Poems of my mother

Decided to share some poems written by my mom. Thanks, Barb Propst Toews, for graciously agreeing to be my guest blogger!

Choices, choices
Always choices
to make…
Always figuring out
which way
to take
and for what
or whose sake
without ever being
unfair or fake…
I get weary
of choices to make
but I guess
they keep me…
alive and awake!

bpt, 1981


His Decision
A good-looking
red caterpillar
was making his way
across a hot wilderness
of pavement today
He couldn’t see that
over the curb…
was a green garden
with shade and flower
and pleasant herb
“poor fellow”
I thought…
“he’s caught
in a bind
and cannot find
the best.”
So I rescued him
upon a leaf –
and transported him
over to cool relief –
thinking he would
certainly rather be
in the shade of
the pleasant tree
but surprisingly
he crawled back
to where it was
he used to be,
and this thing
puzzled me….

bpt, 1981


Thank You
God –
that when
You sent
You actually

bpt, 1985


it feels safe
and easier
to just sit back
and let
someone else
or drive
or dive
but does it
help me
to strive?

bpt, 1983


you never can tell
what’s over
the next hill
until you climb it
and see

bpt, 1985

I feel like
I need direction
and protection
from the strife
of life,
And I’d like to
crawl in a hole
like a mole
or sometimes
like a zebra
or leopard
I’d like to be…
with spots
or stripes
to camouflage me!

bpt, 1983


I don’t have
much strength
or might –
I’m not strong enough
to win the fight
I don’t feel like
a bright shining knight
in this battle
of wrong and right
I need You – God –
to free from the fight
to give in-sight
to lead with light
to scale the height

bpt, 1985



31 Reasons Why Genius Garold is Great AKA Proverbs 31 MY DAD!!

1. his name is Garold, and he hasn’t changed it
2. he hung out with me and my brother when we were little, and he still hangs out with us
3. he makes jokes that aren’t funny, but are actually kind of funny
4. he builds stuff
5. he always thinks before he acts
6. he fixes stuff
7. he literally figures out how to fix everything, even if everyone else says it’s unfixable
8. he is cheap (frugal for the high brows)
9. he asks God for help
10. he is humble
11. he quits his job in order to spend quality time with his grown kids, ie. cruise the Mediterranean, etc., in other words, family is more important than money … WHAAAattt???
12. he flies airplanes
13. sometimes he changes his mind about fundamental issues, based on what he learns
14. he is loyal, even when others are not loyal back
15. he thinks out of the box
16. he asks God for help
17. he reuses “if you see something good in the garbage, don’t leave it there” – Garold Toews
18. he reads up on stuff, but doesn’t believe everything he reads
19. as my mother would say, he is ‘steady’
20. he’s always coming up with new ideas
21. he never gives up (even when we all think he should, cough cough)
22. he thinks about things
23. he prays about everyday issues
24. he married my mom, duh!
25. he has this amazing ability to be quiet in groups and never get any ‘guff’ about it
26. he is creative
27. he is calm
28. he never freaks out
29. he draws diagrams on napkins
30. he is wise, and shares with those willing to listen
31. he always takes one day at a time

Dreamy Idealist March 2015

Here’s another update of my life: I have accepted a position of being a youth pastor in a small town in Northern Alberta! I feel like this is completely random, but I am excited! Here’s the story:

Some of you know that in the last few months I had applied to get my masters in counselling. I made it to final interviews, but was not accepted into the program. The day I was rejected (and feeling a little rejected), I decided to look up my career personality on the internet. Found out I’m a ‘dreamy idealist’ – the BEST thing a potential employer wants to hear! And it said I would make a good clergyman. And I thought, ‘duh, of course that would the ideal job.’ So then I looked up church-y jobs on the internet. And I randomly found a youth pastor position in Athabasca (8 hours north of Medicine Hat, 1 1/2 hours north of Edmonton, small town in the middle of nowhere – where I also lived as a small child). I clicked on the job description and felt like it was describing a lot of things I would LOVE to do. So I applied, even though I am a female (cough cough) and don’t really have formal training in that area. But I’m a Christian – I promise! And a few weeks later I heard back from them, and last weekend I went to visit Athabasca, and it seems as though the church is willing to hire me!

I am very grateful for this opportunity for multiple reasons:

-I’ve been having some issues figuring out what to do with my life, and this job at the very least will help me feel fulfilled and useful, and give me some freedom to do my own thing, which I really appreciate. And I can talk about God for my job, which is somewhat of a luxury.

-Half of the job includes working an hour away from Athabasca at a native reserve (Calling Lake). I am quite excited about this because I’ve often wanted to work with indigenous people in Canada, but it’s not usually conducive for a white girl to just move to a reserve in the middle of nowhere and do that.  This is one of those things that I’m kind of amazed how God worked it out. Cool.

-I used to live in Athabasca when I was 0 -4 years old, and I have happy memories of the place, albeit strangely convoluted from a four year old’s mind. So I have random family friends who remember me – some element of connectedness. The Athabasca River conveniently runs through Athabasca, and there are really nice trees in that area of the country. I love Alberta.

-The church I will be working for recently moved in to an abandoned old folks home, so they will let me stay in a room there for free, and I can meet other random people who also rent rooms. We will share a kitchen, etc. I move in around Easter time.

24 Reason Excuses Why I’m 25 and Not Married [yet]

Photo 401

1. I made the life altering mistake of going to a Christian college. Oops. My bad.

2. I don’t talk to boys. And when I do, I ask them questions. And that’s kind of invasive these days.

3. I never got into Pokemon. And it’s been a downward spiral ever since.

4. I’m like not very encouraging. Like maybe I should’ve been like more supportive of like all my guy friends, you know?

5. Crap, it’s because I don’t have an iphone, or a samsung galaxy.

6. In fact, I don’t even have a cellphone. And we all know I will not receive any proposals if I can’t give out my number.

7. When I was 13, my soccer coach told me that I lacked aggression.

8. Sometimes I do things on my own, which is way too intimidating.

9. Haven’t brushed my hair in seven years. I don’t see how that could be a problem though.

10. Back in Kindergarten when every single girl had a crush on a certain boy, I didn’t even talk to him out of spite.

11. Probably haven’t read enough self help books about this topic. Especially by Christian authors about pursuing, or should I say being pursued. At least I definitely know it would be a big no-no to be more wild at heart.

12. I am not a teacher nor a nurse, or even a secretary for that matter.

13. And I don’t have a puppy. Which would presumably be cute.

14. Genetics.

15. I’ve been accidently focusing on other things too much. Like buying groceries and trying to develop my talents, and not going broke and trying to have friends.

16. Too much pressure. So much pressure it exploded and now there isn’t any pressure.

17. I’ve never made a highly successful casserole.

18. Travel too much. Wanderlust: key words being wander and lust. Eww. Totally unfeminine.

19. In Canada I don’t have a Lulu Lemon anything, and in ‘Merica I never owned a Northface sweater

20. and I didn’t wear Uggs with tights when I was young and had a chance.

21. But we all know the real reason is I only wear mascara around 20% of the time. And that might be a high estimate.

22. I like to talk to middle-aged ladies, and we all know that middle-aged ladies and that elusive demographic of future husbands will never go hand in hand. Alas.

23. Probably my cynicism has just burned a hole in my pheromones.


Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be offensive. I also highly respect most nurses, teachers, and secretaries. And I’ve met a few nice people who wear Northface sweaters.

My Trip to Africa (the whole continent)

-began by visiting Josephine, my friend from Messiah College, who is living the über professional life in Nairobi at this time. Somewhat surreal to meet ‘on the other side’ and see Josephine’s life. She is quite literally an über professional, and at the beginning of the work week I rode the bus downtown with her so she could do her professional duties in her professional business building, and I wandered around downtown Nairobi, alone, with a large bag made out of African fabrics full of water and other necessities, which Josephine told me would look too touristy for downtown Nairobi, and as usual, Josephine was correct. I should also mention that I am white. I was approached in succession by 8 men. Two of whom had very good stories to tell me, about East African immigration woes and the need for bus money to go to Rwanda/South Africa to hook up with a ‘Christian Organization’ that will fund their education in a Western country so that they can return to their respective countries with an education. First man told me he was in a ‘catch 22,’ which is apparently code word for something, because later, the second man also told me he was in a ‘catch 22.’ There was awkward silence when I didn’t monetarily help out anyone with their ‘catch 22’s’, but I did give out 2 of my samosas from lunch, and the third man who asked me for something unfortunately only received a small lecture that I already gave out all my samosas so too bad. One man had a full leg cast from a matatu accident, and in his words, he definitely “wasn’t making it up.” I talked my way out of another encounter by accepting the man’s email address and leaving it at that. Another man was all set to buy me an icecream from the icecream guy at the park, but that seemed a little fishy, so I said I didn’t want an icecream to ruin my lunch. In hindsight maybe I should’ve gone for it.

From Nairobi flew to Uganda, to visit my cousin Julie, who lives in Kampala, who does things, as well as quite notably speaks African English with a perfect accent, as well as perfect Luganda according to my ears. Some of the things I did with her:

-checked out quite a few schools for children with disabilities, and talked to the teachers, and got tours of places, and found out what the teachers didn’t like, and were told about the ‘challenges’ and financial woes and need for supplies, and said ‘sorry that sounds tough’ (paraphrased by Maria) and then sometimes there was an awkward silence. And we saw a lot of Ugandan MEN working with kids with disabilities because they want to help even though they don’t receive a high status or high salary, which was cool. And some places all the kids were happy despite the fact that they didn’t have enough diapers. And some places there was strange tension even though all the kids did have diapers and were well fed. Speaking of diapers, or lack thereof, one time I sat in a plastic chair full of pooled pee. Oops. And then I wore that skirt for two more days.


-met some rich white missionaries who don’t do much. Except complain. You wouldn’t believe how liberating it is to say that. Also met many rich white missionaries who are doing lovely things.

-ate all the chickens in Uganda

-hung out with Julie’s co workers, including Sue, who does physical therapy, and Sue sucked us in to her social vortex of newly made acquaintances who spring up wherever she goes.

-sat in traffic in Kampala. Sat some more in traffic. Texted on Julie’s phone in traffic.

-ate Rolex’s for breakfast. Which means eggs in chapatis inside of tasty grease.

-crashed an expat American thanksgiving extravaganza complete with smoked turkey and an exuberant American electric guitar player straight out of the 80s. And no one talked to us the whole evening.

-drove to Karamoja land (eastern Uganda, otherwise known as Moroto) on a bumpy red road which was a bumpy MUDDY red road on the way out, and there was some worry about even making it on the way out, because buses were stuck on the way in. Karamajong people, stereotypically, are continuously drinking sorghum beer, they even feed it to their children, and they used to be nomadic cattle people, but a few years ago, the Ugandan government ‘de-armed’ them, which means they took away all their guns, so now the Karamajong people don’t have any cattle anymore (because guns = cattle, obviously), so they are sad, and are confused about their identity. And the area used to be considered very dangerous because of all the guns, but not anymore. Although word on the street is that all the guns are still there, just buried in plastic in the ground, waiting to come out during the 2016 elections (in Uganda).

-‘listened’ to a class of smiling Karamoja children who couldn’t hear ‘sing’ to us in sign language. Beautiful.

-got super sick right after crossing the border into Kenya. So saw the beautiful highlands of Kenya through a wave of nausea. Since I was too self conscious to throw up in front of a vegetable lady on the side of the road, I just suffered for another 5 hours. A lesson for the future.

-and then we arrived back in Nairobi, just in time for our family reunion…. … … …

This is all a big joke

Hey Guys,

I’ve been lounging around my new home now for 5 days, voicing strange noises at inopportune times to convince my parents that I have indeed gone crazy. Got a job at a Crepe place (not to be confused with a crappy place). I start on Friday, and will work weekends. Still waiting on some young adult Bible studies to roll around so I can make friends. That is the extent of my strategic plan for making friends [and influencing people.]

Went to a lovely pie social with a lot of friendly old folks and an old man crooning with a banjo and commented how much I love Canada.

Saw 5 deers (including 3 preteen fawns) yesterday on my run downtown under grey skies. The deer family was hanging out in the parking lot of an insurance broker, and I think I confused them.
Been putting off importing my car because I hate paperwork, and I shudder at the very thought of it.
Speaking of which, my friend Rachel and I drove to Medicine Hat from Harrisburg, and we made it! Memorable overnight stops included…

Detroit, which is weirder than Harrisburg –  so much blight!!!!!!! I’m sorry but I couldn’t stop smiling when we drove around and looked at all the blight. I’ve just heard of it for so long it was exciting to actually see it. Blight means abandoned/run- down houses.

Minneapolis, in which we got to visit my super cool cousins – Daniel and Jen and cute girls Estella and Kharis, and Ryan and Jess. Thanks guys!

and some motel in North Dakota, in which Rachel was confused by the hotel receptionist as a ‘woman of the night.’ Awkward.

We got across the border ok, possibly because I had toothpaste saliva plastered all over the outside of the back seat window (no idea how that got there) and to be honest, it looked like more than just toothpaste, and we flatter ourselves that as a result the customs official had absolutely no desire to search our fully loaded car. (to clarify, it was only fully loaded with clothes and books and artwork and chocolate and Rachel).

My car radio did not work for the 4 day trek, and amazingly no, we did not go crazy. Because Rachel went hoarse reading me a sad and inspiring story. (A Tree Grows In Brooklyn = great book.) Over the course of the 35+ hour drive we also filmed our infamous documentary, in which Rachel aimed at the sky with the camera 75% of the time, and I being the main character do not do anything particularily crazy – and if I did, wouldn’t you like to know? therefore the documentary is so riveting we decided not to share it with the world lest people watch it on facebook and become jealous, God forbid.

That is all.

Bye Bye Harrisburg

Dear family and friends,

I have been busy lately going through the rigors of transition, which for me seems to never end, but the last month has been particularly rigorous in that regard.

What am I saying? All I am saying is that when one is going through the process of moving it seems as though there are all always at least eight categories with at least twelve things on the to do list within each category and that adds up to a lot when it is all floating around in your brain and also on little papers that I keep all over the place.

As mentioned a while ago, I have decided to move back to Alberta, and this was my last hoorah summer in Harrisburg. It was lovely hanging out with friends and doing things, all of which have now blended in to a blur of sunsets and humidity. But it was nice.

And I had an art show and over 100 people came, and I sold some artwork and I also sold a lot of little artwork cards that I made, and you are welcome to buy some off me whenever you like! [this is not blatant advertising]. Speaking of which, my mom compiled a book and I illustrated it, and you should/could buy it.

Anyways, end of August we moved out of our house, which included selling and giving away all sorts of furnitures and appliances, and I managed to make a lifelong enemy in the process of selling my piano, but that’s one of the complications of life I suppose. Needless to say, we did manage to get it all out of there on time, except for the spiders and the intergenerational family of cockroaches that we had been breeding, much to the chagrin of certain unnamed roommates. I have downsized my ‘stuff’ to hopefully fit into my 4 door sedan. Right now I am living with some nice people near Messiah College who are so nice they let me live with them for 3 weeks. I have been eating their hummus. And I accidently fed their dog one too many times tonight. Oh well.

The only reason I am still here now, is because one of my roommates got married this last weekend, and I wanted to be there. I also played the piano for her wedding. Also, my other roommate has decided she will drive with me to Canada! Yay! So I delayed the trip for when she can get time off work. We drive out this coming Monday, and we are going to do it really fast in four days, against my back’s better judgment. We are also planning to make a documentary.

For those wondering I do not have a job lined up in Medicine Hat but that is ok.  I am planning to visit my cousin Julie in Uganda in November, and then attend family reunion in Kenya in December, so those travels are trumping high quality job at this time. But thanks for caring!

As for me and my work in Pennsylvania, I haphazardly quit for a week, and then returned to work for a few more weeks when they called me up and said I could work with one of my favorite kids from last year. I got to go to the first few days of grade one with him, and he has mastered the cafeteria line already so I feel ok leaving. So now my calendar is only full of social engagements and final piano lessons and playing piano at an old folks home and selling my bike and changing my address and convincing the Harrisburg School District that I am moving and no longer need to pay them taxes and writing letters to family and friends about my complicated transitions.