Reflections on Hope

“Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what He said He will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is willingness to let God do it His way and in His time.” – Eugene Peterson; A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

A long time ago I had a conversation with a friend about faith and hope that lead to a verse in Romans 8 “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” I can’t remember the entirety of the conversation but I remember that verse sticking with me, following me around. It came back to me on Monday, when I read the above quote from Eugene Peterson in a Daily Office written for Advent by Rich Villodas.

Sometimes I think words lose their impact because of overuse. I’m often guilty of using words the wrong way, or overusing words like “awesome” to describe something that is just slightly out of the ordinary as opposed to something that really inspires awe in me. And I think sometimes I do that with hope.

So, this week I have been thinking of the word hope and wrapping my mind around the meaning of the word, the feelings that it draws from me when I truly mean it. There is expectation, but not anxiety, longing but not obsession and confidence that God will do what he said he would do; and in this season it is a reminder that I believe that Jesus is the son of God and that one day he will return to earth. It is my hope and that hope is illustrated through my faith in Him.

May I live my life never losing sight of this, never losing hope.

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On repeat: Hallelujah (Light Has Come) by BarlowGirl

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December’s Dottie Box

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Ok, this is my last Dottie Box (and thus post about it). I signed up for three boxes but I think I’m going to keep this subscription (though not post every month about it). All the boxes so far have been great and I’ve used pretty much everything in them, and this holiday box is excellent!

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Inside, the first thing I pulled out was a necklace from Sundrop Jewelry, a gorgeous blue pendant on a fine silver chain made by Tawny from CA who uses magnified sunlight to melt old glass into drop shapes for jewelry – geeky and cute, I am sold! Her site has a lot of great pieces, if you’re shopping for unique gifts.

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The next was a print from Spoon Lily Designs, I like the idea that the folks at Dottie Box did, in the picture on their Instagram, of placing the design in a red frame, very festive! There are some really cute prints on the site. I think I might put this on the wall of my cube to make it festive.

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Next were these gift tags from Dinglewood Design and Press. They do a lot of different designs for many occasions and work with you to create a unique design for you.

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Finally these festive candles from Scent Xpressions, which smell so delicious you can practically eat them. Actually, I’m just going to wrap up this post right now, put on some Christmas music and light one of these candles.

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On repeat: Christmas Time by Christina Aguilera

Conscientious Consuming

There are a lot of sites out there that offer consumer goods and donate part of their profit to different causes. The first time I started noticing this was the (Product)RED campaigns that started some years ago where places like Apple and Gap would sell specific products and part of the profit went to help fund AIDS research.

It’s an appealing idea, paying a bit more at times for a certain item, having something tangible to use and knowing that part of the money you spent is also being used for good. Or, in some cases, knowing that the company has strong ethical values – taking care of their workers and the environment.

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The idea behind Toms is, you buy a pair and they give a pair to someone in need of shoes.

I currently own three pairs of Toms, but I’ve been a previous owner of about three more. In the warmer months Toms are the main shoes that I wear and they usually wear out from the constant wear. Currently, I have in my possession the navy blue, sand, and black glitter pairs. They are comfortable and go with almost anything. I stick to the classic slip on styles though, because I bought two pairs of the ballet flat ones and they did not last the month – the heel frayed, quickly!

There are a lot more styles now, so if you’re not into the classic look I’m sure something else will work for you.

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Similar to Toms, Warby Parker made a splash with affordable eyewear and the idea that, when you buy a pair they give a pair, by donating some of the profits towards training doctors and providing eyewear to folks in need.

It took me a while to join the Warby Parker bandwagon, but I finally did this year when I bought the Ainsworth pair in elderberry. I love my glasses! I mostly wear them for distance, and they are a great pair of glasses – plus the purple and green frame makes me happy.

If you’re shopping for someone else, they also have sunglasses (with and without prescription) so that could be a very thoughtful gift.

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I haven’t tried them yet, though I have my eyes on a few things, but I recently heard of Krochet Kids and I thought it was a really great concept. They started out by teaching folks, who wanted to be independent and provide for their family, to crochet hats and grew from there. They would then sell the product and pay the maker a fair wage. Every piece is personalized with the name of the person who made it.

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Two honorable mentions to this list are Patagonia (they take care of making their products in an ethical way) and Good Paper, very similar to Krochet Kids where they provide jobs for folks who want to be independent and help their families. I’ve bought cards from Good Paper’s Cards from Africa Christmas collection before, they are really well made and very adorable.

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On repeat: Patapan/O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Mindy Gledhill

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Fun and entertaining on YouTube

I’ve shared a few of my favourite YouTube channels in the past, but I’m always finding interesting content on YouTube. So here are some more!

She was featured in one of my posts before, but I’ve recently starting following her channel. Giovanna Fletcher is the wife of Tom Fletcher who is in McBusted. She is an author, blogger, mummy and vlogger and I find her very delightful to watch.

I found Karen Kavett while clicking through on some DIY projects. She makes jewelry that she sells through DFTBA.com and does a lot of DIY craft videos on her channel.

Cinemasins has been entertaining me for the past two months. They basically point out the parts of movies that might not make any sense. I love when they do book-to-movie adaptations because my biggest pet peeve with those sort of movies is that, usually, the folks who don’t read the book have a lot of questions that the books answer but the movie doesn’t portray.

Finally, I can’t believe that I didn’t mention her before, but I absolutely LOVE Natalie Tran from CommunityChannel. She’s hilarious and not very consistent with her posts, (a running joke with her longtime viewers) but when she does post, it’s quite hilarious.

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On repeat: Dear Santa by Jay Brannan

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3 Sites for Christmas Shopping

Christmas is just around the corner and the shopping frenzy has begun. I try not to go do a lot of spending for Christmas, and if I do, I try to get gifts that are unique and meaningful. Here are some sites that I shop around for ideas!

Modcloth

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One of my favourite online stores! I’ve bought a number of outfits from them and I find their site easy to use. Since it’s only online, the next thing that I look for is returns and customer service. If you purchase an article and something is wrong with it, they do a really good job of making the return process as painless as possible.

Not only do they have cute clothes, they have adorable extras that can add a unique twist to your gift giving.

Uncommon Goods

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I’m not entirely sure how I happened across this site, but I’m so glad I did! There are some unique gift ideas there and even if I’m not buying I love browsing to see what new things they’ve added, I mean, USB cufflinks and a metal band made out of … metal? What’s not to like?

ThinkGeek

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Fresh out of college I found this site and I went a little crazy, buying random shirts and gadgets. It’s easy to loose track of time browsing through all the nerdy items for sale on this site and I absolutely love it! There are a lot of pop culture things on it as well so there’s a little something for everyone.

That’s all for now, maybe later this week I’ll do three sites that will make you feel good about helping other people. We’ll see. What are some of your faves?

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On repeat: You are the Sun by Sara Groves

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A Particularly Bothersome Commute

It’s the second day and I’ve already broken the rules! But this story, while not about something I love, should still entertain.

Yesterday was the first of the month, I had to get a monthly pass for the LIRR and the train that I finally caught cancelled at Jamaica. Again. For the second time in three weeks. A wonderful start to the month. Hello Monday!

On my way back home, I boarded the D train just in time to hear the conductor, over the loud speaker, letting everyone know that there was a stalled train at 34th and we’re being held at the station.

The F train pulled into the station on the track across from the D and I decided, perhaps that line is working since this line is being held. So I got off the D train and got on to the F and guess what, the D train pulled out of the station.

Thinking, oh well, perhaps the issue has been resolved and the F will run, I stayed on the F train and watched as another D train pulled into the station – and then pull out of the station. The doors to the F train remained opened.

Another train, a B I believe, pulled into the station. Since two trains left the station on that track and the F train was still standing, doors opened, I left the F train and went into the B train, and one of the following happened:

  1. The B train pulled out of the station! Hurrah!
  2. The F train pulled out of the station. Boo.
  3. A unicorn walked into the train! What?!

If you guessed two, then you are correct.

At this point I gave up on the expectation of making it to Penn in time for my train, so I thought to myself, why not go over to the downtown track and take the train to Brooklyn, where I can get the next train home from Atlantic Terminal, after all, the downtown trains were coming and going all this time. So, out of the B train I went and over to the downtown track where, I found out that now, no B or D  downtown trains were running.

Sigh.

Welcome to New York.

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On repeat: White Winter Hymnal by Pentatonix (original by Fleet Foxes)

 

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A Few of My Favourite Things

It’s December! I can’t believe it but it’s true. It seems that times speeds up, relative to the responsibilities on your plate. So here we are, the first day of December and I had a wacky thought – what if, for every day this month, I write a post about one thing that I love? I don’t know if I can REALLY do 31 posts, but I can try, so here goes!

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Coming off of November the one thing on my mind is NaNoWriMo! I won again this year and I’m SO HAPPY about that! I wasn’t planning on doing it and I didn’t really have an idea, but October came around and I felt like I wanted to try it again, so I took a story that was sort of flowing in my head for a while now, and decided to write it down.

Last year I wrote a little about my process (or lack thereof). A few things remained the same from last year, but this year I realized that I can plot – given the right tools.

In October I bought an app called Index Card. It’s a really great app that lets you brainstorm and plot your ideas on a cork board. It’s very flexible and doesn’t force you to work in a certain template so I was able to create my own flow and stacks without feeling boxed in. The best part was, since it was on my iPad I could carry it around with me and work with it on my commute without carrying around a big bag.

For the actual writing I used Scrivener. I first hear of the app from Justine Larbalestier, who posted about using it to write Liar (a really great book if you love unreliable narrators). Around that time I downloaded a trial version of the program and tried it out, it was a nice app, but I wasn’t writing anything at that moment so I forgot about it. That is, until last year when a friend of mine mentioned Scrivener to me for NaNoWriMo and I decided to give it another go. I bought the full version, imported my Word document and never looked back.

I absolutely LOVE Scrivener. I know that there are other apps out there that work similarly, but I appreciate that Scrivener has a lot of heavy-duty tools but still allows you the simplicity of just writing and ignoring the bells and whistles until you are ready.

I used the Index card as a guideline and then translated those cards to Scrivener where I fleshed out the story. If writing is something you love doing, I strongly suggest checking them out to see if they work for you!

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On repeat: Sleigh Bells by Fun.

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