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Showing posts from 2011

And another year is up

At the end of every year I like to go over the past one. I think its important to remember. Or else we just plain forget! I didn't blog very much this year but so much has happened... like any year I suppose. I guess the biggest thing is that we moved to Toronto... something we've been wanting to do for a while now. My husband has found a school that he feels at home with and is studying and enjoying it. I have been wanting to live in another country for while now and just explore new places and spaces and so that has happened. I like it here. I like that we are just the two of us. It brings us closer. I like that there are four seasons here and we can mark the changes. I loved fall and I like the winter so far. I love the snow... yes yes... everyone says I will be sick of it soon... but for someone who has  lived 31 years in a city with no snow I think I can handle a few months for now.

At the beginning of 2011 I started my business... Happy Turtle. I had found my calling. :…

Mad love

The habit of moralizing spoils religion. Personal responsibility to an inviolable moral code replaces personal response to God's loving call. Moralism and its step-child, legalism, reduce the love story of God for his people to the observance of burdensome duties and oppressive laws. 
- Brennan Manning, Reflections for Ragamuffins
I feel like my Christian life has been a series of "do's and don'ts". What is right and what is not right. What a Christian should behave like, where she should be seen, what she should be doing. No one really focused on the mad love of God. That mad love that would make Him forgive, and come after us, and die for us. Something is missing in the way we have understood Christianity. I can't remember a sermon that conveyed this mad passion to me. I remember guilt, and correction, and what God is expecting, but not the madness of Christ. This way of living doesn't make us lovers. It makes us practical. And Christianity is not pract…

4 years...

I started blogging in November 2007. This is my first post... Choosing to be Happy. And now, 4 years later... Learning to be Joyful. In between are 4 years of living, learning, crying, laughing, despair, hope, sadness and joy. In between are many many blog posts, about 6 blogs and a lot of work. It's interesting that I started my blog with Choosing to be Happy. I think for a lot of my life this has been a central issue. I want to be happy. Why can't I be happy? And through a process of learning to be honest with myself, getting help, learning to love myself, learning to love God, learning to trust God, learning about grace, experiencing God's grace and love... I have moved from wanting to be happy to wanting to be Joyful. And indeed, wanting to be more like Jesus.
I'm glad I started blogging... I go back often to my posts... just to see where I've been. What lessons I have learned. How I learned them. And it makes something very clear to me... that the most import…

At Starbucks

We met our friend at Starbucks, North of Yonge and Bloor. This is my first time in a Starbucks but more than the Hot Chocolate I was really happy to be in the store. Well, happy and sad in some ways. The Starbucks used to be a book shop - Albert Britnell Book Shop. It seems like the book shop must have had some character. I loved the layout, the tiled floors, and the wood. Starbucks has a lot of pictures of the book shop on their walls and the original sign on the front wall. And I think the door might also be from back then. I'm glad they left it that way and keep the memory alive in some sense. Though I would have much preferred if the book shop were still around.





Learning to be joyful

A fringe benefit for the believer en route to higher Christian consciousness is that ninety-nine percent of the emotional suffering caused by his addictive programming to security, sensation, and power disappears from his daily dance.
-Brennan Manning, Reflections for Ragamuffins
The day before I read this I had been to Alpha and Nicky Gumbel was talking about being salt and light to the world. And I think we normally think of being salt and light in what we do. We help other people, we work for the poor, we donate to charity, we become full-time ministers, we preach the gospel, we teach in the church and so on. I think all of this is valid and good and necessary. But I also think that it is important to look at who we are and not just what we do. In modern life who we are is defined by what we do. I believe that we must make the separation once again. 
I think after my 29th year I began to focus more on who I was.  Up until then, like everybody else, what I did defined me completely.…

Fall

When I was growing up in India I'd so want to be in a place that had all the four seasons. I wanted to see snow and I wanted to see the colors of the trees during fall. I love trees. I love watching them, standing under them, touching the bark, collecting leaves, watching birds... I think the world should have more trees. And so I'm very grateful to be able to actually see so many trees and so many trees in the fall. :)







A City Within a Park

Toronto has so many beautiful parks and woods right in the city. We have one close to home and I can't say how happy it makes me to be able to be footsteps away from something so beautiful.

 The park is a ravine and goes on for so long! So much space.

 I journal a great deal. Well mostly this is a prayer journal. I daresay I have said Thank You to God more over the past few weeks than I have for a long time now.

Trying to find work...

I just sent off my very first job application. Resume and Cover letter. Both tweaked to the format most commonly used here. I am told that most people don't find jobs in their own line of work too soon. In fact people wait for a year or two... sometimes more to actually work at the level that they had worked in their home countries. Often people have to do all sorts of jobs to survive. Work in retail, door-to-door selling, work in coffee shops and restaurants... so I don't know if anything will come off this but lets see. Most places want Canadian experience here. It does not matter what you did before. And many places will not hire you if you are not Canadian. It's true!!! A friend of mine got rejected 40 times before she could find a job and she's American. So... lets wait and see.
Oh just wanted to add here that when you come in as the wife of someone who is on a study/work permit you are allowed to work but you need to apply for an Initial Open Work Permit. Go to t…

Apartment hunting in Toronto

I was hoping that by now we would be in our apartment... but that has not gone as I thought it would. Rentals in Toronto are high. Really high. If you're planning to come here check out the rents on viewit.ca
We looked up apartments online before we came and asked a friend to check them out. Looking online you don't always know what kind of area you're going to move in to. Especially if you're looking for budget housing. So if you know someone here run the apartments by them to check on locality and things. If they can go and check out the apartment for you physically that would be very good.

Once you get here you can look up Renters Guide, Find a Rental and other such free magazines that you can find in the news stands at bus stops and subway stations. You can also walk around in an area and you will find apartments for rent boards. This is usually better in an area with apartments rather than houses.

Somethings you need to know about renting here:
You need to have…

Music

The great thing about Toronto is that you'll hear old music in stores, and restaurants, and markets. I love it! :) I was walking with my friend to No Frills today (its a large grocery chain that has lower food prices) and we were talking... just about living here and trying to make it and all of that and we passed by a hot dog stand and guess what's playing... "Once I was afraid ... I was petrified... " and I said, "That's my song! I will survive!" :) And then while I was shopping... Elvis... and he always makes me smile no matter what. And now I'm watching MammaMia and ABBA always makes me happy too. :) And the other day I heard "I'm Yours" ... and I said to myself... I won't hesitate no more...

Thanksgiving

It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. It doesn't seem to be as a big a deal as it is in the US (like most things) but I think everyone is looking forward to long weekend. And there are turkeys and ham on sale.
I was thinking though that it might be a good time for me to just take some time and be thankful. I think it gets a little difficult when you're so highly stressed and worried about what you're going to do! But it has been a month since we've been here and there are many things to be thankful for.
I am thankful to be here! I honestly did not think we'd even make this far! :)I am thankful for our friends here in Toronto who have welcomed us into their homes, fed us, taken care of us and support us.We've been here a month and we've had a couple of illness episodes. But I'm thankful that they were not major and could be handled. I'm thankful that I have family who care for me and love me. I'm thankful that I am not alone in all this. Th…

Is there anything too hard for the Lord?

So at Alpha yesterday the video was about "Why and How Should I Pray." When I first said to the pastor of the church that I was going to go to Alpha he said, "Now why do you have to go to Alpha?" I didn't really know what he meant 'coz I was not really aware of what Alpha was really. It was suggested to me and I was happy to get out of the house.
While the Alpha course is fairly basic and for people who are new to the faith, its been interesting for me to part of it. I enjoy listening to Nicky Gumbel. He's interesting and easy to listen to. And something will stick out from talk. Something that you need to hear. This week it was the sentence he ended his talk with, after he had talked about how a couple were separated for two or three years, both were not Christian at the time, one became a Christian and then the other too, and then they got back together. He then pulled out an old prayer diary he had from that time and ready aloud his prayer of thanks…

Not really alone...

I went to an Alpha course session today. The friends we are living with go and aunty suggested that it would be good for me to go too. It was. Community is so essential in our lives. There is such a deep sense of loss when we're so far away from home, and family, friends, and everything that was familiar and comfortable to us. And now, as aliens, and foreigners, and the outsiders... we go through so many different emotions, so many moments of deep despair and loneliness.
As I sat at the table I was assigned to, and met people, and sang, I was reminded of how FANTASTIC the Body of Christ is! Here I was, halfway across the world, and I was welcomed and greeted, fed, smiled at, spoken to... just because I was there, and I believed in the same God. And all of a sudden we were community. We were travelers on the journey. We shared something in common. Jesus. And that was enough.

And then there was the rainbow

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
 - Gen 9:13
I wasreallygetting down and depressed. That can happen to you in a foreign country by the way. A lot! So if you're doing what we are doing... be prepared for it! Or not.  Anyway, so I was standing on the balcony of our friends home and looking out rather gloomily at the sky. It had been raining. And the sky was grey and cloudy and then... I saw the rainbow. :) And I remembered the first rainbow, and the covenant God made with the earth. And the covenant God made with people. And I remembered that God is. And always will be. And God loves. And always will. And God has got me... in the palm of His hands. And always will.

Where is home?

We've been apartment hunting and its not easy on a student budget. So many things to consider when you look for a place here - rent, how far it is from school/work, whats the neighborhood like, are grocery stores etc close by, does rent include utilities and hydro, are renters willing to accept a co-signor, will they give you an apartment if you're not employed yet.... Been crazy!
When we traveled to come here, through baggage check and immigration and all of it, we felt that it was just the right time for us. Like God was opening doors and letting us pass. At the airport as we waited for our baggage... ABBA's Dancing Queen played and I was so happy! :) Just felt like things were working out for us... for me.
So, I want to remember those moments when I get down because we can't find something that works for us. When I worry about my job and resources etc. I want to remember that God brought us here. And He will take care of us. He already prepared two homes that took u…

And now we are here...

And now we are here on the other side of the ocean. So far away from what we called home, and family, and friends and everything that was familiar and that we understood. Now we must learn new things, new words and meanings, and street names. Now we must  smell new smells and taste new tastes and meet new people. Now we have different mountains to climb and different questions to ask and different tears to cry. Even we are different. Even we don't seem familiar. Everything is strange, everything is new, everything is not what it used to be.
Still, there are old friends and old stories, new friends and new grace, messages and emails and memories of what was. So it is good. It is good.

"Dear God"

We're moving. For a couple of years at least. So I have been packing and clearing and pulling things down and finding things whose existence I had long forgotten. Scarves from my childhood, journals, birthday cards, play scripts for church... so many different things. I decided to do away with my journals but I have to say that it made me think about some things. You see, I have been writing my prayers down for about 13 years or so... maybe longer. I started with Dear Diary when I was younger and somewhere along the line it became Dear God and never went back! I've never thought I had much of a prayer life but I just tore about 9 journals and still have about 3 to go... and they were all prayer.

I suddenly realized last night that I have spend time in prayer so to speak. Sure it's not day in and day out and there are breaks but... its pages and pages of prayer.

This move has been very interesting for me and I want to put it down so I won't forget. Its in my prayers but…

And the Word comes alive again

I'm teaching VBS this year after a two year break. I must admit I'm a little nervous. I've had no contact with children over the past two years and I feel that a lot must have changed. Still, I am excited to be studying the Bible again. I am reminded of how interesting it is and how excited I get when I spend time studying. Sometimes when I read these days I feel like I've never seen those words before! After all these years!It's been wonderful though... just reading, and learning, and researching. Also, enjoyed the teachers meeting we had where had some discussion on the lessons were doing this year. I think I miss being in a seminary class.
Anyway...looking forward to VBS 2011.

Success

Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success | Video on TED.com

So I'm trying to start a business... well I've started already. It's a quilting business. I make and sell quilts. The stories behind this is here and the official blog is here. Of course it took me many years to find out what it is I wanted to do with my life. Many years of struggle and anguish and turmoil but here I am... I know now. Which is great. But, what next? How do I take something that I know I want to do with the rest of my life and turn it into a viable, sustainable life option? I'm working through that. Making plans, trying to organize myself a little better, learning a little bit about business and management as I go along... but I often ask myself if I will make it. In fact, last night, I told my husband that I was only trying to cope with the world and life and that I will never really be "successful" or "make it". I won't be successful I think…

Learning to live without fear

As I grow older I find that I am less confident and more afraid. I don't understand why this is happening. Why is the world becoming larger and more scary now that I am bigger than when I was smaller. Strange. But it is happening and I know that if I don't put an end to it I will only get worse. Fear will consume me and I will not be able to function as a normal adult. That would be quite tragic.
I think fear is a symptom of not being able to believe that there is good in the world. More importantly fear is a symptom of not being able to trust God like a child. Its a symptom of believing that I am alone and must care for myself. Some people can take care of themselves but I have realized that I need God. Everything is meaningless without Him. Still, it is difficult to fully trust to the point where I can live freely and abundantly. Anxiety and worry follow me all the days of my life :).
I have been asking God to help me not to fear but each time I prayed about it I was afraid.…

Turned 31

I turned 31 a couple of days ago. My mum fell ill two days before my birthday and was hospitalized. So I spent my birthday at the hospital taking care of her. Its interesting though - when one is born one is at the hospital, the mother is recovering from giving birth, and that's where one spends one's very first day in the world - being taken care of. So, I think its good that we get to do a birthday in a hospital caring for our mothers. It takes us back to the initial struggle from which we are born and reminds us of everything mothers need to go through to raise us - if we think hard enough. So actually, I'm grateful that I got to take care of her and this time round she seemed to appreciate it more. Which was also very interesting for me. For the past 7 years I have taken care of my mother through her periodic illnesses but this time she really seemed to feel something about the whole experience. I guess its good for both of us.

When I got back home from the hospital an…