to cope without internet. I can't remember how to do this. I forget that I own maps. I forget that I own a phone.

I forget that being constantly connected has added an incredible level of pressure to my life. Pressure to know all things, do all things, be all things, and do them perfectly. It's also more expensive - more things to buy, internet connection to pay for.

There are some huge lessons in this, but now I need to slow down long enough to learn them.

Complaining Again?

Okay, so I gave up complaining for Lent this spring, and I think I might need to revisit that concept.

This past week has been frustrating - Dan was sick with sciatic nerve problems, and in miserable pain. I was out of town for work. My computer crashed and still isn't working. My internet is down. My cell phone died. The media tour i'm working on for next week has been problematic. And to top it all off, when I went to the bathroom at the hotel, soap squirted up my arm. Stuff has been happening with friends & family back home. Stuff has been happening with friends & family in Ontario. Enough wrenches have been thrown in my perfect plans this past week to make me run entirely off kilter.

However, those things are small things. They will pass. In five years, I will remember none of them. Good things are happening. I drove back and forth to Toronto a number of times, and was perfectly safe. No car accidents, despite my stressed out distraction. My computer will eventually get fixed. My friend Erin is here this weekend, and we've laughed enough to work off a few of the Jelly Bellys we've been eating. I had wonderful meals with friends at the Keg and Mandarin last week. Dan is feeling much better, if not perfect. I have the luxury of warm water and soap to wash my hands. I have a job that I love. I get paid to do things that I love. I have friends and family that teach me that i'm loveable.

So, to those who have endured my rants this past week, I ask for your forgiveness. Life is good, God is patient and endlessly gracious with me, and I need to state that far louder than my yowling at temporary inconveniences and frustrations.

Perhaps I need to do another 40-day complaint fast - maybe for, say, Rosh Hashana or something. (and maybe I need to fast from Jelly Bellys also)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I am now Emma Woodhouse!

My Jane Austen / P&P addiction just keeps growing deeper and deeper - this is a fun quiz to find out who you would be in Jane Austen's world. Who would I least want to be? Charlotte Lucas - my apologies if you, in fact, turned out to be Charlotte! It's simply that I am much more of an Emma Woodhouse...

Now to figure out how to convince Dan to take me to see the new movie!

You scored as Emma Woodhouse, Emma is possibly one of the most loyal characters of Austen, always wanting better for those around her and doing all she possibly can to make it happen. Her motives sometimes get in the way of her good intentions and her own opinions can end up ruling her actions, but she has a good heart. She loves to be social and is welcoming to most, unless they are too silly to tolerate. While she sometimes changes her behavior to make others feel comfortable, she knows who she is and is always bettering herself.

Emma Woodhouse


Elizabeth Bennet


Marianne Dashwood


Lady Catherine


Jane Bennet


Elinor Dashwood


Charlotte Lucas


Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Long Quiz!!!
created with

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

2 Free Women of Faith Tix for Giveaway!

Mostly only my Toronto area friends (and Dan) get to cash in on any of my work connections (we went to Joel Osteen a couple weeks ago - interesting...) but for once, I have some comp passes to something in the West!

So, if anyone in Calgary reads my blog - or if anyone who reads my blog has friends in Calgary... I have two free Women of Faith tickets (free - no strings) to the first person from Calgary who emails me or posts a comment! They're in section 121, Row 11, Seats 1 & 2. Pretty good tix! They're worth $150 together!

The conference is being held on August 17 & 18th (in just a couple of weeks!). So, let me know if you'd like to go!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Addicted to Jane

I admit it.

I've watched Pride & Prejudice too many times to count (the 5 hour BBC version - truly the only REAL movie representation). I try to convert others - i'm downright evangelistic about Jane Austen.

So, i've been excited about the forthcoming movie of Jane Austen's life, and in preparation have read Just Jane and Becoming Jane. Of the two, Just Jane was far better.

Any other Jane Austen afficiandos will be clap their hands and exclaim 'Capital!' with this novelization of Jane's life. I passed on my copy to Heather, who I imagine will start wearing Regency-era dresses while reading it. Nancy Moser did an excellent job of getting into the life and words of Jane Austen (and those of us who know books verbatim will recognize some key sarcastic phrases like, 'shelves in the closet, happy thought indeed!').

Not Quite as Dignified

So, my second most interesting meeting this year? (After Jim Caviezel, of course!) The Simpsons!

I still haven't seen the movie (waiting till next weekend) but can't get enough of the Spider Pig trailer.

The phrase "from the sublime to the ridiculous" seems to fit here.

Finally - Proof

Here it is, at long last, proof of my Jim Caviezel moment. And no, Kelvin, there is no Photoshop involved... anyone who knows me enough will figure that out. I do have a few questions though:

1. Could I wear a louder jacket?

2. Did I do something offensive to make Jim Caviezel stand away from me? Was he offended by my jacket?

3. Exactly how tall is Jim Caviezel? I was wearing heels - so was probably about 5'10" in this photo!

I can't wait to hear the full Word of Promise New Testament... everything i've heard so far is awesome.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Spilling Issues

I have realized that I actually miss something from my old apartment that i'd never thought i'd miss.

Black berber carpet. Ugly laminate floors.

Why? Because, no matter what you did, either nothing showed on the carpet or you could just wipe it off the old asbestos laminate floors.

Now, although i've only lived here not quite two months (and have only actually been here for about half of that time) i've already spilled 3 cups of coffee, one cup of tea and one margarita on my light beige living room carpet. And heck, with the enormous sofas there isn't much carpet to be seen! And although i've scrubbed and Dan has scrubbed (twice when he's come over now i've been on my hands and knees scrubbing carpet), although I bought "mean green" cleaner and used it generously, although I wished the marks away... they're still there.

So, i'll have to ask a friend with a steam cleaner if I can borrow the only machine that might make my carpet clean again.

Hmm... interesting spiritual lessons out of this? (Don't you love how I have to do that?) No matter what I do, I can't get myself - or my own carpets - clean enough. I have to ask someone else to help. I need a Savior. I can move furniture to hide stains, but they're still there. I try to clean myself up, but "I do what I don't want to do, and what I want to do I don't do", like Paul said.

I'm grateful to know a Savior who has cleansed me... and who leaves no stains - none at all. Everything that is forgiven is forgotten. It's done. It's over. No more judgement. Nothing. Nada. Pitched into the deepest part of the ocean. Completely over.

I'm also grateful to have a friend with a steam cleaner. I'll soon have her on speed dial.

And perhaps I should invest in a couple of spill-proof cups.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The End of it All

I can't believe it.

I finally caved and signed up for facebook. I had sworn that I wouldn't (kind of like how I wouldn't blog) but I've chosen to go for it and just start up an account and see if I actually use it. Thanks a lot, Michelle! Seriously, you're going to make me be all postmodern or something.

I was so happy being behind the times.

And you know what is worse? I have no idea how to really use facebook, so I need lessons. Pitiful when I need to find someone younger than me to teach me this stuff!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gems in Atlanta

I have been in Atlanta the last week, and it has been packed with good things and great things. Have you noticed that often the great things are things that aren't planned, and come in small packages?

On Saturday night, I attended the Christy Awards - frankly, my favourite awards show in our industry. While the Christys honor fiction authors, they recognized Phyllis Tickle with a special lifetime achievement award this year.

If you don't know who Phyllis is, perhaps you should. In a nutshell, Phyllis took Christian books into the mainstream by working with Publishers Weekly magazine to start reviewing books written by Christians with spiritual themes, whether they be fiction or non-fiction. In so doing, she broke ground and allowed us to reach people with the written word who might otherwise never consider reading a 'Christian' or spiritual book. I am grateful that she did so.

Phyllis is also funny, wise, and an accomplished author. I am so grateful to have women like her as role models in this work we do - although there are very few. Her acceptance speech was one of those that you want to memorize, as it was profound all in and of itself. One thing Phyllis said was exceptionally profound to me, and served as a challenge to me as I keep serving in this industry, as my ministry and as my work.

Phyllis said,

“Let us say, we have worked in these fields,

we have enjoyed the crop,

and have loved the landowner that we serve."

May I continue to work in the fields that God gives me, enjoy the harvest and the crop He provides, and may I, above all else, love the Landowner that I serve. He is amazing.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Room of Horrors

Okay, time for a little honesty... does everyone have a room that looks like this after they move? It's the 'second bedroom' but looks more like a room of horrors. It will eventually be a room where I can keep my sewing machine set up, and unpack my 'library' onto bookshelves.

The living room, bedroom and kitchen are all organized and sorted out (mostly - except for trying to figure out huge lazyboy sofas in a not so enormous room).

Today is D-Day though. Dan is working on a patio with his brother, and i've got the day to sort out the nightmare room... we shall see how it goes. Meanwhile, i'm...erm... spending a little time blogging. No, don't call it procrastinating!

Please, tell me i'm not alone in this!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yay! for a First Novel

A few nights ago I finished Feeling For Bones - the first novel by Bethany Pierce.

Feeling For Bones is a beautifully written memoir-like novel following a teenaged girl through life's upheavals. With a father who is a disillusioned, former pastor, a mother struggling to keep everything together, and a sweet, energetic much younger sister, 16 year-old Olivia struggles to find identity, and longs to be beaufiful. This is a creative novel, and a literary gem. I love finding great new authors, and am so happy when one has a successful first crack at writing the novel of the century. Well done, Bethany! (Plus - it doesn't hurt that it has a stellar cover design!)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


A little late but better late than never, once again Historymaker in Chilliwack, BC was excellent.

Great moments:

* Searching for miles for a Dairy Queen with Erin, and Dan giving us internet directions from Ontario - and then waking up in the morning to realize that there was a huge DQ right outside our hotel all along.

* eating White Spot burgers at a Triple O's in a gas station with Heather & Paul, Dan, George and Darian. Excellent. Darian thought it was romantic.

* Darcy wanting a fog / lights show like this.

* Dan finding a kid in the bathroom with TH1NK tattoos all over his abdomen.

* Seeing kids challenged to be Scripturally literate.

* Sharing time with kids who want to live for Christ, and want to find out how.

* Sitting in the rain and chatting with a young lady searching for God.

* Driving a brand new Ford Mustang... over a curb.

Throwing Sofas

They don't make sofas like they used to. Seriously!

In the final stages of 'The Big Move' two weeks ago, the guys thought that they'd throw my circa 1960 sofa off the balcony - third floor balcony. I was getting rid of the sofa anyhow (it's remarkable - you can leave old furniture on the curb here!) and the guys deserved a break / some fun (it was 32 degrees C and horribly humid) so, out went the sofa. The sofa wouldn't die! They couldn't get the legs off of it, and it looked no different after hurling down three storeys than it did in my living room. Solid as a rock. And hey, I paid $10 for it three years ago!

Ahh... i'm sure that no one will be using my new sofas in 47 years... they just don't make sofas like they used to.

Now, my new sofas... hopefully they'll last at least 10 years. They cost a little more than $10, but they're great.

Chuck Norris

Since our friend Rainer keeps telling Chuck Norris jokes, now i'm more conscious of the guys. He also happens to be one of our authors! Not only is he Walker, Texas Ranger, but he's a fiction author. Who would have guessed?

Anyhow, today I got a very funny Chuck Norris Mountain Dew commercial forwarded to me. I love to watch the man crack his knuckes... as he prepares to roundhouse kick these guys!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

13 Ellen Grafs in the US

And here you thought that one of me was enough...

This is kind of fun.
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Too Much Stuff

So, i'm moving.

Packing all your belongings into boxes reveals things. Like - I probably have 70 pairs of shoes. Now, if you read my previous post, you KNOW I got a good deal on every pair!

However, yesterday was the day of reckoning for my kitchen. It's a little kitchen, so common sense would say it wouldn't take very long to pack up. I'm one person, right? (ha, ha, ha)

My friends Julie & Melanie helped me pack up the kitchen for 3 hours yesterday - and we're not quite finished. I am most definitely thanking God for these ladies - not just because I needed the help (I did!) and not just because working with them was a lot more fun than doing it by myself (it was!) but because they were good at being ruthless. We found a box of cereal that expired in 2006. Julie found an enormous amount of salt (& salt shakers). Melanie told me I had too many glasses. We found a 2 1/2 year old jar of pickled beets that scared Julie. We purged. There was even a dead spider in my cupboard. It was like "Clean Sweep: Herbert St. edition".

4 boxes & 2 bags of stuff are now in my car to take the thrift store. This is added to an already full trunk of stuff to go!

Dan, clever man that he is, kept his mouth shut and a broad grin on his face. He loved it. I think that he might give these girls an award. Melanie reminded him that "she's all yours".

It begs a spiritual question: I wonder what junk i'm holding onto that, if revealed, my honest and loving friends would tell me to dump? What stuff i'm hanging onto that is totally useless? Do I need a spiritual 'clean sweep'?
Hmm... just some thoughts.

(Postscript: The justice? We went to some garage sales yesterday where I picked up a few treasures - a filing cabinet for $2 - and it was something I actually needed!)

Friday, May 11, 2007


I think that one of the best parts of being human is being able to celebrate the good things that happen in the lives of others - especially those we believe most deserve it. You know, those things that make you cry happy tears for other people...

I've loved watching Paul & Wanda's blog to see news of their new daughter. They're amazing people, and I can only imagine them as amazing parents. Congratulations, Paul & Wanda.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dentist Bad - Coupons Good

Although today i'm suffering from the after effects of a painful dentist appointment (and somewhat like a bear with a toothache, I have to say - not my best attitude, i'll admit it) I was cheered up by some good new coupons on one of my favorite new websites -
I love a good deal. A great item at an incredible price makes my heart pound faster and makes my blood pressure rise. And, although i'm being teased about 'becoming a good Mennonite woman', friends who are similarly thrifty are coming out of the woodwork - and my coupons are being shared and appreciated by more and more people. Aha! Saving money is infectious - and addictive, I have to say.
Right now i've found my favorites at, and . Now I have to stay home long enough to shop!

Oh, and i'm finding great bargains for my forthcoming move (if you hadn't heard - i'll be moving at the end of May - hallelujah!). Since Dan is at motorcycle training all weekend, i'm hoping to rope a girlfriend or two into some yard sales on the weekend, and even found a piece of furniture on the roadside last night. It amazes me how in Waterloo you can leave something you don't want anymore on the roadside, and by morning someone has picked it up! I still kind of feel like a thief throwing things in the back of my truck (we didn't do this in BC or Georgia!) but now I have a furniture refinishing project for this weekend. Like I needed something else to do with having to get all my packing done in the next two weeks!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Coffee Intervention

Our pastor, Brandon Malo, at Elevation showed this cartoon last Sunday. It made me laugh, since my brother Ed did a coffee intervention with me a few years ago.
I was home visiting my family for a few weeks, and Ed became increasingly concerned about my rather *generous* coffee intake. He went to my mom, and mom came to me with his concern. I cut down a little (admittedly, I was drinking a 10-cup pot of coffee every day) but have never forgotten his coffee intervention.
In the years since, I have varied between going off coffee (with no 'coffee withdrawal headache', I have to say) and drinking ridiculous amounts of steaming dark roast (where it might be more convenient to simply be hooked up to an IV supply). I even have some times of coffee moderation - two cups in the morning, and maybe one in the afternoon.
Now that Dan and I have been dating, i've been slowly and steadily converting him into a west-coast coffee snob... he's officially off Tim Hortons and now is a regular at Starbucks. So, do you think that a coffee intervention is a valid thing? It's not like I would bother drinking a caffeinated water or anything - I just love a nice, dark roast, black coffee.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Releasing the Geezer Within

I got to spend a little time with Colleen Coble this Sunday / Monday. She is a kindred spirit! She's fun, smart, warm - and Colleen is addicted to chocolate and coffee... and loves turkey! In the midst of a discussion on the evils of asparatame an it’s tendency to aggravate gout (in my dad’s big toe – not my own) I realized that I had released my inner geezer (or more appropriately ‘senior adult’). You can get in on the discussion with some diet Pepsi addicts here.

A few years ago, some friends and I came up with a theory: just as a person can have an inner child, they can have an inner teenager or even an inner geezer (old person). I most definitely have an inner geezer. I admit it. I may look like I have an outer teenager, but I can tend to act more like someone who regularly gets to order from a reduced-price menu at family restaurants.

I like routine. I like early bedtimes. I like Antiques Roadshow. I get cold easily. I can discuss intestinal issues and things like gout. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs.

So, do you have an inner child – an inner teenager – or an inner geezer? I think this might be more revealing than any other personality test… For the record - I believe that Colleen has an inner teenager!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lunch With Jesus

This job definitely has some perks.
Even though I missed seeing John Cusack once in Chicago (Brad!), I had lunch with Jesus yesterday.
I also had lunch with the Count of Monte Cristo.

Well, kind of.

Most famous for playing Jesus in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ , Jim Caviezel joined us at the meetings i'm at in Nashville, and it was cool to see him in person. I had my photo taken with him, so will post evidence (eventually) but basically it was just a cool experience. He shared about his faith, brought his best friend with him and shared about his passion (pardon the pun) for his new project - The Word of Promise dramatized audio Bible (which sounds amazing, I have to say, and features other awesome voices like Marisa Tomei, Richard Dreyfuss and Lou Gossett Jr.). And I'm actually a fan, not just a bandwagon jumper - even own the VHS of a little known film called Angel Eyes starring Jim and Jennifer Lopez (it's sick, but i'm a JLo movie fan - although i've never stooped to watch Gigli).

So there you go. A brush with Hollywood, in Nashville, at an unlikely place - a Christian publisher's sales conference. And I liked the guy - he did an hilarious impersonation of Mel Gibson (apparently a chain smoker) and shared a little of his painful experiences filming The Passion. I'm looking forward to being able to promote The Word of Promise.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On My Way... Again

Well, i'm on the road again, starting tomorrow morning with a flight to Ottawa, for a women's ministry conference, and then a trip down to Nashville for a publisher sales conference on Sunday. Here's hoping (and praying) that my luggage makes it this time, and that the Thrifty Car Rental folks are a lot better at these airports.

(Update: I got my bag, and am waiting for my clothing refund. Thrifty has refunded my car rental from Orlando due to their 'Customer Service Representative' making me cry! I even got a beautiful gift basket from Au Bon Pain for the open, stale coffee beans they sold me! All's well that ends well...)

Anyhow, i'm looking forward to catching up on my magazine reading in the airports, and probably will devour "Miss Match" - a first novel from Erynn Mangum that was HIGHLY recommended to me. (Thanks Michelle!) It looks like fun, and since I actually did love the old television series by the same name featuring Cher from Clueless (Alicia Silverstone) which no longer runs on tv *sob*.

So, even if I have a cancelled or delayed flight - I have good reading. And if nothing else, I have Sudoku (i'm so addicted it frightens me).

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Chocolate Bunny Chomping

Perhaps it’s because I was already sampling the Easter chocolate today and feel slightly caffeinated / sugar-loaded, I’m wondering… Will you snap the ear off a chocolate bunny like a wild animal this weekend? I still love the feeling of gnawing off the back foot or the front toe, or perhaps even the ear, and chewing down until only the bunny belly was left… or perhaps melted by inadvertently leaving it in a spot of sunshine. (This was a formative event in my young life – happened when I was 7 years old – the loss of a bunny to a careless placement on a windowsill was more than I could bear. I’m scarred)

While my favourite Easter treat is still the Cadbury mini-eggs (tried the dark chocolate ones this year – mmmm…) and Cadbury cream eggs, I love the kitschy comfort of the classic solid chocolate bunny. Maybe it just has to be better chocolate now, no waxy ‘chocolate-flavoured candy’. And, I might just bite the ears off first.

a. What part of the bunny do you eat first?
b. Do you take glee in chomping off the tail / ear / foot?
c. Have you already started in on the Easter chocolate?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Weird Ways to Die

While slightly morbid, I found this site fascinating - 30 Strangest Deaths in History

Plus - it's proof that I have a dangerous job. Someone has actually been killed by a bookcase! Does anyone else think it's odd that her mother didn't find her for 11 days?

Death by Bookcase
Mariesa Weber was reported missing by her family for nearly two weeks before they found her in her bedroom, wedged behind a bookcase.
"I’m sleeping in the same house as her for 11 days, looking for her," her mother, Connie Weber, told the St. Petersburg Times. "And she’s right in the bedroom."
Both Weber and her sister had previously adjusted the television plug by standing on a bureau next to the shelf and leaning over the top. Her family believes Weber, who was 5-foot-3 and barely 100 pounds, may have fallen headfirst into the space.

Suitcase Life - Part 2

The thing about a suitcase life is that you get pretty dependent on your suitcase – and it can seem like all the world is wrong if it goes missing. Well, it went missing last week. There I was, in Orlando, Florida with my shorts, t-shirts and bathing suit (and yes, clothes for my meetings the next morning) in my suitcase lost somewhere in the US Airlines system. I had been looking forward to some great sunny weather and the potential for a couple hours by the pool. Instead, I was standing at the baggage carousel, grabbing fast food, and making a run to Target for deodorant and something to wear in the morning.

It was really lost too – no one seemed to know where it was. You see, between a cancelled flight and being rerouted, the suitcase got lost somewhere in Toronto, Philadelphia or Pittsburg and it had seemingly vanished.

Now, this sometimes happens, and you get your bag in a few hours. Not a big deal. However, my bag didn’t reappear until 3:30 AM two days later, and only 3 ½ hours before I was leaving Florida.

I also had a car rental nightmare, cancelled / delayed flights, 3 ½ hours on hold with US Airways, and a crumbling living room wall at home that was supposed to be having repairs but wasn’t.

I had a really frustrating travel week, but I ended up with new clothes and new shoes, which is a bit of a comfort. It made me realize though, how when you live out of a suitcase, the suitcase is pretty important. It’s kind of like your house goes missing!
This leaves me wondering, what is my ‘suitcase’ when I’m at home? What part of my life has to be intact and where I can control it so that I feel like life is okay? Also, what is complaining and what is simple fact-stating (why in the world did I give up complaining for Lent?)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Suitcase Life

A shrinking world has its drawbacks. I travel a lot – and generally enjoy it, but sometimes it gets to be too much. Not as much as some people (George?) but more than most people who are not sales reps or drifters. While yes, it is interesting, and keeps my job always changing (which I need), it definitely has its drawbacks.

There are the pros: interesting foods at new restaurants, Starbucks along the way (I think that travel has contributed to my caffeine addiction), seeing different people and different places, gathering information (I love collecting information – geek factor), making friends in other places, shopping in the US regularly, expanding my world.

Cons: sleeping in numerous beds that who knows how many people have slept in, breathing in gallon after gallon of recirculated airplane air, seeing new places only through the windows of the airplane / cab / hotel / conference room / hotel / cab / airplane), very long days of taking in new information and new people (which can be exhausting), being hit on by creeps, always living in a state of transition, the mad race before I leave (did I take out the garbage? Water the plants? Cancel the paper? Make arrangements for small group? Clean out the fridge?).

Looking at my schedule over the next couple months, I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m excited about the opportunities (a conference in Florida next week, Ottawa, Nashville & a week long conference in Toronto in April) but they mean that I’m away from my regular life and the love of my life. I miss Dan while I’m away. I miss my small group while I’m away. I miss my dad’s phone calls. I miss my bed. I miss my friends. I miss my church. I sometimes even miss my Tony Little Gazelle elliptical trainer. Right now I don’t miss my apartment, but I used to!

However, I’m excited about my trip to BC in May. Historymaker is honestly my favourite conference, hands down. Darcy and Leanne are fabulous hosts and friends. Hopefully Paul and Wanda will be there. My friend Erin will be there from Colorado. I love seeing kids not only entertained, but discipled and challenged. Plus, I get to see my family and Dan will be joining me. Now the countdown begins – two months to go and counting!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Troubles = Paycheque

I am going to steal from Michael Hyatt's blog this morning, because it included a quote I loved from Max Lucado’s soon-to-be-released book, Every Day Deserves a Chance.

Citing management consultant Robert Updegraff, Max writes,
You ought to be glad for the troubles on your job because they provide about
half your income. If it were not for the things that go wrong, the difficult
people with whom you deal, and the problems of your working day, someone could
be found to handle your job for half of what you are being paid. So start
looking for more troubles. Learn to handle them cheerfully and with good
judgment, as opportunities rather than irritations, and you will find yourself
getting ahead at a surprising rate. For there are plenty of big jobs waiting for
people who are not afraid of troubles., my frustrations mean I have a paycheque, I guess. I like being paid - and really, I love my job - but there are those frustrations. This might help me with my pledge to not complain for Lent. Speaking of which - how are you doing with your Lenten fast?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Free Coffee Makes a Good Day a GREAT Day

My coworker Michelle found a link this morning reminding us that today is Starbucks free coffee break day. If you know me at all, you'll know that this made my good day a great day. We buzzed over there for well, a 'buzz', at 10:03. It was a good thing. No line ups, just free coffee. Since I saved a dollar fifty, I even splurged on a new coffee mug so that Dan and I each have nice travel mugs for Sunday morning church caffeine.

So, here's the info so that you can enjoy a free coffee today between 10:00 and noon (wherever you are in Canada or even worldwide). Poor Paul the Starbucks barista - he'll be swamped this morning in Downtown Vancouver, I imagine.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fun Book Review

I finished a bit of light reading while enjoying some sunshine over the weekend - Miss Invisible. Laura Jensen Walker’s Reconstructing Natalie, Dreaming in Black & White, and Dreaming in Technicolor have been a few of my favourite chick-lit books. I was thrilled to hear that a new book was coming out from her!

Miss Invisible was fun, and although it didn't have the same 'oomph' as the previous titles it was still a fun, clean, witty read. Centered on a cake-decorator character who feels like she is invisible to the world around her, Jensen-Walker included descriptions of cakes and meals that made my mouth water (I want to try the Danish-layer-cake – can this be offered on the author's website?) and other characters who you either love or hate.

I would recommend this to any ‘chick’ looking for a good weekend read. However, I’d really recommend that you definitely pick up Reconstructing Natalie – Jensen-Walker’s courageous story of a young woman battling breast cancer. It literally made me laugh and cry, and consider my own mortality!
Now i'm reading something slightly more heavy - Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. It's good so far, but probably not good to read right before bed, since i'm not making too much progress before my eyes simply can't stand to be propped open any longer. Also, after talking to Darcy yesterday, I want to read Forgotten Ways. So many books, so little time.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Good Food vs. Something to Eat

Funny enough, after my post yesterday, today my lunch is back to 'something to eat' rather than the good food of Saturday evening. Sigh.

My lunch today consisted of things that would make my father slap his forehead and say 'yeesh', while he fell back heavily onto his recliner (seriously, he would).
- 3 rice cakes
- 1 Odwalla super-protein meal replacement bar
- 7 almonds
- water

Sort of a 'prison-chic' menu I guess. Now, I actually like the convenience of meal bars - and don't mind the taste of them one bit. I've tried enough of them to know which ones to avoid. However, when there are so many good food choices out there, why did I eat this?
1. They were in my drawer at work
2. I didn't want to expend any more energy than possible this morning making a lunch (this daylight savings thing is killing me - and it's only day 2)
3. I don't want to eat unhealthy fast food, and i'm willing to settle for just something to scrounge up at my desk.

I know that there's a spiritual parallel here... and - ugh - I see it. Rather than 'going for the good stuff' I often simply scrounge up whatever passes for nourishment. I'll settle for CS Lewis' mudpies when there is something so much more satisfying to all my senses readily available. Am I motivated to do anything about this though, or is it simply part of the human experience this side of paradise?

So, what do you do when you don't have the luxury of time to prepare something interesting?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Good Food

I laughed when reading Darcy and Leanne's post about North Americans not appreciating good food. I definitely appreciate good quality, flavourful food. I wonder if perhaps many people are simply not adventurous enough to try different things, and end up eating the same sort of fast-food diet?

Last night we tried a new Thai restaurant in Cambridge (yummy spring rolls - and something called "Kiss Me Beef"), and then tried a new cafe / restaurant for dessert. Both places had fabulous atmosphere, fun decor, great food, and an interesting menu (and we were with fun friends, which made for an excellent night). The cafe actually reminded Dan and I of Victoria... (sigh) We tried these places, both out of town for us, because we had an Entertainment coupon book. Now, you might laugh at us using the coupons, but we've tried a number of things simply because we had this book! Sure, we had a couple of bad experiences with the coupon book - one very odd 'Mexican / Indian' combo restaurant (odd - very odd) and one with the worst Chinese food either of us had ever eaten (grease literally oozed out of Dan's eggroll). However, we've had some great things too - and this weekend, we've enjoyed the best of the coupon book.

So there you go - a little tip for those who are caught in the North American trap of crappy food. Plus, I love marketing that works.


For Paul & Wanda... is this the new kind of normal? Country music boy bands? :) I knew I was in trouble admitting to my 'random songs'.
Who says what is normal anyhow? Yesterday, walking through the mall we heard "She's Got the Look" by Roxette. That used to be normal - I still know all the words!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What is Normal?

I live in a sea of new books (just ask my boyfriend who hates clutter), and I love it when God places a timely book in my hands. Last night I finished reading "A New Kind of Normal", the excellent soon-to-be-released book by Carol Kent. This was one of those 'gems' of a book, in that it was a book I had to digest - reading it in bite-sized chunks to try to apply some of it's rich lessons to my heart. I've had experiences that have turned my life upside down, not as public or dramatic as Carol's, but certainly ones that changed what is 'normal' in my day to day circumstances. Most of us have experienced this, I believe. What we don't experience, necessarily, is the perspective change necessary to make our new circumstances a good, new kind of normal. To be honest, the last couple of months in my life have been a new normal - between prolonged health struggles, a crumbling living situation, and multiple friends fighting some very serious battles, life has been anything but routine.

Carol used rich, vibrant quotes from other authors, and Scripture references throughout that resonated with my spirit. I have written out some of those quotes in my journal, and need to revisit them, but one of my favorites is:

"When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces. But He doesn't put them back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves. Instead, He sifts through the rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another project -- a mosaic that tells the story of redemption."
(Ken Gire - The North Face of God)
I know this principle well - He has not patterned me today on who I was yesterday, but who I am in light of His redemption. May I not long for my old normal, but look ahead to His incredible, sometimes painful, always good work in transforming me from glory to glory.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I'm learning some new things - I might not be tech-saavy, but I'm a good researcher, and hey, I can read! Since I've always thought it would be much better if we could subscribe to blogs - have them emailed directly to us when they change, I found a way! Feedblitz provided this solution - I've subscribed to another book business blog I really like this way - and now anyone else who might feel so led (like, maybe my parents) can get updates emailed to them. So, if you're up for it, enter in your email address in the little box on the right, and perhaps even make this available to people who read your blog!

Ah... I feel so empowered. :)

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Soundtrack of My Life (maybe...)

\When reading Paul and Wanda's blog on my lunch break, I took his "Shuffle Challenge". My shuffle might not work so great, but here is what I ended up with. I like ending with "The Long Way Around" because it is so true about me. You can try it too:


1. Open up your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc.)

2. Put it on shuffle

3. Press play

4. For every question below type the song that’s playing

5. When you go to a new question, press the next button

6. No repeat artists…stuff happens (randomly!!)

7. No cheating or doctoring your list to make yourself look cooler than the person you took this from.

The Result
Opening Credits:All Praises to the King - Hillsong

First Day of School:Missing Missouri - Sara Evans

Falling in Love:The Girl in the Other Room - Diana Krall
Breaking up:Jackson - Dave Barnes

Prom:Stand - Rascal Flatts

Life’s Ok:None But Jesus - Hillsong United

Mental Breakdown:On Our Side - Chris Tomlin

Driving:All that Noise - Dave Barnes

Flashback:Gotta Serve Somebody - Nichole Nordeman

Getting Back Together:I Wonder - ABBA

Wedding Scene: The Happy Song - Delirious

Birth of Child:The Christmas Song - Mariah Carey

Final Battle:Shake it Off - Mariah Carey

Death Scene:Not Ready to Make Nice - Dixie Chicks
Funeral Scene:Tremble - Nichole Nordeman

End Credits: The Long Way Around - Dixie Chicks

Friday, March 02, 2007

Breaking Lent little provocation it takes for me to break Lent.

I confess, all it took was a day of travel exhaustion to lead me to complain bitterly on Monday evening. After being yelled at by an Air Canada lounge employee, a delayed (deicing) flight to Nashville, a wait for my luggage, a taxi ride to the hotel, and a round-about shuttle ride to a late-night dinner meeting, I was tired and cranky, and I WANTED to complain. My travel companion / coworker, Tim, worked to keep spirits light by laughing at the ridiculous situation, but you know what? I didn't WANT to laugh. I wanted to gripe and let my frustration be aired. I did NOT want to allow God to show me what He would have me learn in this situation.

Later that evening, and the next day, I realized that the source of my complaining (other than simple weariness) was control. The situation was out of my control - the delays, the detours, the waits, the surprise meetings - I had no control, and wasn't necessarily willing to recognize that although I had no control of the circumstances, God did. I wasn't willing to surrender my grabbing 'me' attitude for Spirit-generated self-control.

So this is what Lent is about, isn't it? Recognizing our own sinful nature and laying down our 'self' so that we recognize God's rule in our life and in our world. Oh... I have so far to go. However, i'm back in the saddle, as it is, and praising God for snow (as it means a snow day for me today!), rather than complaining about winter!

How are you doing on your Lent fast?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Saying Yes to God

I recently had to review a book for work, and found myself totally engrossed in the content. It hit me where i'm at (perhaps this is due to giving up complaining for Lent?), but anyhow, I thought i'd post a quote from the book here. It is from "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" by Lysa TerKeurst.

“How many times have I told you no, God? How many times because I was too tired, too insecure, too uncertain, too busy or too selfish have I walked right past your divine appointment for me and missed experiencing You? Please forgive me for all those noes. Right now I say yes, Lord. I say yes before I even know what you might ask me to do. I simply want you to see a yes-heart in me.”

Yes, Lord. I want your patience to invade my desire to fly off the handle. Yes, Lord. I want your perspective to keep my emotions in check. Yes, Lord. I want your provision so things don’t seem so overwhelming. Yes, Lord. I want your courage to do what You’re calling me to do. Yes, Lord. I want and need more of You in every moment.”

Right now I need God to invade those places, and I need to learn to say Yes to Him. I need a holy attitude adjustment - and to trust Him. I need to trust that He's doing the right thing by me, and that He is good in all that He does. He is trustworthy, and has proven Himself as such - but I have such a human issue with authority - I don't want anyone to be 'the boss of me'. May I submit to allowing the creator of me to be the boss of me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What are you Giving up for Lent?

Perhaps you give something up for Lent every year. This is a fairly new thing for me to take seriously - really something i've only done over the past few years. I grew up in a liturgical tradition, and knew about Lent - but mostly I was concerned with Pancake Tuesday and getting Good Friday off. Nothing about repentance or reflection.

Now, however, I'm taking this seriously. Giving something up for Lent has been an exercise in discipline, and really has been one that allows me to examine my sinful nature in the lead-up to Easter. Examining my sinful nature allows me to understand why Christ died, and gives me a new perspective on His resurrection. It allows me to reflect - although reflection is something, arguably, that I should be doing every day of the year.

I can say, with conviction, that examining my own inherent tendency and inclination to sin, which is highlighted during Lent, gives new meaning to the words of the hymn by Stuart Townsend:

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

So, what am I giving up for Lent? Complaining.

It wasn't what I wanted to give up (since i'm on a diet right now, chocolate would have been a lot easier) but I believe that I've been compelled to give up complaining. I don't expect it will be easy - and it is something that people will be able to catch me in if I don't catch myself first. I'm hoping that by giving up the habit of complaining about circumstances will force me to have a proper perspective - knowing God's presence and His activity in my circumstances.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Last week, after a number of disappointing movies this winter, I had a great movie week. I was privileged to see the pre-release viewing of Amazing Grace at a convention I was at in Indianapolis. The life and battle of William Wilberforce, in light of the social climate he lived in, was encouraging, inspiring and challenging to me. Plus, a large number of my favourite BBC actors were featured! That helped me enjoy the movie even more! I'm looking forward to it coming out in theatres here so that I can see it again.

We went to see Blood Diamond on Saturday night. It was horrific, sad, beautiful, challenging, wonderfully acted, with gorgeous scenery - and Leo DiCaprio has a remarkably good Zimbabwean / South African accent! I grieved for those forced into modern slavery in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Sudan. I was challenged in my 'pursuit of bling' - made to understand that the price of diamonds goes far beyond the high markups and featured deals at stores in the mall. I can say now that I only want a Canadian Diamond!

Then last night we were back to the ridiculous - The Marine. I had hoped for something better, but it was pretty much a silly, highly affected, action movie with a wrestler as the star. Oh well. It was also a comedy, I guess.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

So long, so long...

It has been so ridiculously long since I posted anything. I am a terrible blogger. For some reason though, lately i've been wanting to blog - wanting to write. So, here I am. I even had to figure out what my password and user name were since I had forgotten them!

I have been collecting favourite quotes, and contemplating them. I thought this might be a good forum to share some of them and share my thoughts on them! Maybe that's how i'll start out blogging a little more. It's a try anyhow (and good distraction while my boyfriend watches "Joe Dirt").

From the sublime:
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

To the ridiculous:
"Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff." --Mariah Carey

Please forgive me for quoting Mariah Carey! (I admit to owning two albums) Sadly, we often fall into the ridiculous category, don't we? We see stuff, and cry, but our response is all about ourselves and not about doing anything 'worth writing'. If I might make New Years' resolutions this year, one might be to write something worth reading, or do something worth writing, rather than simply having temporary pity for those who are hurting.

Afternote: Joe Dirt went the way of the dodo when Dirt got too... well... dirty. :)