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? 

 

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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*

Always Good.

Thursday, September 1st: If I was going to secure an interview, it was going to be today. There were two full work days left before the start of school. “Was I going to be in the top 5? Was my number going to be high enough? Would I be able to excitedly start setting up my classroom before the start of school? Should I have applied for that .33 job in hindsight? Who else has gotten hired? Am I the only one?” Those questions flooded my mind as I waited by the phone, skeptical to make last minute plans with friends in hopes that I would be called for an interview. I was hopeful, not unrealistically so – I want to work with that team, I want to greet the students I love as they get off the bus and pass through those doors. I want God to use me in that place again.

I have been praying for His will to be done (my mouth more than my heart)- but yet secretly hoping that by praying that, God would give me what I most wanted. Who was I kidding? He’s God – he knows my affections, my thoughts, the intentions of my heart. He sees right through my inauthentic prayers filled with flowery words and secret wishes. Was I truly ready and willing to submit and obey the Lord in every sense of the word – where He leads, I will follow? I hoped so, I truly couldn’t answer the question to that. Easier said than done.

I felt the need yesterday to walk, literally walk with the Lord- I put my running shoes on, plugged my earbuds in, and walked. And while I walked, I talked to the Lord, I prayed, I cried, I smiled, I worshipped, I sang – aloud. (Aside: off tune singing while panting around the neighbourhood receives its fair share of judgemental looks.) Five kilometres and an album later, I looked at my watch: 4:41pm. The day was over, the phone hadn’t rang, there was no interview.

But from my walk, came the following:
1) If my hope is Christ alone, If where you are is where I’m home, if knowing you is my delight, if in God alone I’m satisfied… Then break this old heart of stone, start a fire in these broken bones, Convince my heart at last, Come tell me of all I have in you – God of Ages Past.

2) My identity is NOT in a number, but Christ who holds the power. 
Where there was sin, Your loved rushed in, Where sin runs deep, Your grace runs deeper. For all enslaved, the ransom paid, light of the world, yours is the power.  – Seas of Crimson

3) I believe in God the Father, I believe in Christ the Son, I believe in the Holy Spirit, Our God is three-in-one. I believe in the resurrection, that we will rise again, for I believe in the name of Jesus.  – This I believe (The Creed)

4) My goal is not a job for a semester, or even for a year. But to know the Lord and imitate Christ. Would I give all I have just to know Him?
Oh to be like You, Give all I have just to know You. Jesus, there’s no one besides You, Forever the hope in my heart – Scandal of Grace (This is where we started having volume and pitch issues) 

5) Jesus, He loves me, He is for me.  – Jesus loves me (Chris Tomlin)

6) I want to imitate and emanate Christ.
Above and below me, Before and behind me, in every eye that sees me, Christ be all around me.  – Christ be all around me (All Sons and Daughters)

7) It’s your breath in my lungs, so I pour out my praise to YOU ONLY.  – Great are you Lord

I meditated on those songs yesterday, sang those words and God highlighted the words that stood out to me the most. I have been listening to this album on repeat x infinity x everyday. Shane & Shane: The Worship Initiative.  (<– Go listen to it… do it, NOW!)

Today: It was 7 o’clock in the morning, I logged onto the website and viewed my job application history. That job that I hoped for, the job that I wanted. Filled. NOT BY ME. I am disappointed and saddened, slightly anxious and yet I know – that God is going to use me somewhere else for His glory. My hope is not gone, my joy is not gone, because I am (trying) to hope in the Lord, and He is the source of my joy. I do not have a job for the first day of school. I do not have a job (yet) for the semester. But I am still called to obey, to work for and to live for the glory of God. He is faithful and he is ALWAYS GOOD.

 

love & fear

When I was younger and brought a new friend home, my parents would always ask me if they were a christian. If I had said no, they would suggest that  I bring them to church, resulting in an argument from me, not wanting me to impose my values, beliefs or at that time ‘religion’ onto my new found friends. I grew up thinking that my parents thought that it was better to go to church, that it was ‘better’ to have christian friends, a ‘holier than thou’, better than you perspective if you will. 

Only now as an adult, as I ask friends and co-workers to come to church with me – do I realize that it is a product of love, and a matter of life and death. I wish I had the boldness and fearlessness of a young child, unafraid and willing to share opinions, reasons, and truth. Now in my adult years, my fear is plagued by the opinions of others – what will people think of me, will I be able to share the gospel effectively, will the result of differences result in a broken friendship? These questions, while prominent and extremely relevant in my life demonstrate and signify how my fear of man is larger than my fear of God – and how often I simply underestimate the power and saving grace of the Holy Spirit.

I am constantly afraid to offend, afraid that I will no longer be ‘liked’. I am afraid to point out truth, and instead, allow for the gospel, and God’s word to be portrayed as a difference of beliefs. I cower at the thoughts and judgements of men, rather than stand in reverent awe of the Lord, the gospel and His miraculous ways. Throughout these past weeks, God has consistently pointed out my inabilities, only to find that my only abilities and strength is through Him and found in Him. I need to fear only Him, and my identity is found IN Him, not in the thoughts of others. I walk away from lunch dates thinking “I should have said this” or “I should have done that”. But it’s not me who saves, but the incredible power and work of a Sovereign God.

For those of you who have ventured this far and have not stopped reading because you realized this was a post about God, please continue reading, because whatever I am writing is a product of love, both the love I have for you, and the love that Christ has given us. I love you & more importantly God loves you. I may not have the strength or the ability to share the gospel with you effectively in person, or even effectively now as I try to write it here. My intention is not to point out differences of opinion, but to share the TRUTH.

God is the creator of the earth and the universe. He is perfect, and he has created us in His image – so that we can bring him glory and be in relationship with Him. But because we are born sinners, our sin (disobedience to God) has separated us from Him, the penalty for our sin condemns us to eternal death in hell. BUT Jesus, God’s son, was perfect, sinless and the ultimate sacrifice. His death paid the price for all of our sins (past, present, and future) of those who believe in Him. He resurrected from the dead, and sits at the right hand of God, His sacrifice accepted as payment for our sins, and we are forgiven. As a result, we need to believe in Christ, acknowledge, confess and repent of our sins (turn away from sin and turn to God in faith). Being in relationship with Him – set free from sin and looking to Christ as our reward and Saviour.  This isn’t a matter of opinion or a difference of beliefs, but of truth and a matter of life and death. I love you and would love to talk to you about any of this.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you as an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2: 21-24

Waiting…

I was up until two o clock last night, tossing and turning, and then up again at 5:30. I started googling “Can Christian girls ask out boys?” Humorous isn’t it? And of course in a round about fashion, scanning article after article, my question was never answered, but I was left in more confusion and asking more questions. “Was this in obedience to Christ? Is this selfish?” – the list goes on. I woke up from the little sleep with determination, conviction and confidence – I’m going to do it today, I’m going to ask…I’m going to tell him, and then I talked to my mom. 

It is taking more strength for me to do nothing and to say nothing. I am praying, I am praying hard. Not just for what I want, but for the will of the Lord to be done. I would be ecstatic if He would oblige me, but He is God – I receive barrels of His grace freely every day, all I want is to be obedient to Him. And that was my new struggle: my head and my heart was both pulling me in the same direction – BUT MY MOM, she was pulling me in the other. All of a sudden the grey area became more black and white, doing this – telling him that I am interested in him, and wanting to get to know him – would have been going against the will of my mom – not that I haven’t ever disobeyed my mom, because I likely disobey her daily as well (hence the barrels of grace), but the bible does say to respect and obey your parents. She said that she needs time – so time is what I am giving her.

So here I am, writing, or as I put it, stalling? because my heart and my head want to do something, and yet my mom wants me to do something different. She is telling me to wait. So I continue  to wait slightly on my mom, but more so on the Lord, knowing that this is testing my patience, and my endurance. It is taking me much more strength to do nothing, than to type a few words and press enter. It is taking me more strength and more patience to trust in Him, knowing that this was part of His plan to begin with. Man, I’m a mess now, could you imagine if I didn’t have Jesus?

Farewell Olympics.

The Rio Olympics 2016 are over today. As I say a short prayer, and even indulge in a moment of reflective silence, I say goodbye to the endless hours of entertainment, that could be found on 16 different livestreams the CBC website, allowing me to enjoy, any sport at any time, on any day. 

This is the first summer that I haven’t worked, and the first summer that I have limitless access to internet and to a television. And thus, the first summer, where I was able to finally enjoy the olympics in all of its glory. I watched young (Canadian) women swim for gold, feeling a little inadequate as my twenty six year old self sat in the glory of doom of pending unemployment. I watched as Degrasse and Bolt shared a loving look as they crossed the finish line in the 200m Mens semi-final, Rosie McClennan twist and fly in the air as she took the gold for trampoline, the first Singaporean ever to win a Gold medal (and a million dollars) and I also watched our Canadian divers as they missed the bronze by a hair.

I admit, I may have been guilty of skipping past some other international olympians, only to stop and cheer our Canadians on. Except when it came to Gymnastics, because when it all starts to look the same to you, why not just watch the best of the best, in other words the Americans and the Chinese, (If you do not know what I am talking about, go youtube Simon Biles, and thank me later). From synchronized swimming, to Synchronized diving, and when there was nothing else synchronized that I could watch, I watched everything else (minus soccer, rugby, horses, archery, and anything that involves fighting – you get the idea!)

As much as I love the Olympics, I also loathe the amount of money that is spent in preparation for the event, money that could be poured out into so many different and more beneficial areas. I wonder what is next for the olympians after they are past the prime age in their sport, was all the time spent training in vain, especially if they didn’t medal? I could delve more into whatever thoughts enter my mind, but what really stood out to me these Olympics were two American men: Steele Johnson and David Boudia.

After earning their silver medal, they gave glory not to themselves, but to Christ, stating that “Their identity is rooted in Christ, not in what the result of the competition is.” in an interview with NBC. What an incredible encouragement in the midst of competition, pressure, to show glory and praise to God. What a way to make the Lord known, than to broadcast it to millions of people across the nation. Not only did they please and praise the Lord with their words, but before the interview and in learning that they had learned they received the silver medal, they prayed with their coaches. Below is a screenshot of what was shown on CBC, various teams were happy and celebratory, but this American duo (with their coach shown below) rejoiced in the Lord through thanksgiving, worship and prayer. I was so encouraged by this, that I had to take a screen shot of it and share.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 9.35.34 AM

The Lord used two divers, to encourage many, and to glorify Him in front of the nations. Oh that the Lord be praised for livestreams and screenshots as well ; )

The closing ceremony airs tonight at 7pm. Not sure yet if I will be tuning in, mainly because it is never that great, and I’m in denial that it is over. In addition to this, I must also prepare for the for the Rio Paralympics 2016: opening ceremony – September 7th.

3. The feeling

Dear beloved,

I think I am struggling with God – not with unbelief, but with experiencing Him passionately. It feels like I am standing in a splash pad with no running water. I know what I am supposed to be doing – I am ready, dressed and willing, and yet there is no flowing water.

Last week in Romania, we sat in  a packed van and sang our hearts out to the Lord our God, after seeing the way that he worked in the gypsy camp. We left the van and almost all of the girls were in tears – experiencing the depth and the works of the Holy Spirit on their hearts. My eyes were dry, not a tear in sight. I wanted to cry, I wanted to feel the works of the Holy Spirit working in me again. He is working in me, I am learning and my heart is being changed, and yet I don’t feel that passion or that conviction. Rather I feel the heaviness of my prideful heart, while I long for the tears of emotion.

I am searching for that feeling, the feeling of experiencing God and being overwhelmed by his presence. I know that I am wrong to think that this feeling can be fulfilled by you, or by watching a romantic comedy, and yet I would rather numb my mind and gravitate to mindless entertainment than finding rest and meditation in His word. Reading the bible has lately become a box that I check daily and a page that I fill in my notebook. I have read the word and yet where is the obedience and fruit?

I feel lukewarm. I know it is a job that only the Holy Spirit can complete. I need to get down on my knees and yet, I do not know what I would say.

I am a sinner. He loves me. And I am redeemed. Of this I am sure. I can’t seem to articulate much else.

Love,

Your Beloved