Fall Favourites 2018

It is mid-November.

I am mid-way through the first semester of my last year of my undergrad. 
Can anyone in the same place– or who’s been there– vouch for the insanity? 
Yeah. Breaks in order to carry out passions are necessary, I have found. 

That is why I keep up the blog. Many of these posts, have proven to be helpful for some, and many of them just fun reads, and many of them sparking conversations that have changed my life… or, I’m told, someone else’s… 

So, I keep blogging. I pray God continues to use it. 

Today, Wednesday, has the blessing of being a break in my week, consisting of zero lectures, and time to study, reset, hit the gym, hang out with friends, etc. This morning I was blessed by a meeting with my pastors, where these amazing friends of mine blessed me with their time and wisdom. I am so incredibly grateful to go to a church in which the leadership sees community and mentorship as a vital part of church.

After which, I got to head home and clean with my beautiful roommate, bride-to-be, and friend, Mary. This girl is one of my greatest blessings, and we have most definitely become like sisters. Investing in relationships and people in her life so beautifully, Mary has taught me so much about self-awareness and awareness of others. Maddie and Mary are both such incredible blessings to me that I cannot imagine my life without. 

And now, I’m enjoying a break in studying to blog, and felt inspired to do one of my old favourites post:
Essentially sharing the top ten miscellaneous “things” I’m loving this season, that I think you might appreciate, too.

Music. 

PVRIS. Thanks to a co-worker and friend, I have discovered my love for girl alternative music, particularly this band.

Food. 

I used to think I hated pumpkin… but I have this new fancy for it. Versatile for both sweet and savoury recipes, so healthy, and so flavourful, I especially love it in this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. It’s also super affordable! 

Menu.

The restaurant I work at just launched its new menu! And it is incredible. If you are in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, be sure to check out one of our two locations!

Serving something for literally every kind of eater, catering to all allergies and dietary preferences, plain ol picky eaters, and meat and potato lovers. Real people, real food– and that’s what makes me passionate about this place.

Podcast.


I am so grateful for the podcasts broadcasted by my pastor, Mike Rutledge. For leaders of any kind, these podcasts are sure to glean something true for you! While those are not public as of now, his sermons are– and they are phenomenal. Check them out here .

Class.

I am loving my Christian Studies Seminar class so much. Learning such tangible things about program development, research, and integrating different practices, I feel I am finally honing in on some of my passions and callings. 
To brief the project that is coming out of this class, head here.

Worship.

Sitting still with Jesus and singing this song to Him is powerful.

Hobby.

I would say that my number one “hobby” is tap dancing. It is one of my favourite things to do, most definitely my favourite form of exercise, and a practice that gives me so much joy. My school showcase is coming up on December 2nd!

Make-Up.

This eyebrow pencil gave me so much more eyebrow confidence! (When I choose to use it, haha).

Blogger.

Currently catching up on all the posts by my girl Mackenzie. 

Fierce, strong, and beautiful, she is a must-read blogger.

New Friendship.

Blooming so quickly, I have a new friend at church named Kayla, who is one of the fastest friendships I’ve ever formed. She is someone I feel I’ve known forever, and who I’ve been able to open up with instantly. Do you know those friendships? So special and such blessings. People will trump places, work, and experiences for me, always. 

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For My Sister on Your Birthday

My Sweet, special sister,

18 never looked so beautiful.

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My sweet pea, you have such a fiercely loving heart. You have always had this beautiful compassion for people that translates to the way you interact with people.

I have watched you feel so deeply and love so boldly, and I love watching you blossom.

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Since the first time I saw you dance– really dance– about 3 years ago, I knew you were a shining star. Remember that fame has nothing to do with the gifts God has blessed you with. He’s going to use them whether your name is known or not. That has no bearing on the beautiful talents you have. I will always be your fan, and I will always cheer on your passions.

And your voice. Your speaking voice brings joy and smiles to so many faces, and your singing voice carries such depth and pure talent no one can deny. I am so proud of all of your hard work, determination, and persistence to do what you feel called to do.

Keep seeking that calling, and rest in the fact that you are so loved, so precious, and so called. I am forever your big sister, which is forever one of my favourite parts of who I get to be. Not because I’m a big sister– but because my little sister is one of the coolest people I’ve ever known.

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I love love love you with all my heart. You are in my prayers always.

Check out my amazing sister’s music! 

A Morning with my Best Friend

Morning. Not stupid early, but not late morning, it’s 8:30am and your eyelids open after a solid, undisturbed 8 hour sleep. You smile to yourself, feeling that euphoric, passionate, life-is-good-because-God-is-good emotion that translates to excitement to spend time with Jesus. You know He’s going to meet you where you are– which happens to be your little student bedroom in Waterloo, warm under the perfect duvet, that perfect warm that is practically impossible to crawl out of.

You roll over just far enough to grab your Bible, and open it to where you left off. Psalms.

Psalm 41. 

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;

the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.

You spend enough time with Jesus to know that you are certainly not perfect at “regarding the weak,” but also to know that He has already forgiven you for it. He instructs you, though, and He makes you better. That simple time calling on His name and seeing His face, His very body, sitting on your bed, nowhere else to be but with you because that’s how much He loves you– whaaat— He tells you to lift your weary head and stop dwelling. He makes you aware of a coping mechanism that you go to when you’d be much better off turning to Him.

But that’s just it.

In the valleys He reminds you of His faithfulness.

If it weren’t for the coping mechanisms and failures and misgivings and faults, you wouldn’t know how much you need Him. That’s not to give any credit to the faults. No, it’s to weaken them, because it’s kind of sad to know that humans need them sometimes in order to know Him. 

But oh, there is grace. Oh, there is so much love. Oh, He is forever and always forgiving and unbudging. Oh, how this God Jesus just wants to befriend you, be above everything else in your life because He knows it’s what’s best for you.

He is, after all, your Father.

 

Trusting in the “Delay”

Much of today’s musings are inspired by a wonderful message preached by Pastor Mike Rutledge  

at Risen City church yesterday, where Jesus met me in my own worries, stress, and anxieties and revealed newness to me as His Spirit does, starting when I so loudly heard His voice that it was deafening, above all and any other sound: “I have promises I’m in the middle of working out.”

Now, to get very real here, when I say I so loudly heard His voice, I don’t mean I heard an audible-to-the-ears sound. I mean His Spirit, unlike mine, but that I could physically feel the presence of, as well as spiritually, convicted my heart of this matter to the point that I felt I couldn’t stand. I sat to pray and as I did I only heard more from Jesus, who promises His Spirit is no different from the living Jesus, whose presence is palpable and who promises to show up where two or more call on His name with genuine hearts.

Gently I received the peace of Truths I did not deserve to hear. About what He is in the middle of doing, in His timing. That when I feel like something has been “missed out” on, Jesus never missed it. That very thought of Him “missing” or “forgetting about” something part of His creation is laughable!
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Healing and miracles and even more simply clarity don’t always look the way we think we want them to. If you have ever been swayed from reaching out to the Creator of the Universe because you feel like “He hasn’t done anything for you,” a good place to start would be asking yourself what gave you the right to take such a position of deserving.

The Christian faith is about believing that Jesus came when He didn’t have to to suffer in this life and death on the cross because He loved us. To pay the penalty that should have been ours. In His perfection, He suffered the penalty for sin, and, in being God, He owes us absolutely no promises, and no miracles. And yet, because of the very nature of our gracious God, promises and miracles He chooses to bestow.

So after receiving from Him a little nudge that, No, He hadn’t forgotten about xyz, He was working it out in His timing and all I needed to do was give Him space and trust Him, I experienced weight rising off my shoulders as I scribbled down the prayers and promises.

And after hearing from the Spirit, Mike delivered the message on his heart for the church about the waiting periods in our life, how we often question them, and how, really, they’re such a part of the healing. In fact, they are the healing.

Maybe God is in the middle of completing your testimony because His plan for someone else is to learn from some of your stories.

Maybe He’s about to initiate change that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the trial.

But here’s the maybe not: the definitely not: Since He’s God of the universe, He has not forgotten about xyz, kicked it/you aside, or grumbled, “ah, well, they missed their chance.”

Frankly: God and His Kingdom came much before you, and you were created to submit to Him for a greater purpose. Not to pose of Him that He submits to you. 

He only asks of us that we trust Him, engage in relationship with Him, and follow Him.

It’s the only life to live!

UPDATE: Excitable Hellos, Tearful Goodbye, Seasons Changing

Hello Friends!!
Long time no blog. I have missed sitting to write. How I feel my soul has been needing to sit and let the words flow in pen and paper. Or, more accurately, finger tip and keyboard.

And, friends, this song share is my theme song right now.

I want to start this post off by acknowledging a prayer from the hearts of one of my dearest friends, Josee.

I haven’t even gotten back to this precious girl yet. But Josee left me a voicemail with a prayer. It was timely, as is Josee’s way. It’s Jesus’ way. And Josee prayed over my desire to be with Jesus, that He would increase that desire and increase my capacity to hear from Him.

Since that prayer, Jesus has done just that, as He faithfully does. And in the midst of some of the biggest and most drastic changes of my life (new church, Johnny heading back to school and soccer, new house, less roommates, one of my best friends married, last year of uni, new jobs), I have recognized both my own complacency and fear.

But He’s stilled me. As I’ve tried to fill fears with things 

— some tangible some imaginary —

He has called me to be still. 

It’s been uncomfortable.

My identity has been brought into question.

If I’m not

the thinnest, the kindest, the best cook, the best writer, the leader, 

what am I?

If I’m not

constantly perfecting my craft, 

who am I?

If I’m not

living in my beautiful relationship with Johnny,

what is my worth?

It’s these ugly questions I’ve had to confront as my mind has wanted to keep soooo busy in the thick of all this change and chaos. I maxed out my booty at the gym, planned out every detail of the perfect new house, perfected all my agendas, completed a bunch of tasks for work, prepped my school notebooks– all things that have needed to be done, but all as a means of distracting myself from underlying

f e a r .

I have always felt I dealt well with change. But maybe it’s because my “dealing” is in busybodying. Which looks great to the world… but sometimes, we all just need to cry.

Most importantly, we all need to bring any identity we conjure up to the foot of the cross, that Jesus might be made our everything. King of hearts, in His rightful place.

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Jesus, help me not to walk in my own way, to fill my life with meaninglessness, but to put all my trust in You. Lord, help me to know my True and Real identity in You. Might I not fear, Lord, but know the power that You have in me, and the relationship you desire to have with me at all times. May my joy be complete in You, so that I can do YOUR works, and not the world’s works. 

God, would you show yourself to all of us who think things or people or health or knowledge or talents will satisfy or improve our lives. Reveal Your eternal plan of love and joy to Your people, Lord. 

Jesus, I repent of my turning from You. Lord, help me to live in harmony with You, and not in worry or fear. Help me to know that You are constant in the change. You never change, and I can’t wrap my head around that sacrificial love, Lord. Thank-you for filling me up so vibrantly right now, Lord. 

One of these beautiful changes has been the wedding of one of my dear best friends, Beth.

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Beth and Jared live to serve Jesus. They are clearly called for ministry, and whatever that ends up looking like, I know that He will use them for such glory, and I simply cannot wait to watch Him continue to work out their story. It was simply a classy, beautiful, Jesus-filled wedding like none other.

And as I reflect on this “Jesus-filled”…

Lord, You see me. You know me. And You love me, through and through.

(How, we think? How, with all our ugly and pride and gossip and sin?)

Jesus’ unconditional love is purposed to be perfected in His people. And I see it, in all its glory, in the wedding of Beth and Jared.

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I see His love in my Johnny, who left for the start of His final year at Providence University College.

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I am so filled with pride for him and his hard work, determination, love for people, and expectation of Jesus’ goodness and faithfulness. Jesus, use Johnny for all Your glory. Surprise him. Love him and strengthen him. 

Until we meet again, my love.

Being apart is hard. It’s easy to wallow in missing, in “craving,” in melancholy. But I know far too well the calling God has for us to live out this time of distance for Him, and that is exactly what we will do. Pressing into Him, trusting Him, grabbing hold of Him, extra-intentionally reaching out to each other, too. This is a beautiful opportunity to invest in our communication for life.

In the midst of such a tearful goodbye has also been some beautiful reunions.

Like those with my beautiful friend and past roomie Autumn; one my dearest brothers, Kevin; my precious friend Sarah, from Creekside; and one of my best friends from high school and her boyfriend, Sammy and Tanner.

I made a tried and true breakfast recipe of mine for a couple of these friends: PB&J Breakfast Cake.

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PB&J Breakfast Cake

(recipe for one serving)

Ingredients

1/3 cup oats

1 egg white

1 Tbsp sugar or stevia

1 Tbsp coconut cream or regular cream

1 Tbsp almond milk or other milk

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp peanut butter

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp berry protein powder

2 Tbsp hot water

Whipped topping and berries, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small ovenproof baking dish.
  2. In blender place oats, egg white, sugar, cream, milk, oil, peanut butter, baking powder, salt, and vanilla, and blend about 30 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Pour into prepared dish.
  3. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until inside is cooked, and edges are golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, mix protein powder and hot water in small dish. When cake is cooled, poke holes in top of cake. Pour protein powder mixture over top.
  5. Top with whipped cream and berries. Eat warm or cold; mix up and serve like cereal with milk, if desired! Soooo yummy.

Flexibility Journey

If I had a bucket list of things I wanted to accomplish, something that would be at the top of it is becoming more flexible.

I got this tattoo that says “dance” two years ago. While, looking back, I don’t think I’d get it again, at the time it meant several things to me, one of which was the defiance

I used to be the least flexible person on the planet, but I have learned how to stretch and practice in a way that actually makes a difference. Now, I am close to a full split, can touch my toes and beyond with complete ease, and have a much more flexible back.

Here, the top three tips and mindset implementations that *actually* helped me to improve my flexibility, rather than just thinking about improving it.

Patience. My biggest downfall in the past was rushing through stretches without enjoying them. I would choose to stretch when I had a million things on my mind, and a seemingly never-ending to do list awaiting me. In turn, stretching would feel like a chore, and something I was forcing myself to do. Now, when I stretch, if my mind tries to speed up my movements, I remind myself that the time to actually sink deep into the stretches and just quiet my mind is healthy, allotted for, and that I need only be present.

Hold stretches for a loooong time. I would get into a flow of stretches in the past, and think, “ah, I don’t have to hold them for minutes long. As long as I feel it burn a bit, I’m doing the job.” But I didn’t notice a real difference in my flexibility until I held stretches for at least a minute at a time, and from there challenged myself to hold for even longer. It is from there that in the middle of a minute, I would feel the stretch becoming easier, and naturally begin to sink deeper into it. What a great feeling!

Practice your over split. This videovideo  is my go to for most helpful and crucial split stretches, and provides a great tutorial for how to do the over split. Stacking pillows or blocks in order to mimic a further movement into the splits was an absolutely amazing technique for me!

No matter what your goals, grace with yourself in your progress is so important. I have learned the hard way that nothing worth achieving is a quick fix, but is accompanied by hard work and determination for a reason! Enjoy the process!

A God of UNComfort Zones

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Biblical merit for not being in “comfort” zones.

What is “comfort?”

The Word says that HE is my comfort (Jeremiah 8:18). So my ideal “comfort zone” is at His feet, in His arms, walking with Jesus. Equally, this means that we are often out of contrived and worldly “comfort” zones; the things that give temporary pleasure but don’t benefit our neighbours or His Kingdom; the things we may be conditioned to turn to in times of struggle or pain that “feel good,” but don’t have any Truth or power to actually help us or anyone.

So, my TRUE COMFORTER will take me out of FAKE COMFORT ZONES (I can list some of mine in my head right now– can you list yours?) and it might “feel” icky and uncomfortable; but since He’s the True Comforter, it will ALWAYS be good and right.

Maybe that is in the form of ridding rules and restrictions that you unhealthily have around areas of your life. They are habits that feel so comfortable; but on the basis of what truth? And who are they actually helping?

Maybe that is the form of less selfishness and more selflessness– going out of your way for other people; working with the Spirit of God to see those around you who need love, positivity, and hope.

Maybe that is in the form of asking questions, picking up your Bible, or praying. Checking out a church, or calling up an old friend.

Whatever it is, it starts with Him, in prayer and thought. He answers prayers, and He is with you in the uncomfortable change, ALWAYS. It is so often the things that seem scariest in life that end up being the things that He uses to save and redeem.

After I gave up food rules after years of stubborn eating disorders, I wrote this post

to put some words to the amazing process that Jesus had brought me through in healing. It didn’t come from striving. It was not my fault that I had these brutal mental illnesses, nor was it my choice to heal from them. It was, however, my choice to spend more time in the Word of God and with His Spirit– the Spirit that healed me.

Is Jesus calling your name and softening your heart to follow Him to a place that feels uncomfortable, and you just need to trust Him?