Why God?

Hey, I’m Celeste and it’s an honour to be here! I had the absolute pleasure of calling Tat my friend. We met at Mountainside Church in Binbrook, Ontario where there’s a street called Magnificent Way. Tat fondly tweeted about that street once. (She adored the people at Mountainside and there is no doubt that the adoration was mutual).

tat

‘Why God?’ is a question I’ve found myself asking a lot more often over the past year. It’s usually followed by the different situations or feelings I find myself in, like why do I feel lost?… Why am I struggling?… Why did you need me to leave my comfort zone?… Why did you challenge me like this?… Why won’t any plans I make work out?… Why can’t I know the plans You have set for me?…

I ask God that last one often. Most recently when He decided He wanted to completely flip my life around and I did not understand why He would do that to me.

Out of all the things He could ask me to do, God tugged on my heart and asked me to leave my comfort zone, my community, my safe place. He asked me to move churches and I was TERRIFIED. My conversation (more accurately very one-sided questioning) with God went something like this:

God, why in the world do you need me to move from where I am comfortable and go to a church where I know no one and they don’t know me? Haven’t I been through enough this year?

This was in October of last year. I’ll spare you the details, but I want to tell you this: I’m so happy now. I have this incredible community around me and I’ve never felt more at home than I do where I am now.

If I could have fast forwarded and had the chance to see how His plan for this would play out, I wouldn’t have had any hesitation or doubt in my mind that God had a purpose and plan for me with this move. It’s so hard to not know what His plans look like for us when we’re here and the struggles of life seem to overwhelm us. We walk through the why’s daily – the list goes on and on.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God says He knows the plans He has for us…

I think that sometimes, to take us deeper in our faith, God places us in situations where we need to rely on Him completely to walk us through. He needs us to trust that He’s gotten us this far and will take us further. He tells us in His word that He goes before us, so shouldn’t that be enough to make us trust Him completely? Many times it seems unfair as we go through tough situations, that God’s being mean, but at the end of it, He really is taking us deeper into a beautiful relationship with Him.

Verse 11 goes on to say that the plans He has are to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future.

It’s not easy to trust God in the why moments, I think we’ve all experienced this first hand time and time again. The best thing change has taught me is that God’s love, and the way He cares for me is constant. It’s the one thing I can always count on.

So friends, can we agree that we need to learn to seek Him even in our moments of struggle? There should be no doubt that He sees us, knows us, and is with us.

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Iron Hearts

Hi, I’m Julia, it’s a pleasure to meet you! I am honoured to be sharing some of my writing here on Tat’s blog. I knew Tat from being at Mountainside Church and meeting her was a very strange and wonderful moment in my life. It had to be God because I don’t see how else it could have happened. We had met briefly in that way that you meet someone just because you’re friends with people who run in the same circles. I was in awe of this girl who was younger than me but had already lived so much more life than most people I knew. I was enamored by her. In the following weeks after we first hung out, she became so incredibly transparent with a lot of things going on in her life. She spoke about things in a way that was so brutally honest, I hadn’t ever experienced this before with someone I felt like I barely knew – and that feeling of ‘barely knowing’ her was extremely short-lived. Tat taught me a lot about how to love women better, how to be a better friend, and how to navigate some bumpy patches with all the grace and love that we can manage at that point in our walks with Jesus.

The summer of 2017 Tat and I bonded over things like being the only 2 girls in the office, boy troubles, her deep love for her brothers and sisters in Peru, and having to pee way more than the boys (who like never had to pee for some reason?). Anyway, through Tat I got to meet some amazing people and experience some incredible things. One of those things was her friendship and friendship in general. When Scott originally brought up the idea of having guest writers I was so intimidated to be grouped in with these INSANELY talented women, and I think that’s when the idea of writing on navigating friendships came to mind.

In her honour, I want to talk a little bit about navigating these friendships into our 20’s and adulthood. Now, I am in no way an expert on this matter, I’m not claiming to have all the answers and there’s so much I have left to learn on just this topic alone. Which is why I also reached out to a few people to get their take on what friendships look like at this stage in our lives. Ultimately, I had to learn how to submit my friendships completely to God and I mean completely. Sometimes that meant I had to submit them in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. That I was living in a space of complete faith and trust in Him, and that God had already won this for me, and I just needed to be patient. Spoiler alert: I’m still working on this.

A mentor and very good friend of mine Laura, told me years ago that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” (which I believe is originally a Jim Rohn quote). We took to her children’s whiteboard easel one night and listed my top 5 friends, listed one positive and one negative about each person, and she asked me if I was okay with these traits rubbing off on me. It was eye-opening. Check out Proverbs 13:20 as a good biblical reference for this kind of exercise too. I’ve continued to do this exercise over the years, and take it with a grain of salt of course, but it’s been a great tool for accountability.

“Iron sharpens Iron” Proverbs 27:17 is one of the most obvious scriptures we think of when someone mentions friendship, right? A lot of people I talked to mentioned investing in friendships that give as much as they take. Now, this isn’t always going to be equal. I can tell you my friends had to give a lot more to me in the time following August than I was giving back to them. But it’s like a pendulum, and there are times when I’m giving more than I’m getting, and that’s okay. As long as it’s a healthy balance. Another good thing to invest in are the “friends to your future, the ones who inspire you and who call out the best in you (thank you Emily L. for that gem!)”. These are the friends who call you out when you need it, and also speak life over you. They are invaluable.

Time management is another important factor because friendships are going to be harder to maintain when it’s not convenient. “Despite how busy you are you should always find time for those you care for” (from my girl Silar who has been living 1.5 hours away for the past 4 years). 1.5 hours doesn’t seem like much, but when it’s someone special, that distance feels so much worse. But we’ve made it work with short visits, and summers and coffee dates and texting constantly. Not having time is an excuse, and being ‘busy’ has become glorified. Be honest about what you’re capable of up front, and work within those parameters.

I also know that what works for me – an extrovert who could quite literally see my friends every day and still miss them, will not work for my girl Sam who is an introvert and needs her very valuable alone time to recharge. It’s important to respect those boundaries, respect each other, understand that you’re different people with different needs and create a safe dynamic that works for both and/or all people involved. There were a few times I just took Tat aside and had to offer clarity or ask for it on certain things, and every single time she was graceful and it only helped our friendship. It also helps that my love language is words – which is another thing I recommend! Find out your friends love languages (and Enneagram types!). I’m not kidding, it’s actually a lot of fun.

I feel like I could go on and on because friendships are so complicated especially today with social media and that very unhealthy culture of comparison vs reality, and I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface here. But ultimately, we’re called to community (1 John 1:7 & Matthew 18:20), to share each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and to love unconditionally (Proverbs 17:7), which could look very different depending on the situation, but that’s a conversation for another time. My friendship with Tat was in a lot of ways what propelled me to look further in on myself, to reevaluate what I deserved in my life, and if I was giving what others deserved out of a friendship with me. I am only a better friend because of our time together.

Tat and I

New Guest Bloggers

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Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

We have looked for ideas to keep Tat’s blog going since her account was transferred to us, after her homecoming last August. Last week I reached out to some friends of Tat’s with an idea to invite guest bloggers every three months or so to post a new blog. We now have a few friends of Tat’s who are excited to keep her blog going. We hope you all will like this new look as we want to keep her memory fresh through many different ways! If you are a blogger and you would like to join us please comment here and we will put you on the list of Tat’s guest bloggers!!

Love and hugs!

Scott and Tracy Blackburn

Seasons

Tatiana didn’t publish this blog draft, this was read at her celebration service by Aliza. We wanted to share it with you as we all search for meaning and purpose through the tough times of life. Scott and Tracy

For everything that happens in life – there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest. A time to kill, a time to heal, a time to tear down, a time to build up. A time to cry, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up, a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance. A time to search, a time to give up as lost, a time to keep, a time to throw out. A time to tear apart, a time to bind together, a time to be quiet, a time to speak up. A time to love, a time to hate, a time to go to war, a time to make peace. {Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 The Voice} I never really understood this idea before. I hated difficult situations and everything that came along with them – pain, heartache, disappointment. The difficult situations I’ve faced, though not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme things, were agonizing and when I read this group of verses, I could never really figure out how there was supposed to be a “time” for those awful seasons. A time to die? A time to be torn down? A time to cry and to mourn? To me, that seemed so strange. If this was true, then that meant the hard times weren’t behind me. It meant there would be more time to cry, mourn and be torn down. It felt hopeless. How was I to live a full life if unpleasant situations were promised? As I questioned this, Jesus did his usual thing and revealed to me hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. He reminded me how he was faithful in all the times I thought I would be crushed. When that boy broke up with me, I grew closer to Jesus. When those friends abandoned me, I strengthened relationships with people who actually loved me. When I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, he showed me that I belong with him. When my heart broke for orphaned children, he provided me a way to help them. I’m still facing tough seasons in my life and they’re not getting any easier, but these times have taught me something huge; these times make us better. Difficult times don’t mean our life is over or that we can’t live a full life; difficult situations are the beginning of something beautiful. They could mean the beginning of a relationship, a new lesson or a new open door, but most importantly they could mean a stronger, deeper relationship with Jesus and I believe that is worth all the heartache we could ever face.

Some Wisdom I Do Have

Fun fact: I’ve fallen in love.

I know – it’s hard for me to believe as well. But here I am, going into the fifth month of a relationship and I am madly, hopelessly in love.

Again, I know – five months is not a long time when there are couples who have been married for 10, 25, 50 years. But I think we can take wisdom from any stage of life and so, in honor of the anniversary of five months with the love of my life, here are some things I’ve learned about being in a relationship.

1. The person you’re with shouldn’t be a necessity, they should be a desire.

This summer I wrote about wanting to be in a relationship but not wanting it to be my entire identity. I think I learned this concept a little too well. Honestly, at the end of the summer, I was completely content being single for the rest of my life and never being in a relationship. I didn’t think I needed a man to completely and frankly, I was right. I don’t need a man for me to be whole or successful. Getting to know Matt, though, changed my perspective on why I should date.

I didn’t need Matt, I still don’t need Matt. But I want Matt. I want to do life with him. I want to spend every day by his side. I want to be there on the tough days and the good days. I want to cry with him, laugh with him, fight with him and scream with him. I want to trust God with him but I am in no way dependant on him for my security, my identity or my relationship with God.

On my own, I am a perfectly capable person but we enjoy each other’s company and therefore we want to spend our lives together.

I think too many relationships have been ruined by codependency. When your entire foundation for your life becomes another person it’s no longer a desire to please the other person simply because you want them to be happy. It becomes solely about yourself because you can’t bear to live life without them and therefore selfishly don’t want to lose them.

2. Say you’re sorry first.

The pictures I post are deceiving. Believe it or not, Matt and I fight – shocking I know. But I think we’ve both decided that even when we fight, we don’t just want to stay mad at each other. We usually will say our passive aggressive comments, wait two minutes (sometimes three if I’m being stubborn), realize how dumb we are and apologize right away.

We’ve learned that fighting and staying mad at each other doesn’t actually solve anything. It’s better if we just talk about what hurt us, why things like that do hurt us and then kiss and make up. Why would I want to stay mad at my favourite person in the world? Why would I want to continually hurt them by holding a grudge?

I’ve learned to say sorry first because we can solve many more problems when we’re working together rather than when we’re working against each other.

3. Find a grace-filled person.

News flash: a relationship doesn’t magically fix all the problems you had when you were single. In fact, your issues are highlighted even more.

When looking for someone that could potentially be your forever, please make sure they are full of grace. This is the person that is going to see every. Single. Part. Of. You. They’ll know you at your darkest and at your brightest. If they can’t forgive you for little things, how can you expect to trust them with the massive sins you’ve committed in your life?

Matt (aside from Jesus, obvi) is the most grace-filled person I know. There hasn’t been a time where he has held something against me for long and because of that, I have been able to trust him with more and more parts of myself. Find someone like Matt who, no matter what you throw at them – whether it be a bad mood, tears, a confession, a sassy comment – will take each punch and turn around to forgive you and love you.

4. Figure out how they feel loved.

One of the first things Matt asked me after we started dating was how I felt loved and cared for. I asked him the same and since that day we have strived to love each other well; not in the way we think the other should feel loved but in ways that they personally feel love.

Sometimes this may take you out of your comfort zone and push you to act in ways that don’t come naturally to you but that’s what we’re meant to do for love, isn’t it?

This seems like a simple task but it is so, so important. Each person needs to be giving 100% in a relationship. We should be constantly trying to make our significant other feel loved, valued, and worthy and the second we stop trying, is the second that relationship starts to die. Never stop trying to love one another.

5. Talk to each other.

Again, seems simple. But this is the most important one. Go to the other when there are issues in the relationship. Please, please, whatever you do – do NOT rag on your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife to your friends. This is the most toxic thing you could do for a relationship.

If you have issues with one another – TALK

If you have issues with life – TALK

If you have issues with friends – TALK

If you have issues with yourself – TALK

That person is there to be your support system, your best friend, your confidant. Talk to them, let them into the deepest, most intimate part of you and let them help you. They want to (and if they don’t, that’s a different issue).

Along with this, never stop learning about them. Ask them about their childhood, learn about their friends and the drama that went down in 7th grade. Learn their favourite cooking show and what they like to do when they’re bored and hungry.

Life and relationships are a journey and a process. You’re going to fail time and time again but never stop giving grace, never stop learning about one another, and never stop loving each other.

And to the man who has changed my life completely – I love you, I love you, I love you. You’re the best thing.

In the Waiting

The more I get to know Jesus, the more I am astounded by his grace.

The past couple of weeks have been hard. I’ve had a week of vacation and that was wonderful and I feel like I’m normal again but boy, were those weeks hard to get through. I’ve cried more than I’d like to believe is possible, but through it all, Jesus has been faithful.

It’s interesting though, Jesus gives me affirmation and peace in many, many different ways.

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Three weeks ago, everything was too much. I couldn’t handle it anymore so I went to my room in true introvert fashion. I grabbed my Bible and journal with the full intent of reading and studying but instead, I just sobbed. I sat on my bed, wept, and cried out to Jesus.

I sat there for what felt like forever just crying into the shoulder of my Saviour and he just held me.

He was there with me, holding me as I cried. His arms around me reminding me that he sees me. He sees how hard I’m trying to do well. He sees my tears and my heart and my motivations and he affirmed me. I was alright that day after he held me for a little while.

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I am a firm believer that Jesus uses the people in my life to show me his grace.

He also gives me affirmation through other people. When I feel like I’m not enough or when I have thoughts that shame my own body, he sends people to randomly tell me I’m beautiful. He inspires friends to send me texts telling I’m doing well. He inspires my boyfriend to remind me that I am enough, that I am loved and then we pray together.

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I also have felt God’s grace through the music I listen to, the Bible verses I’m reading and what I’m learning in school.

It seems like what I’m struggling with the most is addressed in class I’m taking. My prof will say an offhand comment that has nothing to do with the lesson that builds me up without them even knowing it.

The Bible verses I’m memorizing come to my mind when I need their strength the most and I realize that I didn’t just pick a random Bible verse to learn.

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I don’t have all the answers and like I’ve said before, I don’t know how to stop pain or brokenness but these random thoughts are just here to say that if you’re struggling today or this week or this month or this year, Jesus sees you. You’re not invisible in your battle. He sees you and he knows you and he’s sending you encouragement. Just wait for him.

I’m Back

I’ve been gone for a long time.

I haven’t written anything but weekly assignment and essays since September. I usually blame it on not having enough time – being a full-time student, RA and having a part-time job will do that to you.

But I’ve been feeling antsy lately. I told a friend the other day that I’m starting to feel restless again.

The problem is I want to do things. It doesn’t have to be something massive and world-changing – I just want to do something. Write something, be someone, have something to leave behind.

Writing is the thing I want to do. I wrote a lot in the summer, mostly because I had at least five thousand crises but I wrote a lot. I even started writing a book and I loved it. I am in my element when I write like this. When I write about things I’m passionate about or even just spill my many, many emotions onto a page, I feel calmer.

I feel like I can survive.

I feel like I’m contributing something.

I feel at peace.

The problem became that I started comparing myself. I started looking at other blogs and accomplishments and began thinking that I wasn’t good enough. My book would never be published so why would I spend so much time on it? My blog would never get thousands of followers and be read all over the world so why bother? I’ll never be good enough to be paid for writing so what’s the point at all?

So, in an act of true bravery and dignity, I gave up.

I just stopped writing because I thought I wasn’t good enough and because I thought that there wouldn’t be a point to any of this if I was never going to good enough.

If I’m honest, I do this with a lot of situations in my life. I run away because I don’t think I can measure up. So instead of trying my best and giving it my all, I run because I won’t feel good about it unless I ultimately succeed. Failure isn’t an option even if I do my best because I would still fail and I hate even the idea of that.

I’m learning (surprise) that this isn’t actually a healthy way to live.

So I started asking myself, why do I do the things I do? I realized the answer was either because I know I’m good at these things or because people will think highly of me if I do them.

That, my friends, is very very bad.

I am so afraid of failure and having people look down on me that I’ll give up something I love in fear of failure. And I’m learning that if I do anything outside of doing it for the glory of Jesus, I am doing it for the wrong reasons.

If I write just for people to tell me I’m a good writer and to get a lot of views, I’m writing in vain.

If I write because I love it and because Jesus has given me the ability and desire to do so, then I’m doing it right.

It doesn’t matter if anyone ever reads my words or buys my work, it doesn’t matter if no one clicks on the link to this blog or if everyone if the world thinks I’m a terrible writer.

I write because I love it, because it heals me, because it’s a God-given desire.

So I’m back. And I’m gonna keep writing and writing and writing, even if 0 people read these words, I’m gonna keep writing.

Here’s What I Want You To Know Today.

You’re not alone. If there’s one thing I want you to know in this moment it’s that you’re not alone.

I’ve been struggling this week and I guess for the whole summer with feelings of inadequacy, feelings of not being good enough and feelings of not being forgivable.

So I want you to know that you’re not alone in these feelings cause I feel them too, every second.

Here’s another thing I want you to know; that voice that’s telling you you’re not good enough, that you can’t receive grace, that you could never be forgiven – that’s a lie sent straight from the pit of hell.

satan wants you to be discouraged. satan doesn’t want you to receive Jesus’ love, grace and forgiveness because he knows that if you do, you’ll fall in love with Jesus and never get back up again. satan wants you to fail, satan wants you to believe that you are a terrible, disgusting piece of human life who has no worth and who Jesus doesn’t give a second look at so he lies.

He lies and he tells you that you’re not worthy.

He lies and says that Jesus could never forgive you for going to that dark place you were in.

He lies and tells you that there’s no way Jesus could even get you out of that dark place you’re in.

He lies and tells you that you’re not good enough.

He lies and tells you that you could never change.

He lies and tells you that Jesus doesn’t love you.

But, my love, that’s all they are – lies. satan’s words have no authority here because while satan is lying to you, Jesus is whispering truth into your heart.

Jesus hugs you and tells you that you are a worthy child of His.

Jesus says you’re already forgiven.

Jesus comes alongside you and brings light into your darkness. He tells you that He left the 99 others to go out and find you.

He smiles at you and says you’re more than enough.

He picks you up and tells you over and over again, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Jesus is with you, He loves you and He’ll never let you go. Today, I hope you know that.

When You Question Your Worth

     About 3 years ago, I bookmarked one of my favourite blog posts to my browser so that I could go back to it whenever I needed it.
     I need it often.
     It’s a blog post about worth and worth is something I question almost daily. I’m sure you do too.
     When did questioning start for you? Did someone hurt you when you were young? Did a boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend break your heart somewhere along the line? Did someone act as if they didn’t care? Did someone tell you that you had to be better or speak smarter or do more? Did you start comparing yourself to those who seemed to have it all together? Did someone tell you that you weren’t enough?

I’m over on my friend, Beth’s blog today.

Join me there!

 

When You’re Lonely

On this blog, I try to be 100% real with you guys. That means telling you what I’m struggling with, trying to tell you how I’m working through it and sometimes just simply saying that I have no idea what the heck I’m doing.

This blog is my way to work through things and try and process how I’m feeling. It’s a way I can worship Jesus and give him honor and glory.

SO because of all of those goals and dreams for this blog, I need to tell you what I’ve come to realize in recent weeks.

I’ve been so lonely lately. And I don’t mean lonely in the sense that I have nobody because I know that I have been blessed with some of the best friends and family on earth.

But guys, and please don’t laugh at me, I’ve been lonely because I desperately want to be in love with someone.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship you know that feeling of comfort knowing there is someone who always thinks of you, who prioritize your needs, who is always genuinely interested in what you’re doing, how your day was, what you’re learning, I could go on.

Now this isn’t a desperate cry of, “Someone please love me, I need a boy to complete me.” Because honestly if it was, I’d be missing the whole point of this blog.

But, I have done that before. I’ve made a boy my identity. I’ve completed replaced Jesus with a human being and that is not right.

Now I don’t know if there’s a way to do relationships right. I can barely do daily life right let alone add another person into the mix! I know that I have a lot of learning to do and I think I’m on a life long journey of learning. But here’s the conversation I had with myself and Jesus the other day while driving home.

*cue “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur*

I start to cry.

“Jesus, I want that.”

“Jesus, can’t you hear me? I want somebody to love me like that, I want somebody to care about me like that, I need that connection with somebody.”

“And, I’m scared, Jesus. What if I never find that? What if I just end up alone for the rest of my life? What if everyone I know moves on and gets married and I’m left in the dust?”

“Jesus, please.”

“Beloved, you already have that. I am so in love with you.”

Now this isn’t a man hating blog post declaring how I don’t need no man because I am a strong independent woman. I would still love to be married one day, I would love to fall in love and have all that mushy stuff. But here’s the thing, if I define myself by whether or not I’m in a relationship or if somebody likes me or doesn’t, I’m never gonna get anywhere in life.

This goes for all things too. If I define myself by anything other than loved by Jesus Christ, my life won’t mean much of anything.

So yes, it’d still be cool to maybe fall in love one day, get married and have a family but I’m not gonna let myself stress about it anymore.

I’m not gonna let myself get caught up in the fact that I am single. I’m not gonna let that simple fact stop me from living a full life and I’m definitely not gonna let it stop me from serving Jesus.

The truth is this, Jesus loves you and He cares for you and He wants the best for you. He has incredible things in store for you and really, in the whole grand scheme of things, whether you end up single or married, that’s all that will ever really matter.

So here I am, a single 20-year-old woman, helplessly in love with Jesus and just trying to live the best life I can, reminding myself over and over to find my identity in Jesus, find my identity in Jesus.