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.

My Life Has Been Ruined

I want to write about something that’s ruining my life right now. I was anticipating this, I was excited for it actually but I didn’t understand how it would truly affect my life until I really got into it and now, I don’t think I can go back. My life and outlook has been completely changed and I’ve been destroyed.

Jesus has been doing this thing lately where he uses things in which I would not expect to find Him to teach me things about Him that change my life and give me passion. This is another one of those moments.

If any of you are avid Netflix users like me, you’ll have seen the new show called “13 Reasons Why.” Well friends, this is the thing that’s destroying me.

I heard that this show was coming out a while ago and I was anticipating its release. The idea of suicide is something that has always been heavy on my heart and something that I want to keep learning about in an attempt to understand it and this show seemed like another resources I could use to learn and help my understanding. So I started watching.

Guys, this show is heavy. There were many times where I would watch one episode and then have to turn it off because of how deeply I was affected by it. There were many times when all I could do was cry and wonder how many people are silently suffering.

That’s what ruining my life.

I’m watching this show and realizing how passive I am. How many times do I say, “I’ll pray for you,” and then walk away and never actually pray when I know something is wrong? How many times do I ask, “how are you?” and simply accept “Good” or “I’m fine” as an answer? There’s nothing wrong with saying any of these things cause in some cases they may be the truth. The danger lies in becoming passive, in being ignorant, and in not caring enough to invest in people’s lives.

I’m watching this show and I realize how careless I am with my words. What are the things I say that hurt someone else? Do I make jokes that makes someone’s life worse? Why do I throw words around like they’re nothing?

I’m watching this show and I’m realizing this reality that we don’t know everyone’s story. We don’t know how deeply other people are hurting or what we could be doing to cause that hurt and because of that truth, we need to be careful.

I’ve always hated the word ignorant. It’s never, ever been something that I want to be. I’d rather know the hurtful things in this world than be completely blind to them and I think that idea has a lot to do with this issue we’re facing.

Our prof in Ethics today said this, “we treasure pleasure and refrain from pain.” That’s the truth isn’t it? We’re afraid of pain. We’re afraid to hurt and be vulnerable. It’s a weakness. We can’t deal with our own pain let alone anyone else’s so it’s so much easier to ignore the pain of others because if we don’t know or if we can forget about it, it doesn’t become our responsibility.

There is something so sick and wrong with this way of thinking but we all have it. Why should we stand by when our friends and family could be hurting so deeply? Why let people die when one word of encouragement or love could have saved them? Why act like their pain doesn’t exist when recognizing it could save their life?

We need to help each other out.

We live in a fallen and broken world, bad things happen every day and if any of us are going to get through it all, we need to bear one another’s burdens.

So I’m proposing something new. Well, it’s not really new, just an option that we don’t usually think of.

Let’s be real with each other.

Let’s take care of each other.

Let’s ask someone how they really are.

Let’s ask someone how we can pray for them and then actually pray.

Let’s talk and talk and talk.

Let’s recognize when someone is hurting and then do something about it.

Let’s not just sit idly and live our own lives. We’re all here together and we need each other if any of us are going to get through this life.

Let’s be real and vulnerable and raw. Maybe we could change a life.

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.

Love and Valentine’s Day

I used to hate Valentine’s Day.

I have the Timehop app on my phone that shows me what I posted years ago to the day and lately, past-Tat has been posting a lot of Valentine’s Day hate.

I think that maybe I hated it because I was single and alone and in today’s society, being alone and single on Valentine’s Day is detrimental.

I also don’t think I really understood Valentine’s Day. Not that my interpretation of it today is the real reason for it, it’s just what I’m choosing to believe.

I think we can blow Valentine’s Day out of proportion. Sure it’s nice to receive love but I want to be in a relationship where I receive love every day, not just on one special holiday.

While I do think Valentine’s Day can get a little crazy, I also think it can serve as a great reminder of love and who loves us. I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately and what it means to fiercely love others unconditionally.

So here’s my Valentine’s Day reminder to you;

Dear friend,

You are so loved.

By your family, your friends, me and the most important man to ever walk the earth.

Jesus loves you deeper and wider than any human ever could and I hope that you know that today.

I hope you know that He loves you intimately and fully. He knows you deeply, He knows things that you might not even know yourself and to know someone like that is to experience a whole different level of being deeply, intimately and passionately in love.

He loves you.

His love is never going to stop, it’s never going to give up, it’s never going to run out or dry up or get old. It is a constant and it will always be there, that you can count on.

When it feels like you’re all alone, or when you feel like hope has run out, He is there and He loves you.

I hope you know that this Valentine’s Day.

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.

To My Sister

Growing up I had two little brothers. Those brothers still exist today, one is 14 and sassy and becoming a man and the other is 8 and crazy and loud.

They’ve been around for my whole life but when I was in my 17th year of life, I started to accumulate more and more brothers and sisters.

These kids were the kids we welcomed into our orphanage. There have been 17 new brothers and sisters in my life in the past two years. Some of them I have known extremely well, some of them are a bit distant from me because I live so far away and I love them all with the same wild and fierce love that I love my biological brothers with.

I feel so lucky to have so many people to love. I feel lucky to have such a big family and blessed that I get to be apart of everyone of their lives.

But today doesn’t feel like a lucky day.

Today, I am sad and I’m learning that it’s okay to be sad in public sometimes and today is one of those days.

Today, my one-year-old little sister got taken away and my heart is broken. There’s a whole back story into why she was taken away from us but I don’t want to get into that, I just want to write about my sister.

Dear Yuri,

I only really got to know your for two weeks, that isn’t a long time. And yes, maybe you weren’t the biggest fan of me and that’s fair, you had no idea who I was.

I had fun with you, Yuri. You are such a sweet girl. Full of smiles and that cute little chuckle.

You know eight words and they melt my heart every time you say them.

Mama

Dada

Chickens

Eggs

Hola

Ciao

Night night

Bubba

You sleep with your eyes open, you love riding around in your big stroller and pushing other people in your little one. You love the cats and try to hold them despite their desperate protests. You love cuddling and just being near people.

For a one-year-old, you’re so good at loving people.

You help calm people down if they’re crying and give them kisses if they’re hurt. You give hugs and smiles that could heal any wound.

Yes sometimes you can be gross, like the time you peed while walking down the hallway naked or them time you stuck your hand in your diaper to reveal that you had pooped.

We thought we’d have you forever, Yuri. But sometimes things change unfortunately so in that case, here are some things I want you to grow up knowing.

You are loved widely and oh, so deeply. You have people all throughout Peru, Canada and the US that love you and want you to succeed. You are loved by our little family more than you could ever imagine and most of all you are loved and known by the maker of your heart. He loves you and knows you deeper than any human could and I pray that you grow up knowing that.

I hope you hear the words, “I love you” every day.

I hope someone reminds you that you’re so, so beautiful.

I hope someone encourages you and reminds you that you are capable of anything.

I hope you know Jesus intimately and fully.

I hope you have a relationship with Him and that you walk with Him daily.

We miss you, Yuri, and because of that, my greatest hope is that we meet again some day.

All of our love forever,

The Blackburns

 

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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Generosity and Christmastime

I’ve always thought that I’m a generous person.

I believed that I could freely give up my time and money without any complaint or struggle and for the most part that’s true.

It wasn’t until earlier today when I realized that sometimes I lie to myself.

I think we all like to make ourselves out as a good person. We never want to see the evil in ourselves because we want to feel good and that would make us feel awful.

Recognizing the bad parts of ourselves makes us feel uncomfortable and inadequate and sad. Unfortunately, as I realized today, this is something we must do in order to love others well.

I’ve been tight on money this year. The reason for this probably being because I’m a college student with no job. I’ve watched the money in my bank account slowly deplete over the past four months.

I’m going back to Peru tomorrow to visit my family for two weeks so this morning I was out buying last minute things that I needed to pack.

I pulled in the Walmart parking lot and was going through my mental list of everything that I needed to buy while in the store when I realized that while I had bought things for my immediate family, I hadn’t bought anything for the kids and other people who are living with us.

I got this sick feeling of guilt in my stomach.

I think giving people gifts is a really good way to show them that you love them. It shows them that you’re thinking about them and that you care enough to go out and buy them something.

I want to show the kids that live in our home that they are deeply and fully loved. I want them to know that there are so many people who love them and that even though they may feel abandoned or wronged or unwanted that there are people who will never leave them and that there are people who desperately want them.

So through that sick feeling of guilt, I decided I would get them all something for Christmas but immediately after, the evil part of me kicked in.

It’s so awful to admit but as soon as I decided I was going to buy them something, I started thinking about how I don’t have a lot of money and how I didn’t want to spend my money on that. I became selfish and thought maybe I could get away without getting them something.

Whenever the evil parts of me threaten to take over, it’s so easy to want to give into them, it’s much easier to just give in than use my limited strength to push through those evil thoughts.

But I didn’t want to give in today.

Be generous, I said quietly in my head.

Be generous, I whispered to myself.

Be generous, I said firmly and aloud.

I kept repeating it over and over again until I won and I walked into the store and went Christmas shopping.

I’m learning that it’s not easy to love others. It takes effort and humility and strength that I don’t have.

It takes the supernatural strength of a divine begin who is better than I could ever be. And that’s why I’m so thankful that Jesus has my heart and that it’s not me who directs my paths and decisions but that it’s Him.

Keep teaching me, Jesus, keep teaching me.