Looking back, it was one of those mornings in which I debated my outfit. Dress up or dress down? Was the work I had to do today conducive to feeling put together and stylish, or did comfort trump all? Yes, for some reason, I think […]
…I have learned that I struggle.
I know that God knows that I love a good story. A self-titled (and, now, professionally titled) writer since I was eight years old, I see everything in life in stories. A good storyline complete with metaphors and compelling arch is what I appreciate most about movies and books. My love of stories is probably why I adore spontaneity and thrilling music and consider myself a hopeless romantic. It’s why I don’t summarize the beautiful way my fiance proposed in a matter of minutes, but have written it out in detail and still tell it with glassy eyes and a voice of wonder.
So, when something happens IRL that is utterly story-like, practically telling itself through its serendipity and ability to tell itself, and then comes to an end that makes it all NOT very worth telling… I struggle.
But it’s good that I struggle, because it’s brought me to an awareness of the fact that I easily see God in “the story” and assume it’s Him and assume His will before praying, actively seeking His will, and discerning.
And, what this really is, then, is me “playing God,” and taking His righteousness into my own hands.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 TIMOTHY 4:3-4
It is very easy for us to make this mistake and jump to conclusions as Christians who live in harmony with Jesus, and live for His will to be done in our lives. It is very easy to assume that, because something good and cool and happenstance has happened, the odds for the outcome of that happening are directly in my favour.
But really, rather than writing the rest of the story, I’m called to sit in His presence and rest.
He taught me this very tangibly when I first met Johnny. Boy meets girl that I didn’t force or forge and that took months of contentment in the Holy Spirit before anything happened. In those months leading up to Johnny and I actually talking, I might have presumed, through our classroom glances and mutual but unspoken affection, that we would have spoken sooner. In the books, it would have been a week into class.
But, MAN, am I ever grateful for God’s timing on that one.
Time and again, He has shown me where my love of storytelling is a gift for His glory, and where it could trip me up into playing God. And don’t get me wrong: God is in complete control, and allows all things that happen to happen– but the outcomes are not based on me and me alone. It is easy to be egotistical and assume that the odds are in the favour of my own dreams, because “God is on my side.”
The outcomes are always in my favour because God is on my side, absolutely. But those outcomes are far better chosen by Him than me. So the best thing we can do as followers is submit to THE Storyteller. He’s a pretty darn good One.
I remember that, in high school, a “normal” conversation at the lunch table, at a party, or at a friend’s locker was about someone else. The “subject line” was rarely to do with the state of one’s soul, the deeper thoughts they’d been having, or […]
“Paradise.” That’s what my sister’s friend called my family cottage after just a few hours of exploring the grounds. “I’ve never been to a cottage like this.”
Krystal, Johnny, and I exchanged satisfied glances; Aly was not wrong. Papineau Lake was not like most lakes, and our humble cottage was certainly not like most cottages.
A literal log cabin built by my great grandparents, the cottage is more than just a family heirloom. It is the “favourite place in the world” of my immediate family, aunts and uncles, cousins, and, now, some of the friends we’ve brought to share it with.
For me, it simply takes a quick whiff of cottagey air to be transported to memories past. To be enveloped in a sea of memories of sand-muffin- baking, mermaid-swimming, and marshmallow-roasting. I have spent some part of each and every summer of my 21 years of life at Oma and Opa’s cottage, and, each time I step foot inside, I am overwhelmed by the reality that another year had passed by.
We have often called the cottage a “time machine” in this way. When you’re there, you can’t help but reminisce. For Oma and Opa, this means 60 years ago, before having kids of their own, to 40 years ago, when my mom was growing up, to 10 years ago, when my sisters and I joined them.
For Mom, it’s every summer of her own life; from childhood, to bringing my father for the first time, to bringing daughters one, two, and three. Something in the cabin or on the beach or in the boathouse will spark a memory, leading to a “Remember when” story that brings smiles to everyone’s faces.
Even Johnny, who just finished his third summertime at the cottage, now has memories, shares in the reminiscing, and remarks, “It feels like we were just here. It’s hard to believe another year has gone by.”
This past weekend was one to remember. Our one summer engaged, and Johnny and I navigating the change of graduating and entering “the real world,” this was a weekend of much-welcomed rejuvenation and recovery. It was an indescribable blessing to spend time with my family, and ultra-hot weather made it easy to jump right into Papineau’s clear blue.
I blog about the cottage because I want to remind you of some things that God through Papineau whispered to me this weekend:
Chase His presence.
Just like getting out in nature and away from screens after weeks of work and stuffy air and endless tasks is incredibly rejuvenating pretty much instantly, sitting at the feet of Jesus– who is omnipresent– is instantly healing. Don’t put off time with Him. There is no part of your day and no season of your life that doesn’t require the wisdom of Your Maker, and intimacy with Him.
Prioritize loved ones.
Being in community with my family and friends in a setting where I couldn’t think or do anything about my thoughts about work or the wedding or other things that demand my attention reminded me how important it is that, whenever I am spending time with loved ones, I am giving them undivided attention.
Love life– but not too much.
Recently, I have been struggling for the first notable time with coveting my life to the point of not wanting it to end. There’s so much I want to do in this world, and time is so short, I’ve thought. I wish I could have more of it.
Bringing these thoughts to Jesus, He has quieted my guilt for feeling them, and strengthened my purpose in HIM– the joy I have in living is from above, but my life is His alone. My body is not my own; my money is for His glory; and my very life is purposed to bring Him glory. “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” JOHN 12:25
You don’t need a beautiful Northern-Ontario getaway in order to refresh your soul. Take ownership of it and live in His Grace and Truth today.
Jesus really doesn’t ask for much. Well, yes, when we follow Him we surrender our lives from purpose for dead and meaningless, withering worldly things to the eternal purpose of Jesus’ glorification, and this may certainly be seen as “much” if we don’t know Jesus […]
The Procrastination Station.
We’ve all been there. Itching to write, but finding our thumbs scrolling instead, our minds numb rather than busy.
Staring at the mountain of laundry begging to be folded in order to free up the bedroom to look like something from a Pinterest board, but succumbing to another episode of This Is Us instead.
Planning to write 5 pages of a monster essay, but settling for a roooooough outline and a glass of wine.
But, we all know that it aaaalwaays feels better– simply is better– to complete the things we know we ought to complete. Whether for our own sake, or someone else’s, to-do lists are usually not made in vain.
Here, I’m sharing five tangible steps I have taken to remove myself from the procrastination station, and form better habits in my life that have led to more joy.
Spend time in the Word of God.
“The only way to change your way of thinking is to replace it with God’s way of thinking.” –Harold Herring
Recognizing that my thought life could either be plagued by lies– truly, what I believed to be LIES about myself and the world– or filled with TRUTH literally set me free. This is a process, as each and every one of us has had lies spoken to/over us, and spent periods of our lives believing untrue things, and dwelling on falsities.
When I ask God if something I am actively procrastinating is something in alignment with what He has called me to do, or go to the Bible to dwell on the eternal things of Him, I am more joyfully equipped instantly to do His will.
Plan “milestone breaks.”
If you work from home, like I often do, or have many assignments or tasks to complete in one day, draft a legitimate list of each of these tasks, and book in breaks/things to look forward to within them. For example, when I complete a certain number of writing projects, I’ll test a recipe, or watch a YouTube video, or call a friend. Having these little things to look forward to breaks up your work. Bonus points if that break gets you up and moving– a change of scenery can drastically improve your focus.
Allow for spontaneity.
I have a tendency to reduce life to routine. Have you struggled with this? Allowing for spontaneity and diversion from a plan can really mess with my head. But I know that my God doesn’t work this way. Sometimes, the greatest stories come from the messiest, most unplanned, most unforeseen moments… and I actually believe there’s a reason we all crave and desire the romantic, wild, unexpected sort of things we think are only in the movies. God doesn’t call us to plan things in our own strength. Contrary to religion, life with God is freedom.
And so… know the difference between procrastination and “this didn’t quite go as planned, and that’s okay.”
Envision yourself on the other side.
That workout you’re putting off? How much fun is it once you’re at the gym though?
That blog you’ve been wanting to start? The only way to reach people is to start writing, so just do it. Envision the big picture, and then determine what the first step is. Think about the big picture the whole time you’re engaging in those baby steps.
Wake up expectant… LIVE expectant.
My fiancee always says that he knows he can wake up each and every day expectant that TODAY is going to be the best day ever, simply because of who he knows his God to be, active and present, today. “Best” isn’t necessarily the same definition or standard in the eyes of the world as it is in God’s eyes. But it sure as heck is better than the world’s definition. Expect God to be exactly who He promises to be, and ask Him to help you trust Him.
He may just have a miracle waiting.
Or simply the will to press on, which is, sometimes, the most underrated miracle in itself.