Monday, December 15, 2008

Event full

This weekend, Saturday to be precise, I spent the day in Red Earth and watched both our boys and girls team kick some butt. They both came in first place in the tournament. I was very proud of the way they played and their achievements. Hopefully the feeling of success will stay with them for awhile.

Sunday, I locked my keys in my house. Not good when it is -30. However, I had neighbours take care of me. One set of neighbours fed me. The other set came home fairly early and was able to give me the spare key. It was slightly frustrating to be locked out of house again, but it pales in comparison.

Sunday, I found out that there has been another murder in Trout. A teenage boy (a former student) was drunk and allegedly beat up an elderly gentleman in the community, while, again allegedly, one of my student's mothers watched. Then the young gentleman went around town yelling, "Old vs. the young. Old vs. the young.". He got picked up by a couple who lived close to him since it was very cold out. They took him to his house and asked him to get out of the car. He refused and allegedly beat up the driver of the vehicle who was in critical condition on Sunday.

My heart is heavy and weary of this pain. I was talking to a former student yesterday about the layers of pain that some people have in their life and how there is never enough time in between painful episodes to completely heal. I told her how I want to take away some of the apin but am unable too. Hopefully I can provide enough joy and success to battle the pain. Successes such as winning a volleyball tournament and learning how to sing a round for the Christmas concert. Joy such as knowing that they are loved and respected.

Pray for us.

This morning I woke up to a phone call at 6:30 in the morning. "Hey Light. You need to get up and turn on your oven. I think that we ran out of propane." Sure enough, my nose felt a little colder than normal. We had no heat or hot water in three of the teacher's houses. The school still had heat though. I was disappointed because I was really hoping for a cancellation of classes. I got to school to discover that my classroom did not have heat and the stoves in the kitchen were not working either. No lunch available? Then we will cancel school. So kids were dismissed at 11:00. (We feed all of our students a hot lunch here).

Also cancelled this week - our Christmas concert, our staff party and Christmas in general.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


It has been a dark weekend - snow and early sunsets. I have to keep on reminding myself that the winter solstice is almost upon us and that soon the days will get longer and lighter. I hope that my heavy heart becomes filled with light too. Right now it is filled with confusion, frustration, anger, bitterness. I feel like all of my hard work here is slowly unravelling into a mess and I feel helpless to stop it.

So I spent the dark weekend with friends. First, stimulating the economy in Slave Lake. Then spending the day crafting in a house with music and apple cider. Sometimes our conversations would sway into the dark bitterness that we feel. I am going to try to keep it light, try to see the positive. Hopefully the Christmas holidays will make things right again.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Ths snow is coming down.
I am watching it fall.

I am getting in the spirit of things. Decorated the house and have two Christmas presents almost made but have SOOO many more to go.

Really I should just get off the computer and go do festive activities.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


There is white stuff on the ground. It is perfect snow man making snow. So today I and a friend made a snowpeople family. It was fun to go outside in the warm winter weather and play. If onlyI had a river that I could skate away on. I am reading this to my friend as I type it. She says, "You have a river!! and a lake!!" However, I know that the river is not frozen and I am scared that the ice on the lake is not thinck enough. However, it is perfect skating weather.

Tonight one of my fellow teachers hosted a Schindler's List viewing for our junior and senior high students. I forgot how powerful that movie is. At the end, Schindler bemoans the fact that he did not save more people. "My car. Why did I keep my car? That is another 4 people. This ring, that is another 3 people. I wasted so much money." OK that is not a direct quote but you get the idea. I was very moved by that sentiment and wondered if there would ever be a day where I would bemoan the fact that I wasted my resources and squandered them away instead of using them for good. How many people would my closet of clothes feed? How many people would my car feed? How many people could I impact with the amount of time that I watch TV? My guilty conscience is getting after me.

So I am going to assauge it by watching TV. I wonder if "So you think you can dance Canada is still on?"

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Driving in my car

I know that it is rather foolish but I went to Peace river again on Sunday to learn about relationships. It was very interesting to learn that the structure of our relationships and social institutions mirror and reflect the structure of the trinity. I found that it led me to worship God with awe and wonder.

But I digress.

So Sunday I drove 2.5 hours to Peace River and 2.5 hours back to Trout. Not so bad in itself. Yesterday though, I had to hop back into my car and drive to Peace River again for a math meeting and today I drove back. THat is 10 hours in total. I could be in Lethbridge by now. I wish I were in Lethbridge right now.

I need some hugs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's NOT!!!

This weekend I went to Peace River. One of the churches there is doing the Focus on the Family Truth Seminars. I needed groceries and decided to stay and go with one of my coworkers, who regularly attends that church. This week's topic: History. His Story. Not Jenstory.

It was rather humbling to remember that I am not in control. Somedays this is a relief. Other times it is a struggle. Right now, this week and month and school year, it is more on the relief side. There are things going on in my student's lives that I can not solve. I get the fall out of that in my classes but I don't have to solve it.

It was even more humbling to remember that it is not all about me. We are a part of a larger story. At our break out sessions though the conversation revolved around me, me, I, me. Every person who talked, talked about themselves and their story and strugles.

How do we make life not about us? How do we put ourselves in the frame of history and God's plan? How do we remember that we are not the center? How do we live it out? I look at history's figures and the pain and anguish they went through to bring glory to God. I get lonely and grumpy and think that I must be out of God's will.

Remembering that there is a metanarrative is rather hopeful. In the quest for life's meaning, there is a paradox. We can only find importance if our story loses importance and becomes wrapped up in God's plan. That is when our lives have meaning. Without that metanarrative, we are just clouds of breath and beautiful piles of dust. How depressing.

I understand it but how do I live it. I need some tips here.

P.S. Why oh why does this have to occur a 2.5 hour drive away? Once again it is all about me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Teaching the Isrealites

This school year for my devotions I am trying to read through a chronological version of the Bible. I highly recommend this as it gives a new perspective on the events in the Bible. I am at the part where the Isrealites escaped Isreal and are wandering around the desert grumbling and complaining and trying to make deals with God. Reading through some of the stories made me chuckle today because I swear that the Isrealites were a bunch of adolescents and I swear that some days I feel like I am teaching the Isrealites. I don't mean to equate myself with God but sometimes I act like him. I never really understood God much in the wandering episode. He seems a bit vindictive but now I understand. Maybe He was just trying to get the teenaged nation to GROW UP.

For example, the Isrealites were given manna everyday. A miracle happened every morning in order to feed and nourish them and what did they do? They complained. "Why can't we have meat? We had meat in Egypt." My students . . . Well I don't mean to say that my lessons are miraculous but I try my best to make them as interesting as possible. And what do my students do? They complain. "This is boring. So and so's class is so much more interesting. I wish that we could just do worksheets."

God's response was often to give them what they wished for and let thenm deal with the consequences, even if it involved big piles of rotting quail. Sometimes I take great vindictive joy in making my students' wishes my command. "You want more worksheets. OK. Here is a 3 pager. It is due tomorrow. If you don't get it done, you will have DT. Have fun." I don't think that God took vindictive joy in his actions though.

Another example is when the Isrealites were supposed to move into Canaan and didn't out of fear. God was upset. He made their wish his command. "OK you are too scared. Well then you won't take possession of the land. Your children will." So then the Isrealites feel bad and try to attack the Canaanites anyway to disastrous effect. AHHHH How often do my students do this? They misbehave, swear in class, give attitude, talk back and when I try to mete out a consequence they get all repentant. "I am so sorry. I will do better." And for the three seconds that are left in class, they are perfect angels and are surprised when the consequences don't change.

There are days when I, like God, feel like stiking my students down. Today is a case in point. I had some canteen items in my room for a math project. I went to put them away today and discovered that a whole box of gum and a whole box of rice krispy squares are missing. I am angry and feel like revenge. My students will come up with excuses. "You shouldn't have left them out for anyone to take. They aresn't worth that much anyway" I will angrily reply, "It is stealing. Just because something is left out in the open it doesn't mean that you have the right to take it." I will explain to them how they lost my trust and how that is invaluable.

But eventually, some student will appeal to my character. They will appeal to the fact that I am compassionate and that my whole job as a teacher hinges on believing in and trusting my students and that someday they will leave this stage of adolescence and grow up. I will start to trust again and my anger will dissipate. Until next time. For I know that there will be a next time and that is so frustrating and disappointing. But I can not stop loving and trusting.

Now I understand how God feels when he deals with me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Creative Saturday

On Saturday I decided to be creative instead of lolling around procrastinating the short journey to the school. So I pulled out my sewing machine - made out of all plastic parts and designed for a child- and started sewing. I am not going to paste pictures of my creation because I have a cousin who does lovely sewing projects and posts pictures all the time. My creation is not lovely. It has visible and stray threads, crooked lines of sewing. pieces that don't match up in size. It looks rustic. It looks like a child on a child's sewing machine created it. I would blame the sewing machine but that wouldn't be fair.

Nontheless I am proud of my creation. It is a green, rice bag snake complete with a red mouth, button eyes and a tail. Today I gave it to the ECS teacher so that her students can cuddle with it and be grounded with its heaviness.

I have forgotten how much joy one can get by creating and giving. I read an article this week in Reader's Digest about the health benefits of gratitude. I am making a pledge to find three things that I am grateful for everyday and writing them down. Here is today's list.

1. I am grateful sweet potatoes soup and corn bread. Good home cooking.
2. I am grateful for the joy that giving gives the giver and the reciever. Giving makes the world a better place.
3. I am grateful for the internet and how it can connect people together and can help us pay our bills on time. Honestly I don't know how I would have survived in Trout Lake prior to the age of internet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Still Alive . . .

It is almost the end of September. The "honeymoon period" of school is over. We are in for a shock. There was no "honeymoon". It has been a struggle since day one. So many changes. So much miscomunication. So much truancy and lateness. I have to keep on reminding myself that we are doing a good job. That we have made positive change. I have to keep the waves of bitterness away from the shores of my soul.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This year, we are trying to get a library for this school up and running. All of the books are in the old NLC trailer. On Friday evenings, the four of us go and sort the books. We went last Friday and this past Friday. It is slow going but we hope that by having the books accessible to students, they will read more often. Often we wonder if it in exercise in futility.

After spending 4 plus hours in the library last Friday, we ran into a depressing road block. I was working at the the school Sunday evening when I started to hear dogs barking, kids running and general commotion. A student knocked on the school door, where I was talking to some teachers. "Some kids are in the library." One teacher took off to chase the culprit down. The rest of us went to go check out the damage. Inside the library we saw carefully stacked books toppled over. In a clearing by the library, we saw charred remains of books. Later we heard that some of the students thought it would be cool to pee in the corner.

We found out later that one of the doors to the library doesn't lock properly. So the kids did not break and enter. Yet they did not use their common sense and used their discovery for chaos, vandalism and evil. It was very frustrating for the 4 that had worked on the library. We had to spend the rest of out evening transferring a lock to the culprit door and phoning parents.

However, we refuse to let that keep us down and this Friday we were back in the library sorting books once again. I got the picture book section all sorted alphabetically. Now we just have the novels and non-fiction to deal with. And the fact that we don't have enough shelving space. I never realized that opening a library is such hard work. On Saturday morning, I woke up in pain. My thighs were so sore. I realized that Friday evening, I had to put books on the top shelf and then the bottom shelf. I don't know how many squats I did but I sure felt it the next day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


There is a science experiment growing in the science cupboard. It is an inadvertant experiment - definitely not part of the curriculum. But the Science cupboard ceiling is the part of the school that always leaks. It has been "fixed" many times but every time it rains, or the snow melts, a slow drip starts forming from the ceiling to the floor. It would be cool if the slow drip formed stalicites and staglamites. It looks like stalicites but unfortunately it isn't mineral in nature - more biological. It started as a gross brown stain on the ceiling and now black protrusions are growing from the ceiling and releasing spores into the air. It is not my job to fix it. I have told the powers that be - a few times now. I have taken to wearing a dust mask whenever I need science supplies.

There are other science experiments growing in my class. Again inadvertant and biological. I am expecting to hear of the safe arrival of a baby - a former student is the mother and the father is a current student. Another student (both mother and father attend school) is also expecting. Little beautiful biological miracles. I am reminding myself that all babies are miracles and I am praying that these young children will be able to become good parents. My question is: Why are the parents so surprised at pregnancy when their kids are having sleepovers? What do they think are happening at these sleepovers? Not movies and popcorn.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

And we're back

Last week, I had a former student come and visit me. We were chatting. I was telling her that I was impressed at her influence in Trout Lake. Her friends do other things beside drink. Then I mentioned that on a whole I see way less drinking in Trout Lake. It makes a good story that these words were no sooner out of my mouth when we heard a thud. Probably the sequence wasn't that close but . . . it is funnier.

So no sooner were those words out of my mouth when we heard a thud. For minutes afterwords we heard a truck with a real loud engine sitting outside of my house. Then we noticed the lights shinging through my window and the infiltration of other voices. We checked out the window and sure enough a truck was really close to my house. In fact it had hit my house and they were trying to back up, with my car right in line to get hit. Of course I was more worried about the car then the house.

After sneaking peaks out of the window for awhile and ensuring that one of the teachers was also out there, I decided to go check things out and move my car out of harms way. Sure enough, the truck was full of intoxicated males. (One of the males knew me and thought that a hug was in order. I was like, I haven't been hugged by a guy in a LONG time and then I get hugged by a drunk guy who drove into my house!!!). Besides being drunk and driving, the boys were in trouble. They had blown the transmission of their truck and could not put it into reverse or neutral. Plus they had not only hit my house; they hit the pipe that brings propane into my house. So every time they started the truck to see if it would go into reverse this time, they pushed my propane pipe a little bit more.

Eventually the male teacher with a truck decided that he had had enough and hitched their truck up to his truck and sent them on their way. It sucks when the only out you have with drunk drivers to allow them to continue to drive. YIKES but with the cops an hour away and the danger of an immenent propane leak, what were we supposed to do?

Monday, September 01, 2008

I'm back

I am back in Trout, back blogging and back teaching. The New Year should start in September because this is when I make all of my resolutions - most of which I have broken already. However, today I remedied that by finally cleaning my house. I don't know what it is about a clean house that makes me have a healthier mind but it is linked somehow. It increases my motivation.

I am glad to be back for another year. I am teaching the same assignment as before. No more principalship for me and I think that that is good for me, the school and my sanity. So far the new principal seems like a good leader - listens and then makes a decisive decision. Students are all well - one of them is pregnant at the age of 14 and another threw an eraser at my head already. He swears it was an accident (the eraser one although I am sure the pregnant one would swear the same thing). But how can you accidently bean an eraser off the teachers head.

But enough of all that . . . Lately I have been noticing how technology is changing some of our idioms. For example . . .
. . . "A watched pot never boils" has now turned to "A watched website never loads."
. . . "A picture is worth a thousand words." has changed to "A jpg. is worth a thousand txt."
Personally though, speaking from experience, here I am changing . . .
. . . "She is like an open book." to "She is like a public blog, facebook page and one-line profile rolled into one."

So much of my life is on-line and it can get scary but I am not really sure if I want to change. So to all of my friends who read this and then in the middle of a good Trout story interupt me and say, "Yeah I read about that on your blog.", send me a comment once in awhile and then I won't bore you with the same stories. You can start by thinking of other phrases that need to be updated for our modern times.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Six and Oh

For those who aren't Facebook friends - here is a link to my pictures from the Roughriders, Stamps game. I forgot how exciting football can be. Ok it is actually the crazy Saskatchewan fans that make the game interesting like Saskatchehulk - a guy all painted in green - cowbells and so much chanting. Awesome.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I am home and yet home no longer feels like home. Family still feels like family. And it is awesome hanging out with them - even though there are only a select few here. I have been busy teaching my nephew how to walk, tickling cute tummies and kissing sft cheeks. But this is not home anymore. Maybe it is because I am living out of bags and suitcases. Maybe it is because I only have select stuff here. Maybe they are wrong. Home is not where the heart is but is rather where all of your possessions are. That is pretty sad and somewhat depressing.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Holy Punch to the Stomach

At Breakforth this year, I picked up a devotional from Kay Arthur on Leadership. I started using it just as my principal broke her hip and I had to take over. It has offered some encouragement and some conviction. As I was starting my position it asked, "Have you been thrown into a postition of leadership that you felt unprepared for?" Ummm yes.

So lately I have been stressed about the uncertainty of next year . Will I be principal or teacher? With they get a good principal in, someone that leads and that I could follow? So today I read the story about Saul and David in the cave. Saul is taking a dump and David's followers say, "Hey man this is your chance. God has delivered Saul into your hands. Go for it." Instead David cuts off a piece of Saul's outer garment and states that it is not his job to kill God's annointed.

Well this whole passage was a bit of a wake up call. David was willing to be patient for God to work and to put David in his rightful place. It reminded me that I must too be patient while others make decisions that are out of my control. It is not as if I am dying to hear that I am principal. I just want to hear either way what is happening next year. But God pretty much screamed at me . . . "PATIENCE MY CHILD."

Then the follow up punch - a question that asked, "How do you react when you are under an incompotent leader? when you think that you could do a better job? This is when I had to repent and pray for a proper attitude to the leadership next year - to be a partner and offer my expertise instead of holing up in my classroom and refusing to engage.

I need to lead where ever God places me. And I need to be patient and wait for God to reveal what that placement is. I hate being patient.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


I applied for the principalship next year at Kateri school. The next day was a horrid day and I regretted it - kind of. I am really not sure what I want. I dream about being in the office and I dream about being back in class. I am definitely torn.

Writing a resume is always a good exercise. I remember back in university that I had a kick ass resume. Maybe it was because I kept on switching jobs (summer to school year and then back again). But I also had a lot of volunteer/leadership opportunities: church involvement, literacy volunteering, choir etc. It was always a task to pare down my resume to the ideal highlights and try to keep it to two pages.

My resume has been reduced to a one pager. Partly it is because I have been in one job for 4 plus years now. The list of responsibilities under that job is still kick ass though. I have done a lot of great things here and have had many amazing opportunities. However, my life has also been reduced to one page, one dimension - school. That is all I have. No church involvement, no other volunteer opportunities. Everything I do is for the school.

This isn't a complaint. It is a an observation of my place in life right now. Hopefully this summer I can expand my horizons, add some new dimensions to my life. Maybe take one month off from school.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


The summer is almost upon us. Normally at this time, I have my days plotted out. This year, I have no idea what the two months will bring - hopefully a lot of hugs and sleeping. I know I am going camping with my former coworkers. But what else? Will I visit my tree planting friend? Will I make it to a folk fest? Will I do any professional development? Will I come back to Trout super early to ready the school for the fall? Will I go to the mountains? Will I go visit relatives? Will I help my brother in law renvate his house? Any ideas or suggestions.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Here Fishy Fishy

So today I got a call from my neighbour and coworker to see what trouble I was up to. I was a little worried because I was trying to learn a new strumming pattern on my guitar and it sounded like someone was dying. I thought that maybe he had heard the cacaphony and decided to call to see if everything was all right. But no that wasn't it at all. He and his wife were heading to Sucker Creek to catch some fish and were wondering if I wanted to come and since the sky was blue and it was such a glorious day, I decided to go. So I got on my fishing gear - yellow rubber boots and capris - and we were off.

Now this was not your typical fishing adventure because we were on foot and had no fishing rods. We were going to catch the fish with our bare hands. I am not making this up.

On our walk downstream, I caught alot of fins that wiggled away. But on our journey back upstream I started to learn the trick. The trick is to go to the river banks and feel under the banks for slimy fish backs and then slowly tickly your fingers alone until you feel the head. Then you put your other hand underneath the fish - slowly, slowly - and SQUEEZE and hold on to the fish with all your might.

Now I HATE putting my hands in places that I can not see. I am always scared that another dead hand will reach out and grab my hand. Completely irrational I know. BUT I CONQUERED MY FEAR. I felt along the dark places for slimy fish backs and I actually cought some.

Then my cruel streak set in. I would put the fish in the water but wouldn't let go (because we were catching and releasing the sucker fish). I would tickle its sides and stomach and try to relax it a bit. Then I would slowly let go. If it didn't swim away right away, I would catch it again.

Fishing with your hands was super fun. By the time we were done, my boots splashed water out of them everytime I took a step and my capris were wet from top to bottom. My feet and fingers were numb because at some parts of the creek, where the sun doesn't shine, the ice was still about 6 inches thick. BRRR.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

How does your garden grow?

This weekend I sat in the sun and played in dirt. I felt like a toddler exploring new worlds and getting very dirty in the process. I had forgotten that grass had such packed root systems. I had forgotten that there is a whole mysterious world underneath my feet.

Gardening gave me hope. It reminded me that even when things appear dead and dry on the surface, there are life giving roots underneath what we see and with a little transplanting or watering or sunshining, the dry dead looking plant springs back to life.

I think people are like that too. So I am typing this in order to remind myself to dig deep into people's lives and get a little dirty in hopes of reviving and restoring life.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Owa tagoo siam

I had a meeting this past Tuesday for the math professional development thing that I have been leading all year. This was our rap up meeting. I recieved the e-mails for the meeting - skimmed them, because I thought I knew what they said. Got a hotel room confirmation from head offfice after they booked it for me. Monday at about 7 pm I was ready to go. But first, I thought, lets check my email and make sure I have the correct hotel. Yep The Sawridge. OK let me check the other e-mail and scan for a start time. Nope no start time. They always forget these things.

7:30 pm and I was really ready to go now. I get in my car, drive to Slave Lake, grab some MacDonald's, arrive at the hotel and lo and behold, they have no reservation for me and no rooms. My first thought was, "AHHH I am in the wrong place." So I phone a fellow teacher in Trout and get them to check my e-mail for me to see where I am supposed to be. A half hour later they phone back. "Yeah it says the Sawridge Inn but no town name." Crap. (although I was thinking in stronger language) The helpful desk staff make a few phonecalls and discover that there is a reservation for me. It is at the Sawridge Inn but in Peace River not Slave Lake.

So it is now about 11:00. I am exhausted and I realize that I still have a two hour drive ahead of me. Tears start filling my eyes and then I think, "You might as well start laughing." So I started laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation and how assuming what the e-mail says is not the same as knowing what the e-mail says. I started to realize that this as a testament to how stressed out I am right now. I don't even have time to read and process e-mails. Then the stress started to be relieved. I am going to make stupid mistakes. But most mistakes are fixable. It just might take a little more time. People will forgive me and I am going to have to forgive my self.

Then the forgiveness started to come. Of all the stupid things I have done, this is probably one of the least stupid. Owa tagoo siam.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Finally Spring

I wondered if it would ever come but I think that finally it is here. The question is, is it here to stay? Last week, as I mentioned in my blog, winter hit with a vengeance. April snow brings May . . . what? April snow brings May "nos". April snow brings May groans. April snow brings May lakes where they aren't supposed to be with mud and mud puddles. That's what. Anyways here is a link to some pictures of the snow last week. For those who already saw them on Facebook, they are the same pictures.

As for the principal thing, I am coping. I cleaned half of the office now and feel like maybe I could actually do some work.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I wish that I could just talk about the snow

Really it was the snow that started it. Or rather the melting and freezing cycle that had created a huge patch of ice (otherwise known as the school yard). It was that slipperyness that has created a new direction in my life that I am reluctantly turning in. Although honestly it just feels like I am turning around in circles.

Two Monday's ago, my principal slipped on the school yard ice. She couldn't get up. The whole staff worked together to put her into her vehicle. Someone drove her to Slave just to check and make sure that all was OK. It wasn't. By that afternoon, she had been air-vaced to Edmonton and the next day she underwent a hip replacement surgery. The school was leaderless.

So who did they put at the helm? Me. It is different than last year's stint as a principal. This time they hired another teacher temporarily and made me THE principal. I sit in my office and shuffle papers. Literally. I feel like I move them from one pile to another. Every time I get something accomplished, that act of accomplishment creates 3 more things to do. My list grows instead of shrinks.

I almost cried when I told some of my students. Even though they are putzes, I am going to miss teaching them and bugging them everyday. I think that they may even miss me too. I hope that I can make some improvements in the 6 or 8 weeks that I am at the helm (or longer). I don't think that it is long enough to complete destroy the school.

And yes about the snow. We got a dump. A veritable storm with drifts that reached the top of doorways. One morning, I had to squeeze out of my door because I could only open it about 10 inches. Walking to the school was a workout with snow filling my boots. The buses couldn't run because they were snowed in. It is April in a week or so isn't it? Oh right, it is actually May in a week or so. My bad.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I just wrote a long blog about the travails of having a school review. Then I deleted it - maybe verging on unprofessional - could get me in trouble. So it is gone. Now I have nothing to write about.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Stress

I am now back in Trout Lake after an extended vacation. The time in Ottawa was great, even though it was bittersweet. It was good to see family - my cousin before she gets married, my other cousin who I haven't seen in like 15 years, my other cousins who are growing up to be beautiful young men and women of God, my aunts and uncles, my grandmother etc. The only person missing was my grandfather, who we honoured with a beautiful ceremony. It was good to sit and hear stories about him and to hear his life celebrated.

But now I am back in Trout Lake and the stress is returning with a vegeance - another week of school lost , because I know that some students did nothing while I was away. The end of the year looming with so much to be done and to be accomplished. A school review right around the corner and all of the teachers stressed out about it. I refuse to change anything and make anything prettier than it was before. So I am trying hard not to get caught up in the stress of it all.

There is still snow on the ground. I think that Ottawa and Trout are now tied for the amount of snow on the ground. The difference is that Ottawa started out with a whole lot more and still have piles of snow in the places that the snow was shovelled to. But there are signs of spring - sunny days and pussy willows.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Change

Friday morning I was lying in bed, dreading getting up, packing my suitcases, saying my good byes and starting the long drive north. July is a long time away and I had had such a good time with family that I didn't really want to leave. Finally I dragged myself out of bed and was stumbling to the shower when my father started talking to me. In my groggy state, what he said didn't really make any sense. Then I clued in - my grandfather had passed away that morning.

We knew this was coming-kind of. About three weeks ago we found out that he had lung cancer and the doctors gave him 3-6 months to live. Mom went out over Easter break to see him and was there on Friday. God I guess had a change in plans for him.

So there has also been a change in plans for me. I am not back in Trout Lake yet. Instead I will be flying to Ottawa tomorrow for his funeral and to see my mom's side of the family. My whole Lethbridge family is going - 8 of us- and we all got seat sale prices on West Jet. I think that that is pretty amazing.

I wish that I could spend this blog reflecting on my Grandfather's life but I never really knew the man. All I remember is him going out for coffee and bringing back doughnuts. He was a Tim Horton's fan before it was cool - before Western Canada even knew that the hockey player had opened a coffee shop. He was a gentle man, quietly laughing at the antics around him, especially the Alberta obsession with trucks. When he would come and visit, he would sit at the window and count how many pick ups would drive by. I can hear him say "Oh Barbara" to my grandmother. Best of all, I am sure that he did end up becoming a believer in Christ Jesus and that today he is spending sometime in worship. I can only imagine.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I know it's not Sunday

Yep I know that it is not Sunday but I didn't have time to update on easter Sunday with all the eating and knocking kids heads on banisters and making them bleed. Yeah I was the cause of a minor accident that will probably cause some type of permanant scar (and hopefully not emotionally). I am enjoying my Easter break. Actually I am not sure if enjoying is the word. I am tolerating it because I am once again sick during a school break. I am grateful that I don't get sick during school, because I hate making sub plans in the land of no subs. But must I get sck every holiday?

Anyways, despite the stuffed head, I am enjoying spending time with my family and the best nieces and nephews in the world. I am so grateful for a family that keeps in the forefront of their hearts and minds so that I can fit right back in again.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Played and played out

I had a tough week this week. My lent plan to get up with the sound of my alarm and not hit the snooze button was thwarted by the time change. It was all of a sudden darker and earlier in the morning. I made other sacrifices though so that I could still spend a few minutes in the "son" before heading to work. Good thing to because I needed it. There is much that I can right on here but have deleted most of it because of confidentiality issues. Even though I wouldn't put in names, I still felt odd putting something so personal on-line. I will just leave it vague by saying I had to get authorities involved in a student's life and afterwards felt like I had been played so that the student could get their own way and not have to follow rules at home. So now I am a bit fearful of the fall out. So PLEASE pray for me and wisdom in the days ahead as I may have to do some confronting or be confronted.

I need Easter. I need to get away from Trout. I need to see my family. I need to chill with friends. I need to sit in church and declare that Christ is Risen and that that is where my hope lies. I need Easter now and in a week and a week after that. For truly with out Easter, there is no hope.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sound Familiar Kids?

Last week, I watched a documentary with my students called "Environmental Refugees of the Blue Planet". It is about people who have been forced to move because of environmental (read human caused) disasters. It looked at three different areas of the world - Alberta, the Maldives and Brazil. The Brazil story really had an affect on me. It talked about how these people were living off the land in the jungle and were approached by some people with money who wanted to buy their land. They had no concept of money, or the value of land, so they sold their land to this company for a very low price and moved to the city, where they are now living in favellas (read Brazillian slums). Some people refused to sell their land and are living in the middle of a huge eculyptus monoculture. The company is using the eculyptus for paper pulp for our toilet paper etc.

Anyways, as with any monoculture, the company uses pesticides, so all of the termites have attacked the gardens of the people who stayed. Essentially it was so difficult to live there, that the people who stayed were forced to sell their land at an even cheaper price and become charcoal makers. Their self sufficient life has been forced to be inefficient and disease prone because of this huge corporation (which of course is very good friends with government officials.

This story made me very angry and I was trying to summarize it for my students. "So imagine, guys, what it would feel like to have people come and tell you that you had to sell your land because the government needed it. And then realizing that you got a poor price for it and essentially being forced to live in an area with extreme poverty while everyone else gets rich off the land that you used to own." Then I stopped myself and looked around at the very native faces around me. "Does this sound familiar to you guys?" They looked at me with blank faces. Later I continued discussing it with one of my brighter students (Who I hope will turn into a social activist someday) and made the parallels of that story to his own ancestors history. I don't know if he actually got it as their brains turn off at recess but it sure gave me something to think about.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Spring is just around the corner. I can feel it in the air. I can see it in the sky. It doesn't get dark until about 6:00 now and it is light when I wake up. When the sun is shining, it has a warmth that can warm the body and soul.

Slowly my mind is getting out of hibernation mode - maybe I should go through those papers on the floor. Maybe I should start some fun projects. Maybe I should go flirt with a boy. My heart and soul quickens. Spring is coming.

But this year, my doldrums seem to continue. Nothing new is happening. As you can probably tell by this most boring of entries. I have no new plans, no new thoughts, no new activities. Same old, same old. Plus I don't want to think spring to early. March can be a pretty brutal month. April can bring us snow. Heck, we are always suprised by snow in May but it almost always comes.

Hopefully with the new birth of spring, with the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, my own soul will have a new birth and a resurrection. No doubt some of it will occur around March 21st when I am home for Easter. There is something about kisses from nieces and laughter with children and babies that makes the soul glow.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

There goes that plan

Sitting next to my house is an empty house. Lately, I have been comtemplating packing up my stuff and moving in. It's not that I don't like the person living in the basement, it's more that I don't like someon living in the basement. I want to wash dishes and take a bath without someone knowing. I want to break out into song and rock out on my guitar without hurting the ears of someone else. It seems extravagent to move over. I really don't need the extra spce, extra bathroom or extra kitchen. I don't want it. I just want more privacy.

Well this week, I was actin principal. The MD phoned me. "The water plant can not keep up. We keep on emptying. Is there water running at the school?" You see the school is one of the only places that draws directly from the water treatment plant. The rest of the community trucks it to their resevoirs. I checked around the school but had a sneaking suspicion that it might be the empty house. So I hunted down a key and treked over to the house.

As soon as I put my ear to the door, I could hear the rush of water. I opened the door to see water lapping at the basement stairs. I threw my keys on the stairs towards the upstairs (that house keys and my house keys - do you see where this is going?). I went downstairs, waded through 6 inches of water, saw th hole that the water pressure had bore through the wall. Went through the waterfall into the laundry room looking for a shut off valve. Saw nothing. At this point I started to panic. I went upstairs to go to the school and phone the maintenance people. I shut the door behind me. I locked the door behind me. (Do you see where this is going yet?)

As I was walking to the school, I came to the awful realization that I only had the school keys on me. I did not have my house keys or the keys to our new basement swimming pool. So I started looking for help from the few teachers that were in town that week. I went to the office, gathered up all the keys I could to try to find another set to get me in the house. No luck. So I went to phone our principal to see if she had a set of keys at her house. No answer. A litany of how stupid I was was now running through my head. My and keys, it is a saga of problems and stupidity.

That is when we used the crowbar - the biggest monster crowbar I have ever seen. This is the second time in my Trout existence that I have had to take a crowbar to a door. By the time we got into the basement again, the water was about 8 inches deep. Finally we turned off the water and electricity.

So I want be moving into that house for awhile. The basement wall has a hole in it. The pipes have possible multiple holes in them. There will probably be mildew problems and then there is the compromised door frame.

So this morning, I was alone and took some time to squack on my flute and rock out on my acoustic guitar. It felt good to sing and raise my voice. I need to find the time to do it more often.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What did I want to write about again?

I spent almost all of last week in Edmonton for teachers convention. It was nice to get away and to experience life. I forgot that in the city, people go out after dark, even if it is snowing and don't just hole up in thier houses like I do. I had a life in Edmonton and it felt great.

The first night I went out for dinner with fellow teachers and then went to see a very late showing of Juno. Loved the movie and loved the fact that we had the whole stinking theater to ourselves so we could talk and comment through out. Apparently not everyone has a life in Edmonton (not after ten anyways).

The next evening I went out for dinner with friends of mine and then went to hang out at their brand new house. It was so nice to see their pictures of Hawaii and to see them happy with their house etc. I normally stay with these friends, but since they were in the middle of moving I stayed out of their way instead.

The next evening, I had a Valentine's date - with my dad. Don't get too excited there. He was in town for a Christian schools conference so we had dinner and then hung out at the mall. You know, the only mall in Edmonton. Yes it is rather funny - my dad and I at the mall together. My dad who hardly ever graces the mall's presence.

Then on Friday, I had a coffee date with Jer and Christine and my sweet nephew. They were on their way through Edmonton so we were able to meet up. It was so nice to see them - them, not just my sweet nephew Zachary. He is cute and all but can not hold a conversation yet.

Then I was off to Wetaskwin to visit another friend for the weekend where I helped her paint her new house. We also watched Ratatoiulle, which is an OK movie but maybe not as good as everyone says it is.

I am so thankful for all of my friends and relatives that keep me grounded and allow me to breeze in and out of their lives as the winds of time blow me here and there. If I didn't have that support around me and far away from, I could not do what I do. So for all of you that read this - you are part of my grounding and so I thank you.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The deep freeze

Last weekend I spent a great weekend at Breakforth. It was spiritually refreshing to once again visit with my mother, brother and other people from church, as well as sit under the teaching of some Christian leaders. Once again, I enjoyed the ministry of Kay Arthur. I can't really comment on much else because I spent a lot of my option time in Kay's sessions, madly flipping through my tattered Bible learning about discipleship "deny yourslef, take up your cross and follow me", keeping the mind pure "as a man thinks in his heart, so he is" and taking care of the sheep. I also took in a session on self-injury. It was encouraging to see that some Christians were starting to recognize this epidemic but discouraging to once again see how little help was offered in my corner of the world. The weekend culminated for me in a great emergent worship service where I was able to struggle with the demands of discipleship. I am continuing to struggle with it by ignoring the struggle and pretending that all is fine. Am I really willing to die for the call? Am I ready to die literally? figuratively? If I ignore the questions then I don't have to search for the difficult answers.

The end of the conference was rather symbolic as we all stepped out from the warmth of worship into the bitter, bitter windy cold storm front that had been brewing outside the Shaw Conference center. I swear that I got frostbit finger tips loading my car with canteen items and I was grateful that I already had plans to spend the evening in Edmonton instead of having to brave the storm and head into the dark north.

The rest of the week, we have been in a bit of a deep freeze. I hardly had any students all week and did paper work. I never realized how much I depended on my students to keep me sane and even keeled. By the end of the week, I felt drained because I felt like I hadn't even made a dent in all the paperwork that we needed to do and because the computer is not great company. With the deep freeze (-48 one morning) had come the doldrums that I always experiences after a spiritual convention. So now, I have to try to find away to dig myself out. Thankfully the sun is rising before school starts in the morning and is shining through out the day, bringing promise that spring will come, both spiritually and physically.

Lent starts this week. Maybe by giving up a comfort, it will force me to see and feel the son. I have decided to give up my snooze button. We shall see how that works.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A recipe for a Trout Graduation

Take a random date when no one would expect a grad - say January19th. Take 5 students, two of which actually recieved their high school diploma and three which tried so hard but were blocked by the nastiness of the Social Studies diploma. Take families and a community that who view this as a grand event to celebrate. Take some teachers who are very jaded and reluctant and sick and overworked. What you get is about 20 hours of decorating, a half an hour ceremony, a full fledged 12- dish community dinner with no one to really organize it and then clean up.

The Grad was a lot of fun, the graduates looked great and I am glad that it is over. It is time to focus on other things such as final exams, report cards and next semesters courses. I really hope that this week I do not have to stay at school until 10:00 each night to get everything I need to get done completed before taking off this weekend. Maybe a good suggestion would be to get off of facebook, my blog and other asundry internet activities and get to work. First on the agenda, trying to decide what we are going to do tomorrow. I know what I want to do - take a holiday but unfortunately that is not an option.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy New Year

OK it is already the 13th and the New Year is slowly turning old. The stresses of last year have already caught up to us all but nontheless, this is my New Year blog and the first entry in 2008.

So at my New Year's "party" - 4 girls playing the slowest game of Skipbo EVER and then looking on the Internet together at profiles for my fictional boyfriend - I stated that my New Year's resolution was to continue to be the wonderful person that I already am. Well, I am slowly being shown that maybe I am not so wonderful and that there are a few things that need to change.

A few days later, I recieved conviction number one. I went out for coffee with one of my mentors and former Bible study leader extrodinaire. As always, she asked how my devotional life is going. I admitted that perhaps it needed a little tweaking. I do my devotions as a duty not as a desire. I would like to change it back to a desire, a time filled with meaning.

So as always, meaningful devotions lead to conviction number two. I decided to reread Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Chapter Two is called "Problem" and the conclusion is that "I am the problem." No it doesn't state in the text, "Jen you are the problem," but it comes to the conclusion that all of us are broken and in that brokenness are the problem. You know, the whole sin nature thing. So I did some major reflection on that today in my journal. I am feeling rather brave because I am going to put some excerpts in this entry. Here goes . . . Ok I started typing it but I guess that I don't want to be that transparent. Just know that God is working on my selfishness and self sufficiency once again. He is reminding me that I am not the centre of the world.

So I thought that maybe my New Year's resolution would be to cook great meals in my new pots on my new stove but I guess that God had more in mind. I should also mention that I resolved not to lie to my students re: the whole boyfriend thing. Lies tend to snowball and cause avalanches of untruths. I could see that that particular lie would cause more and more lies to more and more people. All in all, not a good idea but kind of fun to think about.

So any other New Year's resolutions out there? Have you broken them already?