July 28, 2012

Beaut, Beauty, Beautiful.

I know, I know, my vacation is over, but I am STILL learning things from my time on PEI. One of the very first things that I did while on the island was to look around the Acadian Museum, and while in the parking lot I saw a beautiful church! Well, I had to go explore. My friend and I tried all of the doors, and to our surprise one of the side doors was unlocked. We snuck in and I was immediately blown away by the beauty. I had been in catholic churches before, but this one, this one was beautiful. There were paintings, stained glass windows, and the ceilings were arched. I was so happy. I had a hard time catching my breath, now that I think about it, it was breath taking. It was beautiful on the inside and the outside. It had a large gateway with a sign that read, "St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church". I quickly stuffed a bulletin into my purse and left.

Later that day, we were driving to find the Bottle House which is exactly what it sounds like (a house that is made out of bottles), when we came across a beautiful church! So, of course we pulled over and ran out of the car. This church was open to tourists and had a summer student there offering information about the church. This church was even more beautiful than the first one! It had a huge cemetery, beautiful architecture, and was simply incredible. 

Then, the day that we went into Charlottetown for the first time, we were walking to the Confederation Centre of the Arts....when I saw it, St. Dustan's Basilica. One of the most beautiful things I've ever laid my eyes upon. My eyes welled up with tears upon entering. I walked as silently as I could. I listened closely to the murmur of prayers that were constantly being said. The whole experience was musical. Then as I made my way around and to the back of the church, Kaly was holding a bulletin and slowly raised her hand to point to the words that indicated that mass was to start in an hour. We nodded our heads and left. After an hour passed in the Confederation Centre we made our way back to the church and experienced Mass at St. Dustan's. After it was over, I begged to come back the next day, (which we did, for Mass again).

These churches each had things in common:
-I found these churches while looking for something else.
-I have to ask the question, what if I was content with the first church and never made my way to the next, or the next? I would have never experienced the wonder of St. Dunstan's.
-Each was more beautiful than the one before.

I think that is a bit how life works. We experience true life, while we're busy making plans. It is "as we go" that we see the beauty of the world. And if we stay content with how we are, then we fail to grow. My life right now may be a St.John the Baptist church, but I want it to someday be a St. Dunstan's Basilica. I want to grow, become more beautiful, and reflect God more everyday.
I want to make tomorrow more beautiful than
today, and I want to fall in love with God more
each day than the one before.

July 26, 2012

Indirect and Incorrect Directions

Today I am sharing one of the biggest challenges I faced while on vacation, getting directions. Now as many of you know, I am QUITE directionally challenged, but as a complementary match to this weakness, I have the gift of patience and optimism (which helps A LOT when I'm lost). This is not merely a tale of getting lost, no. This is a life lesson in trust, discernment, and being aware of surroundings. 

1. Our GPS, Magellan, has always been faithful. It has taken my friend and I on many road trips, and it always gives us the most direct route, it always gives us a lovely chime when it is time to turn, and most importantly, it always reconfigures a route for us when we make a wrong turn. Well, not on PEI. I don't know what is wrong with the satellites, maybe they were on vacation too, but GPSs do not fair well on the island. It tried to take us on all of the back dirt roads, it was unable to tell us of any gas stations near by, and best of all, it kept telling us to make right turns into the ocean. We resorted to using a French map that we had picked up at the Acadian Museum in Miscouche. 

2. After driving around the city of Charlottetown for 20 minutes looking for a place to park, we decided to break down and enter...(dun dun dahhhhh) a parking garage. It was a hot day, and we were just having bad luck with the one way streets, so we caved in and payed to park. That was easy. The hard part was finding the parking garage. A lady on a bench told us that it was 1 block down and to the right. (It was not, but we found the garage). Once inside the garage we looked around for 10 minutes, only to discover it was the WRONG parking garage, and apparently Charlottetown has not one, not two, but THREE. Oh dear. We entered the post office and asked the worker specifically where the Fitzroy garage was. He told us it was down the street and on the right. (It was the wrong garage). Eventually we found the parking garage...AND the car. During this long, hot adventure, we did get to see a lot of the residential areas of the city, which were quite beautiful. 

3. One of the things I was most excited about for the trip was getting an Old Time Photo done. Even though we were able to find the studio, we noticed the price increase to 60$ for one photo, and abruptly left the building. My second choice was WAX WORLD, and boy was I ever excited! So with little help from GPS, we made our way to the town we knew it was in. Once there we pulled into the PEI Dirt Shirt Shop to ask directions. I excitedly asked the girl at the counter (who was preoccupied making a friendship bracelet). She informed us that the wax museum used to be there, but it wasn't anymore, and that it did not exist. I was devastated. I asked her, "So you're telling me, there is not one wax museum on this ENTIRE island" and while chewing her bubblegum she said, "yeah". We left. We drove down the road and found an information center with brochures for WAX WORLD. Say what?!?!? After a 10km drive down the road, we arrived at Wax World, and one of the first figures that greeted me, was JP2. My FAVOURITE pope! (John Paul II). I was just a little excited. 

You're probably thinking, "oh my word, that vacation sounds so frustrating". To be honest, it was at times, but because we were determined, and because we kept moving forward, we eventually got where we wanted to go, and all the obstacles made it all the more enjoyable in the end. And you know what? Life's kinda like that too. We are able to really appreciate the highs in life, because of the lows. Perhaps the bad times are really blessings after all. 

Until next time, I leave you with....
JP2 and I

July 24, 2012

"Runner" Up

As many of you know, I have just returned from a vacation on PEI. Though a busy week, it was fun-filled, sunny, and jam packed full of fellowship. Without going into too much detail about all of the fun events, I'd like to share one of my highlights. I, Annie MacDuff, spontaneously completed my bucket list item: Run in a Marathon like Race. I'm still shocked.

Friday night my vacation buddy and I sat in our two-person tent and looked at our options of how to spend our Saturday. While reading over the events of the Potato Blossom Festival in O'Leary, my friend Kaly made a joke about the Fun Run at 8 am the next day. Something along the lines of "yeah, I'm sure A LOT of fun can be found in running in the heat for no reason" was sarcastically said. Then I piped up, and pleaded that we go, if not to run at least to watch the silly people run. So our last full day of vacation started at 6 am on Saturday morning. After a quick shower, we were soon on our way to register for the race. We each paid 5 dollars to run, and we each received a free t-shirt for being two of the first ones there. Before the race, I had a few things running through my mind.

I debated whether or not to remove my earrings. I thought they might bother me during the run, and I knew they would make me look silly to the other runners. I ended up leaving them on, and my flowery homemade hair band too, because when I finish a race, I want to know that I stayed true to who I am.

I debated whether or not I should run at all, because I didn't have running gear like the rest of the runners. I learned that when we're called to "go" we don't always have time to go buy sneakers, or go home and get the ones we want, sometimes, if not most times, we have to go with what we've got, and trust that the rest will be provided. I wore my pink converse shoes in the race. 

The big picture lesson that I learned while on vacation was "serving in ALL that I do." This lesson even turned out to be the theme of the sermon the last day I was on PEI. While on the race, I stopped to thank the water girls, I stopped to pick up the water cups people had thrown in the ditch, I got off the road every time a vehicle approached, and I let the super intense older lady finish before me. It turns out that you can learn a lot from the book, "Hurry Up Franklin".

All in all, I learned that I'm called to "run in such a way to win the prize" and that means that I'm called to serve, and to serve in ALL that I do, even if what I do is a fast paced sport that I've never done before.

With a time of 35.16, I finished in the middle of the 20 runners that did the 5k.
I sure did win the lesson, even though I lost the race.

This is me right after the race!

July 12, 2012

A Grand (Manan) Lady

A beautiful woman passed away on Saturday, and although I never had the chance to meet her, she has been a huge blessing in my life. The first blessing that her life bestowed upon me was through her grandson,  the closest person I have to a brother figure in my life. I would never have had the countless experiences with Dan Stanley if it was not for this woman. By creating a family and constantly following God's will for her life, she brought me my best friend. This woman was so incredible that even in her promotion to glory she shed blessings to many. Though I mourned, and cried for her beautiful, remaining family members, I am able to look back and see just how God driven her passing was. Through her passing:

I was able to spread the comfort of the Holy Spirit,
I was able to bond with a relatively new friend and find lots of things we have in common,
I was able to meet many family members of my best friend,
I was able to leave my best friend speechless with a surprise visit,
I was able to visit Grand Manan for the first time,
I was able to see where my best friend grew up,
I was able to be blessed through the words of her son,
I was able to drive on and off of a ferry for the first time,
I was able to see my entire church family pray for her family,
I was able to be seen as an adult for the first time, by being asked if I had kids of my own,
I was able to realize just how amazing my job is, by letting me leave last minute,
I was able to connect with a good friend and be blessed by her willingness to help me,
I was able to grow my liking of dogs,
I was able to tent on a cliff for a first time,
I was able to respond to a call God had for my life,
I was able to gain new ideas surrounding death,
I was able to play ukulele in the car and hear my friend say, "this is what summer is supposed to be," while he sang along on route to the funeral.
I was able to see the response of the media and the government begin to reinstate the air ambulance service to the island of Grand Manan.
I was able to witness to an entire family on a ferry by offering to paint a 6 year old girl's nails, and teach her older brother how help do her eye makeup.

If these are just a FEW of the ways I was blessed through the death of this wonderful woman, I can't even imagine counting the ways her promotion blessed hundreds, if not thousands of people, and I can't even fathom the amount of blessings her life gave to this world. From all of this I learned just how important it is to be there for a friend, even if they say they want to be alone. I learned the amazing effects following the Spirit can have on the world. And most importantly, I learned part of what it means to be a woman of God. It means being a blessing even when you must leave your family behind and be united with Christ.
Thank you Gram Stanley,
you helped to change my life with out even knowing it,
let alone me. 

July 6, 2012

Precious Piggies

Not too long ago two special little ones came into my life, their names are Mary & Martha. They are sisters who absolutely love eating and napping all the time, and are great cuddly little companions. It took a little while to get to know them and decide on their names, but after watching one stay in the hidey house, while the other was out spending time with the people, the names of these sisters fit perfectly. They did not come from a pet store, I made the smart decision of buying from an owner. So, after a very long 3.5 hour drive I met these little girls and took them home with me. They are turning 1 month old tomorrow, so I thought today would be a good day to blog about them. In just one week they have doubled in size, and in appetite. 

I'm still getting to know their sounds.
The high-pitched squeak is when they hear the fridge door, cutting board, or a bag rattle.
The chatter is when I first come home.
The low purr is when they are happy and ready for sleep.
The squeals are yelps for help (when one is separated from the other).
The tweeting is almost a song that both will sing together when they get new hay.

Since they are now big enough to have "floor" time, and are unable to fit through the grid of the play pen, they have become much happier and more energized little creatures. Though Martha still stays in the house most of the time, I know that she'll get brave enough to come and get a snack, so that Mary won't have to keep taking it in to her. It is now a common saying in my household to hear, "Martha! Why don't you get out of the kitchen and spend some time with me."  (Paraphrase of Luke 10: 41-42.) 

Today I may, or may not have called home on my lunch break and had my mother hold the phone up to the cage so I could say hello. You better believe that as soon as I find a nice travel carrier for them....they will be spending some quality time with me at work :)
2 weeks old, still with their mom and dad.
Mary out eating during floor time, Martha in the house.  28 Days old. 

July 2, 2012

Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!
As Nova Scotians, Canadians, and human beings we have SO much to celebrate. This is the message that I shared yesterday morning, but I think you might enjoy it too. Though a typical busy Sunday morning, my Canada Day turned out to be wonderful. I was at the church at 9:03am ...and I consider that to be late, I was reminded of this as two members of the worship team were standing outside...waiting for my key to unlock the door. To be honest, I was late because I stepped on a piece of glass, which slowed me down. After a great band practice, I did last minute touches on the Children's Story, and practiced reading the gospel passage for the service. I'd like to say that I'm not usually this busy on Sundays, and that this was an exception because the pastor is on vacation, but as I said, yesterday really was typical.

The message that I shared with the kids (and the adults) was about what it takes to be a true Canadian. I told them that what I had in my bag was what made me a super Canadian. I showed them my Canadian Tire money, my Canadian passport, I put on my Canada flag CAPE, tied my Canada tie, put on my Canada umbrella hat, my Canada glasses, and put Canada stickers on my face, of course.
I then told the kids that what was left in my bag was what made me a true Canadian.

(but shh that's a secret for now)

What was also left in my bag was what it takes for God to love me. I gave the kids hints by saying that it wasn't a bible that I had to read every day, it wasn't a super long prayer I had to say, and it wasn't a calendar that showed alllll the Sundays I had to go to church.

I reached in my bag....
and watched their eyes get really big....
and showed them the inside of the bag.

Inside the bag was....... 

Because just like I can't be more or less Canadian than you, I can't make God love me more or less than you. There's Nothing I have to do, say, be, own, know, to make God love me, because he already loves us SO much!

I told the kids that although I looked realllly silly, that I was being serious and that I had a verse from Romans to share with them. I read from Romans 3, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Although this message is a Children's Story, we can all be reminded that this weekend is not only an opportunity to celebrate the free country we live in, but the FREEDOM we have in Jesus! 

Photo cred to fellow blogger, sister in Christ, and Canadian: Jessie

Whooo Hooooo! Happy Canada Day!