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.

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Let Me Tell You What I’m Bad At

Guys, I’m actually very bad at this whole Jesus thing.

This is something I’ve realized over the past two years and something that has shook me to the core.

If you knew me when I was younger, you might have thought I was a bit of a snob. Pride has always been a struggle for me and while what I believed in was good, the way I showed my beliefs was not.

I would look down on people, I would compare our sins and think, “Wow, I’m glad I’m not as bad as them, Jesus.” I would sit on my tall and mighty horse and point out everything others did wrong.

This is what pride does – it makes us think that we’re way better than we actually are.

I slowly and stubbornly realized how I had been acting and I actually had to start forcing myself to admit when I was wrong.

I wouldn’t just apologize either, I would quite literally force myself to say the words, “I was wrong.”

Through this quest for humility, I realized this important lesson – I suck at this whole Jesus thing.

I forget to pray about things, I often find myself pushing off spending time with Him and reading his word. There are times when I doubt and question and I screw up more than you know. I do things wrong every hour, if not every minute.

I’m not trying to glorify these things by any means – it’s wrong that things are this way. But I want to be 100% real with all y’all. I want you to know that I don’t have it all together and I want you to know that it’s okay to fall short.

This is why I’m so thankful for grace.

Because I am not perfect, I am desperately trying to be better but I will never be perfect. And grace says that I don’t have to be, grace says that it’s okay not to have it all together and that even if I mess up every second, I’ll be welcomed back with open arms. Grace says that I can’t do it but that’s okay because He did it for me.

Grace wins every time.

So real talk, I’m terrible at things I’m desperately trying to be good at and Jesus knows that. He still loves me any way and He loves you too.

Relentless

It’s four in the morning, I got off work a half-hour ago and on my way home I had a revelation.

It’s not something new, I’ve known it for a long time and I’m sure you have too. But, maybe you haven’t and maybe that’s why I feel like I need to share this with you before I go to sleep this morning.

You are being relentlessly pursued.

You are being tirelessly pursued by a faithful God whose love goes on forever.

It never ends or stops like so many human relationships do, it just goes on and on. His love endures forever.

So even though I’m fickle, flakey and tired, He is constant, steadfast and strong.

Even though I forget some days, He is always thinking about me.

Even though I take way more from Him than I give to Him, He never stops giving or listening.

You are being relentlessly pursued and I hope that gives you just as much hope as it’s given me tonight.

In My Brokenness

Something I’ve been learning lately is that sometimes life is just going to completely and utterly suck. There’s no getting around it. We live in a broken world filled with broken people and the honest truth is that we all screw up every day.

Things have not been going the way I had planned recently. I feel like everything is changing and not for the better either. Sometimes I can’t accept this and I end up crying on my way home or screaming at Jesus late at night or just continually asking why but something else I’m learning is that it’s possible to have joy even through all the brokenness around me.

When I feel like my life in left in ashes, Jesus is rebuilding me.

When I feel abandoned, Jesus is faithful.

When I get a parking ticket (yes that happened, ugh), I know I don’t need to worry.

When I’m late, rushing or feel like I’ve lost control, I’ve started looking to all the good things in my life rather than focusing on the bad and let me tell you, it’s done incredible things for me emotionally and spiritually.

I focus on the lunch dates and long conversations.

I focus on the places and people I love.

I focus on how others are happy and how to give them joy.

I focus on my Jesus and how He is forever faithful and good.

This week I’m choosing to be joyful and even through all my pain and brokenness in this season, that is enough. Choosing joy is choosing Jesus and He is eternally enough.

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.

The Worst Form of Torture

I said good-bye to my family today.

Sometimes being a missionary or being connected to people who are missionaries sucks.

Being involved in any type of missions work requires a constant string of awful, heart-wrenching goodbyes.

I’ve decided that saying good-bye is a form of torture.

I’ve been involved in missions for nine years now, I’ve said hello and goodbye to hundreds of people who all have a piece of my heart.

I used to think that leaving and saying the lethal word, “goodbye” would be easier by now but I’m realizing that it always sucks.

Leaving the people you love always hurts you deep. It pierces your heart and makes you feel like the only way to express how you feel is to cry. But you don’t want to cry. You want to be strong for the people you love and let them know that you’re okay.

When I left Cuba for the first time, I sat on my bed and cried for a long time.

When I left Haiti, I cried for a week straight every night.

When I hugged my best friends and left for Peru, I cried as I walked away, forcing myself to not look back cause I knew how badly it would hurt.

When I left my family in May last year, I cried on the plane as I read the letters they had written to me.

When I left Canada two weeks ago, I cried as I walked away from my boyfriend.

Today I cried as my family hugged me goodbye.

Goodbyes never get any easier. We can trick ourselves into saying the cheesy line; “well it’s just a ‘see you later!’” But that doesn’t actually make anything better, it doesn’t take away the pain and the sadness of not being able to see the people you love, to hug them and hear their voice.

For missionaries or for people who have family and friends as missionaries, it’s just as hard to leave and say goodbye on the hundredth time as it was on the first time.

This is my goodbye to you this time Puerto Maldonado, Peru. I love you and I love that you hold my big, wild, crazy family. Until next time.

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Family
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Mom and Dad
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Dad
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Mom
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Little Brothers
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Caleb
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Jaxon
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The Littles: Maricielo, Ruth-Dany & Arnol
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The Big Girls: Cinthya, Aymee & Naisha
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The Babies: Yuri & Stephanie

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When Bible College Wasn’t What You Were Expecting

I haven’t really written much of anything in a long time.

I never write during the summer because days at camp are just too long and too busy to sit and get anything down on paper.

I promised myself I would start writing once a week when September came around but that didn’t really happen either.

At first, it was cause I was just a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts and business. My job was ending, I was moving into college, my mom was back visiting, I was going on my first date ever and starting my first relationship ever. They’re all amazing things but it just kept me busy.

And then college started and holy, I didn’t understanding the meaning of the words homework or busy until the beginning of September. The readings and the assignments and the essays that are required is enough to make your head spin. Then add on all the social events then you’re expected to go to and sometimes it’s more than I can handle.

(Don’t get me wrong, I love college now but honestly, it’s been a struggle to get to this point.)

I got so sad and frustrated around October. I was in the midst of Bible college but my spiritual life was lacking more than ever.

I found it hard to read my Bible for my personal life because even though my professors had warned me, it was becoming my textbook.

I found it hard to actually retain anything and instead of learning I felt like I was just studying to pass the exam.

I found it hard to make friends and balance my social life with my school life.

I thought coming to Bible college would put me on a spiritual high that was better than any I have ever experienced when in fact, I have just been struggling in my personal relationship with God.

I felt stuck, like I was at the bottom of a deep hole with no way to get out and back to reality.

And then, one night after crying to my boyfriend and him affirming me that everything was gonna be alright, I went to small group.

One of the other girls raised her hand timidly and said, “Does anybody else feel like you’re in Bible college but your spiritual life is declining?”

My soul screamed, “YES.” I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t the only one struggling. In fact, most of the other girls voiced the same opinion.

We talked about why this was happening and how we could change it and we realized that sometimes we have to be so, so intentional and creative with our relationship with God.

I have to carve out that time just reading my Bible with Him or I’ll just be drained.

I have to carve out time where I write about what He’s teaching me or I won’t remember.

I have to be creative and find other ways to be with Him and worship Him and go deeper with Him.

I have to be intentional with my relationships with my boyfriend and my friends. I have to make time to hang out and know them or else those relationships will fizzle out.

Yes studying is important, but it can’t take precedent over these other important things or we’ll just be drained and lonely.

So, I finished most of my studying today in between my two classes today.

And now I’m sitting here writing at exactly 9:30pm, just like I planned.

My Spotify playlist of Jesus music is playing in the background which is also what I use to worship Jesus on the drives to Hamilton or Brantford to be with friends.

I’m still learning and most days aren’t as organized as this one was but that’s the beauty of grace. I’m allowed to constantly be learning, I’m allowed to mess up. Jesus still welcomes me back, broken pieces and all.

 

 

Struggling

I should be studying right now, I should be reading the countless pages of textbooks that are due in a matter of days but instead I’m struggling with the idea of love.

It seems that this is something I always struggle with. Maybe it’s because my goal in life is to love people, maybe it’s because so often I fail at that goal, maybe it’s because I’m still learning how to love people and maybe it’s a mix of all three.

I started at Bible College in September. I’m studying theology and missions and while my brain is continuously filling with new knowledge and facts, the greatest thing I’ve learned about missions is that we need to love people.

I’ve learnt that lesson time and time again and not only in class. I learn it in living in community, in living far away from friends and family and having to make an effort and I learn it in the relationships in my life that are constantly growing and developing.

I know I need to love people, I just don’t know how to and I know I don’t do it properly most of the time.

I think love and selflessness are the same thing. I think love demands selflessness. I think of my parents, giving up their time, sleep and money just so they could raise me. That’s selflessness, that’s love.

Being selfless is the hard part of loving people. I think we are so naturally inclined to think of ourselves first that we have to force ourselves to be selfless. It’s on the days when I’m sick or tired or angry that this is hardest but it’s also on the good days where I’m really happy, I don’t want to give that up to show someone love.

But then I think of my Jesus. The perfect, spotless, righteous King. He gave up His throne in the heavenly realms to come a seek me out. That’s love.

He endured the worst death so that I would never die. That’s love.

He gave up everything just to show me He loves me, so why shouldn’t I do the same for the people He loves?

We love because he first loved us.

“If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life and live in the pattern of gracious love.” ~ 1 John 3:17-18

When You Get to Worship Again

It’s not that you haven’t worshipped for the past nine months, you have, it’s just been different. Something was missing.

And then it starts and you realizing what you’ve been missing.

Your knees go weak and you try not to cry cause if you start, people will ask why and you want to keep this moment between you and Jesus.

You realize it’s not that you weren’t worshipping, but that it is a lot harder to worship in a language that you’re not fluent it.

You see, when you worship in a different language, it doesn’t come as natural because not only are you trying to pronounce the words properly, you’re also silently trying to figure out what the song is saying and sometimes you just don’t know. So you still sing, but not whole heartedly because how can you when you don’t know what you’re singing?

And so you’re in this moment, you can’t really believe it’s happening, you fully understand every word and you are so filled with joy you could start dancing around the whole room.

You sing with a huge smile on your face, as loud as you can, finally getting to worship your first love in your first language and you don’t think it could get any better.

And then they play your favorite song.

And you exclaim (accidentally) out loud that this is your favorite song.

And the words float through the air,

“You’re the Lion of Judah, the Lamb who was slain…” 

And you stand, but you really want to drop to your knees because the sheer weight of God’s goodness is just too much.

And you think to yourself that you always want to feel like this, so filled with joy and humbleness and awe for this man who loves you unconditionally and without limits and who blesses you in the most unexpected ways.

So This Is Love

Love.

Love used to be a hard thing for me to understand.

I thought I knew love when I fell head over heels for a boy when I was 12. I thought it was love because I liked the way he looked and because I wanted to hang out with him all the time, but that’s not love.

I thought it was love when I got new clothes or gadgets because I wanted to take care of it and use it all the time, but that wasn’t love either.

I thought it was love when I saw a commercial of a poverty-stricken place and my heart broke, but that wasn’t love because after the commercial ended or the picture passed, I’d go right back to my normal life.

This year, for me, is about grace but I’m learning that love and grace go hand in hand. You can’t have love without grace and you can’t have grace without love, it’s just not possible.

As of Monday, we have 6 kids in our home,

G, an 11-year-old girl,

L a 15-year-old girl,

R, a 9-year-old girl,

A, a 3-year-old boy,

K, a 17-year-old girl

And S, a 2-week-old baby.

We’ve been open since April 5th when G arrived and in this short month, I have learned so much about love and grace.

When I was young, I only knew how to show selfish love, or in other words, show love when you can get something out of it and I think it’s apart of our sinful nature to think this way.

When I met Jesus, I learned about selfless love, love that gives everything up just to make sure others are all right. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn it and practice it.

I’ve seen it in my parents who work tirelessly for my well-being.

In my brothers who defend me and protect me.

In my friends who stay up late just listening to me vent or cry when I’ve had a rough day.

In my Jesus who gave his very own life just to save mine.

But this past month has been wild and it’s shown me, more than ever, what selfless love really looks like in myself and in others.

Selfless love is treating lice and spending hours upon hours picking it out. (Not just once either, over and over and over again.)

Selfless love is washing the sore, covered feet of a child.

Selfless love is waking up in the middle of the night because the kids still aren’t sleeping.

Selfless love is waiting until they fall asleep because the jungle is a scary place if you’re not used to the noises.

Selfless love is still choosing to love even when they do wrong and hurt you.

That’s what love is, it isn’t an emotion like my naïve, young self thought. Love is a verb. It demands action be taken. It requires that something be done or said or practiced. Love is choosing to love every single day, even if you don’t feel like it, if you’re tired or if you just plain angry. True love is fierce and wild and has no restrictions or limits, it just keeps going.

This kind of love is so amazing to me because it doesn’t mean that your life will be sunshine and rainbows, it means quite the opposite really. This kind of love means risking your health, safety, even life but still doing it anyway just because you so desperately want that person to know that they are loved and valued beyond belief.

Selfless love.

I’m still selfish, I’m still failing but I’m also still learning. It may take me my whole life, but for right now I want these kids to know that with every little nit I pull out of their hair, with every foot I wash, with every ridiculous story I listen to that I am doing it because I desperately love them and because I want to show them that Jesus loves them even better than I ever could.