My year in 5 words.

Faithful. This year, I experienced the tangible faithfulness of God. If in the future, I ever complain of God’s lack of faithfulness, please remind me of the 2016-2017 school year as an incredible display of God’s faithfulness. I started the year off with no potential LTOs, only to have 5 consecutive ones this year – I got called in for a week long job on the first day of school that turned into 4 weeks. A few weeks later, I was serving at a church event which resulted in turning down interviews because I could not make it there in time, only to have two jobs offered to me 20 minutes later. Months later, I was turning into a prayer meeting as a vice principal called me to offer me a job until the end of the year. Through my lack of trust, my fear of man and my tendency to complain, God’s faithfulness remains steadfast. I know that my God is faithful, but what an incredible way to experience His faithfulness this year.

Servant. This word has been on my heart for the past couple of months, reminding me of what I should be, who I should strive to be like and the attitude I should have in serving others. But truly, this has been one of my greatest struggles – to serve without expecting anything in return, to serve the people that I do not like, to serve when I do not feel like it. I want to be a servant. I want to be a servant of God and a servant of others. Two words come into my mind – hospitality and humility. Both of which I am lacking… which brings me to my next word..

Pride. Pride today seems to be have a positive connotation and yet if you could hear my thoughts on a daily basis as I drive in the car, it would not only encompass pride, but impatience, anger and likely hatred. I hope no one soon acquires the superpower of reading people’s minds, because i would have zero friends. This year, there have been times when pride has been flashing in large red letters as if warning me to not let it interfere with my relationships, my attitude, my job. And yet more often that that, it has been more like a check engine light, warning me that something needs to change and yet I procrastinate or tell myself that it can wait, there are other pressing issues to deal with. Pride – God has given me a reality check this year. I am scared to ask for God to humble me, because… I have… and well, he does. God has made my pride evident to me this year. And I am not proud of it… ha.

Dating. HAHAHAHA.
Get it? Because my dating life is a joke.
But yeah that happened this year, feel free to read more about it here  and here. 

Perseverance. I struggled with choosing this last word. Because unlike the last, this year has been hard. I did not enjoy every day at work, and my various jobs were met with quite unique challenges. Yes, it might have taken perseverance to go to work every day, whatever. But more than that it took perseverance for me to open my bible in the morning and read the Word… even when I did not feel like it. I went through a little bit of a dry spell… when I wasn’t feeling the Lord, and my reading was simply routine. In fact, I am still slowly trying to climb up, I want to be at a place when I am in love with the word again, and looking forward to my time with Him, rather than viewing it as a chore. I want to pray out of necessity not just out of want. Continuing to persevere in prayer and in His word has been one of the most difficult challenges this year and still continues to be.

 

Expect nothing in return

“Let me tell you the story of an angel that God had placed in my life”. She said to me. She proceeded to tell me about a stranger who had loved upon her within minutes of meeting her, and generously blessed her despite not knowing her. A stranger who took out the government cheque out of her purse, signed the back, and gave it to her without any questions asked, wishing that she had more to give. A stranger continued to give days, weeks, and months after, knowing that she was in need. A stranger who didn’t think of loving as an inconvenience but a joy. A stranger who quickly became a friend. A friend who she seldom talks to, but often talks about. I knew this stranger, I knew her friend, and hearing this story did not shock me at all. I didn’t think it was possible to love her even more – but I did. 

I think about these past couple of months, and I marvel at the faithfulness and sovereignty of God. Part of His faithfulness is demonstrated by the constant flow of work that He has steadily provided (seriously ask me about this in person, because it’s incredible how God orchestrates His plan). But God also continues to exemplify His faithfulness in the people that He has placed in my life these past couple of months.

Some are strangers, strangers who have started praying for me, before I even realize that they are praying. Strangers who have taught me about trusting in the Lord, going to a different church service to attend a Marshall’s sale later , and believing in the absolute power of of prayer.

Some are friends, friends who laugh with me and encourage me, who pray for me and serve with me. Friends who have spoken wisdom into my life, who have tried to set me up with someone they have already been out with, and not judge me for wanting to spend money on a VIP movie. Friends who will talk until there is no one left in the sanctuary and most importantly – friends who will fondue with you (highly recommend one of these).

Some are older, who have lived more life than I have, who have more wisdom than I have, and who love the Lord just as I do. Whose life experience is filled with anecdotes and stories, wisdom and folly, and whose words and advice are filled with grace and love.

Some are younger, who have taught me the importance of living fearlessly and boldly, all for the sake of the gospel. Adolescents who are burdened by the pain and sorrow of their friends, and who are filled with brokenness because they do not know the Lord. Students who will write essays about Christ, proclaim the gospel to their teachers, and boldly share truths with their friends.

Some (like the friend described above) of whom I think I am unworthy of. Servants of the Lord who make me question and challenge my faith and my actions simply by leading by example and following in the footsteps of Jesus. Who give willingly and generously, not just out of their abundance, and expecting nothing in return. Who love me and model the love of Jesus in my life, who challenge me to be more like Him and to love more like him – to love unconditionally without expecting anything in return.

“And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”   – Luke 6: 34-36

6. hard but necessary

Dear beloved,

The date count has gone up. The total number of dates now that I have gone on has been 6. And while they have been positive experiences, I hoping that the number will stay at 6 until I meet you. Dating is confusing, it brings up more questions that it does answers, and the worst part is when it brings up unanswered questions. Dating is filled with uncertainty and while uncertainty helps me to depend on the Lord, it also scares terrifies me.

I find it pretty ironic that I started writing this post a couple of days ago, with an entirely different purpose, outlook and conclusion. The draft was saved, unfinished and unpublished, as if to say that I was even uncertain of what I was trying to say. And even as I sit here at 3:20am in the morning, having just waken up and unable to sleep with a myriad of thoughts in my head, I find myself writing aimlessly and trying to process what it is that I am actually thinking. It has been a tough couple of days, and I am slowly coming to the realization that uncertainty and not knowing all the answers can often be a good thing. Despite the amount of anxiety it has given me these past couple of days, uncertainty, in all of it’s glory has helped me rely on, and be more dependent on the Lord.

I am excited to meet you, and eager to get to know you, but now that I have had experience in dating, you can also add apprehensive to that list. Because getting to know you, as fun as it will be, also requires vulnerability. I am not an easily vulnerable person, mainly because being vulnerable means sharing something that you aren’t necessarily comfortable opening up about it, or answering a hard question that requires blatant honesty. Vulnerability requires trust, and trust is a hard thing to establish given a short time period, and is something that must be built. I hope that when we date, our trust will be built, that our trust will have a foundation of friendship, because figuring out if you want to date a stranger is pretty hard.

In the past couple of days, it seems like I have felt every single emotion on the spectrum of emotions, from anxiety, frustration, disappointment, confusion, dread to joy, wonderment, relief, eagerness and ultimately peace. Through this dating phase God has taught me some lessons that were surprising, and yet… necessary.

  1. It is better to be uncertain, than it is to be foolish.  – Being uncertain is not a bad thing, but it is a scary thing. It means being cautious, protective of my heart. Entering into a relationship isn’t going to be easy, and character is everything. How are you going to treat me, are you listening to what I am saying, are you going to remember what I have said, are you interested in getting to know me? Before I give my heart to you, before thinking of the future, these are questions that I now know should have solid answers.
  2. It is okay to not know what my desires are – Desires are simply that – desires. They are not written in stone, and they may and can change over time. I learned that the important part is to be pursued and loved as a partner first. Because a godly marriage is the foundation for a godly family. Are you pursuing me because of me, and the partnership that we can have in Christ, or are you pursuing me as a means to an end goal? I am still trying to figure out what my desires are. Those desires may change as I meet you, as I commit to you, and as I love you, as long as our desire first and foremost is for the Lord.
  3. There shouldn’t be any hesitations. – If and when I commit to something more with you, there will be no hesitations, on my part and on yours. Hesitations are different than fears – there will always be fears. Fears of failure, fear of the unknown, of heartbreak, of invested time that does not lead to marriage. But hesitations breed insecurity, insecurities – doubt, and doubt – mistrust. Any type of commitment should be entered in with confidence, joy, peace and eagerness to start something that will be glorifying to God. I want our commitment to take the fear of the unknown and make it exciting.
  4. Feelings aren’t everything, but they are something. – Attraction grows. I don’t know if I will be attracted to you at first, or if the attraction that I have for you and vice versa will grow as we get to know one another and see the hearts that we have for Christ and for each other. There are other feelings too though. Feelings of nervousness are important, feelings of anxiety and stress. I learned that if I feel these things I need to ask myself what is the source of these feelings, not simply regulate them and move on. God can use the way that I feel to reveal to me something that I had not known before.
  5. Being comfortable with vulnerability takes time. There was a point when I felt like i was having open heart surgery, without any warning or pre-op appointment. I appreciate honesty, openness and vulnerability, and I am willing to reciprocate. I learned that it is one thing to be vulnerable, and another to be comfortable with the vulnerability. Ideally it is the latter, sometimes vulnerability is worth the risk, and I know that it will be worth it with you.
  6. Friends in different stages. – I am so thankful for friends and family who have spoken into my life in different ways throughout the dating process. Friends who are single, married, divorced, and newly married – single parents, grandparents, married parents. They have all spoken truth into my life, with various viewpoints, experiences and nuggets of wisdom, I hope that you have people pouring into your life as well who love you enough to pray for you!
  7. Sanctification. Ultimately I see the dating process as a process of sanctification. And that is what has given me hope. In the past week alone, I have seen results of this, in my complete dependence on the Lord for wisdom and discernment. He has revealed to me the power of praying His word, specifically Psalm 143:8-10  which reads:
    Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust.
    Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.
    Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to You for refuge.
    Teach me to do Your will for You are my God!
    Let Your good spirit lead me on level ground!
     Psalm 143:8-10 
    These verses, now committed to memory, has been a saving grace this week, and to see and recognize how God has answered this prayer has been in and of itself been an incredible journey.

Dating is a lesson in selfishness, selflessness and sacrificial love. It is hard, confusing and while I do not regret any of these experiences, I also would not go back and repeat them. This past dating experience will take some healing, some recovery, some processing. Ultimately, we both left having shared the gospel and making a new friend. There were harder lessons to learn here, and some were necessary, and the way that I look at it all, is that it is preparing me for something greater, it is preparing me for you.

Dating is hard. Marriage will be harder. I am apprehensively excited to journey together,

Love,

Your future wife.

Honestly, Honesty

To the student who got to keep the marks that she didn’t actually earn. To the customer that got to keep the extra change that they accidentally received, after being truthful with the cashier… To the teacher who got the job after being honest about her… Oh wait, that didn’t actually happen…. 

I photocopied my evaluation, took off my jacket, wrote down my references and walked into that office – answers blaring ready to face any questions that were about to come at me. Engaging in small talk, I was honest about my situation – my contract date to be specific, and then I hear the words…”we can’t interview you”. 

Just like that my heart drops – an opportunity gone, the fear of the unknown creeping back in. Disappointment that I don’t get the opportunity to divulge what I know, my experience with the population. It is hard enough to obtain an interview, so to not be given the opportunity to be interviewed was hard to hear. A flood of emotions swept over me – regret, embarrassment, anger, sadness, disappointment, fear. All at once – would you believe me if I said that I am not an emotional person?

The contract dates overlapped. I understand. I also have no one to blame – they were following the rules, I was trying to seize every and any opportunity that would come my way. And unfortunately, this was not one that I would be ‘seizing’ anytime soon. I had multiple conversations regarding whether or not I should reveal the end date of my contract with many people. Some said ‘be upfront’, some said ‘be upfront only if they ask’. Others said, ‘Interview, wait until they want you, and then tell them the situation’. But I am held to a higher standard – and so the right thing, the biblical thing, the obedient thing to do was to be honest and upfront – hiding nothing. And so I did – and unfortunately things didn’t work out the way that I would have liked them to.

It’s so easy to think that obedience to Christ means that we will always get what we want – until things don’t turn out the way I want them to. But following Christ requires sacrifice, promises persecution, endures hardship, and calls for obedience, even when the outcome is not in our favour. We are not promised straight A’s, a comfortable & safe life, nor are we promised a full time job with benefits and summers off. We receive something better – unfathomable truth, an everlasting joy, victory over sin and death, eternal life, forgiveness of our sins, righteousness through Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, grace upon grace.

I would have loved this job, but I thank God that He is sovereign, because I know that it is not where He wants me. He is going to use me in a different way, in a better way, in a way I may never know, to give Him glory. Also, His faithfulness has never failed me, why should I start doubting now?

So I walked to the car, without an interview, jobless and angry – a myriad of thoughts and feelings intertwining like a web. This was not a happy ending. Honestly, honesty – I hope we can do better next time…. but at least I can write about it. 

5. dating

Dear Beloved,

It has dawned on me recently that in order to marry you, I will, at some point, have to date you. It should seem like common sense, but I guess as I have grown up, I have always expected to befriend someone, for a friendship to grow into a relationship, and for that relationship to one day turn into marriage. I expected courtship to be easy, natural, organic if you will. And here we are, we come to the word that I have recently realized that I detest…. dating.

What is dating? I don’t know. I wish dating would mean the art of putting dates into a dessert or sweet treat or slapping an expiry date onto a breadloaf – sounds simple enough to me. Because I have no idea what I am doing in this area of life. Nor did I ever think that I would be ‘dating’, I don’t even know if that is what I am doing, but I really don’t know what other trendy name they are calling it these days. People add the word ‘biblical’ to the front of the word dating, to what they call ‘biblical dating’ or ‘biblical courtship’ and well – that’s when they have really lost me.

I find it hard to wrap my mind around dating, perhaps because I have so many mixed feelings about it. I love that you can intentionally get to know someone better, and perhaps in some cases meet a new friend, but if that were the only case, we would stop wondering about what the other person would be thinking. In all honesty, if it doesn’t work out (and I am far from being an expert) would I consider it time wasted? I’m hoping that whatever time I spend ‘dating’ would be glorifying to the Lord and fruitful in some way; that God would use it for His glory. I thank God for His sovereignty, because only a sovereign God would be able to use a bad date for something good (insert light chuckle here).

I wish that when I walk into a coffee shop, sirens and flashing lights will go off, a marquee wouldn’t hurt either, as if for God to say, ‘THIS IS THE ONE’! I am told that it is not this easy. I will say this – I am excited for the ‘dating’ to be over. To be able to look back, reminisce and see what God has done through those dates ‘good or bad’. Because regardless of the dates, I am sure that God is at work, someway and some how. I am constantly praying that God will be given glory – always, even with a short time together. When we make that final commitment to marriage, beloved, I am sure that our relationship, courtship, and period of ‘dating’ will point towards the cross, will be a testament to what God has done in both our lives, and that we will be more fruitful together than when we are apart.

… maybe dating doesn’t seem so bad after all… HA – yeah right.

Anxiously dating,

Your beloved

Fat Ketchup

“She is a Fat Ketchup” , he said under his breath as he covered his face with a newsletter, embarrassed that he was saying such a foul, mean phrase. “Fat ketchup” a student beside him repeated, unaware of the shame that the other student was feeling. Fat ketchup – meant as an insult, meant to hurt and meant to indicate the anger, the hurt and the pain that he was feeling. The worst insult that he could come up with at the time, and he meant every word. He didn’t deserve the yelling or the screaming, the insults or the harsh tone. His words were a direct consequence of the bullying and the hurt that he was feeling. 

I have had a heavy week this week. I have seen the impact of an insult on a child, the result of a harsh tone on another human being. I have listened and experienced an intense battle between flesh and spirit. I have witnessed the outcome and sadness of an undeserved punishment. I have seen the look of pain effected by an insult filled with lies. And I have felt the drain of a negative attitude of another. I feel heavy, tired, sad and angry.

There was a cowardice that I felt this week, a feeling of insecurity, a helpless feeling  of not being able to do enough. Was I able to sacrifice my own comfort? Am I able to fear God more than I fear man? Am I willing to battle and face strife daily rather than watch others suffer? I am convicted, but not convinced, perhaps because of the battle occurring the spirit and my flesh. I know i am sounding obscure, confusing even. But really, it is quite simple. It is the war between good and evil. A war, more than a battle, a war that needs strategy. A strategy that begins with prayer.

On Monday night, I prayed about it. On Tuesday, tears were entered into the equation, along with my small group who fought and encouraged me through with prayer. On Wednesday, there were results, grace-ful results, and it was only by the work of the Lord through the power of prayer. Later that night, my heart was heavy, heavy because someone was hurting, and I couldn’t do anything about it. All I could do was pray. Then I realized, that I could PRAY – and what an amazing power that is. That is the best thing I can do, that is more than anything I could have ever done on my own.

To whoever is feeling hurt or betrayed, bullied or insulted. 
Please know how dearly loved you are. I hope that you tell someone, not so that they can stand up for you, or put a stop to it, but so that they can pray for you. There is only One that can heal, and that can change hearts. One that can eliminate evil and bring about justice. And that One is the Lord, Jesus Christ. He has the power. So allow Him to work, allow for His love to conquer, in the same way that is has conquered death and Sin.

Do not give in to the power of negativity, hurtful words or insults. Give power and praise to the One that it is due. There is saving power in the Word of God, power in the name of Jesus. This is the power that has gotten me through this week, that has allowed me to rejoice and give thanks despite the circumstances. This world sucks. There is something better coming. Meditate on His promises, on His word, it is truth after all. See yourself in the way that God sees you. 

He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord and abundant in power, His understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground – Psalm 147:3-6

This song has been such a weapon, a sword if you will in these past couple of weeks. I hope that it encourages you.

I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind. The God of Angel Armies, is always by my side. Whom shall I fear? 

 

Faithfulness

I have been wanting to write this post for a while, but have never found the time or will to sit down and write it. Three months ago, I was discouraged by the limited amount of interviews and prospects that I was receiving. Two months ago, I was amazed by His faithfulness and His constant provision. Today – I am overwhelmed.

On the first day of school, September 6th, I was unemployed and prayed that God would use the free time that I was anticipating fruitfully for His Glory. 2 hours later, I received a phone call for a job at a school for 11:30am that day. That job which was supposed to last 4 days, ended up lasting 4 weeks through a myriad of various events including a death, a fall, cracked teeth, and an allergic reaction.

On September 27th, when the job ended, I worked two supply days. On September 30th, the 2nd day of supply work, I received a call for an LTO that would last 3 weeks, teaching English Language Developing students math and science. What an incredibly humbling, rewarding, challenging and difficult experience. Those 3 weeks turned into 4, allowing me also to serve at Harvest University – something that I had committed to for a while.

Days before that job was ending, I interviewed for 2 different jobs. While serving at Harvest University, I turned down at least 3 week long supply opportunities and 2 interviews. I was scared that this decision to serve was unwise, especially with so many opportunities being thrown at me (it felt like spiritual warfare to me). But on the second day of serving at Harvest U, I received two phone calls, with two LTO job offers. God had provided again in abundance and allowed me to pick where I would serve Him next. I started a new job the day after I ended the last, on October 28th.

And here we are, on November 15th, with a job until at least mid-January. I am simply amazed that God has provided me with these opportunities. Overwhelmed by how He has faithfully provided. And yet part of me feels guilty because I underestimated the work of the Lord – I not only daily receive His grace, but in addition to that – His abundant blessings. I am grateful to have had these opportunities behind me. They were wonderful even with their challenges (and then some). I am currently in an amazing job until at least mid January. And while that might stress people out, I know that God will provide and if not He has a different, a better plan for me. Regardless of the job situation – His faithfulness knows no end.

That time when I finished the Bible.

This morning, September 29th at 7:23 am, I finished reading the bible for the very first time. Not going to lie, I am pretty proud, it feels like an incredible accomplishment and it has been an incredible journey, a journey that is only just beginning. It has been one of the best, and yet most difficult commitments. But what a humbling and satisfying one.

The Plan: Every Day in the Word
This plan was to be completed in a year. I had chosen this particular plan because the amount of daily reading was manageable and had me in the old testament, new testament Psalms and Proverbs everyday, and repeated the book of Psalms twice. Being in the old and new testament allowed me to see the characteristics of our never changing God and the extent of His grace simultaneously in the new and old testament. Other daily reading plans can be found here.

The time: November 18th 2014 – September 23rd 2016
It has taken me a little under two years to complete this reading. Looking back in my journals, I can see where I was really thirsting for the word of God – when some of my readings took up two pages in my journal, and other days when I could hardly fill a page,. There were days where I was desperately trying to find a verse that would speak to me that day. Other times there were dates where weeks had gone by without reading, and where reading was scarce, forced, and was done simply so I could colour in the box. Then there were the days where time ran out, and I had barely touched on the first passage for the day, completely indulging in the word of the Lord, mesmerized by every verse, word and captivated by the truth. I am incredibly thankful that the Holy Spirit has given me the need and the thirst that can only be filled by the word of God.

notebook
The routine: Or lack thereof. Some days, I woke early, at 5:30am or 6:00 and spent time reading the word, other days it was the last thing I did before I went to bed. There was a period of time where I spent my lunch and prep as a supply teacher reading in an empty staffroom. Routine was stable for a couple of weeks or months, but then would change as circumstances and life changed with it.

The tools: Bible (ESV STUDY), pens, notebook and plan.
I used both the ESV study bible, and the online version (both the same). The online version came free when I was given the ESV study bible almost 6 years ago now. But it helped when I was at school or not at home, to have a mobile version with me. I am also a stationary junkie, I joke (but not really) that when I die, all they are going to find are me and my journals with my pens (and now washi tape). I looked forward to filling in my journals, and using my stationary, it encouraged me to do my readings (at first) and then it was simply the Holy Spirit that gave me the craving for His word.
notebooks

Tip: I am no expert – evidenced by the fact that it took me two years to finish a one year plan. Pick a plan and stick to it. Like many, Genesis is the most read book of the bible in my repertoire. Print out the plan and have a tangible copy that can be ticked or checked off when the daily reading is completed. Cause sometimes, the small things can make one feel quite accomplished. bibleplan

Grace and Discipline: There were days where I was too gracious with myself, but then there were days where I just couldn’t and all I felt was guilt that I hadn’t yet spent time with the Lord. Be gracious enough so as to not be discouraged. It is okay to miss a day, it isn’t the end of the world, do not feel the necessity to catch up – stick with the plan, and open the bible tomorrow. But when there is time, and you do not feel like reading, do it anyway. There is power in the word of God, and never underestimate how the Holy Spirit can and will work even when you are not “feeling it”.

What’s next?
My mind is tinkering between two different things at this moment.
Harvest 20s&30s is about to start a month long journey into Philippians
Or a FREE study with Jen Wilkin in the book of Hebrews: free audio and workbook.

And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a LATRINE to this day.  – 2 Kings 10:27.  The bible is full of gems.

Himself.

Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts i wanted,
Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.

Once ’twas painful trying,
Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost.
Once ’twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor’s cast.

Once ’twas busy planning
Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care.
Once ’twas what i wanted
Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking,
Now ’tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted,
Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored,
Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus,
Now I know He’s mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited,
Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored
Safe within the veil.

– A.B. Simpson

*Read on Sept 3rd in Transforming Prayer by Daniel Henderson*