that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


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dreamer-girl

When I was about 13 years old, I starting dreaming about going to university. I imagined it would be like the American colleges we see in the movies… like Princeton or Harvard or Stanford… with old brick buildings, cobblestone walkways, and stained glass windows in the library. Unfortunately, when I arrived in Calgary, my vision of what college was rapidly changed. The buildings were old, sure, but not character-old. And Mount Royal College even had automatically flushing toilets, which did not go over very well with me.

UVic happened to be a little more part of what my dreams were. Even though the buildings are fairly new, if not brand new, my imagined campus with huge trees, with big trunks to lean up against when studying and leaves to fall in autumn, and brick walkways flanked with grassy areas, where it’s very common to find someone playing an impromptu “Dave Matthews” or “Jack Johnson” on his acoustic guitar by the fountain. Even though it rains, you can almost skip from tree to tree to keep shelter from the winds. The magnificent reds and oranges of the leaves are replaced with beautiful lilac buds and scads of daffodils in the spring. Every time I walk out of a building, I take a huge breath and think “This isn’t like in Dawson’s Creek…but it’s close!” UVic is beautiful, but the geographics still didn’t fit my college imagination; my college dream.

(I stole this picture off the web…it hardly does any justice to the school…I really need a camera)

The more I think about it though, UVic was my dream. In grade 12, right before grad, we had to fill out a form that said “Where you plan to be next year” and I wrote “Victoria.” When I got my diploma, they said “Kate Stam, future plans: UVic”. When I was 10, Victoria was the main, vivid vacation spot I had so I always wanted to live or end up here. Life panned out, I spent 3 very important and growing years in Calgary, before I came here. I never was accepted to UVic the year I graduated high school. I couldn’t come here. Yet I was so sure Victoria is where I was supposed to be.

This is interesting because God has a way of bringing our lives either full circle, or back onto the path of His plan. Now I am almost done the first half of my second year at UVic, my fifth year at post-secondary, and I am marvelling in something kind of bizarre: my dream came true — I am at the University of Victoria. Wow. I am struggling because I just got an e-mail a few days ago that said:

Hi, Katie,

Here is your new updated degree report. You are all set
to graduate April, 2009.  Let me know if you have any
questions.

Wow! Are you serious? I mean, it’s felt like a lifetime ago that I started this adventure, and I am so unbelievably excited to finish this part of my education, but a quiet voice in my heart whispered “already?” That’s the thing about dreams come true — when they do, you have to appreciate and enjoy and envelope yourself in the awe of that moment when that dream is realized…and then spend every moment living with that realization and doing with that dream all that you can to show you’ve appreciated it. Because all that dreams come true are are answered prayers. And I don’t think I’ve used these one and a bit years so far giving back to the Lord in what He gave to me in realizing this dream. I need to remember that… and I thought I would share that for you and your own answered prayer-dreams… what have you done with your own dreams come true and answered prayers?

And after my moment or understanding, I thought that I need to do something to really appreciate my own answered prayers and then thought… however selfishly… “But thank you Lord, I get to graduate. Finally!


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real simple.

Is it okay to indulge?

I am going to throw this out there… I am quite poor. I have a good summer job, but this past summer I bought a car so that depleted my savings. Coupled with the fact that I have to take six courses each semester (So an extra $900) and that I drive everyday to school, I am in a little bit of a stressful student financial situation. And because I have six classes, I don’t have time to get a job. I could if I wanted to commit academic suicide… but I don’t.

Enter my hair.

In order to cut back on spending (not that I spend money at all, I would prefer to have a coffee with a friend than buy new shoes…hello, three year old sweaters) I decided to not dye/highlight my hair anymore. I’ve been – mildly – highlighting my hair since I was in grade nine… I guess that would make me 14 years old? And in the summer months, those highlights really come out naturally in my hair…so I am always a tousled mess of blondybrown locks. The last time I highlighted my hair was November of last year and it cost me $130. My hair grows fairly slowly but the nice thing about it is it is not TOTALLY obvious where my roots are because by now, the highlights have faded tremendously and it all looks natural-ish. I thought I would be relishing in this new time in my life where I get to see the actual colour of my hair and equally excitedly, saving $130.

That’s NOT HAPPENING. I absolutely adore getting my hair done. It’s about the only thing I can justify spending over $100 dollars on… I love getting my hair washed, cut, cleaned by someone else. I pay close attention to which stylists are the most talked about and where I can get the best job for the best price… ever since leaving Norma in Smithers (my dear friend Cody’s mom who dyed it three highlight colours for free every time I was there just so we could get in a good visit!) I have searched high and lo. When I moved here, people raved about this girl at the mall and she is absolutely phenomenal! And since I love getting my hair done, I am really struggling with all of this. A couple people in the last little while have complimented my hair colour, saying it’s kind of a random mix of blonde and light brown… and if these compliments are supposed to give me incentive to persevere, they are not working. I complete adore the process of getting my hair done… it’s euphoric, especially when it is done “right.”

Why oh why must I love my hair so much?

I miss my fake blond head.


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the shack

My dear friend Jen called me in hysterics a number of weeks, soo excited because she was going to go see William P. Young, the author of The Shack speak at a college in Calgary — one of those fleeting moments I regretted ever moving away. Anyhow, another friend from Calgary just showed me where I could hear his talk online… ergo, here it is for you. I encourage those who loved the book (Michelle!) to listen to this. It is so interesting, powerful, and explains so much of the phenom that is The Shack. It’s quite challenging too…and I spent a lot of time crying. Please listen to it. It’s quite long… so get some tea and kick back:

http://www.ambrose.edu/podcast/2008-10-20

I especially love when he talks about how ultimately, our goal should be that the separation between us and God is none existent…that our goal should be to be one with Him.

Be blessed.


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alive

I have this list, consider it a “to-do” list, that I figure I am going to “get to” once I am done school and a little more financially and mentally stable. But God doesn’t really work like that.

I am too comfortable.

I feel like I have so much I should be giving rather than worrying about how to receive (or maintain) the things that I need. So it seems as though God is opening my heart and I don’t even know where to start. I have this idea that consistently plays round and round in my head “It’s not the lit places that need the light, it’s the darkest” and now I want to do things to bring that light to those areas. Not when I am done school, but right now?

I can’t figure out how to upload this as a link, but I was listening to [yet another] sermon from Mars Hill Church in Michigan, and the most recent one was so powerful and convicting on the topic of serving others. Seriously listen to it. Kinda like reading the book “The Shack”, I would preferably come through the computer screen and forceably make you listen to it… but I am not going to do that. Instead you’ll just have to take my word for it and maybe it will speak to your own servant’s heart.

Go to Mars Hill Church teachings and it’s the first sermon [currently] listed called “Examples” by Leroy Barber. Click on the link “MP3” and it will download (temporily) to be played on whatever music source you use.

If you have iTunes, you can also subscribe to Mars Hill Church and it would be one of the sermons you get right off the bat. It’s definitely worthwhile.

Anyways, I think it’s so easy for us to forget how blessed we are simply to be alive that it’s equally, if not easier to forget how little it hurts us to pour those blessings on others. We’ve got lots, we can share. Also, on that topic, you can listen to “A Life Poured Out”, the sermon from the week before, by John Ortberg which also was really good.

Something to think about I guess.


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heart stopping

According to my Faebook profile,  I am dating Dave Matthews. And there is also an update to come on my engagement with Michael Scofield. But I really want to introduce you to the main love of my life, Matt Wertz. Enjoy him. Here are some of my favourites. And my dream is to go see him live.

All I Know

Counting to 100

Sweetness in Starlight

Everything’s Right


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drowning

Is it possible to change 24 hour days to 48 hour days… just until Friday? After our insane drive home (12 hours instead of 6?), and delirious, drugged silliness (heavily medicated Kate — I am quite sick), Mallory and I did not arrive on time nor in time for me to get work done last night. So now I am trying to finish my assignments in order to spend all day tomorrow studying for my Thursday midterm.

And the quiet voice in your head whispers “Do you think she’s tired of it?” You be she is.

AUGH


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small town girl

‘i stand, with arms high
and heart abandoned
in awe of the one who gave it all
…all i am is yours’

The wind is howling at a pitch that I am not quite used to today, threatening to blow my window into a thousand little pieces. Accompanying it is the rain, with drops scattered in complete disarray. All afternoon it’s been like this and my bed and pajamas are far too inviting for a girl who needs to write an essay. When we have days like this, I am reminded of home. Not the emotional feeling of home, but literally, of Smithers. The fall and winter on Vancouver Island is completely different from the ones back home that I remember… the onset of the upcoming season is hinted at by a cold nose, frosty mornings, and the greenery tucking itself away for awhile. Not by ever present cold chills and rain. It’s not that I like one above the other, they are just different. And lately I’ve been missing home; missing Smithers.

When I moved to Calgary, I was bursting at the idea of living in a city. I was not disappointed. It felt like over night, hoodies were not an acceptable piece of clothing and that every place I wanted to go meant a 20-45 minute drive. I also learned a sense of fear that resonated through my veins when I was taking a walk at night or downtown 17th (or downtown in general) when the streets came alive… something that was very new for this small town girl. I adapted, and as I became comfortable living in Calgary and learning the best routes, I wondered if I was beginning to like living in such a grandiose centre or I was just becoming used to it.

Now living in Victoria, I think “wow! 15 mins is NOTHING” when driving from point A to B when comparing it to my prior home. And as far as cities go, it is brilliantly gorgeous. Driving around Oak Bay yesterday, I was mesmerized by the thick green shrubs and flowers and seemingly archaic old buildings that made me feel like I was in a time warp. It is the perfect city size, boasting all of the things you need… just. The. Way. I. Like. It.

And even though summers in Penticton, in 40 degree weather in the middle of vineyards and ice cream stands and beautiful trails and endless possibility, have come near and oh-so-dear to my heart, there is a gentle stirring in my heart when I say it’s “home”. Because it isn’t really.

It’s Smithers and I miss it. There is something so welcoming about knowing if I was walking down the street, there is a 98.7% chance I would see someone I know. Where the town sits at such a beautiful base of a mountain that catches my breath when I drive into town. I miss the moments of summer, at Lake Kathlyn, pulling Jes on the airmattress out into the water because she’s too afraid to touch the weeds with her feet. Or winters on the farm, where quadding through Uncle Orv’s snow maze is quite literally, the greatest risk I probably ever took in my short life. Mild hikes to Twin Falls or scattered, chaotic water fights at the fossil beds. Trail and fort building, Snow-sliding, Hunt-trekking through the forest at the house on Balsam Road; French vanilla cappuccinos, sticky cinnamon buns, and scary movies at the house on Sunny Point; and the endless traffic of my life from one end of town to the other, whether the skating rink, Dad’s carpentry, Driftwood, schools, or places like the ‘Roi’ and the Elks field ball diamonds.

I’ve let myself slip into a cozy blanket of home for the last 20 minutes and I thank you for that. I look at all of the places I’ve gotten to live so far and recognize how vastly different they are, all a mix match of colours, amenities, and perfect beauty, but sometimes I just want to go home for the feeling. I was very much still a kid when we left and I feel like so much life has happened in the interim of being away, but it’s true and still oh-so-deeply nestled in my heart: I am a small town girl, who wants to let my hair down in a tangled mess and be okay with wearing a hoodie, leaving my door unlocked, listening to Mark Perry, and walking to wherever I need to be in the dark when the rest of the town is sleeping.

And in my tiny corner of the world, it rains and the wind howls on. And that’s okay too.

A prairie sunset.
An island storm.
An okanagan sunrise.
And forever the northern skies.

I, saying it for the 8th time on this blog, am unbelievably blessed.