Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sitting in the Graveyard

My heart is heavy tonight. It's still beating .... but it's bruised, and it's a bit battered, but it still beats. And I am listening to that sound, as if it is a lifeline, uttering a prayer of thanks with every new sound.

Because sometimes life is so hard.

And it takes leaving your country, your home, your family, your friends to be in a space where you can finally feel that. It takes losing all of the things that hold you up ... to be in a place where the only place you can land is in His arms.

It takes being in an unfamiliar place, I think, to finally venture into grief and let yourself feel. Because when you lose something, it's easy to walk around the grief, to stare at it, to wish it away, to pray it away, to lose yourself in the familiar because grief is anything but. 

But you can't bring building supplies to the graveyard. There's a season of life, when dreams have been shattered, and you have lost what you never thought you would, that you need to sit in that grief and that heartache. 

And although it's scary, and it hurts, I might have finally walked into that graveyard. For a long time I've sat and stared at it's gates, and there have been moments when I've dared venture in, but the truth is, being sad and feeling my grief is the hardest thing to do.

But I think I might be ready to sit. I think I might be ready to leave my building supplies behind and just sit in the graveyard. However scary and painful that might be.

Because I am reminded that however scary it might be, however dark it might seem right now, the sun will rise and illuminate even the darkest and scariest graveyard. I know, for my hope rests in Him, that there will be a time when the sun, in its beauty and glory, will remind me that I too can rise. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dear Younger Me

Dear younger me,

I find you on the floor in your bedroom, cuddled into the corner of your closet. You are holding yourself tightly; arms wrapped around your knees, your body curled into the fetal position. Your hair is damp and your moans illicit pain deep within my soul, for your heart is breaking, slowly, into tiny little pieces.

I sit beside you and see these pieces of your heart scattered around you. I see how you have felt a piece chip away every time your parents have passed each other by with silence and a mere nod; I have seen how pieces fell the day your mom packed up her things into bags and boxes. I know that your heart feels scattered right now: you are fragile, and are clutching to your heart's broken pieces as best you can. I wish I could tell you that a year changes things, and that your heart is put together as time passes, but sadly, the adage that time heals all wounds isn't true. Only God can do that, and His timing isn't ours.

I see that your lips are moving slowly, and I can make out your prayer. It's more of a cry, really, and I hear the desperation in your voice. You are begging God to take you home into His arms, to free you of this pain and darkness. Although you can't see it then, you will see that God answered your prayer; just not in the way you thought he would.

As you journey through the next year in your life, you will struggle every day. You will feel pain, some days more heavily than that moment in your closet. But what you will find is that in your pain, and amidst the broken pieces of your heart, God is your Home. He is your shelter; He is your strength. He doesn't leave nor forsake you. This will be a lesson you will have to learn over and over; and it's a painful one. But you will start to see how this is truth.

You will learn that it is in the broken places that we sometimes discover wholeness. It will take some time, but you will see that your pain has shaped you into a beautiful caring, loving individual. You will learn that what others intend for a curse, God intends for a blessing. Your pain has allowed you to feel more – for you are broken to be healed to be broken for others. You will find beauty in this brokenness, my love. I know you don't feel like it right now, curled into yourself on the floor in the closet. But you will. This I promise you.

Love always,

Your older self

Monday, August 27, 2012

Jumping into the abyss

I've been struggling since I got here in Africa. Most of the time, I am blogging about my daily activities here, instead of writing here at my normal blog. I've felt a bit lost since I've arrived, homesickness and culture shock wrapping themselves around me and making it incredibly difficult to adjust to my new surroundings. Today, amidst a bumpy morning filled with longing for home, I wrote this journal entry, which is a mishmash of prayers and thoughts. Who God is to me is growing so much larger - and I am learning, even amidst confusion and feeling lost. I am thankful for that today.

"What is it that I so badly want from home? Because really, do I even have a physical home? In that thought I think of Jesus, who had no place to rest his head.

I just long to feel myself. I long to feel confident, joy, peace. I long for my familiar faces I so love. I long for the freedom to be able to talk to strangers and have them understand me. I long for familiar food, familiar things that make me feel like I have a place in this world. I miss worshipping in a place where I understand the songs and words, where I feel part of a community.

I think I'm being challenged on my image of God. I see Him so much as an overseer, a director, an instructor. But I long to see Him as my Brother, friend, even moreso my Father. I always feel like there is a big gap between us, and consequently I feel like the closeness, that intimacy, is lost in that abyss.

What is that gap, God? How do I change that?

Maybe I need to be willing to jump into that darkness, that gap, and trust that He'll meet me in that in between.

I feel like here bits and pieces of me are floating. I feel like coming here maybe was sort of my jumping into the darkness. And I'm floating, but mostly I am feeling like I'm drowning. I am missing the sure ground under my feet. I am missing the light, the assuredness I felt. This gap, this space isn't fun or safe like I thought it would be. It's anything but. And I'm sorry, God, for that being true. For I once prayed that I longed to be stripped of everything familiar to have just You. And I suppose, deeply, I still want that. So hear I am, in a country far away, stripped of everything. And I'm terrified. I'm drowning. I'm searching for you. 

Why did I automatically assume that the removal of my life, my family, my friends, my comforts would mean finding you? Was I foolish enough to think that you can ony be found in a place of loss, in a place unknown? You aren't dependent on circumstances, or time, or place. You said to search for you with all of your heart and we would find you. Maybe searching with all of our hearts means losing famly and friends, home, security. But maybe, just maybe, you are more concerned with our hearts and that we are searching for you from wherever we are. 

I can't believe I didn't get that, God. I am sorry - but thank you for showing that to me now. Thank you.

It's okay to be missing home. It's okay to be missing family. It's okay to be missing my Thursday night dates wth my girls. All of this is so wonderfully okay.

Because what matters the most, here or at home, is that I am searching for Him with all of my heart. I can do that at home - and I can do that here. I can do that in the middle of a lecture or the middle of a staff meeting at work. I can do that here, in the middle of a busy, crowded, shouting marketplace. Wow.

Please, Jesus, protect me from losing sight of this - bury this truth deep within my heart, so deep it is permanently written across my heart."

Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Cry of the Crow

This morning I sat on the couch by an open window, and I heard the distinct cry of a crow. It wailed, it screeched, but most importantly, it would not stop. I looked out the window for signs of it sitting in a tree limb, but I couldn't spot it anywhere. The screeching continued, grating against my ears. I had half a mind to run out the front door and scare it far, far away from the front lawn.

And then something stopped me in my tracks and the way I heard the screeching changed. The crow's cry made me think of a human's wail. How often do we hear others pain or cries and at first response, see it as an annoyance? Seek to remove it as far away as we can from our comfortable life?

Maybe what we see as annoyance is really another's cry for help.

Maybe we miss others' cries for help because we're so focused on how it affects us.

And maybe we need to see each cry as a call to us as Believers, to care for the least of these.

Because really, that's what we're here for, isn't it?

"And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." (Matt. 25:40)

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Remember this when you doubt ..."

On my MacBook, I have a little program called Stickies. I keep various notes, reminders, and Scripture verses there as a reminder. Today I was perusing the notes I've left myself there, and I opened up the pink sticky that is titled "Remember this when you doubt."

There is only one verse typed underneath. 1 Timothy 3:16:

"All scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness."

All Scripture.

That means not one word was spoken without God's Spirit behind it.

That means that every word is inscribed with His fingertip and carries life because He is the author. Every word.

And the enormity of this verse weighs upon my heart because these past two years I have clung to God's Words with every fibre of my being, even though they have caused me division and have forced me to choose between making people feel good or choosing the Words I believe to be true. I have been told that I am foolish to cling to Words which carry little meaning to the culture we live in. I have been told I am judgmental, religious, un-loving because I believe every Word Christ inscribed in Scripture. I have clung to those words when the world around me has told me that they are outdated, or that they leave too many "gray areas" for us to ever take them literally.

Believing that 'all Scripture is inspired by God' has been a hard statement for me to stand by. But I have chosen to believe it, and because it is truth every word I read in Scripture breathes life into my soul. Because it is truth, it is worth every hurtful word thrown at me. It is worth being considered foolish, because in reality, the Words inspired by God speak Wisdom into my heart.

They are inspired.

And they contain life.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Tonight my heart is full of questions. I am wondering about church, about traditions, about how we worship.

I am wondering where we've gone right and where we've gone wrong. I'm wondering where we've followed God's Word, and where we've strayed.

The truth is, although I've been taught all my life that there is something wrong with the traditional church, with a pastor, a congregation, and a building ... that we're doing it all wrong, completely unbiblical ...

Something in my heart tells me that's not entirely right either.

My heart reminds me of the ways I've been blessed by pastors. My heart reminds me of how I've been encouraged through sermons, how I've been blessed incredibly through corporate worship. How God has spoken to me again and again through church family.

And I am torn between what I've been taught ... and what I know to be true, if it is truth. How do we know? If we've all been doing it wrong since the beginning of gathering in churches, and if it is really all rooted in Pagan traditions, then who's been doing it right? If we've all been meeting in a way Christ never intended us to, then why hasn't He been more clear about how we're falling so far below the mark?

These words probably don't make much sense, but tonight my heart is full of questions. Full of sadness, too. Because maybe in the end it doesn't matter if we are meeting in a building or not. Maybe these questions are pointless and futile. Because ultimately, if our hearts and eyes and ears are focussed on Him, He will lead us and bring us to the place of worship He has called us to.

But still ... my heart is wrestling tonight, seeking His truth.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Finding Little Gems

Sometimes when I read the Bible I fall across a verse that glistens and shines like a little gem. It's hidden in between a mountain of other verses, but for some reason on that day, my eyes and heart will fall upon its words, and it's as if the words scream, "Listen to me! Here is wisdom! Take it, drink it in, impress it upon your heart!"

And today I found one of those gems in Proverbs (which, really is a book FULL of gems, it's like a crystal clear brook that you reach deep into and come out with shining, glistening stones!):

"The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down."
(Proverbs 14:1)

These words mean a lot to me, for I have seen what happens when a house is torn down. I have seen what folly - both by man and woman - done by their own hands can do in allowing a house to crumble down, the house which was built with the very same hands with which it was torn down.

The same hands which tear a house down can build it up.

The same mouth with which we can bless one another can also curse and destroy.

"From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. 
My brothers, these things ought not to be so!" 
(James 3:10)

The same feet with which we can follow Christ can also turn and run away from Him.

"If we live by the Spirit, 
let us also keep in step with Spirit." 
(Galatians 5:25)

And my heart echoes the cry of James, my brothers, these things ought not to be so! May our hands build up instead of tear down; may our mouth bless instead of curse; may our feet follow Him instead of turning away.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Last night I settled into bed after watching an episode of Downton Abbey around a quarter to one. I was home alone, but managed to fall asleep without any worry or concern for the creepy noises that seemed to awaken my fears every so often. But around 2:30 am, I awoke after drifting in an out of sleep. It was as if something was gripping my heart, telling me that something was not quite right. It wouldn't allow me to fall back asleep, and fear and anxiety began to creep in to my heart. I flipped on the lamps beside my bed, sat up, and pulled my Bible onto my lap.

My mind waded through the people I could call to pray to assuage my fears and anxiety. No one was home, so it meant I couldn't go wake anyone up to pray for me. My mom was far away and not in her bed at home, and so I couldn't call her. My dad and brother were forty minutes away, and the friends I mentally listed off I didn't feel comfortable calling in the middle of the night to pray for me. (How I was reminded how different life is here than at Redeemer, where housemates were a few feet away, and friends were often up til 3 or 4 in the morning anyways, so a text for an urgent prayer was never an issue!)

And suddenly I felt incredibly alone, in a big empty house, with no one to call to pray for me. And so my fears settled in closer around me, my anxious heart taking big beats unaware as to what was wrong.

But just as quickly as the tears began to rise, beautiful words arose in my heart.

You shall call on the Lord your God and be saved. The Lord will fight for you - you need only be still.

And so I raised my arms high and called to the Lord my God, the one who would never be a phone call or a long drive away. I called to the One who lives with me whatever new home I find myself in, and the One who sits beside me as I sleep all night.

And He answered. And He fought. I read Scripture out loud and prayed over my room, and I put worship music on until I fell asleep.

I called and He answered, for He is faithful and will never suffer the righteous to be moved. Thankful for that today.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Looked for Love in Your Eyes

I think if there is one thing that has been on my heart lately, it is how much our sin affects those around us. I think we like to live in the imaginary world that the sin we commit only harms our hearts, our lives, our souls. But what we tend to forget is that we are a part of the Body of Christ. And what that means is that when one part of the body is damaged, it affects the others. So when one of us falls, we hurt the others around us. When we sin - the consequences are not only borne on our own souls and bodies, but the consequences are passed to our siblings, to our family, and to our children.

Because sin is never satisfied. Ever.

It seeks to devour. The Enemy seeks to devour whatever it can. And because of this, sin just doesn't stop at us. It wreaks havocs in families. It wreaks havoc in relationships. It wreaks havoc for generations to come.

Praise God that He offers us redemption. Praise God that He offers us His Spirit to protect, to guide, to lead us away from that path of destruction.

But that path is a wide one, a horrible one that we so easily find ourselves walking. And today my sister passed on this link to me, a poem that a wife wrote to her husband who is addicted to pornography.

Because pornography doesn't just damage the one who consumes it. It damages one's spouse, it damages the children, and it damages the woman or man who are onscreen. It's effects are widespread.

Pornography is something which devours.

And so, with a sorrowful heart, I include her poem here. You can find the original post here.

I Looked For Love in Your Eyes

"I saved my best for you.
Other girls may have given themselves away,
But I believed in the dream.
A husband, a wife, united as one forever.

Nervous, first time, needing assurance of your love,
I looked for it in your eyes
Mere inches from mine.
But what I saw made my soul run and hide.

Gone was the tenderness I’d come to know
I saw a stranger, cold and hard
Distant, evil, revolting.
I looked for love in your eyes
And my soul wept.

Who am I that you cannot make love to me?
Why do I feel as if I’m not even here?
I don’t matter.
I’m a prop in a filthy play.
Not an object of tender devotion.

Where are you?

Years pass
But the hardness in your eyes does not.
You think I’m cold
But how can I warm to eyes that are making hate to someone else
Instead of making love to me?

I know where you are.
I’ve seen the pictures.
I know now what it takes to turn you on.
Women…people like me
Tortured, humiliated, hated, used
Images burned into your brain.
How could you think they would not show in your eyes?

Did you ever imagine,
The first time you picked up a dirty picture
That you were dooming all intimacy between us
Shipwrecking your marriage
Breaking the heart of a wife you wouldn’t meet for many years?

If it stopped here, I could bear it.
But you brought the evil into our home
And our little boys found it.
Six and eight years old.
I heard them laughing, I found them ogling.

Hands bound, mouth gagged.
Fisheye photo, contorting reality
Distorting the woman into exaggerated breasts.
The haunted eyes, windows of a tormented soul
Warped by the lens into the background,
Because souls don’t matter, only bodies do
To men who consume them.

Little boys
My little boys
Laughing and ogling the sexual torture
Of a woman, a woman like me.
Someone like me.

An image burned into their brains.

Will their wives’ souls have to run and hide like mine does?
When does it end?

I can tell you this. It has not ended in your soul.
It has eaten you up. It is cancer.
Do you think you can feed on a diet of hatred
And come out of your locked room to love?

You say the words, but love has no meaning in your mouth
When hatred rules in your heart.
Your cruelty has eaten up every vestige of the man
I thought I was marrying.
Did you ever dream it would so consume you
That your wife and children would live in fear of your rage?

That is what you have become
Feeding your soul on poison.

I’ve never used porn.
But it has devastated my marriage, my family, my world.

Was it worth it?"

Monday, May 7, 2012

Looking Within

In the past few days, I've found myself with a lot of time alone. I've been sick, which means I haven't left the couch much. And I've had a pinched nerve in my back, which means that when I do get off the couch, my back screams at me to find a place to rest. Sleep has evaded me, because nights mean I simply can't get comfortable.

And what all of this means for me is that I've spent a lot of time alone. And for any of you that know me, I am one who hates being alone! If I can, I find someone to walk to and from school with me. I hate studying alone, although goodness knows I probably would get more done if I did. I hate going for walks without a partner beside me, and I hate not sharing a room with someone.

But I'm learning. Slowly. The other day I stood in the kitchen shuffling around for a can of soup, muttering to myself about spending the evening alone on the couch, a thought stopped me right in my tracks. What is it about being alone that I find so terrifying? I asked myself. Am I afraid to face myself - or worse - God?

And I've thought a lot about that question since then. I've thought a lot about how the more we look within ourselves, the more we see the Creator. The more we understand ourselves, the more we understand the Image we bear. Those thoughts seemed to push me even farther into unfamiliar territory ... of loving the time spent alone. Of using those times to reflect on the One who created me, of exploring my thoughts and hopes and dreams in the hopes of hearing what God might be speaking to me.

It seems to me that when I am stripped of friends, of a job, of school, of a familiar family ... it's in those places that I seek the one who never leaves my side. It seems that it is in the quiet of a walk alone, or a night spent on the couch blowing my nose incessantly, that He finds us there. Because life is full of distractions, be them good or bad ... but sometimes they need to be pushed aside in order for us to see What truly matters.

Maybe instead of running from being alone, I need to run towards those moments. Maybe they are sacred and precious and need to be held onto no matter the cost.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Grace Disguised

There's a part of my life that I am very open with. In fact, I've always considered myself good at talking about circumstances, but not always very good at talking about what's going in my heart. Two years ago, a new chapter began in my life: my family broke apart, and I've begun to manoeuvre my way through the broken remains. And I'm doing that ... one day at a time. And to be truthful, I've talked a lot about it: I've talked to therapists and to close friends. I've shared, but I've also held back.

But lately, I've been reflecting a lot on this chapter in my life. I've thought a lot about the day it all began; I've thought of the journey I've taken from that dark night to where I am now. I've thought of the growth, of the heartache, of the anger, and of the many backwards steps I've taken. I've wrestled with memories that I want to hold onto, but hold so much pain I push them aside. But of all these things, I've challenged myself to see the beauty that has come out of this brokenness.

The other day, I met with a friend who was journeying through a breakup. And through the conversation, I felt myself drawing near to her in her pain .... because although our pain and loss is unique to each of us, there's such a huge overarching theme. Pain is pain. Grief is grief. Loss is loss. And when we've experienced that, it allows us to meet others in the depths of their sorrow.

And as I sat there in that coffee shop, I was immensely grateful. Because although every day I wish my family was whole, I can take so much from my journey.

I am so thankful that this path I'm on has enabled me to walk alongside others in their journeys.

I'm so thankful I know what it means to grieve; because I can understand others so much better now.

I'm so thankful that I've learned that sorrow can enlarge your soul; that it can make you learn what it means to truly feel both sadness and joy.

When I see others hurting, when I see others grappling with loss, I just want them to know that when God says all things work together for His good, He doesn't mean that what happened was okay, or even should have happened. But He will USE bad things for His glory. He can turn what was literally intended as a curse into a blessing. He can show you how joy does not mean the absence of sorrow! In fact, joy and sorrow seem to go alongside one another ... for He calls us who mourn blessed. 

This past year I read one of the best books I have ever read, A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. His book is profound. Through his loss, he reaches into others' souls ... and allows them to see the grace that shines through loss. And I hope that in some small way, that light shines through me ... that Christ's redemption shines through every circumstance. Here is one of my favorite quotes from his book.

“Gifts of grace come to all of us. But we must be ready to see and willing to receive these gifts. It will require a kind of sacrifice, the sacrifice of believing that, however painful our losses, life can still be good — good in a different way then before, but nevertheless good. I will never recover from my loss and I will never got over missing the ones I lost. But I still cherish life. . . . I will always want the ones I lost back again. I long for them with all my soul. But I still celebrate the life I have found because they are gone. I have lost, but I have also gained. I lost the world I loved, but I gained a deeper awareness of grace. That grace has enabled me to clarify my purpose in life and rediscover the wonder of the present moment.” 

I have lost the world I loved, but in that loss, I too have found a deeper awareness of grace. And for that, I am so very thankful.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Maybe I Am, Afterall

I've always thought to myself that I'm not an artist. I may be able to paint, and I may be able to draw a little, but by no means am I an artist. An artist thinks, breathes, lives to create. An artist lives to breathe life into an empty, lifeless piece of clay or blank canvas. And although there are times when I am drawn to the blank, creamy whiteness of an unmarked piece of paper, I don't live for that. It's not my life, and I certainly don't feel an absence when I go for days on end without touching a pencil to paper.

But lately, there's been a box of watercolours sitting on the top of my shelf that seems to catch my eye every time I open my closet doors. They've barely been touched, once opened for an art project a year or two ago. But lately, every time I see them, something stirs within my heart. I need to paint with those, I think. I need to hold those watercolours in my hand and allow my heart to pour onto the white paper.

And so today I gave in, and I made my way to the art store to buy watercolour paper and some new brushes. I waited excitedly in the lineup (which just so happened to be incredibly long), wondering what I'd paint with my new supplies. And so tonight I finally pulled up my laptop for some inspiration, opened up the empty book of paper, and dug out my watercolours. And my heart is stirring. It's asking me to open it up, to discover what's trying so desperately to get out.

And then I think to myself,

Maybe I am an artist afterall.

Maybe Afterall, 9x12, Watercolour

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Letting Go of Self-Made Props

“For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. You need not look at that only in a negative way. You wanted to give your heart to others, and you did so quickly and easily. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you. You must stop being a pleaser and reclaim your identity as a free self.” (Henri Nouwen)

Today I met with one of my wisest professors. She has been a source of love and guidance for me through every class I've had with her, and she's opened my eyes and heart to see the world and people in a different way. She's shaped who I hope to be as a therapist, and has been an example of grace and poise in my life and in the lives of others. She has a way of seeing things before you even see them, an incredible insight into our deep, dark souls. And that to me is amazing.

So today I sat across from her in her office, and we talked about my life and my future plans. But quickly, she allowed me a space to share a huge weight upon my shoulders: I am one who walks around with much guilt. I am one who feels guilty for leaving home four years ago, and still wrestles with that weight. I am one who feels guilty when I can't fix what I hope to; I feel guilty when I share my hurt, knowing very well that my hurt causes the person who hurt me in the first place to feel pain too. I am one who carries guilt because I can't seem to set up boundaries that need to be in place, because God forbid, I offend the person who is overstepping them.

Guilt, guilt, guilt. It follows me.

But, my professor opened my eyes to something wonderful. "What is the guilt trying to say to you, Angie?" she asked. "It's not telling you that you've done something wrong. So what is it trying to warn you? Why is it yelling at you, trying to get your attention?"

And I sat there for a moment, wrestling with that question. I've found my identity and role as being the solver. I've found my identity in being the one that holds it all together, even if this was done unconsciously. And I can't be that person anymore. Not in my family, not in my friends' lives. Because that role is not even really mine to take on anyway.

I can't solve everything. I can't be the superwoman everyone may need me to be. I can't feel others' emotions or pain for them. I can't be present always, no matter if people want me to be or not. I need to remind myself: I am weak. But He is strong.

I've depended on others' needing me to shape who I am. And although this isn't entirely negative - it's not - but as Henri Nouwen writes in the quote above, I need to let go of this role. I need to trust that He is all I need. I need to give myself the space to find out what my identity is without being a pleaser. 

And that realization is a scary one, because it is uncovering a whole new layer of who I am, an unfamiliar one. And although the journey and process will be painful, the outcome and reward will be simply wonderful.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Needing the One who Knows All

I have a confession to make.

I like to run.

Not in the "let's-go-for-a-nice-run-outside-while-it's-still-nice-out" kind of running, or the "did-you-know-I-burn-12,000,329,310-calories-when-I-hit-the-treadmill" kind of running.

No, I run away from the unknown. Because the unknown terrifies me.

I like safety, I like comfort, I like having answers. I like to know what I'm going to say before I say it. I like being able to offer answers in a world of unknown. Because here, in the world where I have answers and knowledge and all those lovely things, it is safe. It doesn't require much of me.

But it's in places of unknown where much is required of me. In those places I am most vulnerable, offering up a humble reply of, "I don't know," and trusting that in my weakness, He is strong.

But I still do it. I run away from the topic of homosexuality, because I just want to avoid the inevitable question, "But doesn't the Bible say that because I love another man I'm sinning against His Word?" I run away from the topic of knowing what God's Word says about divorce, and yet knowing that no matter what it says, it never seems the right answer amidst heartache and pain and unfaithfulness. I want to run away when a Believer dates a non-Christian, because although the Bible warns that darkness has no place with light, and that we are not to be unequally yoked, my answers seem weightless in the light of the imminent response, "But you can't judge my relationship - who am I to judge their beliefs and whether or not they believe in God? Who am I to tell them that I can't be with them, just because their beliefs aren't the same as mine?"

And in those questions, in those unknowns, I sink backwards towards where it is safe. Back to my world of knowing the answers, of knowing where I stand, of just simply knowing.

But I have to think sometimes. I'm not sure that's where God always wants me to be.

I'm not sure if He wants me to live my life in the safety of my comfortable place, in the place where I understand everything.

I don't think He thinks less of me because I know so very little. I don't think He's disappointed in me, when in those times of confusion, when I just don't know or have any answers, I surrender my not knowing up to Him.

In fact, I think He may love it. Because if we didn't know so very little afterall, we'd never need the One who knows all.

A Lovely Paradox

In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul writes:

We are troubled on every side,
yet not distressed;
we are perplexed,
but not in despair;
but not forsaken;
cast down,
but not destroyed.

I read those words last week and they've made an impression on my heart ever since. There is a lovely paradox in these words. And I've wondered since then, what kind of a religion or faith will promise those things? We are promised we will be troubled. We are promised we will be perplexed. We are promised we will be persecuted, and even more, we are promised we will be cast down.

But yet.

We will not be distressed.

We will not be in despair.

We will not be forsaken.

And we will not be destroyed.

What beauty in those words.

As I've walked my journey these past couple years, I've wrestled with that great, big, ugly question of why. I've wondered: isn't my Christian life supposed to be good? Isn't God supposed to take away my horrible circumstances, and have everything fall into place the way it's supposed to happen?

But God has gently shown me I've got it all wrong. Life is tough. And although I've looked, there's nothing in the Word that says it will ever be easy. Or the way we want it to be. And when I choose to follow Him, I will be persecuted. I will be cast down. I will face adversity at every corner.

But through this darkness shines a great light, and sometimes I wonder whether or not that light can shine as brightly without walking through darkness. Through that suffering I am offered promises that are so great. That to me are worth walking through trials and pain to see the beauty of my Savior.

For I will not be distressed, even in times of trouble. Even when life goes nothing like I've planned, and anger and pain and heartache chase me wherever I go.

I will not despair. Even when I feel the world has fallen from underneath me, even when I feel my head has not a warm place to rest at night. My hope rests in Him.

I will not be forsaken. For even though my closest family my forsake, He will never leave my side.

And most importantly, I will not be destroyed. For the power that rose Christ from the dead lives in me, and neither pain nor death nor trial can ever take that from me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pornography is NOT the Problem

As many of you may or may not know, I have been researching for my Honors thesis in the area of female pornography use and its effects.  It's been a highly enlightening journey as I've spent hours reading, researching, and writing. I am not done writing, although the research part is finished.

During this journey, what I have found is a heartache deep within me for the devastation that pornography, or any sexually explicit material really, causes. It destroys and distorts something God created uniquely and inherently beautiful. It dishonours He who created love, and brings shame and pain to those who walk in its path. It never satisfies what it claims to satisfy, for lust is never satisfied. It always leaves us wanting more.

And yet as I've read statistic after statistic, as I've read cries from woman who are broken by their addiction, as I've read the beautiful redemption stories of Christ redeeming those shattered by pornograpy's grasp: I am reminded that pornography is not the problem.

Let me explain myself when I say this. All the research I have read is good. All of it! It sheds light on a dark, hidden area so many of us struggle with. But unless we deal with the heart, taking away the pornography will never heal anything. It's the same when men say that if women were to be more modest, it would prevent them from sinning lustfully in their hearts. One man commented on an article that I read that men are designed with a deep desire to "see a woman naked." (And that is directly quoted!) And therefore, "While not good for the women, the Taliban understood how to keep men from having sexual thoughts ... cover the female with layers and layers of heavy cloth. The most sexually pure time I ever experienced was the summer I spent living among a strict Islamic society." (You can read the original article and find this man's comments here.)

And I am reminded, Women are not the problem here. 

Pornography is not the problem here.

It's something so much deeper. So much harder to deal with. So much of a painful process of being broken and vulnerable before the only Healer, of opening our hearts up to the painful sin that resides there and letting HIM make us clean. If we forget to deal with the heart's sin and deal only with the outward behaviour, we are missing a huge part of the picture here. We need to recognize that struggles with porn and lust and any sin is a heart issue, and allow God to cleanse our hearts and make us pure ... and then the outward behaviour will follow suit.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Kindness In Its Rarest Form

There's a man who walks the streets of our town. He wears an oversized coat, giant rain boots, and always carries a garbage bag. With thick glasses and an unruly mop of white hair, he walks through the town, picking up garbage and chatting with whoever crosses his path.

This man has fascinated me since we've moved here. I've only been home a handful of times since the move, but I'm curious to know his story. What is it that causes him to pour kindness into the community around him? As far as I know, years ago he and his wife and daughter were in a car accident. He lost both his wife and daughter on that fateful day.

And now, he fills his time serving the community. Just this afternoon, he walked by our home, noticed a dishcloth that had fallen off the line, picked it up and came over to hang it back up in its rightful spot. I watched him from the window limber slowly over, his age showing as he made his way across our porch. And I couldn't help but swell with gratitude for the small act of kindness towards my family.

It's just a dishcloth, maybe. But it made me think about the acts of kindness I do. Do I look for thanks? Do I do them to be noticed, to be appreciated for my good works? It seems to me that this man shows kindness without ever asking for thanks. He does it without regard for whether or not there is a woman peering at him through a window noticing as he walks up to her porch; he does it not so I would run out and thank him. It was selfless. It was pure. And it was kindness in a rare form.

He doesn't even know it, but by picking up that dishcloth he challenged me to pursue kindness in that rare form. To show kindness not because one deserves it; not because I deserve thanks in return. But show kindness because it is rare. Because it is precious. Because it is lovely.

Ephesians 6:7 - "With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hidden in Disguise

I've been wondering something lately. Having turned 22 a couple months ago, and never been in a relationship, there are many times that I have questioned why. I've looked ashamedly at my past and hidden it away, failing to mention my never-been-in-a-relationship status. I've looked to the Word in search of encouragement for my long-standing singleness. And I've blissfully eyed Matthew and Mary on Downton Abbey, hoping some day a Matthew might come into my life!

But lately, God has been pulling on my heartstrings with a few thoughts. What if my lack of a relationship has been a blessing?

What if God has protected me from heartache for a reason? What if, the entire time I've thought God had forgotten about me, He was intensely looking out for my well-being?

Maybe it's been the breakups that have surrounded me in my friends' lives lately, but I can't help but being grateful I haven't experienced regretted kisses, or stolen moments of intimacy, or intertwined lives that never break easily. I can't help but be thankful for my single status, for the fact that my heart had been safeguarded by the one above who will know when it's the time for me to share. Sometimes, it seems, God's greatest blessings are in disguise ... and I am thankful for the times when he pulls back the curtains and let's us see.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Little Lesson from Nehemiah

I hate waking up with the feeling that something is wrong. I had waking up being reminded of the brokenness in my life. I hate that weight on my shoulders as I climb out of bed, the punch-in-your-stomach kind of feeling that something is just not quite right.

But this morning, as I woke up to those feelings once again, my mind wandered to the prophet of Nehemiah. I love that guy. If you've never read that small book in the Bible, do it: right now. He is a man of God who carried a great burden to see the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. And this burden he cried over for forty days. Forty days! Day and night he wept for the burden that had been placed upon his shoulders. Day and night he interceded, and woke up every day with the same reminder: something is just not quite right.

And he reminded me: maybe I've been hating this feeling for so long I've failed to appreciate it.

Maybe what I should be doing instead of praying to be rid of these feelings is to pray a prayer of thanks instead. Because it is good to be reminded when something is not right. It is good to be reminded of the pain that surrounds us. It is good to be reminded, like Nehemiah was, to intercede.  Charles Spurgeon wrote, "When God puts a burden upon you, He puts His own arms underneath."

Nehemiah was never once alone carrying that burden. Every morning he awoke to the reminder that something was wrong, God met with Him there. Nehemiah wrestled with that burden, interceded for that burden, and as He did, God put His own arms underneath.

He put His arms underneath.

Friday, March 30, 2012


The other day, Alece put words to my thoughts in this post: Heart Homelessness.

I hadn't really thought about why I have been feeling the way I have been. I've felt like I was floating. I have felt like a part of me has been missing ... that the roots I have placed in this life have been uprooted. I don't feel like I belong anywhere, really. Not here, not where I used to call home. And I don't feel at home any of my friendships or relationships. I just feel like I'm here ... but not really.

And of course, I am reminded that this is not our home. We are made for a greater Home, where someday I will travel to and meet my Saviour.

But here ... right now, I still desire that earthly home. I still desire to feel a place where I belong, where I feel safe. Where I feel protected from the chaos and turmoil that constantly flows around me.

And so lately, my heart too has felt homeless. And I haven't quite figured out what to do about it.

But yesterday, I went on an adventure with three girlfriends. We travelled to a town nearby, and walked by a river late at night. It was dark, and spooky, and there were Canadian geese threatened by our invasion of their home. And at first, my heart felt anxious. It was a place unknown and a dark night.

Yet as we walked along the river, and turned back to head towards where we were parked, we wandered along a row of houses. Each were silent, blanketed by the darkness and late hour. But one house stood out to me, a house with candles in each window. It was welcoming. The candles shining through made me imagine that if I were to knock on that door that very moment, the mom of the house would welcome me in, allow me to have a shower in one of the bathrooms filled with potpourri, and show me to the guest room. And would have welcomed me, a stranger, in.

And for some reason, something in my heart shifted. I didn't feel so homeless anymore.  It was like that house reminded me that someday, I would be home. I would find my place where I would let my roots once again settle. I would find that place somewhere in this world where my heart would be at rest, I would feel welcome, I would feel safe. Safe.

And it's okay that I don't feel that way now. But someday, I will.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Yesterday in church, I heard a message that resonated deeply within my heart.

Painfully so, however. It clanged and echoed and pushed its way inside the depths of my heart. It pushed up pain, hurt, anxiety, until tears trickled slowly down my cheeks.

The message was about forgiveness. I have always thought of myself as someone who forgives easily, who easily confesses to God above that I have forgiven someone who has wronged me.

But I have come to learn I tend to put restrictions on my forgiveness.

I say, "I will forgive you, but I can never forget what you've done."

I say, "I will forgive you, but I will never trust you again."

And still I say, "I'll forgive, but I can't ever let you close to me again after how you've hurt me."

But is this how we are called to forgive? Always adding a "but" clause?

The pastor used an illustration yesterday. He spoke of a woman who's husband had cheated on her, and she told him, "I'll forgive you, but I can't ever be close to you again." And in my mind, I agree. It's justifiable. How could she, after what he had done to her? But after a pause, the pastor added, "What if God said that to us?"

What if God said to me, "I will forgive you - but I can't ever be close to you again"?

We are called to forgive as He has forgiven. And putting those restrictions on our forgiveness is not how we are called to forgive. And that is a hard realization - allbeit a good one - but definitely a hard lesson to take to heart. I can't put restrictions on my forgiveness. I need to keep no record of wrong. It certainly isn't an excuse for the other person - and I struggle with this - but I cannot keep record of wrong if I have forgiven them. How hard that is, though!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

For He First Loved Me

They broke me.

I will never forget what the pain of selfishness causes.

They can tell me over and over again how proud they are of me, what a wonderful woman I have become, but in the end, part of me desires to spite them. To be a horrible person. To yell instead of speak softly. To fail in every one of my classes. To show them in every way that they broke me to the very core of my being. To show them that they stole what meant the most to me in this world, and I will never forget it.

I want them to know what it feels like to know the people in your life who are here to protect you, to give you security, to give you shelter in this turmoil of life, weren't there. I want them to know what it is like to see the people you love with all your heart harden their hearts and become different people.

I want them to know that missing them, who they were, missing what was stolen from me causes me to weep at night. I want them to know it. I want to break them as they have broken me, for maybe in doing so they will finally realize what they've done.

I just want them to feel. I want them to act. I want them to see. I want them to hear.

Can't they see how this mistake, how this sin, how this selfishness, how this pride has broken their very own flesh? Has destroyed my heart in pieces? Has taken my security, my hope, my family?

Yet they sit silently. They act as if nothing has changed, when the very world we live in has shattered.

Are they so foolish as to not hear the cry of the broken? Their own child, weeping alone at night? How can they turn a deaf ear, a blind ear, to their own flesh and blood that was created out of their love?

But yet, there is a whisper that softly says, "Grace."

And I turn my ear away.

It whispers still. "Forgiveness."

And I resist.

It urgently insists, "Love keeps no record of wrongs."

And I cry, "But of course it does - they need to know. They need to know what they've done to me."

But still the voice replies, "Forgive as I have forgiven you."

And I shake and tremble, for the Voice is true. He calls me to a higher place, but the road to that place is so hard. But I will walk it, I will stumble to the place that He has called me to. I will persevere to the place of forgiveness, the place where grace will permeate every word I speak to them. I will love, no matter how hard, not matter the tears I will cry, for He first loved me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Word of the Year

I am inspired by this website, that asks a simple question: what one word can you choose to describe who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve this year. Scrap new year's resolutions: choose one word that I can focus on every day this new year.

And what is my word for 2012?


I want to learn how to wait.

I want to learn to rest patiently before my Lord and wait.

I want to wait on His plan, on His timing, instead of running on my own.

I want to learn to wait before I speak. To be quiet, and not speak words of control on others' lives.

I want to wait on the Spirit, on His leading and His guiding.

I want to learn to be silent and wait. Instead of speaking too soon.

There is so much waiting to be done in this life, yet I am not content to do so. I am impatient when I wait in line in a restaurant, I am impatient to have grades returned to me on time, and I am impatient when my cell phone's service seems to take forever to load.

But even more importantly than that: I am impatient in my relationship with God. I choose to believe I know what is best instead of trusting Him and His timing. I choose to run ahead and try to pull Him along, instead of listening to His warning, "Wait: for my ways are perfect. Not yours."

I choose to speak to Him before waiting on Him. I choose to be loud, to be anxious, to pour out my thoughts to Him before He even gets a chance to open His mouth and share with me.

And what kind of a relationship is that?

This year, I need to learn patience. I need to learn grace and humility, and all of these things are summed up in my learning to wait.