Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Beautiful Autumn

I'm starting to like Autumn more and more. The colors are so beautiful, and the weather begins to dip, which means another excuse for more snuggling with Shawn. Not to mention the yummy warm comfort food and being able to pick apples from our apple tree:)

I'm now an official Canadian Permanent Resident, which means I can work here without restrictions and hassle. This is good news for the Evans' budget. Shawn started school about a month ago, so we have some how gotten by on his income of only working 2 days a week plus one to two drum lessons per week.. And in case your wondering, we have not used any credit cards. They are not our friends, and we will be happy never to use them as long as we live. We've been happy to learn to live with less, which relative to the rest of the world, doesn't mean much, and to be honest, we haven't really felt pinched or worried for money. God's walked with us through this before, so we were confident that he would take us through again...and He has! We are still blessed with so much, and more than material blessings, we've been blessed with the opportunity to trust and rely on God who gives us the ability to make a living. Also, having to detach from all the "things" that we think we "have" to have is a blessing in and of itself. It's really our relationship with God and others that makes us the happiest, and these don't cost any money!

Case in point, here is some pictures of my wonderful husband and I on one of our weekly dates.

Last weekend we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving. I really like that concept of setting a day apart to remember all we have to be thankful for. We have so much to be thankful for this year, so it was an especially special Thanksgiving for us. We had Thanksgiving dinner with Shawn's parents, his cousin Stacey and her husband John, Shawn's sister, and our neighbor Mandy. I made one of my mom's typical Thanksgiving rice casserole to share. Not bad for my first attempt.
I'm a good multi-tasker; that's how I can make a casserole and role my hair at the same time:)

Speaking of things to be thankful for, we are very grateful that this week I was offered two jobs, one of which I was very happy to accept! I have just this week finalized my permanent residency and other requirements to be able to work in Canada, so the timing of the job offers was literally perfect:) I will be the new Resource Development Manager for Sonshine Community Services-a womens' counseling center and residential program offering support from a Christian perspective to victims of domestic abuse. I will be in charge of their fundraising and marketing initiatives, and although I'm a little intimidated by all the responsibility I will have, I'm excited and ready for this challenge and the opportunity to learn and serve this organization. And a nice little perk is that my commuting will be almost none-it's that close!!

Although I was getting a little anxious to start working, I realize what a blessing it has been to be able to devote the majority of my time these past five months to my home, my husband, and our marriage. It has really helped me learn the importance of making my home and marriage a priority...the fruit of doing that is so sweet!!!

Shawn is well into his semester at Ambrose University. He's still loving it (despite those late late nights of writing papers and studying)! I'm his official study buddy.

I'll leave with some pictures of a little trip we took to the mountains in Banff, Alberta a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Go watch this movie!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


"Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise?"

This week we got notice that my permanent residence visa is ready to be issued! I know many of you don't understand how remarkable (and seemingly impossible) this is, so let me explain. My application began to be processed on July 3, so that means that in only 2 months and 8 days it was processed! I was told to expect 2 years by a friend who went through the same process. I remember taking a walk with Lydia one day and hearing how her Canadian colleague's husband was still (after about 2 years) waiting for his visa. At that time, my heart dropped in discouragement, but that began the process of looking to the Lord and not human reason or effort. "We walk by faith, not by sight" the Apostle Paul tells us. Even the more optimistic Canadian immigration website says only 30% of applications get processed in 3-4 months, 50% in 5-6 months, and 80% in 9-11 months.

Not being a permanent resident or citizen has made my job search very challenging, as employers don't want to bother with the time-consuming and tedious process that goes with hiring a foreign worker. Although I've sent out dozens and dozens of resumes and applications, I've only had 3 interviews this summer. With the exception of 1 of these three and an offer to apply for a part-time job by one of Shawn's relatives, my phone hadn't rang for an interview in probably over a month. Suddenly, withing less than an hour from receiving the permanent visa news, my phone rings for an interview. The next day (yesterday), my phone rings again for another interview!

Having a job wouldn't be an urgent issue if it wasn't for the fact that Shawn has started school full-time this past week, which means he is not able to keep his full-time work schedule (Don't you love the timing of it all!) This is why our prayer has been that I would be able to have work soon. We have to give thanks and glory to God who is attentive to our needs and is mighty to work on our behalf when we call to Him.

Friday, August 29, 2008

4 months into our journey together

(A pic-nic at a downtown park. One of our standing Sunday dates)

It's awesome to think that Shawn and I have been married now for almost 4 months, and loving it more each day. What a gift marriage is! I'm seeing more qualities that I love about my husband, and even through the nitty gritty of every day life, I see how wonderful his true colors are. Shawn is a joy to serve and love. So enough of this lovey-dovey stuff. What have we been up to besides having pic-nics and taking silly pictures?

Some days it feels like not much, but then you start writing about it, and boy, it seems like lots. So I'll start with the date after our last update, July 23: Shawn looses his job due to a wrist injury. He is our sole income provider, so we are taken a little off guard, but nonetheless we remained calm and grateful for what we had (and that it was almost the end of the month, so our rent money for August was ready...and that pay day was that Friday). Considering that Shawn only had about 6 weeks before starting school and would need to go part time after that, it was challenging finding a job that would allow him to go full time and then part time when school started. In any case, through a roller coaster of interviews that didn't seem to work out or pay enough to make the bills, Shawn found a great job with an eco-friendly construction company called Friendly Earth. They have lots and lots of work, so the overtime is a huge blessing... AND they are cool with letting Shawn work part-time while he is in school...AND he is making about $350 more a month than at the job he lost. So being without a job for even just 2 1/2 weeks, will make you realize some things: 1) Be grateful for everyday that you have a job to go to 2) Save, save, for that rainy day when you may for some reason or another not be able to work (Shawn and I did have some saving from some drum cymbals he sold on ebay, but we couldn't access the funds from paypal yet. That's another story, but we are grateful now that we couldn't get those funds because now Shawn's tuition for the fall semester is taken care of). AND 3) God is a faithful provider. We "lost" 2 1/2 weeks of income, BUT we would not give that money back, as we were able to see God stand true to His Word once again:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-27,33-34)

The very next day after Shawn lost his job, we get a "delayed" wedding gift...a timely check from a sweet friend of Shawn's family. The coincidence of this gift coming that next day was a wink from our Father in Heaven that he would take care of our needs. Then came the call from Shawn's mom saying they were trying to clean house, as they are moving to a new home. They wanted us to have a garage sale with their stuff and keep the proceeds. Our friend Adam also brought over some things that he wanted to get rid of. When we tried to give him his share of the sales, he refused to take the money. Next came another timely check from a refund my old insurance company owed me. Not bad timing...again. Then we had the week where by another "coincidence" we were invited to eat at different friends homes 4 times for dinner in one week! Talk about saving a chunk on groceries:) Who gets 4 dinner invitations in one week?? We did! At a very timely time:) So we could go on some more about how God's provisions were so evident, but we'll suffice to say that, despite our moments of worry and uncertainty,we learned a sweet lesson on putting our hope in God and not our jobs, money, abilities, etc. How we had so much more than enough (even enough to get day-time lights installed in our SUV, so it could pass federal inspection by the end of the month) for all our bills, groceries, and other commitments is very awesome.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
(1 Timothy 6:17-19)

In addition to all the above, I am still doing the job search. It's been a roller coaster ride of its own (and discouraging at many times), but once again, I have the chance to trust God and not myself. The time off has allowed me to continue sharpening my domestic skills. I learned how to make bread and pizza from scratch, among other things. Homemade bread is sooo good. When else do you just want to have bread for a snack. I never did...until now. AND, its cheap and relatively easy to make. I've also gotten to try many new recipes, including some I got at my wedding shower in Houston. (That was such a great idea Jess!) Our little home is turning into a very cozy nook, and we love having people over to share good food with us.

(The leather couches were a gift from family friends, the coffee/side tables are Shawn's sister who is letting us store them until she needs them. I'm also very proud of my $20 Zeller's curtains:)
Align Center(Cute dinning room table was provided by Shawn's just happened to match my colors:)

Moreover, Shawn and I have started volunteering at Sonshine Community Services-a home for women escaping domestic abuse. We get to play with kids while there mommies do their group counseling. It's lots of fun...especially for Shawn. The kids LOVE him, especially the boys. We also have started volunteering at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in their phone center during Billy Graham Classics and other broadcasts. A big stretch for both of us, but an amazing experience. Shawn continues to rotate in the worship band at our church Spring Bank Community Church and is also going to start helping out with sound/techno stuff. We are slowly meeting more people there and finding our place to serve. I really appreciate the practical compassion of the church; currently we have a team in Uganda where our church is teaming up to help a ministry there who runs a home for those orphaned or abandoned because of poverty, civil war, disease, and especially HIV/AIDS. In Shawn's other spare time (like right now), he is refurbishing an old Vibraphone he bought for very cheap. These are expensive thingamagigers, so my husband hopes to get a good return on his work so we can replace the windshield of our SUV (It won't pass the provincial (state) inspection without it). He loves working on the Vibes (as he call the instrument), and knows a bit about them, as that was the instrument he was specializing in during college before he found out there wasn't a huge demand for vibe players.

This update is getting quiet long, so I'll wait to share about my Calgary wedding shower and our Calgary Wedding reception for the next post. It's starting to feel chilly (okay, COLD for me), and I have a feeling my "winter" clothes will only make it past November. Today I wore one of my "winter" outfits, and it's only just starting to get cold...brrr.

Speaking up up for those who cannot speak for themselves

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute" (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Kids are cute. Their quirky and innocent ways are like sweet sun rays in the midst of the clouds in our world. Of the 2.2 billion children in the world, nearly half live in desperate conditions.

I know that the poor will always be among us, but I also know that a little guy in Peru named Cesar today has more educational opportunities, health care and supplemental nutrition, safe recreation, important life skills, and the opportunity to hear about Jesus and be encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God. All because I chose to send a few bucks a month to Compassion International. I get regular letters and drawing from Cesar, and its been a joy to watch him grow up over the last 7 years.

7 years! Wait Tania, your only 24?? Your right, that made me 17 years old when I started sponsoring him. Through high school on my baby-sitting money, through "broke" college days on my part time job, and now married on a one-income budget (Not to mention I married a generous guy who had 2 sponsored kids of his own). 32.00 a month is feasible for most of us, and yes, you may have to sacrifice a starbucks frapuchino or two, or some cute new earings from Target, etc. I promise you will get way more lasting satisfaction from your sponsored child.

If you are already supporting a cause, that's great, and this note is probably not for you. However, I encourage you to be a voice for that cause.

If you are interested in learning more about child sponsorship, ask me and/or vist (Canada) or (U.S.A). I also recommend World Vision and Misson of Mercy. My experience has been with Compassion International, which is why I can personally endorse it. If you decide to sponsor a child, would you let me know. I have a personal goal to find 10 child sponsors by the end of the year. I get nothing if I achieve this goal, it's just something to aim for. However, even if 1 child gets sponsored, it will be worth all my babbling.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Save $$$ on your water bill

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summer and stuff

I just checked the weather forecast in Houston, and see it will "feel like" 102'F. HOTTT indeed. Makes our 86' F. from yesterday not seem so bad after all, and today's 70'F a treat. Perspective.

Anyway, why am I talking about the weather??? I guess that's how all good conversations start...or, how I start my blog when I have no clever way to start it. Oh, but one more interesting tid-bit about the weather:
Yup. That's hail in our backyard. In JULY. Cool or weird?

So we're here still. I continue to "nest", and having fun doing it. I'm really enjoying meal planning and cooking the most. Most of my recipes are Tania's-mind plus Tania's-mom inspired. My pseudo-experimenting has proved good so far. I plan meals for the week and grocery shop at the beginning of the week accordingly. It's a great way to save on meat, since you can buy the "for quick sale" items that have been discounted since your going to cook them that week anyway. 50% off big juicy steaks is never a bad buy. Thank you Super Store! I'm realizing that food prices, although higher, are not so terrifying. I just needed to go somewhere else besides SafeWay (i.e. Randall's)...duhh.

I've begun my job search with a little more intensity. Fortunately, the job market is pretty sizzling. I heard on the radio last week that 400,000 new jobs are going to be created in Calgary in the next 10 years. The labor shortage has provoked the province to slacken its certification requirements for teachers, dentists, and other skilled workers who are coming over from other provinces. Hopefully this also translates into Tania won't have much problem finding a good job.

Shawn is excited to be starting school again in September. His construction job is beginning to be his biggest motivator:) We found out a few days ago that half of his degree credits were able to be transferred from his previous college in Vancouver, so it looks like, Lord willing, Shawn will be in school for just 2 years! We are also about to launch a campaign to recruit drum students for the fall. I'm excited for my husband, as music is so life-giving to him. He's been invited by his ex-band director to play in a community band concert, and is in the works of getting into the Worship band rotation at church.

Below are some pictures of us with our friend Megan at the Devonian Gardens 2 weekends ago. We had a picnic afterwards. Megan has been such a comfort and encouragement to me as I transition here. She is amazing gal, and I am so grateful for her friendship. Shaw has awesome friends (A shout out to all of you). This weekend I met his friend Crystal and her fiance Victor. What a neat couple! Shawn and I were so encouraged and uplifted by our dinner/hang-out time with them. Thank your Lord for great friends!

This past weekend we played ultimate frisbee with Megan and some of her friends. Below are some pics. Gorgeous day. Afterwards, Megan and I went to a farmer's market-one of my new favorite activities.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Celebrating the 4th in Canada

As 4th of July rolled around, I suddenly felt a little sad that I wouldn't be seeing all the Coke and Frito Lay sponsored displays at the grocery stores, the firework stands in the suburbs, the American flags lined up on the roads, and all the other festive images of Independence Day. So, my sweet husband comes to the rescue Wednesday night and invites some friends over for a "4th of July Party." His Facebook Invitation read:
Only YOU can stave off homesickness.
Your attendance here is a vote against it.
We're in Canada. Let's get Tania weened SLOOOOOW.
FRIDAY July 4th @ 8pm. Please RSVP ASAP. Sorry for the L.A.T.E.

So we had our first gathering at our new little house. We'd gotten a free used bbq grill from one of Shawn's neighbors the day before. (It's been sitting on their driveway for about 2 weeks with a sign reading "FREE," so we finally took it) With a little cleaning it worked great, and we were able to grill some burgers for our 4th of July party.

From left to right: Neighbor Aaron, Shawn's Dad Craig, Shawn's mom Marily, One of my flower girl's Karli, Karli's mom Tayna, Tayna's husband and Shawn's Best Man Tim, Shawn's friend Roni, and Shawn...I'm taking the picture.
On a sort-of random note, I love the Canadian custom of taking of your shoes at the door. It keeps the carpet so clean, especially when you have company over. We should adopt that in the U.S. I know my mom would love. She's always steaming her carpet clean.

Being silly...fake

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

oh, Calgary

One week in Calgary's has passed. I'm wearing a sweater (In June) because the weather here is tricky. Up until noon it's brrr (Chilly. Tania needs to go back inside where its warm), then it gets warm enough to wear shorts. So here I am still wearing a sweater at Starbucks, hot, because I thought it was going to stay cold. You can tell I'm not from here.

It's been a good first week. Shawn started work at Coram Construction this Monday (Starts school in August), so I had him all day for almost a week before I was on my own during the day. Our days start EARLY because my dear husband must leave for training at 6:10 in the a.m. So we're up around 5:30, and I get to play wifey and make breakfast and send him off with his lunch for the day. Shawn's really digging this domestic gig for me, but once the unpacking and house nesting is done, I'll be needing more to occupy my time or I'll be booored. Until I find a job (tricky because I need to be sponsored by a company/organization for a work visa), I hope to perfect my domestic skills and do some volunteer work.

Shawn coming home after 1st day of work/training
Shawn's family has been super generous and supportive. We live less then 10 minutes from them, so we've enjoyed their hospitality (and great meals) lots. Lindsay, Shawn's sister, also lives in Calgary, so I was guaranteed a least one friend when I arrived:)

We live about 10 minutes from downtown and have great access to many things. Our house (by that I mean 2 bedroom basement suite (the housing here is expensive, and a little unbelievable at first for this Texas girl) is across the street from a shopping mall, which is awesome since gas prices are HIIIGH. For my friends and family in the U.S.A, be thankful for 3.95/gallon. Shawn and I filled up our SUV for 96.00!!! I thought I was going to cry. Gas is 1.33/Liter, which we figured to be equivalent to $4.92/gallon!! So, we are planning to switch to a smaller vehicle asap. Bikes are in the plans too.

I'm really grateful to be a 4 minute walk from a mall with a grocery store and a walmart (Starbucks too)! New concept for me. I've never heard of a grocery store being in a mall, but I'm really liking it. I went to the grocery store yesterday for the first time by my self. I walked with my reusable grocery bags (Canadians are very eco-friendly) over the grocery store. I felt a little lost because some things are in Kilos, some in grams, some in pounds, and I have no clue what the conversions are. Also, I'm not used to some of the brands, which made me an uncomfortable shopper. And boy are some things more expensive them I'm used to. (I saw cereal going for $6-10.) Coupons will be my new friend. Every product label, etc has the French equivalent, so its fun to read the labels to Shawn in my sad French accent.

Our reusable grocery bags. I feel guilty about throwing
anything away here. Recycle, Recycle.

We're in the process of finding furniture. A bed asap, so we can end the "camping" in our own bedroom. We have a beautiful dinning table that Shawn's parent's gave us. All our wedding gifts have been unpacked and put in their place. That was fun for me. I felt like a little girl playing house. Guess, we don't change much, huh?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Road Trip: The Move to Calgary

Day 1-June 15, 2008
We've begun our move from Houston to Calgary. The 32 hour, 2200 mile journey will take us 4 days. Road Trip! We are about to begin day 2. We spent the first night in Lawton, Oklahoma (Home of 2007 Miss America Laura Nelson, Incidentally), and are now headed to Denver, Colorado. Shawn has worked hard to get us free hotel rooms through Wyndhams "lowest rate guarantee," and has succeeded for Denver (yay for free hotel!). We almost got the night free here in Lawton, but filed our "lowest rate guarantee" claim with less than 24 hours, so it was a no go.

Day 2-June 15, 2008
The massive road trip continues. Day 2's 12 hour excursion took us past the Indian casinos of Oklahoma, up to the land of Oz, and west toward the Rockies.

We had a good time yesterday, enjoying our car-made sandwiches- and these aren't plain ham and cheese. We got the works, cause I (Tania) get bored of the same food quickly. We got chipotle mayo, honey mustard, cranberries, provolone, Cheddar, avocado, honey ham, turkey. Many combinations too choose from. Yum.
We listened to another Dave Ramsey (Financial Peace University Series) CD. The guy's hilarious!! We're going through the 13-CD series cause we want to be wise about money. Dave has a great testimony about how he rebuilt his wealth after going broke (after having had a net worth of 4 million dollars at the age of 26) based on biblical principals. We also spent some time quizzing Shawn for his University placement exam on music theory. G major, 7 flat, flat 13, yada yada, yada. It's a whole different language. I just smile and tell him when he gets the flash card right. Good times.

We stopped at a nice Walmart in the middle of no where to restock on groceries somewhere between Kansas and Colorado. Walmart's fun when you've been in the car for 8 hours:)

Below is a pic of the modern windmills we saw in Kansas. They're huge. Very cool energy makers:)

We're now getting ready to head out for day 3. Up we go to Montana. We stayed the night south of Denver FOR FREE at a very nice Day's Inn. Go "Best rate guarantee!!"

Day 3 and 4-June 16 and 17,2008
So were done! 32 hours later, we arrived in Calgary, Alberta (Where deers and bears walk into buildings! Not kidding!).

Day 3 was a great ride from Denver to Montana. As we were leaving Denver we ran over this huge piece of plastic that left about 5-6 vehicles with flat tires. Fortunately, we didn't get a flat.
The rest of the ride was fields, fields, and more fields. As we went north, gas prices kept going up as well. Here is Shawn looking sad as we have to painfully pay 4.09 per gallon of gas :)We stayed the night in Townsend, Montana at a KOA camp. As we were arriving to the camp site we stopped about 10 feet from hitting a deer! Welcome to Montana! Below is the cute little cabin we spent the night in. It was a gorgeous camp site, with a beautiful lake and the mountains surrounding in the distance.
Day 4 was the final stretch. A shorter stretch, only 7 hours from Townsend, Montana to Calgary. It was a beautiful ride: rivers, lakes, mountains, and the cutest little towns. The little towns were a different world for us city folk, and we kept wondering, "What do people do here?" It was fun to imagine the lives of the people there, especially the children who rode their bikes around with so much freedom.
We arrived at the little border town of Sweetgrass, Montana/Coutts, Alberta at about 1 p.m., and after being grilled by a few very straight faced Canadian border patrols and filling out lots of forms (including an itemized list of all Tania's things and wedding gifts), we were on our way 2 1/2 hours later. We arrived in Calgary Tuesday evening around 8 p.m., with lots of sunlight still around (It didn't get dark until around 10 p.m.) Overall, the trip was great! We were very blessed with great weather and safety. Yay for no flat tires and no deer hitting!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

We got married!

So...the big day came and went. It was grand. So much fun. Thank you to all my fabulous bridesmaids, Shawn's groomsmen, and all my friends and family who made the day so wonderful.

Here are a few pics from Lyd's cool camera:

The bride...dun dun durrrraaaaa...

The fam. They worked so hard to pull the day off, especially our sweet parents. The love of parents is strong and so self-sacrificing. Thank you!

My sweet and soooo amazing bridesmaids. I'm blessed to know and have these gals as friends!

Lyndsay Evans: My new sister-in-law! She is loads of fun, and is such a sweet servant.
Carol Robertson: Sweet friend from college. This girl has a heart of gold, and such a joy!
Jessica Bolding: Another buddy from college...She's such a faithful friend, always there when I need her. I was her birthday on my wedding day. She was sweet and let us take the spotlight:)

Lydia Jones: My BFF! She is a precious friend, and my maid of honor. This girl is sooo much fun, She also has a beautiful heart, and I'm so blessed to call her my best friend.
And...the guys. Outstanding groomsmen. Clockwise: Dylan, Aldo (Tania's bro), Rob, Tim
Flower girl Karlie. Who knew bubbles could be so entertaining.

Fun times...

more to come...
p.s. To see our professional photos, go to
Hint:the password is my (Tania) new last name.