Monday, February 27, 2012


Busy. It's a word we all use a lot these days. And we all feel justified in using it. Life is fast-paced, we have a lot of stuff to accomplish, and we have only 24 hours each day to complete our daily to-do lists. But, recently I have come to redefine the word. Busy, to me, is an offensive four-letter word. At best it's an excuse and at worst, a lie.
And it kills me that I am among the worst offenders.

I am so guilty of 'busyness.' Every day I tell myself, "I don't have time to read that blog post and leave a comment." or "I'm too busy to keep up with friends." or "I know I should e-mail my relatives and update them on my life, but I just can't take the time right now." or "I have too much to do to look at someone's Facebook pictures of their recent trip and like a few pictures or make a comment or two."
But I'm wrong. Very wrong. And, when I take a minute to stop and think, I cringe at my foolish priorities.
I DO have time. I'm NOT too busy. And I constantly have to remind myself of this because my brain continues to tell me otherwise. So I need to include my heart in my daily decisions.
And, slowly, slowly, I have come to realize that people are more important than things, schedules and, dare I even say it, jobs. My relationships with my husband, my family, my friends, and even my casual acquaintances, are a thousand times more important than the silly things I tell  myself I need to do every day.
I am an organized person. So my brain constantly tries to help me stay organized by finding little nonsense jobs with which I could fill up all my time. As much as my silly noggin wants me to believe it, cleaning up my e-mail inbox, downloading pictures people have sent me, combining two similar documents in Google Docs, storing recipes in text documents - while they all have value and would help to declutter my life - are NOT important. They can wait for a down-time when I find myself saying, "Hmm, I have a few minutes with nothing to do. What could I accomplish right now?"
How I wish my e-mail inbox looked (it rarely-to-never does)

Many of you might not know this, but my two primarily love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. And, the way I see it, it's easy to combine these two. My mum, my grandma and some dear friends often take time from their days to drop a quick comment on one of my blogs. I love finding their words of love there and reveling in their care for me. I am always especially amazed when my grandma comments. Just a few years ago she didn't even own a computer. Now she sends and receives e-mails daily, regularly comments on any blog posts my family members and I write, and even occasionally comments on status updates or pictures on Facebook. And all this is in addition to spending time every Tuesday with my grandpa visiting people who rarely get out of their homes or live in nursing homes, and always writing thank you notes for anything someone does for her. I dare say her love language might be Words of Affirmation as well because she is sure a pro at doling them out. And just in the past few days I received two sweet messages on Facebook. Last week my friend, Kezia, wrote to thank me for a blog post I had written about her. And yesterday my sister, Becky, wrote me a quick three-word note. It was absolutely golden to me. Just a simple, "Love you sis!", but it made my day. Both short notes gave me the gift of words as well as the gift of a few seconds of their time. What a simple way to let me know they loved me and are thinking about me, but yet what a profound difference it made to me.
The sweet notes from people I love

It's a lesson I don't want to forget. I want to adopt it into my own life. So my new pledge is to take a few breaks throughout each day and try to make a tiny difference in the life of someone I know and love. People who are here on this earth right now and just waiting to have someone remind them they are loved. Just a 'like' or a word or a comment or a quick e-mail. Just something to show that I care, that I read or heard, that I understand, that I love. I want to find out their love languages and learn to effectively give them the love they crave in the exact languages they can understand. I hope you'll join me in this goal. Together, in our own simple ways, we can spread love and caring around the globe to the people who mean the most to us.

*Semi inspired by this blog post

Thursday, February 23, 2012

10 Things I Love About... Kezia!

Well, it seems my last 10 Things I Love About You post was a hit, so I've decided to continue the tradition whenever another person I love pops into my head.

And since today is my dear Danish friend Kezia's birthday, she's been on my mind and in my heart. I met Kezia last year during my first month in Tanzania. I worked for ADRA Tanzania for 8 months in 2010 and 2011. Kezia came to live on our campus and work at the on-site orphanage, Cradle of Love Baby Home, near the end of September and her being there was a huge blessing to my life during the next 7 months. Kezia, you are a wonderful friend and I treasure all our fun times together last year!

 So here it goes, the second edition of TTILAY.

1. Her amazing flexibility.
My friends, Anika, Kezia and Danielle, at the start of our October 2010 African safari.
2. Her love of Danish black licorice.
Not sure why the brand is called Blue Jeans...
3. Her incredible zest for life.
Kezia, Anika, me and Danielle in Ngorongoro Crater on our safari.
4. Her willingness and happiness to get right down to the kids'/babies' level to play with them.

5. Her absolute love for this little triplet (sister to my own Nina-girl)...
Explanation: Tessa didn't want to go to bed so Kezia told her she was going to sleep in her crib instead. Giggles all around!
...and this handsome little boy, Jackson, as well as a host of other special kids.
6. Her bargaining skills.
When she says "no," she means "no." Although her "no" was always accompanied with a smile. Taken at the Maasai market in Arusha.
7. Her intricately thinking, analytical, scientific/math-oriented brain. (I'm in awe of it.)
Yes, she did that whole maze using circles instead of just drawing a line from start to finish during our weekend trip to Babati.
8. Her faces. (She did her best to teach me crazy-faces during my time in TZ, but I fear I didn't catch on too well.)
Kezia and Danielle showcasing this formidable beast. I thought I'd get through 8 months in Tanzania without seeing a snake. Well, I was wrong. A friend brought one over a few days before I left. There's a long (and quite mean) story about how I "happened upon" the little critter (short version: it was lying in the microwave when I went to use it...), but suffice it to say that for the rest of the evening I sat on the other side of the living room from whoever was currently holding the creature.
9. Her wonderful capturing of life as it's lived.
Our group hiking to a dam for my last-day-in-Tanzania picnic.
10. Her tendency for grabbing the knees/legs of those nearest her, especially when startled.
Our last picture as a trio on the way to the airport for my flight back to North America.
Bonus. Her love of banana-bread dough with chocolate chips for dessert, breakfast, supper, special occasions... Really, for Kez any time is a good time for banana-bread dough. :)

Happy birthday, Kez! I miss you every day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

10 Things I Love About You

In the spirit of the very recently passed Valentine's Day, here are 10 things I love about my husband, Jonathan.

1. He thinks about what makes me happy.
During the time I was in Tanzania last year he sent me a picture of himself at least every other day. (I was supposed to do the same, but failed miserably.)
This picture, sent to me on Oct. 14, 2010, is from a costume party with friends. Yes, he's dressed as a pirate; no, the earring isn't real...
2. He takes time out of his life for me.
Last January he flew to Tanzania and surprised me in my office one afternoon. Then he whisked me away for a prearranged two-week vacation.
And on top of all that wonderfulness, he asked me to marry him on a beautiful tropical beach at sunset.
I almost didn't want to go back to work for the last several months of my mission term...
3. He thinks my siblings are cool.
Is there anything sweeter to a sister's ears than the man she loves appreciating her brothers and sisters? He even traveled down to TN with me for my brother's university grad in April to help us all celebrate. (Note: Two sisters missing from this picture and three significant others added.)
4. He encourages me to work for things.
When my crafty sister and friend planned games for my bridal shower and called him up, he gave some sneaky answers about himself.
For every question I answered wrong I had to add another piece of gum. Apparently it was quite a few...look at that giant lump in my cheek!
5. He's tall and strong.
6. He's a good sport.
He's not opposed to impromptu picnic-celebrations... (Don't worry folks, they're just baby Martinelli's. Aren't they adorable!?!)
...or photoshoots...
...or most of the other random ideas I come up with.
7. He has a hidden art talent.
Yep, he drew all that! I helped colour once the lines were there, but the artwork is all his own.
8. He takes beautiful pictures...
...and he lets me use his camera.
9. He knows how to have fun.

10. He loves holding my hand.

And the best part of this whole post is, all these pictures were taken before we were married! If you think we look happy then, you should see us now! :) Maybe a related post upcoming?

*Revised from

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Finally published again!

My aunt contacted me a couple weeks ago and asked if I would consider helping her. She is part of the music festival association in her town. The committee wanted to raise awareness of the music festival in their community and thought of having additional exposure in the local newspaper. So she asked me if I would be the volunteer article-writer. Of course I said yes. It's been more than a year and a half since I've written any news stories and I desperately need to revive and hone that skill. So here it is, folks, my first newspaper publication (excluding the SAU student newspaper).

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


The other week I read this UPI article about a cancer-survivor teenage boy who was suspended from his school because he was growing his hair out for charity. Talk about ridiculous. If only there were more people on this earth like that boy who cared about their fellow-human beings enough to take action and do something.

Cancer is one of my most hated words. It has taken so many good people from this world and from my life. And that's why today I am telling you about the movie, "Blue." The short film about a girl who's father has cancer was produced by two of my fellow SAU students for their senior film project. According to their blog, the goal of "Blue" is "to offer a story of hope and comfort to those whose lives have been affected by cancer." The online premier was dedicated to another former SAU student, Daphne, who died of cancer on January 28, 2012. If you or anyone you know has experienced cancer in any way, watch "Blue" and be touched.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

52 Weeks 52 Verses

My mum found a neat challenge through a friend of a friend's blog, 52 Weeks 52 Verses. She decided to do the challenge and now she is learning a new Bible verse by memory for every week of this year. By the end of the year she'll have 52 new verses memorized! I think that's pretty neat.

She only found the challenge a week or so into the new year so she didn't start right at the start of 2012, but she's making great progress. For her first verse she chose Proverbs 15:1. The next week she picked 2 Corinthians 9:15. (Also, check out some pictures of me she included in that post to celebrate my birthday!) And on her third week she memorized Jeremiah 29:12-13.

To keep up with her memorizing challenge, follow her blog. I already am. Join me and let's see what other wise verses she chooses to memorize in 2012!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

My sister's so cool!

A few days ago my brother posted this video on my sister's Facebook wall with the comment, "You're probably even more epic." It's a pretty impressive video, but I can attest that Bryn can do the exact same thing. Our family has tested her speaking-backwards ability many times, and Ty and I have taken a few videos (none of which I can find at the moment). She's pretty good. And she taught me the three best backwards-words: lightpost-tsopthgil, Tim Hortons-Snortroh Mit, and Orchard Park-Krap Drahcro (the name of the mall in our town). Sadly, those are the only three backwards words I can remember, other than Nosila, the backwards version of my first name (which, oddly enough, was once a bonus spelling word in my grade seven class - and yes, I did manage to spell it right).

In the ensuing discussion below the video on Facebook, one friend posted this Today Health article, giving more information about the girl featured in the video who can speak backwards and also telling about some other people who have the ability also. The following paragraphs really impressed me:
[Andrew] Levine, a research professor in philosophy at the University of Maryland at College Park, can speak entire sentences backward, in the four languages he knows (that's English, French, German and Italian, if you're interested) and in languages he's unfamiliar with.
"If this girl is doing it the same way I'm doing it, it's nothing. It's like you're speaking another language," Levine says. "In fact, I think that I am effectively bilingual, in the sense that if you were genuinely bilingual, nothing would be going on in your brain." In other words, Levine doesn't consciously think, "TODAY: Y-A-D-O-T." He's just come to innately understand that TODAY backwards is YADOT, sort of like a person bilingual in Spanish and English knows that the words "today" and "hoy" are different ways of saying the same thing.
Wow, that's crazy to me! I just love how cool and interesting and diverse brains are! Here's to all the neat people of this word, and especially to those who can speak backwards. Love your awesomeness, Bryn!