Better Than Any Other Relationship…

Sometimes I don’t want to acknowledge that my mom was right about a lot of the mistakes I’ve made.

You know how your mom is always right? Yeah, it’s like a thing.

Don’t drink too much –been there, done that.

Don’t date the player guy — been there, done that.

Don’t spend all your money in one place — been there, done that.

My mom’s always been pretty cool, cuz she doesn’t tell me things in that judgemental tone. She doesn’t yell, or ever literally say “Don’t _____.” She advises, and she loves. She’s pretty darned wonderful.

But yeah, she was right about all those things. And I definitely learned from them. But I didn’t learn from those mistakes in any meaningful way until I entered into the covenant, committed relationship with the One who had ALWAYS been in a covenant, committed relationship with me. Realizing that Jesus had always been there, always loving me, always willing to accept me and my repentance was part of what made me so excited about living for Him.

The more time we spend in relationship with Him, the more we get to amazed at just how IN THE WORLD He is. I mean, He created it. And then came back to it in all its sinfulness– we can’t begin to comprehend just how God He is, and just how human we are– out of love for us. Realizing this, and how perfect His law of love is, I wanted more than anything simply to serve Him and to love Him.

It is amazing just how “there” He is. We’re not called to do any of this alone.

You see, when a person accepts Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, He promises them His Holy Spirit, to guide, love, and lead. He convicts, challenges, helps, and hugs. He is Father, Friend, and Saviour, and if this is true, it’s true forever and all the time. 

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” JOHN 14:26

Yesterday, I was so astonished by the Lord’s work in my heart and around me that served not only as assurance in my own heart, but as service to His people. The way He answered prayer, put specific people on my heart, and the way even just thinking about the sacrificial lover He is helped me to focus on others. He is strong when I am weak; He is my deliverer, and because I know He is YOUR deliverer, He helps me to love in such a way that reflects His love on to others.

Last night, my pastor preached a sermon about light beating out the darkness. He noted that, when one turns on a light in a room, it’s not as if we ever have to push out the darkness; it’s just gone. The light covers all.

The same is true for the One who is called Light of the world. When one accepts Him into their life, life isn’t perfect, but we are entirely forgiven; that Life is always in us. We might choose to turn off the light switch; or someone else might, and allow it to be dark again. But the switch is always there, and the LIGHT is always there, always active; are we listening and engaging with the One who is always engaging with us? Or choosing to ignore Him?

My mom is always right. But God is PERFECTLY right. He knows no wrong, and His love knows no bounds.

Maybe you’re struggling with wanting a relationship.

Have you entered into relationship with the One who is already in relationship with you?

Do you know the One who, unlike any human you could be in relationship with, loves you perfectly, unconditionally, and is always with you? 

 

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“Sick Day” Homemade Tomato Soup

Whenever I was home sick from my school, if my dad was home from work, he made Kraft Dinner or soup. Every time.

I was such a picky eater as a kid, and never liked tomato soup. Now, I love experimenting with different flavours, and like tomato in most forms besides raw, sliced tomato.

I made this soup with a sprinkle of goat cheddar cheese and with almond milk as the base! So delicious. You can easily sub regular dairy stuff though if you’re not allergic!

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Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 tsp garlic powder

2 cups almond milk or regular milk

1 ounce fresh basil, chopped

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, not drained

salt and pepper, to taste (I like lots of salt)

cheese of choice, to top

Method

  1. In large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place onion mixture, milk, basil, and tomatoes in blender. Blend until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Return to soup pot and heat through over medium heat until hot. Season to taste. Spoon into bowls and top with cheese! I also recommend serving with grilled cheeses– delicious!

Best Day Ever?

Today was one of the best days of my life.

And not because I won the lottery or Johnny came home or I got a puppy or got engaged or anything like that. But because today God spoke in tender ways, equipped me to be aware of His voice, and used my weaknesses to reveal His strength.

This morning, I woke up, got ready quickly as I’d slept in, and headed with Pastor Nat to Starbucks to meet a fellow youth leader, where we discussed our upcoming message series all about friendships, and what godly friendships look like. I’m preaching the talk on Influence, and God just filled my spirit with His word, Scripture, and stories as He put kids on my heart. Thank-you, Lord, for speaking when I look to You.

I also saw my dear friends Kevin and Kathryn’s brother, who is also a Starbucks barista, and who, in talking to, immediately put Kathryn on my heart to talk to and get in touch with. Thank-you, Lord, for putting people on our hearts even when I’m not always asking. 

From this meeting, I headed in abnormally cold, snowy, and windy weather to Cambridge, where I had my first ever meeting at LeadManaging, where I have just been hired as the staff writer and content curator. The property management software startup is designed and co-led by a beautiful, kind-hearted girl who I danced with many years ago, and it is thanks to this very blog that I have the opportunity to write for this incredibly innovative company.

I’ve been conversing with Dayna for over a week now, and one of my articles is being published this week! It was so wonderful to meet Dayna and the owner, Darren, and see their beautiful offices. I have prayed about this job, and felt such overwhelming peace and guidance from the Lord that I am meant to be here, and meeting with these genuine, professional people today only solidified that. It was such a pleasure, and truly one of the coolest experiences of my life of something coming together. Dayna also shared that she’d felt the decision to hire me was a no-brainer. Lord, use me for Your purposes at LeadManaging.

After the meeting, I headed outside and bumped right into my beautiful, co-bridesmaid-in-my-friend-Emily’s-upcoming wedding, friend Mariah’s dad. “You’re Mariah’s dad!” I exclaimed, and he put some really important things on my heart about Mariah, Emily’s wedding, and we talked and prayed. It was needed– and when I checked my phone, I had a text from Emily that affirmed my conversation with Mariah’s dad. Lord, thank-you for working in all of our hearts for a common purpose.

On my bus ride back from Cambridge, I was feeling so excited and grateful and just praising God for His ever faithfulness, when a heaviness fell over my heart, as I began to pray for others in my life that I knew were hurting. As that heaviness fell, I received a long text from my beautiful roommate Autumn, who called out exactly the heaviness I was feeling, reminded me that Jesus was in control, and that I was called only to love through Him. That she saw my heart. Lord, you give discernment to those who seek You. Thank-you for Your Spirit, and that it comes to us through amazing friends like Autumn.

I got home to my lovely little family of girls, and each one of us shared a little heaviness in our hearts. We were able to comfort and encourage each other in the Lord in the midst of stress. Thank-you, Lord, for the community and friendship You call us to.

I didn’t have much time at home before Youth, which I headed to next, where worshipping the Lord in song was exactly what I needed to be in. I also praised Him for the fact that my friend Jake’s little sister was at Youth for the second time! It seems both her and Jake are discovering God’s love, and this has been such an encouragement to me. Pastor Nat’s message was all about how being blind can be a part of our journeys, but THE part is Jesus giving us sight. We don’t need to know all the answers, but we CAN know what we experience, and no one can invalidate an experience. I had some amazing conversations, both in small group and one-on-one, with my youth girls. Jesus, thank-you for these girls; thank-you for churches; thank-you for SIGHT in You.

After Youth, Ani, Semara and I went for coffee, where Semara so vulnerably shared her heart with us. “I want to tell you I’ll pray for you, but sometimes I just don’t pray. I wish I remembered and cared more in the moment,” she said. Her vulnerability and honesty amazed me, and I praise God for that vulnerability that exposed her weakness to us. Lord, You are perfect in weakness– and certainly none of us are perfect in prayer. Help us to pray, to turn to You– and to be vulnerable in our struggles, like Semara’s example.

I got to Skype Johnny when I got home, and we talked about some really important things. Amazed as usual by the gifting and patience of my man, and proud of his vulnerability, we talked about this season of life and that very thing– God’s perfection made perfect in our weaknesses. He has taught me SO MUCH, and I cannot begin to explain how God has used him in my life. After talking with Johnny, I shared a bit with Maddie about our conversation, and my roommate Beth’s fiancee, Jared, overheard a bit from next door. He selflessly chatted with me for almost an hour about how he’d shared in such similar experiences to Johnny now– Jared felt really called to talk to and both learn from and help Johnny. Thank-you, Lord, for listening and vulnerable and wise friends like Maddie and Jared.

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Maddie, you are my sunshine.

Finally, as it was 1am and I was exhausted, I was about to head to bed– but while still in the kitchen, my dear Autumn came out for a snack and a drink, and I sat with her and snacked in the kitchen whilst we laughed, cried, and talked about her amazing gift of discernment. Her recent levels of freedom. She poured such TRUTH over my life and wisdom that I needed. And shared some struggles with me.

And together, we prayed.

Just before talking to Autumn, I’d felt the urge to crawl into bed.

Like how earlier I’d felt the urge to ignore my prayers for wisdom. To pretend I didn’t see Mariah’s dad might have been more comfortable. Or to not stop and talk to Kathryn’s brother. Many times today I felt overwhelmed– why so many souls in one day God?

Wow. What a horrible question.

Lord, excuse my humanity that gets tired. THANK-YOU that I get to serve You and am called to ministry and to people. Thank-You that I DON’T “DO” any of the work on souls– that’s all You. But thank-you that You use me. Today was so, so amazing only because of You, and I pray that I would live each day only expectant of Your incredible, life changing Spirit to be poured and that You would use me, that You would glorify Your name, and that people would find joy in You.

Have questions about who this Jesus is? Always here to talk. I am always excited to talk.

And Jesus Himself is a billion times more!

 

 

My Unconventional Bucketlist

More excited than ever about the little ways God has been speaking calling over me.

How to speak for Him, where to speak for Him, when to speak for Him.

When to pray quietly instead.

How to write, when to write, and when to speak.

I could make a bucket list of places I want to go, things I want to “accomplish,” things I want to see. And I’ve often thought about writing one.

Except it is so much better to submit to God instead. To listen for His ever speaking voice about calling, and to trust that He’s gonna lead and prompt me as my desires align more and more with His plans for my life.

Over time spent with Him and in prayer, I believe that He has called me to ministry, to speak His Word, and to write His Word. I believe He’s called me to people through His Spirit.

I believe He’s called me to cling to Him alone as I navigate whatever part of the world or vocation He calls me to. To know that change is constant, that schedules are not absolute, and that He is sovereign.

What does that vocation look like now?

  • freelance writing
  • blogging
  • youth ministry at Creekside
  • Literature and theological studies
  • Starbucks ministry
  • role as girlfriend, sister, daughter…
  • Role as FRIEND to everyone in between…
  • First and foremost and ahead of it all, role as child of God

I don’t have a bucket list, because I know God’s already gone before me. But I’m just as excited and expectant about the future, living ever still in the present.

God is Not A God of “Sometimes”

I have been learning a lot about what it means to “meet people where they’re at.”

Freud’s theory about the egocentric child is something that I think can be easy to live in. We live from a singular perspective, and it might seem easy to live one’s whole life that way– from one set of eyes, assuming others see things the same way because that’s all we know firsthand. This way, we might live for ourselves; putting our own fleshly desires first, thinking about our own schedules and lives above other people. Especially in a consumeristic, busy-glorifying society, this is easy to do.

But it’s not helpful.

The more I learn just how true it is simply that everyone is raised so differently, with various exposures, challenges and triumphs, and presentations of ideas, the more I see just how true it is that we’re called to meet people where they at– because the fact that we’re all on different walks is true. 

What I also believe to be earth-shatteringly true, even above that very tangible, physical truth, is that Jesus Christ is God of all, and sacrificed Himself for every single human being, that we all might live freely for Him. If I believe that to be true for me, I must even mores believe it to be true for all those around me.

MATTHEW 9:9-13 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ’I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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We can learn so much from the experiences of and opinions of those around us. These two ladies next to me here are example of people I learn so much from every day; whose journeys with God, whose daily lives devoted to others, interactions with all sorts of different people all make up beautiful women that I get to learn from– and love, firmly believe that the fact that God’s love is real is a life-transforming Truth for them, too.

Firmly believing that it’s a life-transforming Truth for my parents, who I watched selflessly, beautifully, lovingly devote themselves during Easter weekend to my grandparents.

Firmly believing that it’s a life-transforming Truth for Johnny, soon to be close to me again but now many miles away, living a life with all different people and a calling I don’t get to be physically a part of, but I know Jesus’ love for him is more powerful than anything else. Firmly believing Jesus has a plan for him, and for us.

And I don’t believe this on my own. Jesus empowers me to believe it and to walk following Him. When I’m weak in a situation, Jesus is already redeeming it, and is ALWAYS closer than the air I breathe.

This isn’t just true sometimes, or for some people. It’s true all the time, and for all people. That is amazing. That changes the way we live. HE changes the way we live.

We’re all on different walks, in different places in faith, and in different seasons of life. And I’m not called as a Christian to shove doctrine down people’s throat. But I am not going to pity people or treat anyone any less than LOVED, Created in God’s image for a purpose, or that their calling won’t be fulfilled.

Jesus, remind me that we’re all on different journeys to the same God. Remind me that intimacy can’t be talked about, but only lived in. Equip me to see people the way you do, to love others in every season, and to stand firmly in faith in Your promises. Amen. 

Homemade Veggie Chips and Chickpea Dip Two Ways

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All the excitement about Daniella’s birthday yesterday, coupled with a plethora of chickpeas in my house right now, got me thinking about chips and dip– if there’s one food Daniella loves, it’s chips and dip.

So I set out to make hummus today– and to invent an all new and delicious hummus recipe of my own. I truly believe there are endless spice combinations potentially delicious to go with chickpea dip. Also not having tahini– because I hate it in every form besides hummus– I made it with sunflower seed butter. I also decided to use a combination of both chickpeas and white kidney beans.

As well, to accommodate for Maddie who HATES cumin, I made one with cumin, without sunflower seed butter, and one with rosemary and with sunflower seed butter. The two spreads are pictured here mixed together, with homemade zucchini and banana chips.

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I also was excited to discover a new setting on my NutriBullet that whipped the second batch up in literally 5 seconds! I was like a kid in a candy store watching the machine take the solid chunks and turn it into perfectly smooth hummus. So satisfying.

I also learned an amazing secret from one of my favourite cookbook authors, Christine Gingerich, about hummus– COOK those beans before you blend them!! This enhances the flavour immensely!!

Cumin Hummus

Ingredients

1 tsp vegetable oil

1/2 onion, diced

1 Tbsp cumin

1/8 tsp cayenne

1/8 tsp salt

3 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup COOKED chickpeas

1/2 cup COOKED white kidney beans

Method

  1. In medium saucepan, saute onion in oil, stirring occasionally until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 T cumin, the cayenne, and salt, and stir a few more minutes.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a good quality blender or food processor, lastly the remaining 1/2 T cumin. Blend until smooth.

Rosemary Hummus

Ingredients

1.5 cups COOKED chickpeas

1.5 cups COOKED white kidney beans

1/4 cup sun butter

1 Tbsp rosemary

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 tsp garlic salt

  1. Add all ingredients to a good quality blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Day in the Life: Sleeping In, Serving, Burn-Out?

Greetings, friends!

I’m trying to put words to a euphoria I’ve been feeling and known for a long time. Here’s something I KNOW:

There is so much power in the way Jesus uses prayer. 

I think often the phrase “there is power in prayer” confuses us. My beautiful Maddie and I talked about this last night. It’s not that our praying will ever “convince” The God of the universe to “change His mind” or “heal someone” any differently than is already according to His plan and control– but our decision to converse with Him, to listen to Him, and to be a part of what His Spirit is always doing– as my dear friend Ani’s mom just quoted, not grasping Him every day but every moment– we become more attuned with what He’s doing not just in us, but everywhere. It’s amazing because He is.

And so, at my amazing Bible study this past week, I asked for some prayer for the way I live regarding putting my identity in the quantity of things I’m able to take on. I haven’t been very in tune with it, but for whatever reason, I feel some sense of satisfaction when I’m doing all sorts of things at once. And I know this is not good.

For example, I am very excited to be starting some work for a new job as a freelance writer for a software startup. As soon as I started working on a piece for it, I was overwhelmed with feeling like there were fifty other things I “should” be doing simultaneously, rather than devoting 100% of my attention to the article that deserved my 100% attention. I breathed, stepped back, and prayed. And was able to focus on the task in front of me.

This is a conviction I have everywhere. 100% committing to and being present in the area I’m called to in that moment. Expectant that God may do something off book– but not with my heart and mind elsewhere. Also not committing to too many avenues whilst knowing I can’t pursue them in the manner they deserve.

Also knowing that pride is in the way when a part of me thinks I need to be in something, a part of something, in order for it to work. Only Jesus can, and He will.

So this morning, when I slept until 11:30 because I was exhausted, and voices of guilt tried to keep in, I silenced them in the name of Jesus, and focused on what kept me smiling all day: the fact that it is my best friend Daniella’s birthday today.

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This beautiful girl AMAZES me in every possible way. She is the essence of literally every complimentary word I could think to give a human being. I am absolutely the most blessed woman alive to call her my best friend.

I thought about her sweet, selfless soul throughout the day, and as I looked to Jesus, I thanked Him for her birth and for her presence in my life and so many lives.

Classes were good and engaging as I tried to be present in both, to focus in 100% on first diasporic African literature, and then on the paradoxical accumulation and erosion in one author’s anthology.

From class I went straight to Youth, where tiredness and guilt wanted to get in the way of my having energy to be with my girls, to be present and helpful, and to be a leader. But Jesus through a beautiful, incredible friend of mine, Ani, talked me through those feelings and helped me to see the lies in them. To be present and joyful and seeing each human as the souls Jesus loves.

And I had SUCH A FUN NIGHT. Thank-you Jesus, and thank-you Ani!

And finally, I’m winding down with tea and chocolate chip sweet potato pancakes… my beautiful roommates… the blog (and the occasional essay), feeling at ease, at home, and knowing that my Father is in control.

Keep me talking to You, Jesus. Give me a heart that doesn’t want to stop praying, Lord. I just want to know You, Lord!