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Oct. 27th, 2008

Cherish

I am sitting in my kitchen, addressing little notes to my bridesmaids, as my mother cooks, and speaks to my grandmother on the phone.  I find my heart swept-up in the holiness of a multi-generational moment.  Somehow, I am no longer a child; I am no longer an adolescent but have stepped into the world of adult women.  Somehow, I have become a part of the world of women that, as a little girl, I would gaze at from between the table-legs wondering if I would ever be like them.  Soon, I will be like my mother and know what it means to have a husband.  Soon, she will be like her mother, and know what it means to have a married daughter.  I am moved.

Sep. 9th, 2008

Nerd Alert and Precious Moments

I love school.

I love the fact that I've been here for 11 hours.  I love the fact that I'm sitting with a steaming hot cup of chamomile.  I love that I have a bajillion pages of reading to do.  I love that when I bumped into an amazing prof from last year, she hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  

I love organizing my binders.  I love tabbing my books.  I love the satisfaction of making it through large novels on a weekly basis; I love the satisfaction of a good read.   

I love meeting up with Jaime every week and hearing from Jesus through her.  I love how it is through school that God introduced us and continues to strengthen our friendship.  

I love long walks across campus with friends from classes as we get to know each other.  

I love campus in the autumn, as the weather changes and shorts change to track pants and my flip-flops get put away for my comfy  boots. 

I think that I even secretly love the stress of November and March.   

I love the GO Bus commute.  This time is precious: there is nothing more beautiful than talking and listening to the Lord while sitting in a comfy seat with a warm tea, looking at a beautiful morning sky.  



  

Wanting (from the summer...)

"All I know is that everything's gonna be alright..."

So sing the lyrics of a song being listened to by the lady in the office beside mine. 

I just got back from meeting a wonderful friend for lunch in the midst of a day that has been taking a new and somewhat different turn. 

I am not entirely convinced of the place where I am currently working.  Though, I am sure of what Jesus has told me about it.  I guess I'm unsure of how I am to respond.  My first response is: "I want to QUIT."  But, after fully confessing my frustrations to another friend (my lunch buddy's wife) yesterday evening under a beautiful clear blue sky, I arrived this morning and as the day progressed, the burden lifted.

The circumstances remain the same, but I am able to work.

Makes me think of Hannah, when the deepest longing of her heart was for a son and was seen pouring her heart out before the Lord by Eli.  After speaking with the Lord, and being blessed by Eli, Hannah's face was no longer downcast and she was able to eat. 

I love Hannah.  I love her story.  I respect the pain that she must have experienced in the deepest recesses of her heart.  I so appreciate how her story helps me understand what Jesus means when he says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  

Hannah longed to carry life; longed to give birth.  And couldn't.  Not without Jesus.  So she directed all of her sadness, sense of loss and unfulfilled desire at His feet.  With humility and tears, she cast her cares upon Him.   Eli assumed that she was drunk. 

Interestingly enough, there is another instance in the Scriptures when people are assumed to be drunk when not - makes me wonder how deep Hannah was in the presence of God as she poured out. 

Eli stepped in during her time of prayer.  Hannah, with humility, accepted his interruption and gently and humbly corrected his assumption.  Eli, moved, blessed her in the midst of her wanting. 

Her face was no longer downcast and she was able to eat, but not because her circumstance had changed.  In fact, the Scripture says that it was "in the course of time" that she conceived Samuel.  It didn't happen right away.  Even after pouring her heart out to the Lord, she was to wait for an unnamed amount of time. 

But she experienced what Paul told the Philippians about: the peace of God which transcends all understanding.   

Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast, although no immediate change was brought into her circumstance.

Her circumstance eventually did change, but not without a season of going without.  However, despite not having what she so desperately wanted, she experienced His peace.  

This "wows" me because I so easily forget, or miss, what it is that Jesus wants when He leads me into difficult circumstances.  He wants from me what he received from Mary: to choose to sit at his feet, even when there were a bajillion things to do.  He doesn't want me to plow through my day ignoring my pain, pretending it's not there.  He wants me to stop, sit with Him, and tell Him - honestly - that I am yearning for.  And even if the circumstance doesn't change, the spiritual climate will.  I think that maybe pouring out is the conduit between myself and His promise of peace.  Somehow, that kind of honesty opens up a channel between God and people that allows Him to give and us to receive His peace. 

Thank-You for the example You provide in Hannah.  Thank-You that it's ok to be honest with you about what it is that I am really feeling; what the deep yearnings of my heart are.  I'm sorry for not spending this kind of time with You.  Thank-You for being patient with me - please help me to truly know how much You care about my feelings and my life; how much You love me.  Thank-You for being a good Father.     

Apr. 25th, 2008

God's Grace

I lay broken and shattered as Satan took the floor
he shouted and he screamed
as his claws mercilessly tore
at my heart's door.

And he sneered all the more
as he saw my dirt pour forth on the floor
Ah, he yelled as my guilt did arise
Did your God really pay the price?

I saw only the dirt as he ranted and raved
I felt wicked and poor
and I sobbed all the more
on the floor.

Then the heavenly host descended with praise
and the King of all Kings did his mighty hand raise
"Satan!" He called, "Enough of your lies.
She is my child, I paid the full price."

"Each drop of my blood was shed for her name
Now in repentance she stands before me
free of all shame."

"She is my beloved
my bride she will be
for she knows the truth
and the truth has set her free!"

April 1, 1978.

Written by Mom on the night she committed her life to the Lord.
She was 18.

Apr. 14th, 2008

iHeart Revolution

Change is coming.


http://www.youtube.com/v/y1CbCYEn4lg&hl=en

Mar. 7th, 2008

Joy Comes in the Morning

The dawn is SO beautiful.  Watching the Sun rise and pierce a very thick darkness is breathtaking.  It is amazing how the night can feel so much longer than the day.  Although it is inevitable that the sun will set again, there is nothing more freeing, satisfying; nothing capable of filling my heart with more joy and gratitude than seeing the hint of daylight on the horizon after what was a long, difficult night.

Jesus, thank-you for the dawn.   



"And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it."

Mar. 4th, 2008

Kings Upon the Main

This lesson you'd do well not to forget.
Your life could be the one its wisdom saves
At sea, when you're beleaguered and beset,
On every side by strife of wind and waves.

Despite the best of maps and bravest men
For all their mighty names and massive forms,
There'll never be and never has been
A ship or fleet secure against the storms.

When kings upon the main have clung to pride,
And held themselves as masters of the sea,
I've held them down beneath the crushing tide
Till they have learned that no one masters me.

But grace can still be mastered in the gale.
With fear and reverence raise your ragged sail. 

Feb. 24th, 2008

Submission in the Interim

I don't think that it is possible for the time between this moment and April 28th to move any slower.  The danger of getting lost in the big picture is losing sight of the small picture; current moment which leads to the next moment, which leads to the next moment, etc.  As it stands, I fiercely desire to ignore Dionne Brand's What We All Long For  (interesting title, but still trying to figure out what Brand has decided the "what" is), ignore my phonetics assignment, forget the fact that I need to read King Lear and  neglect my text on the history of the Baby Boom generation. 

Hm.  Even as I list these titles, I see the value in what I am learning through them.  What We All Long For, though vile at times, is teaching me about street youth in Toronto and what it means for kids to grow up as people who inhabit borderlands.  Phonetics is infinitely better than syntax and morphology.  King Lear introduces an interesting dialectic about the notion of kingship.  Doug Owram's A History of the Baby Boom Generation reveals interesting things about the nature of the beast that is our culture.

So, it's not like the work I am required to do is uninteresting.  Far from it.  I think my problem is moreso with the fact that it is necessary.  "What's the point?" I ask myself.  The point is is that He said, "I want you to finish your degree." 

Through "Post-Colonial Writing in Canada," He taught me something important about what true lostness is.  Also, He introduced me to Basil Johnston.  Through "The Grammatical Structure of English," He is destroying the belief in me that I can attain His plan for my life through my own efforts, as if it is some goal that I constructed for myself.  Through "Shakespeare," He's teaching me that sometimes people assume that questioning is faithlessness when, in fact, it is not.  If such questions challenge your walk, it reveals more about how deeply (or shallowly) you trust Jesus than how deeply the questioning person trusts Jesus.  Through  "Canadian History," He's teaching me that there are some seriously broken people in this nation - in my backyard - whose pain He's made His business, and is thus becoming mine. 

I refuse the lie that the interim is merely an interim.  An in-between time?  Absolutely.  But a time of merely getting from point A to point B?  no.  Definitely a time of preparation and learning. 

Jesus, I confess that it is so easy for me dismiss the things that are set immediately before me.  I am tempted to ignore these things, and disguise my unwillingness behind a facade of super-spirituality.  I believe that You have put these things before me, as they are what are required of me to complete this degree, and You have spoken that I am to finish.   I need your help to be obedient.  Thank-You Jesus. 

Feb. 20th, 2008

Cleaning

Reading through Deuteronomy 7 this morning, I am struck by the force and intensity of God's personality, as revealed in the way His commandments and promises are communicated; how clear the delineation of what is of Him and what is not is made. 

What I am most struck by in this passage is what God finds detestable.  Detestable is such a strong word, and it caught my attention immediately.  Verses 25-26 say, "The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire.  Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by, for it is detestable to the Lord your God.  Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction.  Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction."

The last sentence (utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction) causes me to think more deeply on the things that I have in my home.  As I sit in my bedroom, I look at my TV, my movies, my "Breakfast Club" poster and know that all of things are going to be destroyed.  I know that these things are "just" entertainment, but what place does watching television have in the life of a follower?  I understand the value of being culturally relevant, but at the same time, where do you draw the line between what is relevant and what is escapism. 

When I read "do not bring a detestable thing into your house," I feel like now, knowing that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, this "house" refers to myself - my body, my mind, my heart.  The Holy God of the Old Testament is just as Holy today as He was then, so I wonder what it is about my culture and time that He desires me to not ingest both into my body, and into my mind and heart.  

Because God is holy, I can trust Him.  Alongside this trusting of holiness must come a deep, deep respect and reverence of His character; of the things He defines as of Himself.  What is not of Him will be destroyed.  His word says that He chose me be part of His people - that I am His treasure.  He does not lavish affections on me because I am great and mighty and strong, but because He loves me.  Of all the things God could have done with His power, He chooses to love me.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, this truth compels me to respect Him and love Him, although the sin in me compels me to reject Him and His ways.   Such a battle, but Jesus has won the war so with him, the daily battles can be won. 

Jesus, please show me specifically what it is that you wish that I be entirely separated from.  Thank-you that your amazing grace renews me daily, but please prevent me from being one who abuses your grace with license.  Please continue to open my heart to and let my eyes see the things in my life that prevent me from knowing you more intimately, and subsequently put up stoppages of the flow of your love into the lives of others.  I believe that I have been made to worship you with body, mind and heart.  Please help me and show me.  Thank-you for the promise that when partnered with you, I can trust that He who has begun a good work in me will carry it to completion.   Thank-you for your faithfulness, love and tender hand.  You are entirely trustworthy!

Feb. 13th, 2008

From the Overflow of the Heart

Reading about the Temptation of Jesus through Luke 4:1-12, I've been learning that when all things are stripped away (Jesus was in a dry, hot, desolate, uncomfortable place; he was hungry), what is truly at the core of your being is revealed. 

When Satan said to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread," Jesus responded with a quote from Deuteronomy 8. 

As I read through Deuteronomy 8, I saw how when Jesus was reading it, how he must have known that it was written just for him.  The reason he went through what he went through in the dessert is explained:

- The Father led Jesus through the desert to humble him, and to test him in order to know what was truly in his heart.

- The Father humbled Jesus, causing him to hunger to teach him that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 

- The Father brought Jesus into the desert to discipline (or disciple - intensive training) His Son. 

When Jesus was in a place of dryness and desolation, where there were no worldly comforts, what came out of his heart was the word of God.  What comes out of you when you are going through difficult things is reflective of what is inside of you.   When Job's entire household was murdered by Satan, Job  fell to the ground in worship and said, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21).  "From out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34).   The way we act and what we say when we are in a difficult place reflect the contents of our hearts. 

Another interesting point (well, more like monumental for me) was the absence of the mention of Satan in Deuteronomy 8 in contrast to the (what I had always assumed was a) "central" role he played in Jesus' temptation.  I too often believe the lie that Satan has a central or necessary role to play anywhere.  He doesn't.  He never does.  Jesus' temptation wasn't a story about him and Satan, but a story about him and his Father.  It was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the desert.  In Deuteronomy, we see that it was the Father who gave Jesus the commands to follow, it was the Father who humbled Jesus and tested the contents of his heart, it was the Father who caused Jesus to hunger to teach him that man does not live on bread alone.  Satan has no legitimate place in the story - he doesn't belong.  He is an intruder.  He is an infiltrator.  And God uses him only to bring us to points of decision in our lives; to points of testing to see what is truly in our hearts.  It's what He did with Job.  It's what He did with Jesus.  It's what He does with us.  Too often, too much focus is given to Satan, which isn't surprising seeing as he wants to be the star of the show. 

I'm interested to look at Deuteronomy 6 (the passage from which Jesus draws his other two verses in Luke 4:8,12) and Psalm 91 (the passage from which Satan draws from in Luke 4:10-11).  Much more to learn.

The past month or so has been filled with a lot of difficult moments as I wrestled with the disconnect between what the desires of my heart were in terms of the future, and the plan that I and my parents had established for myself.  This caused a lot of breakages in my love for the places where God had brought me: frustration with school and not wanting to go or finish, feeling fed-up with Roots and not being sure of where I belonged in ministry.  

I remember thinking more than once, but perhaps only verbalizing it once, that if I could do exactly what it is that I truly wanted to do with the rest of my life, it would be what I do at Roots: ministering to the spiritual needs of young women, and teaching then that their sole purpose in life is to worship Jesus.   I always thought that teaching in a high school was the closest I could get, so into the teaching stream I went! 

When January rolled around, the desire of my heart began to separate from and overcome the plan to go to Teachers College.  This caused a lot of frustration primarily because I felt that my parents had placed expectations on my life that I no longer felt were reflective of the direction my life was beginning to go in.  After a long and emotional talk with my dad on February 5, I was left feeling like he didn't bless or support my desire to pursue a place in youth ministry as a "career" at all.  He had a number of concerns for me - concerns that I felt that God would overcome in the snap of a finger.  At the same time, however, as I thought about the situation that evening, I felt God tell me that my dad's immediate reaction was not opposition against my desires and that things would be alright. 

The Thursday after that Tuesday, my dad said he'd give me a lift to work and on our way he told me that he wants to talk to me more about what was truly in my heart.  Last night, we sat down and had that talk.   And he just listened.  He had a few inquiring questions, and in the end he embraced me and told me that I had his support "a hundred thousand per cent." 

Now that I am not bound by any man-made plan for my life, I am free to truly submit it to God's will.  Having the freedom to investigate what a life devoted entirely to feeding his lambs is so much scarier than I anticipated.  I am going to finish my undergraduate degree (I'll be done April 2009), but this summer and even into the next academic year, I'm going start seriously looking at a number of opportunities that have been coming up.

The first one that has arose was through a youth leader who I remember being around for at least 9 years.  He approached me after church one Saturday evening in January and asked me, alongside a friend, to think about going into full-time youth ministry.  I sent him an email the next week, and he responded with four different directions I could go in.  He called me earlier this week to follow-up and we had a pretty good chat.  This man has such a deep and authentic love for young people, specifically those who are unchurched and have been hit hard by life.  I have such a strong desire to investigate further what it is that Jesus is doing through his group.  I am so excited that I have the freedom to do so.

But, some fears remain.  I fear that I'm doing this only to escape the "real" plan that God has for me.  I fear that if this is the direction He wants my life to go in, that I am inadequate.  While I fear these things, what I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is a God who answers.  That He is a God who has prepared things in advance for me to do.  So while there is much that I feel, I know FOR SURE that I can trust Him ABSOLUTELY. 

"I thank You SO much for who You are.  I thank You that your mission and cause in this world are to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recover the sight for the blind and to release the oppressed!  I thank You that You are incorporating me into this vision.  I pray that You would give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that is able to discern and understand what it is You want me to do, where it is You want me to go, what it is You want me to say.  My life outside of You is no life - without You, I am nothing.  I thank You that You love me with an everlasting love; You have drawn me with loving-kindness.  You are rebuilding me and bringing me Your promised joy.  You know the plans You have for me - plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and future.  I believe that all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be, and I believe that no matter what happens, I was created in Christ Jesus to good works, which You have prepared in advance for me to do.  Thank-you for the life you have given me.  It belongs to You."

    



  

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