Hold on folks...this is going to be a long one!
28 years old & my 6th anniversary:
In October I celebrated my 28th birthday and 5 days later, celebrated my 6th anniversary of moving to Ontario. Who knew 6 years (and a bit, since this post is a couple months overdue, whoops!) ago that I would be making Hamilton, Ontario my home? I sure didn't. Just go back to read the posts of October 2005 to get an idea of how that all happened!
Once I turned 11, I spent every summer in Switzerland with my mom's family (which I WISH I had realized was an amazing opportunity at the time...more than I did). While it was an awesome experience, it was always a challenge to come back each fall and have to establish a new group of friends, or learn how to fit in with those I'd been friends with the year before - who had all changed over the summer (2-1/2 months is a long time in your formative teen years). So each year from 1995-2000, the stability of friendships was broken up for a season. Then when I graduated high school in 2001, I moved to Regina for 8 months, moved back to BC for 2 weeks before moving to Switzerland for 15 months, then back to BC where I ping-ponged between Maple Ridge and Hope for 2-1/2 years before taking a train across Canada in October 2005. The reason I wanted to celebrate my 6th anniversary of living in Ontario was because it was such a milestone, I had not remained in the same place for such a long period of time - since I was barely into the double-digit age bracket. For me, this was quite an accomplishment!
Celebrating with me were 27 of my friends - among them, my original adopted parents, my Caledonia adopted parents, friends from Church on the Rock, Eucharist and Rehoboth, Mohawk College, Sanctuary and AORYA (Bible studies). Friends who represented so many areas of my life! There were children to whom I am "Auntie Niki", there were friends for whom I stood up as a witness at their wedding, there were friends who have wanted to be more than friends and friends who I used to live with and thought I could never be friends with again. I have learned so much over my 6 years here and am incredibly blessed for where God has led me.
I know it's not always easy for my family and friends in BC to hear, but I believe very strongly that I would not have accomplished as much if I had stayed there. It took moving to Ontario before I got my license, before I seriously studied something at college and started a career, before I began to really wrestle with my faith and define it for myself, before I developed and maintained long-lasting, God-honouring friendships, before I found purpose and passion in a cause I believe in. I have learned SO MUCH.
I'm grateful to the freighter company who refused to tell me whether there were other passengers on board ... thanks for waving that bright red cautionary flag and helping me find where I belong!
Courageous, the movie:
If you have not yet seen the movie Courageous ... I want to encourage you to look them up on Facebook, to find a copy of the book in your local Christian bookstore or online and to pre-order the DVD which comes out January 17. This movie has changed the way Christians are viewing the role of fatherhood in our country. People around the world are asking for it to be released in their countries. There are countless stories of how this movie has changed people's lives.
I wish my dad was alive today to watch it, I know he wanted so much to reconcile broken relationships and you could see that as he neared the end of his battle with cancer - his desire to show love to each of us children, to Mami, to his siblings, to his friends and to anyone who would listen. I'd like to think that Papi knows that I know how much he desired to be the best daddy he could. What I wouldn't give to be able to sit down and watch this with him and to hear him say "love you more, can't go higher, can't go lower, can't go the same" one more time.
If you are a dad, if you have a dad, if you know a dad, if you want to be a dad, or maybe you are and you don't want to be ... watch this movie. It just might change your life.
365-day challenge update:
Okay, so that was a fail. Perhaps I need to start with 7-day challenges and build them up into larger ones. There is just so much awesome stuff to do each day that I sometimes have trouble remaining focused, also I tend to commit to a few too many things ... maybe.
Back in October the local business community was celebrating Small Business Week. I got to go to a networking breakfast 'do' for work to man the booth, answer questions and network (go figure, eh?) I even got paparazzi'd... click here to view the proof.
More recently in the realm of work, I had my performance review. Suffice to say, I had a very positive review and my compensation was increased for 2012. I'm so thankful to God for the opportunity to work at a place where I'm valued and my work is appreciated, to grow in my career and the simple fact that I get to wake up each day and go to a job. There are so many people in our world today who do not have that luxury and also so many who do, but view it as a burden. I'm grateful for this job and how it fits perfectly with my skill set and personality. It's interesting, especially considering it doesn't fit with my passion to be in ministry and fight social injustices - however I know that God is providing ways for me to share His heart with those I work with, who may otherwise never hear about some of the injustices (not because of anything I've done, but because God has opened those doors to have those conversations).
A little insight into what a workday can look like for me ... a few weeks ago I had written down an idea for a blog post and it was about how varied my work is. At 9:30 am I had: set up a catered breakfast, wrapped Swiss army knives for gifts, welcomed 20 or so NFPs to our office, decorated my cubicle with plants, played with ribbon and been instructed to draw pictures of whales, palm trees and men in boats for a manager’s meeting. Most days aren't quite that entertaining, but they include such varied things as blogging, event planning, phone calls, writing letters, booking appointments, creating powerpoint presentations, updating databases and for the last week: delivering Christmas plants all over south-western Ontario.
Cancer sucks, there's no way around it. But there are some really cool people at McGill University and some really great sponsors at Medicom who are raising money for cancer research. Watch the video here and help the work at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre.
Take that, cancer.
I have so much more to share, but I think I need to get my hands on pictures and videos before I update about the awesome events we've been having with the All Ontario Reformed Young Adults. My friend Kim and I are the official "fun committee" and we started planning events in June ... we did a games day & hike in Brantford, a beach day at Dover, two camping trips at Mike's on the west side of London, a line-dancing event (huge hit!!) and last weekend we did a "Caroling, Carving Coldness, and Consuming a Combination of Cuisines" (name courtesy of Kim).
Clearly my goal to blog each day in November was a fail, hopefully I can have more regular updates so that the actual updates aren't quite so long.
Last thing: cannot wait for the next week (and a bit) to fly by ... Matt & Natacha are getting married on the 23rd and then I fly to BC for Christmas on the 24th ... SOOOO EXCITING!