Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reblog: How Do I Know God's Will?

If I make this decision, will it bring me closer to God or further away from Him?
1. The first thing you need to believe is God's will is always good (Eph. 2:10). You won't want His will unless you trust Him.

2. The only things that can cause us to wander astray from all of God is sin. Ally Spotts defines it like this:

Sin: Any thought, action or attitude  that is outside of God's will for you.

If the relationship you're in brings you closer to brokenness than wholeness, it's not His will. If the music you listen to fills your mind with impure thoughts, it's not His will. If the career choice you make is about making money, being popular or gaining any self-worth/merit instead of honoring God, it's not His will.
Your motives determine how closer you are toward God and holiness because motives influence your decisions.

3. God's will includes self-control & self-denial (even if it's just for a season).
Self-denial & self-control are always required with God. You want Him to bring you a life partner, you're gonna have to stop hooking up & watching porn. You want Him to answer if you're called to ministry, you're going to have to spend a lot of time in intimacy with Him.  You want to be a leader, you're gonna have to serve. You want Him to bless you in all you do, you're gonna have to be obedient. Girls, you want your fear of God to be praised, you're gonna have to stop being vain & flirting with guys. You want to live a life worthy of Him, you're gonna have to stop following & pleasing the crowd. You want Him to provide, you're going to have to stop spending $ on things you want but don't need. It's about sacrifice and delayed gratification. Why? Because we don't focus our eyes on the temporal. You might have to leave friends, change majors (even schools), habits and lifestyles.
There's a reason why the Lord tells us to abstain from things! Don't take part in what you know contaminates you.

4. Going against God's will leads to our destruction. We choose the temporal, what feels or seems 'good' now and we go for it. Deep down we know the ultimate consequence is a spiritual death, but we can't see past this moment so it feels okay. We end up empty, broken and unsatisfied. We become slaves to addictions and sin. We forfeit the chance of an abundant life because we refuse to sacrifice.

5. God's will for your life is holiness. How do I know? The evidence was on display on a cross (and later resurrected), 2,000 years ago. A lot of people think holiness is this legalistic form of prohibition. [You don't have shave your legs, cut your hair or wear pants, etc..] It's not! Holiness is basically that desire for God that makes you give up whatever hinders you from all of Him. Holiness is also intimacy. When we step into holiness, we step into who God called us to be. We get to be in a authentic relationship with the Lord that compares to no other!

To be a woman or man of God you must choose His will. You must be holy.
Your life should always point at Him if you're decisions bring you close to His will.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reblog:Love Has No Agenda

I follow a number of blogs (some by friends, some I've just picked up on my voyages into the blogging world)  and there are so many great blogs out there. And a lot of people reblog (post something on their own blog that was written by another blogger), but I have never done that before. However, I recently read a blog post by Kristen  from http://kristendoeslife.blogspot.com that really spoke to me, and has an essential message, and thought I would share it:) Check out her blog - she writes a lot of awesome stuff!

And as we drove home yesterday, my Father began to speak to me about love. I was praying for healing in a friend of mine's heart, and God just began to nudge me. He said, "You never love so that some one will be healed. You never pray so that something will happen. You love because that person is worth loving. You pray because I died for them. I didn't die for you just because you needed someone to died for you. I died for you because I love you, because it is who I am. You don't love someone to marry them. Marriage is the natural outcome of two hearts that have fallen in love. Love requires trust. To truly love, you must know what love does. Love repairs the broken places. Love makes things new. Love brings healing, truth, light to the places that need it. You don't love looking for a result. You just love."
    Our only call in life is to love. When we heal, when we raise the dead, when we cast out demons, when we give prophecy, we are to love and let all of those things be what love does. When we focus on the problem, rather than the person, we give the problem relevance. It is irrelevant. God will do what He wants. We are called only to be open to whatever it is He wants to do. When we are open to loving someone and that is all our hearts are set on, our minds and ears are open so that God may speak how. If we see a brother without clothes, we love by giving him clothing. If we see someone who is thirsty, we love them by giving them a drink. But we must never consider the result before the need. I do not love someone to fix them. I do not love someone to open their eyes. I do not love someone to heal their heart. Those are all things that happen as a result of love. I have love to give, and I am called to walk in it. Yes, I will heal the sick and cast out demons, and I believe one day, I will raise the dead (Jesus said it; I believe Him), but I am called to love, and all of those things will flow out of that place of love.
Love does not have an agenda. It just is.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Under God

I realized something today. And, my slight epiphany came through the most unlikely of things - a TV show. I don't know how many people watch Flashpoint - I feel like its one of those shows that flies under the radar but is surprisingly really good. Its some cross between Criminal Minds and CSI, but better... its not just the typical "there's a crime, and we'll solve it." The storyline for every episode is always really epic and gets right to your heart!

Tonight's episode started with a parole hearing for a black man that was convicted of murder at 15 for shooting/robbing a convenience store owner. The victims daughter and wife appear at every parole hearing Antone (the man convicted) has, in order to make sure he never makes parole. And hate, especially from the daughter, is palpable. But you get the feeling that Antone is sincere and feels truly guilty for his crime.

To make a long story really short (actually, I probably won't be able to make this concise..) - Antone's prison houses many rival gang members. One gang stages a riot in order to take out all the rival gang's leaders, but the daughter and wife (civilians) are trapped in the midst of it. Antone  takes it upon himself to protect the civilians, but in order to do so he has to pretend he is working with the gang leaders. His cover ends up getting blown as he is caught helping the cops, and he has to make a huge choice.

The crime he was convicted for in his teens was not a cold-blooded act. He was a scared 15 year old boy asked to prove his loyalty to a gang he didn't want to be a part of but felt like he had no other option. He didn't mean to shoot the man, he just wanted the money as proof. But the man grabbed the front of the gun and it was accidentally fired. Antone, at the age of 15, felt so terrible that he sat with the man so he didn't have to die alone. Antone, at the time of the riot, had spent 15 years in prison for this.

So, back to the riot... Antone is told that in order to prove his loyalty to the prison gang leaders and not be killed, he has to kill the civilians. Its a similar situation to what he had to face when he was 15. Will he make the same wrong choice?

And this is where my epiphany comes in. I am so rooting for this guy. I am so moved by his story, and the fact that he is trying to overcome his past, that he is trying to redeem his life. I am on the edge of my seat - I mean, I might as well have pompoms and do a cheer because I am really rooting for him! I just...feel so much compassion for him, and those like him! And this is totally a theme in my life - rooting for the underdog (I know, I know...insert Leaf joke here), caring for the beat up and beaten down, and even those that have made bad choices themselves, but have the potential to rise above it all yet. It just - gets my heart like nothing else. And I know this is a God thing - because nobody cares for the underdog, the beat up and beaten down, and the forgotten like God does. That's His target market... that's where His heart is. And I know, with crystal clarity, that God has been shaping my heart to care for the same.

The thing is, by the world's standards, I am an 'underdog' too. I am not particularly good at any one thing, and I have certainly made a number of bad choices. The one thing I do have though... the one thing that I know God can work with, and is indeed only possible because of God -  is my compulsion, my conviction to root for the underdog. God has given me a compassionate heart, and I know that He can, and will, and is, using that as His means to work through me. Because you don't need to be the smartest, or the best  at _____ or the ____ -est for God to use you and have incredible plans for you. You don't really need anything, but a willing heart. A heart that is willing to be shaped by the King. And actually, even if you don't have that... God will make a way for you.You can ask God to give you a willing heart.

As I have been writing this.. every time I typed "underdog",  I accidentally typed "undergod" and I kinda like that. We are not underdogs... we are under God... hmmmm.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Heart of Prayer

I am currently fighting through a bout of the norwalk virus, so I have been in bed all day (minus the time I spent making home made chicken soup) tossing and turning, and occasionally sleeping. I haven't thrown up or anything, which I am so thankful for! My dad has it much worse than I do - so please keep him in your prayers! It shouldn't last for more than 3 days, but it is not pleasant! I have an exam in two days, so I am praying that I will feel better in time to not only write it, but also get in some studying. Getting sick around exam time is never good!

Although I am feeling kind of crappy, and a bit stir-crazy, I have also been spending more time in prayer and scripture than usual. I always find that when I am sick and can't really be distracted by life, I end up spending more time with God. I guess that is the bright side of becoming sick, if there ever was one!

So I was just laying in bed - feeling groggy but not enough to fall asleep, and my prayer 'wall' compelled me to pray. That has been the biggest benefit (and indeed the purpose of) my prayer 'wall" - it urges me to pray and reminds me of who and what I should be praying for. I prayed for a while, laying out before God all of the things that are troubling me, all of the people that I care for and are weighing on my heart,  and any sins that I felt convicted of. It brought me a lot of peace, but also  made me realize that there is soo much I have to pray for!

It is kind of ridiculous how many things and lives I feel compelled to pray for, but at the same time I know that I do not pray for them nearly enough! I normally just pray a quick prayer before going to bed - and often fall asleep while doing so! I know how powerful prayer is, and how praying draws me even closer to the presence of God, and I know that spending time in prayer is vital to my relationship with God - but yet, I do not make it a true priority in my day-to-day life. It is often something I just tack on to my day after accomplishing (or procrastinating from!) my daily routine.

For the amount of sin and darkness and pain that I encounter in my family and group of friends, and in my own life,  and in my city,  I really do not pray enough. I can't remember who said this, but it is so true "I am too busy not to pray!" Everything in my life needs to be surrendered to God in prayer and thanksgiving, but sometimes I wonder what exactly it means to pray.

I mean, prayer is kind of mysterious and weird. It is not just about asking for things, or being thankful, although that is obviously a huge part of it. But it also involves listening to God and being pulled into whatever God is already doing, and then acting on it. It is stepping into God's presence and aligning your heart and will with God's plans, and letting God speak to you and move you into action and purpose, whatever that may look like. It is also trusting in God's power and believing that He can and will do more than we could ever imagine. And sometimes it means talking, while at other times it means being silent. At least, this is how I understand prayer. But do I really understand prayer? How do we 'hear' from God? Are we listening? How do you understand prayer?

All I really know is that prayer is vitally important, and that I can pour out my heart to God and He will listen, but that I too need to "be still" and know that He is God.  I want to start setting aside time in the morning to pray - and really just start my day by soaking in God's presence. I think that will really revitalize my relationship with God, as well as my relationships with others.

 I want to live a life that is marinated in prayer.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


You cannot open a book in the middle of its plot
And expect yourself to be the main character
It is better to begin anew,
Than to try to write on already written pages

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Treasure in the trash

Today my church invited a guest speaker to speak for the culmination of a sermon series entitled Dear Church - a series that attempted to look at today's church, and more specifically our church, with a transparent and critical eye. Needless to say, I am sure some of the sermons made some members of my church uncomfortable, and made most of us feel convicted for either our apathy or judgmental attitudes, or our unwillingness to truly welcome and love the marginalized and outcasts of our society.

As November is Prayer for the Persecuted Church month, our pastor decided to bring in a man who has been persecuted for his faith right here in Brantford. I don't think I have ever cried so much in one service. Today's speaker was a man who  had been a mormon for 43 years of his life... and not only that, but he was a mormon leader, on a number of mormon committees etc, and his whole family was mormon. He was brought up believing that the Bible couldn't be trusted, and had no desire for anything related to Christianity.
What he did want however, was to be a more zealous Mormon, and as such he began to dig through document upon document so that he could see for himself the truth of the Mormon faith and its claims. However, as he began to seek the truth, he began to see that there were many things that just weren't adding up. And as he continued to dig, he began to feel a weight on his heart and mind to pursue Christianity. It was a feeling that he couldn't shake, he felt like he was being hounded by God. And all during this time he was still a Mormon leader etc. But as these doubts continued to pile up, and as God continued to convict him of his need for Jesus and the christian faith, he decided to approach his faith leader. After three hours of this man telling his leader everything he had discovered, all of his doubts and convictions, he asked, "Is there any room in this church for a man like me that just wants to love Jesus without all of the extras?" and his faith leader said one word: "no." That was the beginning of his conversion to Christianity, but it was by no means an easy decision. It was a decision wrought in tears and suffering.

This man's church leaders wrote him a letter that officially constituted a "gag order." If he followed this order, he would not be excommunicated. He was forbidden to speak of Christianity at the church, in the community, but also to his family. For three months God continued to weigh on his heart and mind, and there were two things that he was convicted of:

1) His sin and inadequecy

2) and that  Jesus offers forgiveness

These, among other things, led to this man committing his heart to Jesus and converting to Christianity. However, he truly had to count the cost. His church, his friends, and his community forsake him. He lost all his positions in the church, and was labelled a heretic. But the worst part, is that his own family could not accept him - his wife, his children.He lost everything.

But he lost everything for the sake of Christ, knowing fully what would happen if he made the decision to follow Him. This man broke down in tears many times while he was speaking - but still, even though he had lost everything, he knew that he gained the only thing that truly mattered. He knew that when you know the treasure that you have, it is worth everything.

I can't help but analyze my own life, and my own faith. Do I treasure Christ as much as this man does? What would I be willing to give up for Christ? What would I endure? Is Christ really the reason that I live?

At the end of his testimony, most of us had tears streaming down our faces, and we all raised our hands and prayed for this man and his family and friends. That God will bring salvation and restoration to this courageous man's family. I ask that you also pray for this man and his family, but also pray for all the persecuted Christians that endure so much for their faith. And maybe, look at your own life and ask yourself: Do I truly treasure Jesus? Or is my ' Treasure in the trash'?

Friday, November 25, 2011

is always uncomfortable
I resist and avoid it
until it breaks me
like a cracked clay vessel
flowers springing from every crevice
broken, but beautiful


 Well, the first term of university is ending, and christmas break is right around the corner! I am so ready for christmas break - I need a break from school and an opportunity to re-organize my priorities, gather my thoughts, and somehow get my school-work-ethic back - since it seems to have disappeared! I am looking forward to spending more time at Why Not Missions over the break, hopefully two or three nights a week when I am at my dads, because as it gets colder its harder to be out on the streets, and Why Not becomes an even more valuable place. I look forward to going to my home town, Hamilton, and catching up with all the people I  haven't seen in forever, visiting my old church, and seeing my family. I feel like the Christmas break will be a really good time for me to take a step back from the daily routine of life and everything that is going on, and just spend some really good time with Jesus in prayer and reflection. Am I truly listening to God? I pray that this Christmas break will bring me greater clarity.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Open the Floodgates, Lord...

I am sitting in the student lounge reading update after update of missionaries in Sudan, Kenya, Nepal, South Korea, Israel, India, Indonesia, Philippines, etc. and contrasting their stories from the front lines of their ministry with what I have experienced in North America as a christian. The difference is remarkable, and disheartening. What are we missing? For in every update I read there was miraculous events being reported - one update said, "there are no longer any people left to heal in this village, as they have all been healed!", and that sort of  thing was happening across the different countries and regions where missionaries were working - people being healed, set free from demons, miraculous protection, provision,  little children who can't speak English prophetically praying in fluent English, prostitutes being rescued and healed, and churches springing up because of miraculous donations of land and resources, people being saved in mass numbers and I am left thinking - why doesn't that happen here? I mean, God definitely does work miracles in North America, but it seems like they are not as prevalent here as they are all across the world. I wonder if we are so bombarded by the material world that its difficult for us to have faith in the unseen and the miraculous? Or maybe we are so comfortable in our material world that miracles are not what we really need? Maybe we need conviction and repentance of our hearts for our greed and lack of faith, and a good kick in the butt to start truly living out the Gospel and trusting God to the point that only the miraculous will meet our needs, whatever they may be? Are we starving for lack of faith? Or maybe God chooses to work differently here because of how much wealth and doubt we typically have as compared to most of the world... I am not saying that miracles, for the sake of miracles, are what NA needs, or are the measure of true faith.... but it seems like the Holy Spirit is moving with greater fervor and power in other countries that are less fortunate than us.. and I am left wondering if that is directly related to how materialistic, comfortable, and apathetic we are. I am definitely guilty of not trusting God, and trying to be as comfortable as possible, and living in the grips of fear and doubt. But I don't want to live that way, because it seems that the more risks we take for God, the more we trust Him, and the more uncomfortable we become... the greater is God's power and glory displayed in our lives. Maybe we need to start by asking God to increase our faith, to make us uncomfortable, to give us a heart that wants more than just the comforts of this world....hearts that recognize that eternity is more important than the present world, but that eternity begins NOW, hearts that aren't afraid to dream big because we know that God has bigger plans than we could ever imagine. But if we pray these things... you bet that it will shake our world up and require us to be obedient to whatever it is He calls us to. But if you count the cost... it is beyond worth the risk.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Pain of Beauty

This post will be a little more personal than normal, a little more transparent and a little more difficult for me to write. But, I have a pretty big suspicion I'm not the only one who feels the way that I do, and if my struggle can help someone else, then its well worth any embarrassment I might feel from exposing my insecurity. And this is largely what this post will be about - my insecurities!

Before I go any farther, I have to establish what I believe to be my inner-most desires. I have long known them, they are not something new to me - but they never cease to cause me trouble! I read this book a long time ago, called Captivating (by John and Stasi Eldrige) that not only validated my desires, but also showed me that these desires may not be just specific to me. In other words, it may be a girl thing! And that maybe these desires aren't bad, or wrong, but just need to be channeled or focused in the right direction.

So its time to bare my soul...
1) I desire to be beautiful, inside and out.
2) I desire to have someone notice my heart/beauty, and validate my worth.
3) I desire to be loved and treasured and pursued.
4) I desire to be a part of a greater purpose!

Okay, so I'm sure these all seem very cliche and well "duh.. you're a girl.. girls want to be beautiful, etc." but I don't think people really get how deep these desires run in girls (especially guys!) and how much they effect how we respond in daily situations and  how we view ourselves, etc. Maybe these just apply to me, and don't apply to all girls across the board, but I think in some way, every girl struggles with some aspect of this! I know in my own life, that these questions (because they really are questions... "Am I beautiful? Am I worth loving? etc) have often overwhelmed me. I think some situations in my life have caused me to struggle with my self-worth more than the average girl, but at the same time I would be very surprised to meet a girl that claims to have never struggled with her self-worth!

Like they say in Captivating,  its easier to see these desires in little girls - because generally, we want to dress up, we want to be the 'princess,' we want to show ourselves off and hear our dads compliment us - and then as we grow up we still want to be beautiful (which may translate for some of us to 'sexy') and we want the attention of guys, we want to fall in love, and we will often cause ourselves heartache by letting ourselves be controlled by these desires.And I am no stranger to that!

And its tough, because the world seems to tell us that if we don't fit the stereotypical model of beauty, if we aren't thin, if we aren't wearing the trendy or sexy clothes, then we won't be considered beautiful, and then consequently we aren't loveable. A lot of girls look at magazines and movie stars or even girls that more closely fit the 'ideal' and feel despair at not measuring up to those standards, and will try many different  ways to become like 'them.' Or they may simply give up, resigning themselves to being "ugly" or "unlovable". Somehow we have gotten it into our heads that only things/people that are beautiful are worth loving. And indeed, society seems to perpetuate this idea. And if you're like me, and you take that to heart, it can be heartbreaking! 

I don't know if its because of my parents divorce, or the general emotional absence of my dad, or what it is - but I have over the course of my life struggled with believing that I was worth loving. That anyone would take the time to truly get to know me and STILL love me after finding out all my flaws. If you really know me, will I still be worth your time? And what about my physical appearance? I am not thin, I am not the stereotypical beauty! I still remember the day that I stared at myself in the mirror and cried. And the day someone close to me told me that "no guy will ever want you unless you lose weight" - multiple times they told me that. It was like hammering in the nail. I am not sure of who I am on the inside OR on the outside. Loneliness is a girls worst enemy. And it scares us. We don't want to be alone. This has caused me to shed many tears!

And all this insecurity can lead to trying to fill those desires with the wrong things. For girls, we generally attempt to find our worth in a guy. If I have a boyfriend, that means that I must be worth it - but I better make sure I keep myself pretty, that I make sure I'm what he wants, otherwise I'll lose the one thing that I believe validates who I am. But a guy isn't the only thing we can use to validate our worth - it can be success, family, friends, etc. But at the back of our minds there is always that nagging question, "Am I really enough? Am I worth anything?"

And for a good chunk of my life, and even now, I suffer from the "one-day-my-prince-will-come-syndrome" and it really is a terrible thing to base your self-worth on. Because if "he" doesn't come, if "he" doesn't choose you, then you start to believe what Satan wants you to believe: that your worthless, unlovable, not worth anything, not worth fighting for.And even if "he" does...insecurity will still hound you! What if you lose him? What if he doesn't treat the way you want to be treated? Its such a load of crap... but so easy to believe!

And this brings me to the good thing about these desires! I believe I have these desires for a reason. I believe you, whoever you are, have the desire to be loved, to be beautiful, for a reason. Because God gave us those desires - and He intends for those desires to be satisfied by Him.He gives you those desires, those longings, so that you will be drawn to Him. Because He is the lover of your soul. But Satan also wants to destroy this... he doesn't want you to realize this. He wants to keep you trapped in insecurity, fear, and self-loathing.

And this is the portion of the post where I begin to preach/talk to myself - because I know these things in my head, but I don't think they have really penetrated my heart yet. I still really struggle with this!

God loves me. LOVES me. ME.
God loves you. LOVES you. YOU.

And He made me the way that I am. He says I'm beautiful. He loves, He cherishes, He pursues, He values, He respects, He protects, He provides for, He challenges... ME. YOU. Even though the world/Satan may try to tell me that I have no worth a part from my outside appearance... God looks at the heart! And He loves us even when we don't feel pretty on the inside! Even when our hearts are full of sin and struggle and weakness. He still loves us. He still pursues us. He still is with us. He still has plans for us!

When I am lonely, He is with me. When I feel worthless, He shows me His love.

My desire to be beautiful is met by God.

My desire to be loved is met by God.

My desire to be cherished and treasured is met by God.

My desire to be  a part of a greater purpose is met by God.

And I desperately need to get the idea that "beauty" is the deciding factor of whether or not I am loved out my head and heart. Because that's a lie. And I need to get the idea that some allusive "guy" will solve all my insecurities out too. Because 'he' won't. He may even make them worse!

I don't want to live with my heart on my sleeve because I need someone to tell me that I have worth.
Thats a road that leads to heartache, and I have experienced it enough times to know that.

But my heart is slowly learning.... and I really wish it would learn faster!! These desires can be really burdensome!

Jesus loves me so much that He died for me. HE DIED FOR ME. I can never, ever experience a love like that any where else. His love is THE reason for me to live. His love makes me beautiful. And He delights in me! What does it mean to be delighted in?! I am not entirely sure, but I know that my heart longs for it!

This is an incredibly long post, but this issue is so central to who I am, so central to me as a woman, as a girl, as a daughter of the King. And I need to get it.

You need to get it. You are loved. Period. You are worth Him dying! Period.  And this goes for guys as well as girls! You don't need to be perfect, or beautiful. God delights in your quirks, the things that make you - you, the funny way you laugh, everything - because He made you! You don't need to hide who you are - and you most certainly don't need to pretend that you have it all together, or that you are something that you are not, or that if you make a mistake - the game is over and you are no longer worth loving.

Honestly though, I don't know if I am even getting it. Its too good to be true - but I firmly believe that these desires are not meant to tear me down, but are meant to build me up in my identity as a daughter of the King, as the bride of Christ.

I pray that both you and I get this... because the pain of believing we are not loved is not worth it.And not what God intended for us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Life in His Hands

This past Thursday I once again volunteered at Why Not Missions, but it was the first time I had volunteered there on a normal day - since so far Why Not had been in a transition from one building to another. The house has a pool table, a shuffle board table, and an intense gaming room with three big screen televisions which make it a very youth-friendly environment. We put on some Switchfoot and the youth began to arrive at about 5PM. At first I found myself intimidated by the youth and didn't know how to approach them. It's different than what I am used to because my only experience working with at-risk youth was in a semi-structured environment where I had some sort of defined role - but at Why Not we are literally there to just hang out with the youth, get to know them, and be their friend. I spent a good junk of the evening just feeling like I didn't know what to do and like I maybe wasn't cut out for this. Everyone else seemed to be talking with the youth and starting relationships, but I was left feeling a bit on the outside.

However, half way through the night I gave myself a pep-talk. Even if the first few conversations are awkward, you can't break the ice without....breaking the ice. And since I plan on volunteering there for the duration of my time at university, there is LOADS of time for me to develop relationships with the youth and the first few awkward attempts will be long forgotten by then! I then went into an empty room and prayed, asking God to give me courage/boldness and humility, and then as soon as I exited that room it was completely different!

I started talking with a bunch of boys and one girl who were playing video games, introduced myself, learned their names, what they like to do for fun, what grade they were in, etc. They were very receptive and seemed happy that I was talking with them. They even let me play some video games (that I failed horribly at! lol) By the time it was time for the hot dog meal program, I was calling many of them by name (with a few mistakes a long the way:P) and ended up playing pool with one youth until 9PM. (He kept insisting he was letting me win... :P) I ended up hearing a part of his story... and for confidentiality I won't post it, but it was tough to hear. The night passed without incident, and I was glad I hadn't let my own fears overcome me. I want to learn what it means to love the youth and keep letting God stretch me out of my comfort zone. It will be interesting to see how God uses my time at Why Not.

On Friday night I attended a youth group in Burford with one of the leaders from IVCF - Alana. We watched a movie called To Save A Life - which is probably one of the best Christian movies I have seen. It begins with two boys (Roger and Jake) who are young and good friends. Roger saves Jake's life by pushing him out of the way of a car, and taking the hit himself (giving him a permanent limp). It then flashes to the funeral of Roger, and a clearly distraught Jake. The focus of the movie is how Jake became popular at high school and ditched his friendship with Roger, which partially contributed to Roger bringing a gun to school and shooting himself. The movie journeys along with Jake as he starts to realize that there is more to life than partying, girls, and scholarships, and him dealing with the suicide of his friend. He is befriended by a youth pastor, and begins to have his life shaken up by God. It is a pretty decent movie - and I totally recommend it! It is definitely a youth friendly movie - and Alana and I talked about potentially doing a movie night on campus with it.

Alana and I had some really good 'life chats' before we left for the event, where we both shared some things that we struggle with and just spent some time getting to know each other better. She is a very kind person and someone I look forward to becoming better friends with. She also informed me that the leaders of IVCF are considering me as a leader for next year - and asked if I wanted to attend a leadership training session in December and if I would want to take on a leadership role. I was really taken aback by the offer, since I had never thought about being a leader. I told her I would pray about it, but that I was excited by the offer. I just want to serve where God is leading me. But who knows what God has planned?

This is turning out to be an uber long post! I am now at home in Hamilton for the weekend - with an essay waiting to be written that I would rather not do... and three adorable puppies to keep me thoroughly distracted! I woke up this morning to the sound of my mom and step-dad fighting, and felt the old familiar twist of anxiety in my stomach. Living away from home makes it easy to forget/avoid the problems that my family is consumed by - but of course coming to visit brings them back into sharp focus. I feel much more anxiety here than I do at my dads... and just in general feel kind of hopeless. The only thing I can do for my family is pray, visit, and take opportunities to minister to them. I don't do that well, and would often rather not face all the pain and brokenness in my family. But I also won't give up hope that God can work a miracle in my family, and that He loves my family more than I do! I just want my family members to be healed, and saved. But its a daunting thing, praying against the darkness that surrounds them. Yet I trust that God is mighty to save, and faithful.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Some random updates...

Tonight I went on a skype with a friend of mine who was a fellow exchange student to Japan, named Mike. We have always got along personality wise, but we almost always end up in theological debates because he is an athiest, and I am a Christian. I hadn't spoken to him in about a year, but the debate started almost right away. He is in school to be a surgeon (can't recall what type) and is very intelligent, and bases everything on science and fact. I am kinda the exact opposite, so it was hard for me to counter argue all of his points, although I managed to hold my ground. The main thing I got from our discussion is that he really doesn't want to believe, and even said that even if  he knew God existed he wouldn't acknowledge Him! (That boggled my mind) And that I am way too concerned with how someone perceives me as opposed to just being concerned with standing for God and truth. That bothers me so much - I just want to be sold out for Jesus. How can a silly thing like wanting someone to like me stand in the way of that? Nonetheless, the conversation challenged me to consider my faith from a different perspective, and to remain steadfast in my faith.

Switching gears, a couple nights ago I was praying for someone, when suddenly I got this huge urge to make a prayer 'wall' on my wall. So at like midnight I got up and painted the words "A Heart of Prayer" with a heart in the center and the names of everyone I am praying for  (and what for) painted around it.. and put it on my wall. It was a really neat time of worship for me - as even though i am not a good painter, I just painted away while listening to worship music and felt God's presence. I hope to pray for all those people /things every night...

Switching gears again...This morning, I woke up at 3 and tossed and turned until about 4:30 when my dads cell phone rang. It was my aunt, who was in complete despair because her dog (who had been in labor that evening) had pushed out a puppy that got stuck, and then consequently that puppy died. So at around 5 we got up and drove to my aunts house to help her take the mother to the vet, because there was still another puppy inside that couldn't come out because the first one was still stuck and blocking the other puppys exit. My aunt was crying hysterically and I tried to help calm her down and speak words of comfort. I love animals, and seeing a dead puppy half out of its mother was really sad, and I prayed the whole drive over that the puppy would still be alive, and that the second one would be alive too. I prayed this mostly for my Aunt's sake because the loss of the first puppy had affected her so brutally. Long story short, although the first puppy did die, the mother ended up having to have a c-section, and the second puppy, against all odds, survived! And it is adorable!!!
I praised God for that, especially because I knew how devastated my aunt would have been if both puppies had been lost.
Needless to say it was one longgggg day... and my dad and I were extremely tired after! Which is why I am officially going to bed now!

Friday, November 4, 2011

I don't know how..

i love you
i wish you would stop
 hurting yourself
and hurting those
around you
i wish i could tell you
i love you
in a way that would
make you believe it ...
in a way that would push through the darkness
in a way that would undo all those years of feeling unloved
i love you
but i don't know how to help you
i dont know how
i dont know how

i dont know how

(but God will make a way)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hot Dog Buns and...Grace

Every Thursday I volunteer with some other Laurier students at Why Not City Missions - a place where the hungry, the homeless, the mentally ill,  the young, and the old, and all thats in between can come and be welcome for some free food, a warm place, and some good company. They have just moved from their old building which was actually a store front, to a new building that feels more like a home than anything else (well thats what it was before Why Not bought it!). There is even a shower for those that can not receive one otherwise! They are still in the process of organizing, painting, and fixing up the new place - but it will have its first opening on monday... and that is definetly exciting! I have only seen Why Not in its transition mode - so I am excited to be a part of its every-day functioning as well, and to be able to build relationships with the people that come!

Tonight we helped move some boxes and do some organizing, and then helped run their evening program - a hog dog/pizza meal program for anyone that is in need. We ran it for the first time out of the back of the new building - and although not as many people came as there usually is, we still got quite a crowd!
I tried to swing being in charge of dispensing the ketchup, but ended up being delegated to relish duty... which was alright - but it is the most awkward job because you have to use a spoon and spreading the relish can be quite the feat! I got  numerous comments on my relish-spreading skills... :D

We had a lot of hot dogs (but no pizza today) and people were able to come back for seconds, thirds, and even fourths! I myself had three (volunteers get to eat too but I know.. three!!! :O) and we were done the hotdogs by 7 (it started at 6:30)!

However, just as we finished giving out the last hot dog - another person arrived. He was probably in his early 20's and wore dirty, baggy clothes. He was carrying multiple plastic/garbage bags, as if he was carrying his whole life around with him, but aside from that he was just a regular guy. He came and asked if there was any hot dogs left, and we had to tell him no. The look in his eyes was enough to get me, but when his next words were, "Can I have the leftover buns?" I felt heartbroken, and guilty. If only I hadn't eaten 1, let alone 3!! hotdogs... there would have been some left for him. I could tell that he was really in need, really hungry. There was a desperate, defeated, ashamed feel to him... One of the other volunteers handed him a  bag of buns, and feeling like I needed to do something I told him that there was still juice and hot coffee available. He grabbed some and went and sat on a bench off to the side, and everyone went back to packing up and cleaning the tables, moving things inside etc.

I couldn't get him off my mind as I went about helping.. how could there be someone so desperate in our community? someone that hungry? I still feel incredible sadness as I write about him, but we were able to help him a bit more.  I expressed my concerns to another volunteer who had been volunteering there for years, and she encouraged me to talk to one of the leaders there, a man named Dave. I told him what happened and how I felt he was really in need,  and Dave asked me if he was homeless or had a place to live. I had no idea, so Dave went and talked with him. Although I really wanted to know the details, I didn't press but saw that Dave gathered together a package of food from the emergency food bank and gave it to the man. I felt soo thankful that we were able to help him - but it still breaks my heart that there are people that struggle to get the next meal in our seemingly wealthy society. I mean, I knew that before(I worked with at-risk/homeless youth over the summer) but its when you are looking into the eyes of a person that society has let fall through the cracks, a person just like you that is in such need-  that life really comes into focus and you know what it is God asks of you. And I know why it is I volunteer there, and how much more I need to grow - in my faith, and as a person.

To love. To Serve. To go. To live life in a way that doesn't make sense to the world.

I need to pray - that man is still weighing heavily on my heart and mind.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crazy Love

Tonight, like every other night, I took my dog outside for a brief walk around the yard before I went to bed. Although there are normally stars out when I do this, the sky is usually not clear and the stars seem dimmed (although that makes them no less beautiful). But tonight, the stars seemed extra bright and the sky was clear - only a single stretch of fading cloud was obscuring  a portion of the night sky. And I felt moved, as I often am when gazing up at the multitudes of stars, to praise God. The questions floating through my mind were something like, "Do I even comprehend what I am looking at? That stars aren't just pretty little diamonds floating in space somwhere - but are really huge stars and planets that may even be bigger than Earth, that the creator of the universe made with His own hands, for His glory? Can I even wrap my mind around the fact that God fashioned an infinite number of stars, planets, and galaxies, of which the Earth is merely a pin-prick? And that the me that is standing on my front lawn gazing up at the sky is so incredibly insignificant - even smaller than a pin-prick in comparison with the vastness and beauty of the universe?" I don't think my mind can grasp the magnitude of that - it tries... but how could my mind ever fully grasp how big God is?  What I can grasp more tangibly but still not completely - is how small and finite I am. Yet the God who created all of this universe...loves me! Not only that, but  limited Himself to be born as a vulnerable infant in a obscure town in Israel on a pin-prick of a planet... and then died on a tree for the salvation of those that would rather live as if He didn't exist. The whole thing is rather crazy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Then the time came when the risk it took
To remain tight in a bud was more painful
Than the risk it took to blossom
- Anais Nin

Some things I have been thinking about...

I long to be a part of what God is doing in not only my own life, but in the lives of my family and friends, and in my city and nation. I know that every day God is working out His plan and His love through the power of the Holy Spirit and His people. And that begs the question, are we approaching every day with the mind set that every person and every situation we encounter is an opportunity for us to build into His kingdom? Or are we going through the day just going from one place to another, to class, or to work, and not seeing beyond the every day routine to what God is doing behind the scenes? He is working in people's hearts, tearing down strongholds, planting seeds, convicting and refining, and drawing people to His heart again and again. And His primary way of doing this, is through His word and His church. If we aren't tuning in to this and surrendering our every day to God, we will often miss out on how God wants to use us to build into His kingdom. Wherever we are in life, whether we are students or working, old or young, rich or poor, God has good and perfect plans for us, that He wants to accomplish now - right now. Not 5 or 10 years from now when you finally have a degree, or you are finally settled in a career. He wants you to be buiding His kingdom, loving and serving, and reaching out to those still living in darkness, RIGHT NOW. Every day is a day that  God has made for a purpose... and we need to make sure that we aren't losing sight of that.

It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine though, and often we end up reserving our 'God time' for right before we go to bed (and often fall asleep without really diving into God's word or prayer), or on Sundays, and for small groups. And I am definetly guilty of this! But those are the places we go to be recharged so that in the day-to -day- ness of life we can spread and shine God's love. What does it mean to go and be the hands and feet of Jesus? What does it really mean to love our neighbours? And for that matter, who is our neighbour? It is certainly not just limited to those we happen to live beside. It is every single person that we interact with throughout our day... God has brought those people into our lives for one reason or another - and though we may not see the full picture, we know that we are called to love them, and to pray for them, and to lead them closer to Jesus.

But we are sinners saved by grace, and thus we often make mistakes, and feel too tired, or too busy, or too grumpy or too ________, to love others the way we know we are called to. And sometimes we are in seasons of our lives where we just need someone to love us... but regardless, we can not love the way we are called to through our own merit, or perserverence, or skills. It is only possible through Christ... because there are some times when I really don't feel like loving someone! But all things are possible through Christ.

I read a verse in Haggai recently that made me think of all of this.
"The Lord Almighty says: These people say, "The time has not yet come for the Lord's house to be built." ...Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" ..."You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the Lord Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house...So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole  remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God." - Haggai 1: 2, 4, 9, 14
What really stood out to me is that the people were neglecting the house of God because they were too busy with thier own lives and houses, and God's power was not being displayed in their lives as a consequance. But then, God stirred up their spirits and everything changed. They went to work on the Lord's house, together. If I think about this in terms of my own life, then my prayer is: Lord, stirr up my spirit. Stirr up the spirits of the christians around me - propel us to make Your house and your kingdom the number one priority in our lives, on a day-to-day, right here- right now, basis. Then maybe our lives will shine out the glory and power of God in ways that we can't even imagine!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Life as I Know It

Well, I guess it's about time I give an update on my new university life:) It has been a month and two days since university started, but it sure has felt longer than that. I have had three midterms and three assignments so far, so I guess that must explain why it feels like I have been here for longer - in highschool tests/assignments weren't due until later in the course! For those that don't know I am in the Youth and Children's Studies Program, and this term I am taking: Psychology 101, Child and Youth Studies, Organizational Leadership, Human Rights & Human Diversity, and Social and Political Thought. I was originally planning on going for a Double Major in Child and Youth Studies & Human Rights, but I think I may be changing my mind! Human Rights hasn't exactly been my most favorite class - I like it, but there are times where I am not really a fan. However, I have been loving my Organizational Leadership course - learning about organizations (public, private, non-for-profit, for-profit) and what it takes for organizations to be and remain successful, as well as what it means to be a leader in the context of organizations is fascinating! It is also more practical than Human Rights, and since I do want to continue working with non-for-profits, or NGO's, it is also applicable to my career goals! I can see it becoming my major for sure:)

So, I started attending a church called Evangel - its a Pentecostal church, which ill admit is not usually my forte! But my friend Hannah wanted to check it out and I ended up going with her. It seems like a decent church so far - its not one of those churches where people speak in tongues every day or whatnot, I actually still haven't heard someone speak in tongues. The most charismatic part so far would have to be  that whenever there is scripture we read it out loud all together - and there is nothing wrong with that!:) I am starting to attend their young adults group called R-Life - and I've only been once so far but it seems pretty sweet! I have also joined the campus group called InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and I attend thier bible study every wednesday night. They use a bible study technique called Manuscripting - which is almost like an intensive, detailed study of a short bible passage - but really paying attention to the text (repitition, main ideas, questions you may have). It's different, not what I am used to, but not necessarily a bad change. It does remind me of reading a textbook though :P

There are also some other christian groups that students from the university attend, but aren't actually a part of the university (not a university club), which are  Campus For Christ (they are meeting at someone's home) and Marked Generation which is run by the Freedom House ( a church). I might check those out at some point as well. I am really hoping to develop a solid community of christians - I want to be in fellowship with other christians, because that has been something I have missed/struggled with in the past.

 I have recently begun volunteering at a non-profit organization called Why Not City Missions that resides downtown Brantford. They are similar to The Living Rock in that they are an inner city ministry - but aside from that, the organizations are quite different! It will be interesting for me to see the differences, and of how I will fit into the mix! I will be volunteering every Thursday, helping out with their Hot-Dog meal program (where we provide hot dogs to any one who wants/needs it - not just youth) and being a Youth Mentor! I am looking forward to working with Why Not for the duration of my time at Laurier - especially because I know that the duration of a relationship with a youth significantly impacts the quality and impact of the relationship itself and any positive outcomes that may occur because of it! (I am currently writing a research paper on Mentoring At-Risk Youth, so I have been evaluating the different models of mentoring relationships etc. )

Living at my dads has been good...a little tough on one hand, because he is in a really bad place financially, and struggles with depression. But I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know him better, strengthen the relationship, and hopefully be a positive person in his life:) Although, I need to work on  my dish-washing work ethic..baha. He really needs to get a job though.... he is doing handy-man work here nad there, but he is getting to the age where it really is taking a toll on his phsyical health - he is always aching and sore, and if he injures himself he will have no way to make an income. So please join me in praying that he will be able to get a job that pays well enough for him to be able to keep his house, but also isn't too physically demanding!!
We have gotten into a routine of watching Criminal Minds, as well as Leaf Games together (Go Leafs Go!), which is good fun:)

well, that is all for now - if there is anything I desire right now its to learn to be content with little, and to learn to be joyful in all circumstances (which can be a dangerous prayer..XD)! I just want to live for Him!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Today I had a health problem reveal itself to me in a way that had me a little freaked out and close to tears. Immedietaly my mind jumped to every possible worse-case scenario and I felt not only a sense of fear but a sense of regret - I am not the healthiest eater, and not very active - so I know exactly why I have ended up in this predicament, and I want to change that now. I've tried before, but never had enough motivation for whatever reason. Now that health issues have come to call, I certainly have a reason to start living a healthier lifestyle. More importantly, while I was feeling close to tears, I felt even closer to God.  Even when things in life become scary, worrisome, or painful - Christ is right there with us,  and I felt His presence as my mind was starting to freak out. As I don't even know exactly what  is wrong - there isn't any point in my mind overreacting and thinking that I have cancer or need surgery (thats the worrier in me!) - for all I know I might have just eaten something bad! But the thing that calmed my heart, and made me so grateful to be loved so extravagently by Jesus, is that no matter what we go through in this life - He is with us while we go through it and gives us the strength to overcome it, and if its part of His plan for us to move on - well, then we will be with Him, and whats better than that (aside from living a full life dedicated to Him) ? Either way, we are more than conquerers through Christ! I love my saviour, and I want to love Him with my life more and more each day. I know my faith and my love are not even close to what He deserves, and that I can't even offer it - but I hope that I will be able to offer all that I am in this life!! Sometimes I lose sight of what is most important.. my relationship with Christ and His work through me and in me, and my heart runs astray. But that is not what I want - more than anything, no matter what I go through, I want to live a life that is completely surrendered to Him!!!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Believe That God is Good

Exerpt from Getting to No: How To Break A Stubborn Habit by Erwin W. Lutzer

What causes this lack of enthusiasm for getting rid of sin? We are afraid that some worthwhile pleasure will pass us by. We question whether God's way is indeed the best. If we doubt God's goodness, we will not only resist change but also fear it. A young man I counseled simply could not give his future to God for fear that God might require him to drop out of medical school. He doubted whether God's will for him would be the best.

Countless Christians resist surrender to God, frightened of what God might require of them. He might lead them to the mission field, let them remain single, or require that they give up their love of money or thier pursuit of sinful pleasures.

When you doubt God's goodness, you hug sin tightly to your bosom, afraid that God will rob you of your crutch, your pastime, your pleasure. Occasionally, you are stirred to give up your sin, but you soon find that you can't risk the loss.

But is your way really better than God's? Was Satan the good guy in the garden of Eden? And God the villain? Jesus put the matter straight, "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I come that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). To believe that your way is better than God's way is to take your place with Adam and Eve and believe Satan's lie. No matter how many pleasures Satan offers you, his ultimate intention is to ruin you. Your destruction is his highest priority.

On the positive side, if you accept the fact that God is good, two results will follow: First, you will realize that you can surrender to Him without reservations or fear of being cheated; second, you will thirst for change, understanding that the temporary watering holes of the world cannot compare to the everlasting springs of life that are in Christ.

So are you prepared to yield yourself wholly to God without conditions, without reservations, and without a hidden agenda? No matter how attractive your sinful habit is, are you willing to let God teach you that His way is perfect? If so, you will be prepared to part with your sin, knowing that God will replace it with something better. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I am Yours

I want to live like I am yours

Once again, my heart hurts
Once again, I've worn my heart on my sleeve and unprotected
Once again, unspoken hope fades away
How many times will I let this happen?
How many times will I leave my heart unguarded?
A yearning that seeks to be quenched by
A dream that isn't real
A fruit that isn't ripe
A void that can't be filled by any earthly treasure

I've had enough of living in this barren place
Where every trickle of water seems to mock my thirst
And leaves me more desperate than before,
And broken
I'll find him here, the one that tells me I am loved
The one who will justify my worth
If only I try a little harder, search a little deeper
You've called me away from this place but I'm still desperately digging in the dirt
Why am I still here?

I've had enough of living in this barren place
Searching for treasure that will fade away
Searching for words that will not remain
Searching for love that is not enough
When all this time I have known
What it is my heart longs for

I am scared to find I'm worthless
I am scared  that I'll be left alone
I am scared that I am not enough

Yet You have spoken words over me
That I am
Worth dying for
 A crown of jewels in Your hand
Your beloved
Your bride
I have always been Yours
And You are waiting for me to return to You

I have lived as if I am an orphan, a widow
Desperate for love in a weary land
But I've had enough
You are what my heart seeks
No earthly thing will satisfy me

I am burying my heart at the foot of Your cross
I want to live like I am Yours.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Living in the core

Well, life has been one exciting adventure lately! Not only have I started my new job working downtown at a Christian non-for-profit that runs programs for street-involved and at-risk youth, but I have been housesitting with my sister downtown Hamilton as well! Our first night we got quite the scare... some 'gangsters' decided in front of our house was a good place to hang out haha, they even talked about killing people (we can hear everything that goes on in the street) and it was pretty freaky! But that was the only time we had any problems and I really enjoyed the opportunity to really experience life in the city! I love the city... especially Hamilton.. there is so much life but also so much brokenness. I went to the Art Crawl for the first time last night, and LOVED it. Met a lot of people and saw some people we knew...it was too bad we couldn't have stayed for Battle of the Brushes.. it sounded sweet! Hamilton is such an artsy city - and I think the best is yet to come!

I am really loving my job... but you know, it isn't just a job, its a ministry (well, every job can be a ministry if your heart is there) and the most amazing part of it is being able to build relationships with the youth and depend on the Holy Spirit to move powerfully in the ministry, in my life, and in the lives of the youth. I definitely can't do this job in my own strength, but God has been showing me how faithful He is when we step out in faith and trust Him even when its scary. God has laid certain youth on my heart, and I have been lifting them up in prayer as often as I can... and I am seeing fruit! I run into them on the streets in the most random places, and I am really excited for what God has in store for them even now. They are lost and like "sheep without a shepherd" but God is faithful and, even just a little bit, I can see His heart for them and how He loves them, and us, so extravegantly. I have so much to learn in this new area of my life called urban ministry, and I never imagined I would end up here!! But God is crazy (in a good way)and its only for a season (I start university in september!).

University is going to be a whole other ball game... I don't really know what to expect, and I am nervous and excited about it. But God has once again been showing me how faitful and mysterious He is. I prayed in faith to recieve the Laurier Centennial Scholarship (a full tuition scholarship) and didn't recieve it. I actually had the nerve to be upset with God about it, and really wrestled with God about it, but came out in the end knowing that just because God doesn't answer my prayer in the way I want Him to, He is faithful and no matter what has good plans and will provide. After I wrestled through that, I was able to trust in the fact that, even though I had no money for university, one way or another I would depend on God. About two months later I got a call from the Laurier Scholarship office!! Apparently someone who recieved the scholarship decided they didnt want to go to Laurier anymore, and they then offered the scholarship to me!! How crazy is that?! God is good and mysterious, and I guess He needed to teach me a lesson :P!

All in all, I am so thankful and amazed at what God has been doing in my life and I am trying to lay out my whole life and surrender it to God and walk by faith even when its scary, and He is faithful (if you can't tell, God has really been speaking to me about his faithfulness). If we put our trust in Him and take risks but depend on his Holy Spirit, He will meet with us and do more than we could ever imagine! But even when we can't see the fruit, we know that He is watering the seed! How amazing... no matter what season of our lives God is faithful.