To My People.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this past year.

Last year at this time, I was at camp getting ready for the hundreds of campers I was going to meet. I had just moved back to Canada and everything in my life was in transition.

A lot of new things happened in this year but the thing my mind keeps wandering back to is all the people I got to know.

I’ve met some incredible people.

I love meeting new people but it’s never been something that I was very good at. I’ve always been very shy and (something I also realized in the past two years) I always seem to attract people who take and take from me rather than give.

This year was different.

Guys, between camp, school and church, I can’t stress enough how many cool people I have in my life. Real, genuine, down to earth people who encourage and love me like Jesus does.

Jesus really knew what I needed this year. Moving away from my family was hard but it was made easier by the people He brought into my life.

We need people in our life who spur us on.

We need people who ask hard questions, who talk about real issues and who aren’t afraid to confront you when something is wrong.

We need people who teach us things – as hard as those lessons may be. We need people who leave and we need people who come so that we can learn and grow and develop who we are as a person.

Right now I’m sitting in bed and I am so happy. I feel so blessed that Jesus has given me the old and new friends and relationships he has this year.

This year was a real growing year for me and I think most of it is due to the people that are in my life.

So to my people,

Thank you, I love you and I’m better off because of you.

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When You’ve Been Gone for a Year

I moved back to Canada a year ago today.

I knew I wanted to write about this year and what I’ve learned, all the wisdom I’ve gained as a young, trying to be a-typical millennial who’s living on her own for the first time. I’m being totally sarcastic of course because yes I wanted to write, yes I’m young and I’m trying to be different and I’m living on my own but I don’t feel like I’ve gained that much wisdom.

This has been an incredibly humbling year.

It’s been a year of recognizing who I really am and realizing how I’m never in control.

Last May when I left Peru I was struggling with losing the identity I had built my life around, I felt like moving back home would suddenly make me insignificant and I wouldn’t have a “cool” factor about me anymore. I had to realize that my significance comes from being loved by Jesus, not by anything I’ve done.

When I came back to Canada, I struggled with entering back into North American life. I would break down crying when I heard english worship music at church, I was always shocked that I could drink tap water, flush a toilet and walk into a grocery store and find everything I needed (I still sometimes just walk around Walmart and take in all the sights).

When I started Bible college, my spiritual life was at an all time low. I was so burnt out from the orphanage and camp that I didn’t want to try anymore and I really had to work to be intimate with Jesus again – Bible college was not what I expected it to be.

This year has been messy, full of grace and learning, and unexpectedly amazing. I’ve learned so many things and I’ve discovered so many passions that I had repressed before. My life plan has changed countless times and I’ve learned to trust Jesus in a way that I never had before.

If there’s one piece of wisdom from this year that I can share with you, it’s this: our life is never going to turn out the way we think it will. Our plans will constantly change, it’s when we can fully know and trust Jesus that we can be confident in the fact that even if our plans change, Jesus never will. This year has been one heck of an adventure – here’s to many more.

Suffering

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Tonight is the night that Jesus is betrayed. I don’t think I’m ever fully prepared for this weekend and what transpires on it. I’m never prepared for the weight of Friday, the anxiousness of Saturday or the joy of Sunday. It’s all so overwhelmingly amazing that my flighty human flesh can’t handle it.

As I was reading my Lent series tonight, I came across the verse above and I was struck all over again with awe at how amazing Jesus is.

How many times have I prayed the first part of this prayer? How many times have I desperately asked God to take away my pain and suffering? How many times have I told Him that I don’t deserve this and that if He would just take it away, I would serve Him better? How many times do I fail in my faith in Him?

I really don’t believe that God causes suffering, but I do think that He can be glorified through our struggles and suffering.

Jesus knew this too. Jesus knew He had to die for us because of all the suffering that sin had and would cause. Jesus wanted it to go away; like me He asked God to take it from Him. Unlike me, He went one step further. He trusted and knew that God’s will is higher, that He knows better, and that He has a plan to make goodness shine through our suffering.

I may not understand why I suffer and I may not be able to handle my pain at times. But through it all, I know that God is faithful. He is in control and because of that I can say, “yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Tomorrow Jesus is going to die for me and yet again, I’m not prepared. But tonight I’ll rest in the truth that my God is faithful and that He will bring to completion every good work that He has begun in you and in me.

Why Logan Is the Best Movie This Year

I went to see the new Wolverine movie called, Logan last weekend. Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled that we were going but I’m learning that relationships are a lot more  about sacrifice then they are about getting your way, so I went. We sat down in the theater, watched the endless amount of movie trailers, waited as the lights went down and then sat back to enjoy the movie.

By the end of the two hours, I had tears in my eyes and goosebumps everywhere else, I was excited, I was heartbroken, I was moved.

It’s rare that I feel this way after a movie. Sure there are movies that make you feel good inside and movies that challenge your brain capacity but rarely do I watch a movie that actually inspires me to do something or pursue my passion.

Now you’re probably wondering how I could be so moved by a movie about a superhero who has metal in his hands, I was surprised too. But while everyone else in the theater was distraught that this was Hugh Jackman’s last Wolverine movie and broken by the plot of it all. My heart was leaping for joy over the character of the little girl, Laur.

Laur reminded me a lot of the kids I’ve met in Haiti and my brothers and sisters in Peru. Laur grew up in a place without affection, she was neglected and abused and because of that she didn’t know how to love someone else.

For the majority of the movie, Laur doesn’t say a word. She is mute. This is common for kids of abuse or neglect. Either they are too far behind developmentally to have any words or they just choose not to speak as a defence mechanism. Some of the kids that come to us in Peru who should have words, don’t and let me tell you, it is a joyous day when you hear them speak or laugh for the first time.

Nurture and love can do wonderful things for a child. It is such a vital part of those early stages of life and if I child misses out on that, it will be a huge challenge for them to catch up to their peers developmentally.

One of the earliest things a baby knows to do when they are born is grasp onto a hand that they’re holding. I remember my brothers having a death grip on my hand when they were babies. Many times when a child is neglected or abused in their early years, they don’t know to do this. There’s a scene in the movie where Laur sees two mannequins holding hands and is confused. Later on in the movie, you can see her development progress to the point where she grabs for Charles’ and Logan’s hand.

I think the thing that got me the most about this movie was how they portrayed Laur’s ability to emote. Many children who have been neglected or abused in their early years don’t know how to cry or laugh, they only can express frustration and therefore scream a lot. For the majority of the movie, Laur can only scream in every situation, when she is happy, sad, scared, frustrated, she just let’s off this ear piercing scream. It’s at the end of the movie right after the climax where she cries for the first time.

I was crying right along with her.

I was crying for her and her story.

I was crying for the children I’ve seen and known that are so much like her.

I was crying for the children that I know are out there who need this love and care to develop properly.

I was crying because I realized again that I need to do something about it.

Three years ago this month Jesus put a passion in my heart to help children like this and to love these kids in such a way that heals their hurt and pain from the past. Jesus keeps reminding me through sermons and verses and pictures and people I meet but He keeps finding new ways.

This time He broke me through a movie, please keep breaking me, Jesus.

Let’s be the generation

I was utterly shocked last week, I couldn’t believe what I was reading, what I was seeing and what I was hearing.

It made me sad and angry and feeling like something needed to be said.

I’m sure by now we’ve all heard about the new movie, “A Dog’s Purpose.” If you haven’t, it’s this new movie that’s being released that everyone was super excited about. That was until a video was released earlier last week accusing the cast and crew of abusing the dogs on set.

People did the appropriate thing and were distraught. They shared the video as much as they could, posting statuses and making sure everyone knew just how outraged they were about this movie. They encouraged others to make sure they boycott the movie and that people keep sharing the video so that this evil could be revealed.

Now, I don’t have any problem with protecting animals and making sure they are safe and well cared for. I’m all for animal rights.

What I do have a problem with is how shallow our society is.

You see, we only talk about the easy things.

We only voice our opinions about the subjects that aren’t really that deep.

We only boycott things that are easy to boycott, things that won’t give us that feeling of FOMO if we actually avoid it.

We only get outraged on things that don’t really matter or effect us and we hide and try to forget about the things that really matter because we’re too afraid it might hurt us if we dig up the deep stuff.

The Superbowl is happening on February 5 this year. Thousands of people are traveling to the game, watching it on their own TV or throwing parties to celebrate the event.

While these people are celebrating, there are also hundreds probably even thousands of people hurting. These people are the men, women and children who are being trafficked during the event.

While there are no concrete numbers, it is a fact that human sex trafficking increases anywhere from 30% to 300% during the Superbowl. For better understanding, an average amount of ads on a sex trafficking website is 58 on a given day. During the Superbowl, however, this number increases to 150 ads on a given day (find the stats here).

These stats are shocking and heartbreaking and unacceptable but does anybody talk about them? Does anybody post outraged statuses about the Superbowl? Better yet, does any large group of people decide to boycott the Superbowl all together until this issue is solved?

Of course not. That would be too hard, we would miss out on too much.

I’m not trying to devalue the fight against animal abuse and I’m not justifying it either. But we can’t ignore the things that might cut us deep either.

We need to be a people who wins the fight against this evil, we need to solve these issues and rescue the men and women caught up in it.

We need stop whining and actually do something about it.

So then, this is my challenge to us;

Let’s be a generation that tackles the hard issues and takes them down.

Let’s be a generation that cleans messes instead of just sweeping them under the rug.

Let’s be a generation that stands up for the rights of our fellow humans.

Let’s be a generation that loves and loves and loves.

When You’ve Been Home for Three Months

I’ve been “home” for three months. That’s such a hard thing to believe, it feels like a million years have passed since I left Peru but at the same time it feels like the past three months have completely flown by.

Being back in the place you used to call home is a whirlwind of emotions.

On one hand you’re so happy to be back, you love the little things that you never appreciated before like hearing English all the time and drinking tap water and going to Walmart and having hot showers. You love seeing your friends and the family that you missed. You love being at the place you are, at camp and at college, and meeting the people there and just having that whole experience. You love the relationships you’ve built and deepened. You love being “home”.

But you’re also sad. You long for that familiarity of your house and your family. You realize that your passport country isn’t really home anymore, everything and everyone has grown up and is so different from when you left it. So you feel homesick and while you really do want to be right where you are, you also yearn for the comfort of home which you come to realize is the place you left three months ago.

You feel torn.

You feel like your heart is in one million places all at once.

Sometimes it’s exhausting and overwhelming and hard to deal with, and it’s hard to imagine a time where living in Canada felt completely normal.

But even through these feelings you know you’re right where you’re supposed to be. It’s hard to explain but that’s what the peace of God is, unexplainable.

You feel like you’ve been given that peace and even though you feel overwhelmed sometimes you know it’s okay and that God’s got this, and that’s enough.

He is always enough.

When You’ve Lost Your Identity

Going back is weird. I don’t really think we were ever meant to go backward which is why going back to the place you once called home feels so overwhelming and strange.

Before I came back to Canada, I didn’t think about how I’d feel when I couldn’t say, “I live in Peru” or when I couldn’t speak Spanish to people or take pictures with my monkey; all things that made me special and different in the eyes of my friends and people from North America. I didn’t think about how that would affect or bother me. But now that I’m home, I’m realizing how much hope I put in those things.

I put so much hope in being “different” that now, being normal makes me sad. This may be conceited but not having those things that make me different is hard to get used to and I’m slowly realizing how unhealthy it was for me to put so much hope and importance onto those things.

My identity should be found in Jesus, I know that in my head and in my heart but time and time again, I find myself putting my identity into other things, things that go away, things that don’t last.

I’m constantly learning that I can’t earn my worth, there’s nothing I could do to make my worth more or less, ever.

The only thing that gives me my worth is Jesus and his unchanging, unconditional, perfect love for me. That is the only thing.

It’s not the wealth I could acquire.

It’s not the things I have.

It’s not the moments I experience.

It’s not even the people I meet.

Because all those things will eventually disappear.

The only thing that will last is Jesus, only Jesus and that’s what I’m holding onto.