A Testimony & Declaration of the Goodness of the Lord

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Praise God.

I seem to be noticing a pattern in my prayer life. Every Sunday night we have a time of prayer at church, and I go once in a while. When I go, I’ve noticed that all my prayers are repentant. It’s not a bad thing, but is it depressing? Not at all. I used to believe that it was, but the reality is that the entirety of prayer for the Christian life, at least a good part of it, is repentance. It’s honorable in God’s sight because He wants His children to come back to Him.

“Repentance is not the work of a day, but of a whole lifetime.” -Thomas Boston

Praise God.

Praise God when I am deep into sin and am struggling to repent, because He remains on the throne. Nothing can shake Him off of it. He still remains steadfast in His love for me. Bless Him & His heart for the wayward soul.

Praise God.

Praise God when I’m hurting. People can disappoint and jab at the most tender spots in my spirit, and He is still holy and perfect, constantly offering His love to fill the cracks of my broken heart. Only He truly knows what I feel, and only He knows me inside and out. This is the most intimate & vulnerable relationship you and I will ever enter in. God knows each thought, act, and motive.

Praise God.

Praise God because He is endlessly holy and perfect in contrast to my sinful nature. I have nothing to contribute to His holiness. I can only confess how broken and shattered of a human being I am, yet made whole and pure in the light of His Spirit. And He hears me, immediately tending to His child.

Praise God.

Praise God because He is true to His word. God has a great purpose for my life, and He’s promised me this when He delivered me from deathly thoughts and motives. He has shown me love and has promised to remain in me forever. It’s incomprehensible, the love that God has for me. He is my precious and holy Father.

Praise God.

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A Sedentary People

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“Return to me, and I will return to you.” (Zechariah 1:3)

We go wayward, with our souls as nomadic as ever. We look for the next big thing, the next item to fill in our voids with. It’s an adventure that we constantly seek, and we thrive on the thrill of it. Where do we go from there? Deeper and deeper into the woods, farther and farther onto the waters. Using all our time, our resources, and energy, we get tired and weary.

Where do we rest our heads now? Why did we turn away, searching for something bigger and better than life? Maybe the thrill of the hunt is not all there is to life. Maybe life was perfect the way it was before we left after all.

So we turn back, our hearts heavy, going back to the place that we left- home. With our heads in our hands we stumble home in the dark as the sun sets. We wander forward, our destination predetermined in our minds. Defeated we move, not looking back. What can we do now but accept our mistakes?

The journey seemed to take forever, but we made it. Knocking at the door, we wait. The anticipation is terrifying- what if no one answers (for rejection is heartbreakingly scary)? An outsider would stand to the side, completely still, and feel the ground tremble with fear.

And he answers. He waited there since we left.

“I called you to be sedentary, not nomadic. Here, come inside. Please join me; I’ve prepared some rooms for you, and you’re just in time for dinner. Stay here as long as you want- I’ll take care of you forever.”

This is where we were always meant to be. Here, we have a home.

In Need of a Heart Change (again)

 

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I have to say, the lack of posts on this blog is so embarrassing. 0 excuses, just pure laziness. I wanted to make more time so I can write more on this platform, and now that I have the time, I don’t do it. I suppose I feel like I don’t have many ideas to write about, but that isn’t true- my mind is always running.

Last night was one of the first prayer nights I’ve been to in months, and I wrote down some thoughts in my notebook as I listened to some of the lyrics of the worship songs we were singing. My thoughts might be all over the place, but I really wanted to get them out here, and share where I’ve been spiritually lately.


I was living in blatant sin a couple of months ago. Then I had a change of heart and decided to change my ways so that I could be a better example to those around me & those in my life. Fast forward a month or two, and I’m back where I was. I became deeper in my depression and decided that I was going to be reckless and impulsive. I had no self control and I desired nothing more than to be self destructive. I wanted to be numb to the emotional pain I felt, and I was endlessly apathetic in my spirit.

Tonight was the first night in months that I’ve been to a prayer meeting, and I’ve been listening to the worship music we’ve been singing. I realized that I don’t know if I mean the words that I sing. Do I sing the songs because I think the melody is pretty? Do I do it because I like the way it makes my voice sound?

Worship music is the most convicting tool sometimes.

I need to truly believe the words I sing, because that’s the only way the worship will be useful. It will help me to be shaped and my sin will be chipped away like a sculpture’s piece. Living in sin is pleasurable but painful when we decide to stop abruptly. Ask anyone with an addiction- it hurts to stop altogether, and it’s easier to stop step by step instead. But we aren’t called to that. We are all called to STOP RIGHT NOW. And it’s so painful. Parting with sin is like parting with a toxic, long-time lover.

It’s so important for me to get back to where I was before in my faith. I miss it- the freeing feeling of being shameless and blameless before Jesus’ feet. Now I just feel dirty and gross. I have to quit being so self destructive, and I desire to be on the right track again. I don’t want to be reckless. I want to be a positive testimony to those around me. I recently told a good friend of mine that being called a hypocrite is the worst thing that a Christian can be called. Well, I’ve become the very thing that I hate.

I want the worship songs to make sense again. I want to disown the belief that God doesn’t want me back.

A New Years Resolutions Post: The First of Many

Merry Christmas!!ย  The holidays are in full swing, and there’s a little bit left to be done (friends who are waiting for christmas cards from me in the mail- I’m sorry, you’ll be waiting a little bit!), but the excitement is definitely not stopping anytime soon. With that said, the new year is quickly coming, and I’m sure you’ve probably started thinking about your resolutions and ambitions for 2018. I have as well, and I hope to stick to them!

Fix my relationship with God.

First and foremost, this is my priority. I haven’t been faithful and I’ve chased other things, which has made me weak in spirit and in strength and has thus made me less wise in my personal decisions. I need an attitude change. A heart change. The only way I can do that is by making my time with God a priority. You can’t have a relationship with someone, expect it to get stronger, and not do anything about it.

Fix my relationships with my main friends.

I’ve made some wonderful friends this year, and I’ve created deeper relationships with friends I’ve known for years. My friends are such a blessing to me. Yet there are people in my life who I love and treasure so much, but those friendships have been suffering because of our different schedules. I miss the time I used to spend with them, and I don’t want to grow apart from them. I will allow time in my schedule to see my friends and mend those relationships that are slowly drifting.

Go part time to make more time.

For the longest while, I had so much free time on my hands. I was able to do anything I wanted- for example, keeping this blog up to date regularly. Another example, was endless coffee dates with people I care about. I used to spend a lot more time praying and worshiping God. I think a big mistake this year has been thinking I could handle full time work. Now understand what I’m saying: Work is important, but it’s not the most important thing a the end of the day. I’m burnt out, constantly exhausted, and never well rested. Which is why minimizing my hours will probably be very beneficial to my mental health as well as my personal life.

Create things intentionally.

If you are a dedicated reader, you will remember that I was working on a book! You’ll be excited to know that this book is all edited and ready to be published- I know I am! I just need to make it happen. And this year I want to make more things. I used to blog so often, and I had a purpose for it; I wanted to encourage people and I wanted to share my life through a lens of reality. I want to rediscover that purpose and blog out of passion, not guilt. Another thing I want to do is write as much as I can; I used to write so much earlier this year. But I became full time, and the words just stopped flowing. It’s one of my beloved passions. I need to cultivate it again.

Do more.

I have so much I want to do this year. I don’t want to let this year waste because I was too busy counting hours. What really matters is my faith, my friends, the things I love to do. It’s all so important to me, and I’m determined to do it all. Determination. I think that’s why people struggle to keep their new years resolutions- they lack the determination and in turn forget their goals because they get caught up with money and the anxieties of life. I refuse to be like that. I will not be fearful, I will be strong, and I will conquer. Amen, right?

I’ll encourage you to do the same- be determined to keep your resolution list simple and stick to them. Write down your reasons for them and remember them frequently.

I’d love to hear about your goals for this year!! What are they? What holds priority in your life for 2018?

A Christmas Season Reminder

 

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Cinnamon tea in hand, with a warm cardigan on my back and Trading Christmas (the best Hallmark Christmas movie) playing on the screen, while I sit next to my window listening to the wind, and watching the snow storm outside. It’s currently -4C (39F for my lovely American readers) outside. It’s nice to be inside this morning and not outside in the cold.

The image of what I’m doing right now is relaxing, isn’t it? An hour ago, it wasn’t even close to relaxing. In the name of authenticity for the sake of this blog, here are the events of what happened.

I woke up with the intent to meet someone this morning. I get ready to leave, knowing there was a snowstorm (the things we do for dear friends, am I right?). I go outside, wait at my bus stop, and the bus never shows up. I walk to the Tim Hortons coffee shop rightย  beside it, I get a coffee, and I wait inside for the next bus. Never comes. I happen to put my hand in my pocket where my bus pass was, and I can’t find it. A little panicked, I quickly retrace my steps, realizing that it’s not in any of the places I went. Sulking on the way home, I contact my friend and tell them that I can’t meet them. I go home to drink my coffee, and it’s cold. What a perfect start to my day.

I read an old post that I made last year, and you can find it by clicking here. I was instantly reminded of how Christmas is so much more than snow and gifts. It’s so easy to get lost in the commercial aspect of the season. I’ve been so focused on whether or not I’ll be able to afford gifts for everyone that I’ve so quickly forgotten the actual reason Christmas is celebrated.

The reason is that sin came into the world at the moment Adam & Eve disobeyed God, separating the world from Him. The way God would bring His people back to Him would be through Jesus, who came into the world as a human baby, so small and weak and relatable. We too, were weak children. What better way to show us that He understands, than to come to earth as a child? Jesus’ purpose was to grow up and be blameless, and be sacrificed on the cross, thus breaking down the barrier that separated us & God, finally reconciling us together.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” -Isaiah 1:18

Christmas is the beginning of the greatest story in history, and its something to always remind ourselves of. The commercialism of the Americanized Christmas holiday is meaningless compared to the hugeness of Christ’s coming. It’s a reminder of humility, thinking about how the King came down as a baby, instead of a huge parade. Incredible to think about, isn’t it? And it definitely slows down the chaotic mindset. My day just brightened up, thinking about this! I feel a lot better about my situation right now, and I’d like to encourage you to think of this as the month goes by, as well.

Back From Excuses (An Update)

12:15pm.

I used to blog twice a week, with my thoughts ready to be shared with the world. I didn’t shy away from voicing my unpopular opinions and shining a light on my life & it’s ugly issues. Then I was lucky if I had a free day or two to quickly jot down some ideas and struggle to write a blog post. Now, I’m full time with little ideas, and a lazy attitude (I mean, after a long week, a free day is golden and the opportunity to do nothing that requires thought is extremely appealing).

Now, I miss it. My lack of ideas is no excuse, I miss it. I miss the connection and conversations made over my blog posts, and just the love of sharing my thoughts. I’m tired of making excuses for no blogging.

Here I am, cooking some pasta with broccoli and chicken, coffee about to be put on, with Shrek playing in the background (love the classics), and I’m writing this post. To ironically say that I’m tired of not writing anything anymore, and to reach out. For what? I’m gonna need some accountability.

I’ll be carrying my notebook with blog post ideas in it for as long as I remember to carry it with me. If any one of you sees that I haven’t updated in a week, let me know, and I’ll do everything I can to ensure that a new post goes out into the world.

I’m back (Or at least I’ll try to be)!!

A Weird Post About Creativity (Or The Lack Thereof)

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I went downtown with one of my best friends the other day, where we ate lunch, had coffee, went hiking, and ice cream. During our time in the city, we went to the bookstore as well. I bought a few books & I’m in the middle of reading, The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus. It’s a brilliant read so far, and I recommend every one of you reading this post to get that book!

It’s about creativity being in our souls since God is THE Creator & because we were made in His image, we are all called to create. The passage that has stuck out to me the most so far tells the story of the author’s dentist and his artistic expression through his profession. This guy plays music on the headset he gives you, and he has his patient put their hands in hot wax and speaks to them in a soothing voice. How this dentist cares so much for the one in the front of him. I read this and suddenly became so inspired to do everything with intention.

I then realized that as much as I’m overall pleased with my job, there is no personal expression, no room for creativity. Going outside the box would very likely get me fired. It hurt to realize that conformity in my workplace is why I’ve been feeling so uninspired artistically. It’s even harder to discover that my workplace has become a security blanket for me.

I want to be like that dentist, and have creativity pouring out from all areas. See, I want to express what the insides of me looks like, and leave some kind of legacy or contribution even. Don’t we all want to be a part of something?

My creativity means so much to me. I’m tired of environments make me afraid of failure. We need room to fail. It’s environments like that that increase my anxiety levels and cover up the creative process by repetitive procedure and systems.

You’ve seen videos and movies where the character is grey in a black and white world- uninspiring. I’m not sure why, but Groundhog Day comes to mind. Phil’s day becomes so repetitive, and I roll my eyes and cringe. “I don’t ever want to have a life like that”, my 9th grade self thinks in Ethics class. My life as a whole is not like that, but certain aspects are revealing themselves to me in this way- repetitive and meaningless, and I feel stuck in my tracks because I don’t know what to do about it.

I was made in the image of God- created to create lovely things nowhere near as lovely as creation itself. It’s discouraging to feel so uninspired, but somehow I will find something that allows freedom of artistic expression, and something I’ll feel so passionate about. In the meantime, I can still be intentional in my current area of expertise or mediocrity. I’ll find that inspiring environment one day, but it might take a while. That is a process that I’m sure I can be patient with.

To my fellow creatives, don’t be discouraged- we are made for this, and we can’t give up yet. We still have stories & light to share with everyone.

Coffee Chat: I Want To Be Close To God Again

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For those of us who have been saved from hell & God’s wrath by Jesus Christ, we have known what it was like to walk with Him, to be completely devoted. We would do anything for the Gospel, and we would defend our faith until we were blue in the face. We would leap at the chance to read our bibles. But then, the world comes in and it’s difficult to find that perfect balance. School, homework, jobs, the sleep schedule (if there was one) all become top priority. We forget to read our bible, we don’t make time to pray, and before we know it, we’re found wondering why God feels so distant from us. This is what we keep getting wrong, however: God has never left us- He promised us. We know Him to be faithful. Instead, it’s we who have distanced ourselves away from Him and therefore made our relationship with Him weak.

I have asked around what others do when they are in this position, and they trying to get back to Christ. Below is a consensus of all the ideas we gathered together.

Read the bible. This is the simplest task, yet it takes so much effort for us to do, and this shouldn’t be the case. The bible is where it says that we were once far from God & were brought back. Why wouldn’t we want to be reminded of this, especially if we feel far away? Personally, I always find myself reading Hosea, because it reminds me of how imperfect I am, and how perfect the love of the Lord is. I could feel like utter crap, but because God’s love is greater than anything, my soul can rest a bit better. There’s so much truth in the bible, and we deprive ourselves of knowing God each time we don’t make the effort to read it. Jesus took the cross upon Himself, the most brutal of deaths. I think we can make a tiny effort to read a passage. “All to Him I owe”, right?

Pray. I’ll admit, this is difficult for me. I know it’s hard for others as well. What I do when I can’t pray out loud, I write them down like letters or poems. We should all force ourselves to pray out loud though. A relationship works best when we are actually talking to the person- not just writing letters all the time. You want to SPEND TIME with the other person. Yes, it’s awkward, but it’s also very personal and real. There’s power in saying Jesus’ name audibly. It’s vulnerable and intimate. It makes me feel better knowing that God understands all that I’m trying to say, even when I can’t form it into words.

Genuinely worship. We can sing songs about Jesus all we want, but if we don’t take the lyrics and make them our prayers, it’s harder to be genuine. I remember what God has done for me in the past, and that allows me to worship Him wholly, because I’m reminded of His strength. It’s easier to focus on Him when I’m not thinking about myself (which is obvious, I’m sure, but I had to say it). Focusing on the words helps as well, because the lyrics serve as reminders.

Examine yourself and repent. People aren’t going to like this one. Most people do the “examine yourself” part and acknowledge the things that get in the way between them and God, but it’s rare to hear about the “repent” part. Probably because people don’t like feeling like they’ve done anything wrong, or admitting that it was their fault that they are distant from God. Pride is a terrible thing, and it hurts many relationships, all because someone didn’t want to admit when they were wrong. We know we’re in the wrong, so we should just examine ourselves and repent from the bottom of our hearts, especially if God means that much to us. It only makes sense.

Remember the promises of God. This goes hand in hand with reading the bible. It takes reading to know what God has promised. If you don’t know the promises of God, I suggest getting a notebook. Start reading in Genesis, and write the verses you find where God promises something. I’ve been doing this exact study then (of course) life got in the way, and I stopped. I should start that up again. It strengthens me a lot, and helps with anxiety quite a bit.

Begin seeking again. Start now. There’s nothing stopping us in this moment from reading our bible and digging into the word of God, from praying, from repenting, and starting over. To take up our cross and follow Jesus to our deaths. We are encouraged to start over fresh and brand new, walking hand in hand with Him again once more. And when we drift off again (always by accident), Jesus will be there to welcome us back to Him. Until then, let’s run back to Him until we are breathless and our feet bleed.

 

 

4 Things I’ve Learned About Leading Worship

Hello again, friends! I’m just gonna go ahead and address the elephant-in-the-room-that-might-not-be-an-elephant-to-you-but-it-is-to-me: I haven’t written a post in nearly 2 months. This is probably the longest hiatus I’ve taken so far while running this blog. It’s weird and upsetting for me! I’m hoping to make more posts (without long periods of time in between), but with my work schedule, we’ll see how that goes!

Excuses, excuses. Still, I want to write more and will therefore make it a point to do so!

I want to tell you 4 things that I have learned about leading worship:

  1. It isn’t about looking good onstage. If I’m ever worried about looking good for worship, I have to shut that thought out immediately otherwise I shouldn’t even be up there. The only reason the worship team is used ย is to help lead the people into a personal time with God- to invite them to be open, vulnerable, and intimate with the most powerful One in existence. Putting the focus on ourselves would altogether defeat that purpose.
  2. I must always evaluate how I am doing spiritually. It’s hard to be energetic and invite people to join in the presence of God when I myself haven’t been spending any time in prayer or reading my bible. I can sense when I’m faking it. I don’t like being a hypocrite, so I do my best to make sure I’m able to help my team bring that energy on a Sunday morning by energizing myself with prayer & reading.
  3. I have to remember that even though I’m helping my team lead, I’m not actually the one leading the set. I have a good friend who I often lead worship with, and we’ve developed a good dynamic over the years- he does main vocals, I do back vocals. Sometimes I forget to just let him do his thing & allow myself adapt to his voice instead. For example: we’re doing a song that we’ve done so many times, and I come in a little too early or sing the wrong lyric. You can imagine that it would throw him off a little bit. It’s never a big deal because we can laugh at ourselves, but it’s still something that I am continuing to learn.
  4. I do this because I am a servant of God. I’m humble when I say that God has gifted me with my singing voice so I can sing to Him and enable others to come close to Him as well. If I don’t feel like worshiping one Sunday, I’m not being obedient. I’m called to worship always (and that doesn’t mean singing constantly!), because worship is a lifestyle and a decision to publicly declare God as King. It’s an honor to sing to God, and give Him praise. The more I lead worship, the more I realize this is such a heavy duty to carry out, but I do it joyfully.

I’m not entirely sure how many of my readers have led worship before, but if you have, please tell me what kinds of things you’ve learned while doing so!! Have a great week, my friends!

Life Has Been Exciting Again!!

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Since I last posted, I have gotten more productive, and I have been joyously progressing in my life! What have I been up to, you ask?

I got a job! I am now the new dishwasher at a restaurant in my town, and I love it. It’s definitely harder work than I anticipated, but it’s really good work & has been so great for both my physical and mental health. I can feel my muscles getting stronger, and I can feel the pride in knowing that I’m doing a job I know I can do. Thanks to the camps I’ve worked at, I have all the previous experience of doing dishes under my belt, and so far it’s paying off (Feels good to know that I’ll actually have some money in the bank & I’ll finally be able to save for useful things, as well as the occasional espresso in my daily coffee)! I’m confident in my ability to work with a focused brain, and I’m pleased to say that my bosses have taken notice quite a lot lately.

I adore my team. Everyone is so kind and full of drive, which helps a lot. And if any of us has trouble, we’re quick to offer help to one another. Not only am I the only girl out of everyone on the dishcrew (girl power lol), but I’m also the shortest. So when I can’t reach something off the top of the shelf, or if I can’t put something away, all I have to do is hand something to my super tall coworkers. The camaraderie is really admirable here. I look forward to see how God will use me in this place.

I’ve been writing a little less, but I carry my notebooks everywhere to ensure that creativity doesn’t escape my grasp when it comes into reach. I’ve been editing a lot of my previous work, which hopefully will be done soon, because I have some exciting projects to do with it! My newest notebook has been used to create new pieces with new topics and formats. I’m still on page one, but that’s alright. I feel like this new season in my life will be full of newness, and stretching in my mind. God is going to be growing me a lot in the next few months (for example, taking the recycling out sounds like a tiny task, but the bin is huge, the wheels are broken, and I am tiny).

I’ve also been reading a lot more, which has been so good. I missed reading so much. I wanted to make sure all my editing was completed before taking on another book (still not done editing though). Ezra and I have taken a trip to the bookstore where I bought 2 books, which are “I Wrote This For You” and “I Wrote This For You And Only You”, both by Iain S. Thomas. I think his work is really beautiful & inspiring, and it’s as if he’s heard every thought in my head.

I also need to get back into the swing of bible studying. I stopped in the middle of Numbers, and I think I should start a routine again. I find it hard to read my bible for pleasure- I read it more for knowledge and study. I just don’t know where to begin. The bible is overwhelming, but I’ve been feeling the urge to dive in once more. Maybe I should just do it.

there’s a shortness of breath / going forward in life / just go ahead / live / be free

-Robin Bailey-Leonard, ‘life in abandon’

I don’t know when I’ll get a planner to sort out blog posts again. I miss being disciplined with a schedule, but my work schedule is all warped right now. Until next time, my friends!