The Thrill

I firmly believe that life in God and pursuing relationship with Him is meant to be thrilling. 

 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:9-15

He’s spoken to me about what humbly serving Him looks like in a lot of ways today. He’s met me in my physical exhaustion, convicted my heart, and walked with me. And living alongside Him, He does the same in all lives.

This morning I was able to sleep in after our beautiful “Galentines Day” last night with the roomies. We ate chocolate raspberry cake and lots of candy and wrote love letters to each other and it was so so special. I am so in awe of the very fact that I get to do life with these precious humans.

28124904_1603381353071507_956047209_o.jpgTruly not allowing myself to take these precious day of living with such God-centred, selfless, funny, compassionate women who have taught me so much. Sharing that love last night was such a special and intentional time together.

Waking up from vivid dreams– probably from all the delicious right-before-bed sugar– I spent the morning packing and getting ready for my trip tomorrow, to Winnipeg, seeing Johnny in his home of over a year for the first time, meeting his friends and getting to finally be in the place and with the people the love of my life has been living. I am so beyond excited to be with him.

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After class that for whatever reason I was nodding off in, I headed to meet lovely Semara, who graciously drove me to Youth with her sister Amber as well. I’ve been getting much closer with these beautiful ladies and can truly say they are two of the most bubbly, vibrant pockets of joy in my life.

Youth tonight was so wonderful, and when Pastor Nat brought our attention to the above verse in 1 Corinthians 3, I was so immediately convicted in a number of ways I spent my time that didn’t reflect, glorify, or align with God– the Only Eternal One/Thing. Rather than feeling guilty, God spoke His love and grace over me, and drew me into Him, stirring my heart about some of the things in my life right now.

Today being the beginning of the season of Lent, I am giving up scrolling on Instagram, potentially for good, among a few other things God has convicted me of, knowing that putting them at the feet of Jesus can only be good. I’m excited for what He has in store and for what more time in prayer– and or with PEOPLE– He will use for His glory in my life.

As I think about the adventure ahead for my trip to Winnipeg, and the adventure ahead of my LIFE in Christ, I am only joyful, knowing that the glimpses I’ve gotten of the LOVE and THRILL and PASSION of our Ruler’s heart and sovereignty are perfect. He desires such fruitful living on this earth, that His Kingdom would come, and that is something to SMILE AND SHOUT FOR JOY ABOUT.

 

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Attitude and Altitude: What Is Filling Me Up?

Today I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. My head and heart and spirit have been whirring and I’ve been praying and Jesus granted me lots of awesome people to talk with and engage these thoughts with throughout the day which is cool, but I’ve been itching to blog too.

Today began slow and beautiful for me. Wednesdays are sleep-in day. It’s the one day in the week– besides the occasional Saturday– that no alarm is set. Wednesday mornings, because I don’t have class until 2:30, I’ve been allowing myself to sleep until whenever my body desires.

This morning that was until 11am. Glorious. 

When I did finally awake at this oh-so-almost-afternoon hour, I answered texts and emails, and then spent my time in the Word.

When I finished my last personal Bible study, I prayed about what to study next. And God was really putting on my heart that it wasn’t going to be a “routine,” all organized, laid out plan of a Bible study. I’ve tended to idolize and obsess over routine and structure in the past, and I’ve learned that focusing on the structure can prevent from my attention to the Holy Spirit. This can turn Bible Study into a thing to check off the to-do list. Not okay.

Rather, Bible study is where I do my most important and everlasting growing; the Bible is the first place to get Truth and instruction and guidance.

So, I settled on my Bible study being just reading the Bible with Jesus. From beginning to end. No expectations. This has led to searching some commentaries; to lots of prayer; to referencing other studies and versions. I’m just over a month in and now 10 chapters into Exodus, reading about the plagues God sends over the Egyptians as Moses is working according to God to free his people from slavery. I know this story well from watching The Prince of Egypt probably a dozen times as a kid, but reading the Word of God is a whole different story.

Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. EXODUS 7:10

What a reminder from Moses, in the midst of the Lord performing miraculous signs for the sake of his people knowing He is their God– there is no one like our God, nothing satisfying as His Truth; nothing else True.

And so the second I turn to my phone, opening myself up to whatever might be on Facebook; the second I go into the world, opening myself up to whatever other messages might try to impose themselves as “True;” I ask Jesus to guard my heart. To direct me in HIS Truth, and to make me more like Him.

I’m thinking about that when I head out of my room to make my favourite breakfast– a giant chocolate peanut butter smoothie on top of oatmeal, of course with coffee. Mary is doing homework, and we decide to watch the new This is Us episode. And I cry, again.

I get to see Maddie, too, before heading to school, and am overwhelmed in so much joy and gratitude in the fact that I get to live with these amazing, Jesus-loving girls. I express it to Maddie and we’re laughing and talking about our days before I head to class.

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Johnny and I are texting about seeing each other soon, too, and just about how “done” we are with distance. In one of those moments of struggling. Where I just want to sit in my missing him and be sad about it.

But Jesus reminds me how much He’s growing us, strengthening us and our communication, and making us more like Him.

Classes are good, and I’m drawn by a conviction about the pursuit of human connection. In this age of social interaction being so much done in front of screens, allowing ourselves to be susceptible to any sort of notion of truth; to opportunities to compare one’s body to images of bodies that are all photoshopped; to compare one’s life to other lives that are all idealized snapshots that don’t represent even the truth of one’s life let alone truth PERIOD… all of this was going on in my head, and I just looked for opportunities to talk to the people around me. And God gave them to me with some fellow students, which was so cool.

My paper for one of the classes featured a thesis that was literally about the way our expectancy can have such an impact on the outcome of a situation. If we’re expectant of goodness, of success whether it looks like what we picture it will or not, we experience joy and trust in God. He grants this expectancy, and just asks us to have faith.

And so, at Youth tonight, when I had amazing conversations with my co-leaders about what we’re exposing ourselves to and guarding our hearts from social media, perseverance in our time in the Word, and when the message was on advice/mentorship/where we are getting leadership from, I thanked the Lord that He spoke so clearly to me through these conversations, changing me for the better, and hopefully preparing me to work through me to help others, too.

I also had two “mentor-like” conversations with two of my amazing co-leaders about long distance dating– one who is currently in a long-distance relationship and who felt my struggle but also admonished the opportunity it is to have a Christ-centered long distance relationship; and one who has been happily married for seven years, now with a child, who did long distance for four years with his wife while they were dating, and spoke about its beautiful ripple effect in their marriage now.

Thank-you, Lord Jesus, for meeting me where I’m at in order to serve You better. Make me more patient; eager to expose myself to what is of You and of service to You; eager to help others. Amen.

Shining Light vs. Adding to the Noisee

Do you ever feel like there’s a common theme of a lesson throughout your day? Or is that just me?

Maybe it’s because I’m an English major and look for theses and themes on a daily basis in literature, but I think it’s something God has really taught me, and a way He speaks to me. Convicting me, teaching me, loving me, making me better for Him.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 1 CORINTHIANS 2:1

I’ve been reminded a lot recently about the importance of allowing God to work, rather than trying to speak on His behalf. He is a much better, more patient lover than I ever could imagine being.

I woke up this morning still feeling a little bit queasy, as I went to bed last night with a weird and sudden stomachache. I felt stressed about the potential of missing school, or work, at first wanting automatically to worry.

Lord, protect me in Your way and keep my mind from worrying and fixed on You!

After some time reading, I got out of bed, made breakfast, and spent the morning just chatting in the living room with my roommates, truly being still and, as Jesus has been teaching me, present with my loved ones.

After breakfast, I was excited to go meet a friend, Courtney, at one of my favourite coffee shops, Settlement.

Courtney and I met in a really cool way. A Starbucks barista at the store down the street from my house, Courtney has made such an effort to get to know me, and to brighten my day every single time I enter that store. She is the epitome of selfless, others-focused, and an inspiration, as I watch her give the same, valued, and considerate service to every single customer.

One day a few weeks ago, Courtney and I said to each other, essentially, “Why haven’t we hung out? I feel like we should have each others’ numbers.” We swapped contact info, and finally made a plan to go for coffee this afternoon.

Over dark roasts and pastries, Courtney and I got to know each other, talking about all sorts of things, leading to talking about our faith. Our conversation surrounded the amazing things that God does and that are in His plan, and how unfortunate it is that some churches/people portray worship as part of a performance, or that Christians need to meet a certain standard, or that Christianity is about following certain rules.

Consequently, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what was impossible for the law, in that it was weak through the flesh, God didRomans 8:1-3

We also talked about how it’s Jesus Himself that reminds us that only He is perfect, and that churches aren’t. We just continue to love Him, allow Him to work in our lives and convict our hearts, expectant of His revelation and greatness.

The conversation reminded me of a similar one I’d just had with my older sister, and another one with one of my best friends Bethany, and again with Johnny. And reminded me that one’s relationship with God and the way He works in lives is not dependant on my humanity in any way. Rather, my humanity is so weak, and thank God He is so strong! It’s too amazing.

I headed to class with such a happy heart, and thinking about just how amazing our God is, the perfection that is His plan.

After one English midterm that went really well, I headed to one of my favourite English classes this semester, in which we discussed a book called The Stone Angel. At the end of this book, the main character, an old and stubborn woman, is finally opened up after a preacher first tries to talk to her, but her prideful walls only rebuke him. The pastor takes a deep breath, and just sings a hymn instead. The old woman experiences revelation from God. It was clear that the pastor realized he had been trying too hard; forcing “religion” down the woman’s throat. He sat back, and trusted God to work instead. And work God did.
I smiled as I took notes in this class. Thank-you, Lord, for reminding me it’s not up to me. I can trust You. 

After class, I headed home. I decided against going to Youth tonight, as I’ve been sick and with so much homework. Making peace with that, I made a delicious dinner, and sat to do homework.

I also messaged my amazing dance teacher about how much her dance class has changed my life and been such a part of bringing back my passion for dancing, healing the places it had been toxic in my life. Her response was so kind, and her amazing presence in my life another reminder of God’s perfect timing.

Throughout this period of home working tonight, I’ve felt little periods of anxiety. Voices of lies… telling me I wasn’t doing enough for ___ person or ___ area of my own life. Making me feel angry and bitter.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

He equipped me not to stress and to make time to just hang out, watch videos with, and talk with my amazing roommates tonight. Asking for His strength gave me the perseverance to push through homework.

I could do it without Him, but I wouldn’t want to. I’ve always known God as my Father, but He’s teaching me just how much He is my friend, too.

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And I want to live this; for Him to be light through me, without “using lofty words” or “talking about Him all the time.”

As I talked with Maddie tonight, both of us “rambling” to each other, as we often do, about various things… we talked about just how much we can trust Him. How He’s using every season to teach us for His glory… and I trust His plan. I trust His timing. He is so much bigger than me.

He wants you to have peace in Him. And on a day like today, #BellLetsTalk day, I know and have experienced firsthand what absence of peace through mental illness can be like. Mental illness is real and it is debilitating… but I have truly experienced healing and joy and understanding in Jesus.

If you have questions about this part of my life, and how faith has informed such healing, please feel free to reach out to me in any capacity. Freedom from chains is more than possible.

Classes, Community, Comprising

On Wednesdays, I sleep in.

These days, Wednesdays are the only day of the week I don’t set an alarm. I don’t have class until 2:30, so unless I book a meeting or plan to hang out with friends in the morning, I use the late start to the day as an opportunity to catch up on sleep.

This morning, when I woke, I cleaned my room, caught up on emails, and spent some time in the Word and with Jesus before I got up and made peanut butter banana pancakes for breakfast. Probably my all time favourite breakfast, by the way. Only thing that could improve it would be chocolate chips.

I had those with my coffee and lots of chocolate almond milk alongside reading and studying until lunch, and then off to campus.

Starting the day at 11:30ish, and then being on campus from 2:30-5:30 (so, at this time of year, until nighttime) makes for a very short-feeling day! I had two great classes in which I received some good marks back on assignments, which definitely gave me the confidence I needed going forward this semester. It is certainly the most difficult term of school I’m had yet, but, also in terms of coursework, most exciting and engaging.

After school, I ate a quick packed dinner and headed straight to meet my wonderful friends, Ani and Semara, to head to Youth.

Ani and Semara are some of the greatest blessings of my job at Creekside church. Two girls a year older than me, we have so much in common and hit it off immediately when we met. There are a total of seven leaders at high school youth that are in university, and so, as part of my job, something I’ve been praying about has been integrating an outside-of-church hangout group for those leaders, so that we’re able to bond and to get to know each other, and breathe life into each other’s endeavours as youth leaders and in making breakthroughs with the kids. I’m so excited about getting to know these fellow leaders better, and their walks with God!

Pastor Nat spoke in his sermon about what a particular book of the Bible, Revelation, might mean for us now. And he talked a lot about our motives, in and through the way we’re living, sharing an anecdote from his own life in which the Lord spoke to him about how he’d been living for his own reputation, and not for Jesus’. What things are we compromising for living as Jesus would have us? “It’s better to die for God than to live for anything/anyone else.”

God spoke such a clear word to me during this message, and I have been praying about it since. It was one of the first revelations I’ve had of God so tenderly meeting me in just what I needed to hear, but maybe thought I was afraid to hear. He made something that yesterday might have seemed scary, seem like such obvious Truth. Thank-you, LORD JESUS! May I not be unchanged, but turn to You in this revelation to serve You! 

Home and exhausted, I am reminded by my Father of the importance of expectancy of His work, His personhood, and His goodness each and every day; prayer that HE is the only voice I concern myself with.

Little Moments of Joy

Today started slowly, steadily, and wonderfully.

Wednesdays are my only day this semester of no alarm-setting, so I woke up at around 10am naturally. I spent time talking to Jesus before responding to a ton of emails, tidying up my room, and doing some other “generic” things to get ready for the day.

I made a delicious breakfast of pumpkin spice pancakes topped with glorious peanut butter, bananas, and berries. It was so good and my appetite recently has been massive, which is great and makes eating lots– which I’m supposed to be focusing on right now– a lot easier!
After prepping for the Bible Study I get to lead Sunday and spending some time with my roommates, I got all ready to head out to meet my new and beautiful friend Semara, from church.

Semara is another university age youth leader at the high school youth group at Creekside, and we’ve recently been getting to know each other so much better. God has been speaking so much through her to me, and her vulnerable, honest, goofy spirit, and genuine, beautiful desire to be more like Jesus.

Semara and I had an awesome catch-up over coffee before I had three hours of class to attend.

Firstly my African Literature class, and then my Canadian Women Writer’s Class, in which I had my first presentation of the semester, which went well (I hope).

The day had flown by– already 5:30, and I had to run home, eat a quick dinner, and then head out with Semara and our friend Ani again to Youth.

Pastor Nat is in the middle of a message series for the kids about “the end of the world,” and tonight we talked about the Christian view of hell: basically a very honest, Scripture-filled, and beautiful talk about what it is and why, as far as we actually know from Scripture.

The “thesis” verse was this:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 JOHN 4:8-12

Small group time comes after the message bit, and I talked with the Grade 11 girls tonight. We talked about the message and its parts that convicted, challenged, and strengthened us in our relationships with Jesus, and then prayed.

Many things Nat said convicted me, and I’m taking them to the Lord. Thank-you, Spirit, for moving in my heart in a way that is loving, soft, and intentional. I love you. 

Tonight, we also made a group on Facebook with all the high school leaders at the youth group who are university age to plan hangouts outside of youth. Already joking around in the group and talking about plans, I am so excited to grow with these amazing Christian leaders.

Semara drove Ani and me home, and we jammed to throwbacks, country songs, and reggae music alike, and I had a thought:

I’m meant to enjoy and soak in each present moment and live in it. And be with people and put them first. Being with each and every individual I’m with and acknowledging their significance and loving them and entrusting them to Jesus; that is how He would have me live. So Lord Jesus, give me Your Spirit that I am not living for selfish motivations, but out of a selfless love that puts all others above myself. Lord, still my heart and make me like You.

Coming home to my amazing best friend and roommate Maddie was the cherry on top of this beautiful Word.

Rather than stressing about homework or “all the stuff on my to-do list,” I sat with Maddie, and just laughed with her, and loved her, and thought about all the ways she reflects Jesus and our relationship does, too. And what joy He’s brought me through her.

Lord, continue to remind me that every good and perfect and joyful thing comes from you. I love you so much. 

 

Why Is Resting So Hard?

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

~Psalm 62:1-2

This is a Word of Truth. My soul finds rest in God alone. Not in my accomplishments. Not in striving, or in busyness, or in productivity. But in God alone. In HIM.

Living in Him can involve a very busy lifestyle. But if it involves a day of going off book, resting and talking to Him, that should be okay, because HE is my fortress, not my routine. My busyness and productivity are not my fortress.

This morning I woke up feeling sicker than I have yet. I’ve been sick with a virus since late Saturday, and woke up with a pounding head, horrible throat, stuffed nose, and sneezing. When I stood up, I felt so lightheaded. One of those wicked colds that just means you should rest.

But, as always when I feel sick, I tried to pretend I wasn’t. I got up and made my usual coffee, which burned and pained my throat. I tried to eat breakfast, but swallowing made my eyes well up with pain, so all I could get down was a smoothie. Still, I thought I’d make it to class. Until I talked to Jesus. Or maybe I didn’t initiate it– in fact I think He did.

Why aren’t you okay with resting? You’re in Me. Come to Me. Rest in Me.

I felt scared. I heard the lies immediately:

You have to go to class for this day to mean something. You have to be productive and complete your to-do list for this day to mean something. 

How do I know these are lies? Because GOD defines this day.

This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. PSALM 118:24

It’s God’s day. It’s not mine. And God didn’t make my school schedule, nor did He write my to-do list. But He was allowing this sickness, and has recently been putting me in a rhythm that involves a lot less busy striving, and a lot more prayerful rest. And maybe He was trying to remind me that my significance doesn’t come from doing it all– but entirely in the ONE who GAVE IT ALL.

My roommate Mary helped me to put this in perspective. Having to cancel a work meeting and then deciding not to go to classes was tough, but, Mary reminded me, You’re really sick. You need bed rest, vitamins, to gargle with salt water, and to stop stressing.

And ah, how when I went back to my bed I was fast asleep so instantly, showing me just how vital rest was. I need to know that I need it. When I woke, I spent a lot of time in prayer. For Johnny; for my roommates; over this semester; over this house; for my family; that I would know how to rest.

This evening, as I was able to eat a bit more and thought I was feeling a bit better, I was so excited about leading high school youth that I decided I was feeling up to going. My lovely friend Ani picked me up with her mom, and it was so great to be with the kids, to worship, and to hear an incredible word through Pastor Nat. The group is starting a new message series about end times, and tonight we talked about Heaven and its purpose. I was so grateful to be there, giving my attention to the Lord… but also feeling like a kid caught stealing candy. I knew I had felt too sick to go. What if I got my kids sick? Why did I feel this incessant NEED to be out doing things?

While we were worshipping, I heard Jesus whisper away the lies that I was condemned, and rather breathed a Word of Truth that my friend and sister Josee relayed to me once:

Your identity is not in your performance, but in His sacrifice.

So, whether I had stayed at home or gone to youth, my thinking that either decision was such a “decision” in the first place came down to my own pridefulness. His sacrifice for me I pray results in my giving Him all the glory, and so, being there, I just worshipped, and I did rest. I told people I was under the weather, and that my place was to listen tonight.Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 10.06.01 PM

Back home, I am in a place of still listening to Him, and amazed at how stillness and silence can be the best place to be, because it’s where He fills us up. We’re less susceptible to toxic voices, and GIFTED with HIS ever-glorious and perfect voice.

Lord, I pray that You would shine Truth on the lies in this world that say that our identity is in our performance or our own striving. Remind us, Lord, that we can’t do anything worthwhile without You. Amen. 

Fresh: Haircut, Classes… “Stream in the Wasteland”

Today has been a day of fresh. 

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I woke up nice and early this morning to have plenty of time before my hair appointment to get organized for the first day of winter classes. I spent some time responding to emails, prepping for some upcoming events at the church, and laying out the next week in my passion planner, a fun Christmas gift from one of the most thoughtful human beings in my life, Josee. I had a delicious breakfast of a bowl full of all my cravings (chocolate oatmeal with whole goat milk, peanut butter, berries, banana, hemp seeds, and some more nibbling) before I was out the door and on my way to Bamboo Hair Salon, excited to see my beautiful not-only-hair-dresser, but blessed friend, Morgan. 

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When I first met Morgan, I knew I would not only find my forever hairdresser in her, but also, and more importantly, such a beautiful friend. Morgan is so selfless, professional, down-to-earth, and funny. I love getting to chat with her while she works her magic, and we always have such truly meaningful conversations. I leave not only loving my hair, but refreshed by such a sweet soul.

From the appointment I headed home, as my first class of the day was cancelled! This gave me some time to organize my school books, clean the house a bit, and have a good lunch. I was out the door again soon, though, for my first class of 2018– an English class about women writers. The content looks great, and I’m excited to get reading!

I decided to go to the gym after class, where I was surprised by how much of my strength I’ve seemed to keep up. I love strength and stretch training so much, and I’m working toward putting on mass while getting stronger.

I met my younger sister, Courtney, for coffee in the early evening, and we ended up talking for nearly four hours. Courtney is one of the most fun, creative, amiable people I have ever known. She has such a heart for making people happy, and such a hunger for joy. She caught me up on all that’s going on in her life, and also in her mind and heart, and I caught her up in the same way. Seeing my sisters less often, as I don’t live with them anymore, has its merits in that, when we get together, we talk about what truly matters, and it has been such a gift to see Courtney grow into such a beautiful girl. I have such excitement in how God will use her.

Finally home this evening back to– a unit with no water.

Our residence has not had working water in any of our taps, toilets, or showers for over a week, and it has certainly been patience testing. I have continued to give this to Jesus, saying, “Lord, I know you must laugh at the fact that we need patience for this ‘issue.’ Teach us through it. Make us more humble like You through it. Use it for Your glory.”

It’s certainly given us a lot of laughs (we have a “communal pee” every night), a lot of cool conversations over dishes washed with boiled bottled water, and a lot of grace.

He is always doing a new thing, a fresh thing, and I don’t want to be a part of any trivial part of fresh– only Jesus’ fresh.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. ISAIAH 43:19