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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.

When a Girl Obsessed With Modesty Buys a Bikini

I bought a bikini yesterday.

I used to wear them all the time when I was young. I think it was because there’s something so innocent about a four year old wearing a bikini that no one even takes a second look. But when I turned 13, I can distinctly remember fighting with my mom in Sears over why I couldn’t buy a bikini like all my other friends.

I didn’t think it was fair at all but out of respect for my parents, I tried my best to find cute one pieces and tankinis that covered everything – which, as a side note, is a very hard thing to do these days. I understood where my parents were coming from, they were trying to instill good values in me and they were teaching me to guard my body and my heart. These were both good things but I think eventually, modesty became a wall I hid behind rather than something I really believed in.

Growing up I developed some body image issues. I’m sure every teenage girl has had them as well. In a mix of our own insecurities and satan telling us lies, we begin to hate ourselves.

I’ve hated myself for a really long time.

I’ve never thought that my stomach was flat enough or that my legs and arms were small enough. I’m never tanned or toned enough and there’s always someone prettier, am I right?

I was never enough and for a long time this lie was all consuming. All I thought about was the next diet fad, weight loss tea you could buy and how to get rock hard abs in 5 minutes. I researched metabolism-boosting pills and I prayed and prayed that I would some how lose weight. I was always thinking about how big my stomach looked or why my legs were the size of Texas and if my arms jiggled too much and there was nothing that could stop those thoughts.

But at least I was modest, right?

As a side note – I don’t blame my parents for any of this. I think there is so much value in dressing modestly especially in a day and age where every new style is just a new and creative way to show off more skin. I do value dressing modestly but what I’m struggling with is where do we draw the line between modesty and insecurity?

You see, I started to self-righteously hide behind this whole modesty thing. I said I was being modest in not wearing a bikini but I really just hated the way I looked. That, my friends, is not a healthy place to be.

I know Jesus doesn’t want me to show the world my body, that’s not something that everybody needs to see but I also don’t think He wants me to be ashamed of my body. He’s the one who created it, right?

So I bought a bikini yesterday and I didn’t buy it because I want to show off my hot bod and make all the boys stumble – I actually think it’s quite a modest bikini! I bought it because I have worked really heard in the past 5 years to get to a place where I actually love my body, a place where I feel comfortable and confident in my own skin.

Loving yourself is difficult, y’all and it takes a lot of work. But let’s not hide behind self-righteousness and pride, let’s get to the root of the issue and stop the lies we’ve believed. Cling to truth, cling to Jesus.

When Your Faith Threatens to Shatter

I’m not gonna lie to y’all – this week has been hard.

I don’t know if it’s the build of a few months of sadness or if it’s just satan trying to get the best of me but I can for sure tell you that this week has definitely made the top ten for toughest weeks in my life. Emotionally and spiritually, I am exhausted.

Honestly, it started out with just pure sadness. I even wrote in my journal that I wasn’t feeling it and that I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Why was I sad when I should be healed by now? How could I go from feeling so great to feeling so crappy in a matter of a few hours?

This sadness turned into questioning and wondering why.

Why questions have always scared me because who am I to ever doubt God? I try to shove them down and ignore them because to question God is to question the entire foundation of my life and it’s to sin against the one, true God and what right do I have to that?

I started asking, “Why do I even follow Jesus?”

Friends, even writing that scares me to the core, but I want to be real with you so yes, I started asking that.

I realized that if my answer to that question was because it was expected of me or because following Jesus secures safety when I die that I was not in this lifestyle for the right reasons. But as I searched, I realized that my answers were not that at all and in fact, the answer to this question is the foundation for my life.

Here are my answers;

  1. God is real, there is nothing outside of God and we can’t be without him. He is everything and everything depends on him.
  2. I am, by nature, a helpless sinner. My life proves that there is nothing I can ever do to escape the sin I commit. Yes, I can try to be better and I can try to live a life free of the bad things I do but ultimately, I’m just going to do something wrong again. This isn’t hopeless, friends, this is in fact the beauty of Jesus. He came to do what none of us ever could or can – to live a perfect life and save us all from the wrong we do.
  3. Jesus is and forever will be my first love. I am head over heels, weak in the knees, butterflies in my stomach in love with Jesus and through him I have grace, joy, peace and everything else I could ever need. Take everything else away from me, as long as I have Jesus, I’m set.

This is my life. This is what I am living for.

Yes, satan is still trying to plant doubt within me. He’s constantly trying to convince me that I don’t deserve any of this, that I’m too far gone and that Jesus couldn’t love someone like me. But in those moments I am crying out to my Saviour, begging for him to save me and guys, He always does.

I realized this week that deciding to follow Jesus isn’t a one time thing at a summer camp or a church service, following Jesus – choosing him – is something I have to do every day for the rest of my life.

So friends, I encourage you to doubt. I encourage you to question. I encourage you to embrace your brokenness and really seek why you’re living the way you are. Don’t be afraid, Jesus can handle your questions. He loves you and he wants you to choose him.

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.

To the One Who’s Healing

Maybe you’re broken right now.

Maybe you’re surrounded by sunshine, flowers, parties and everything else that signifies the beginning of summer and you feel utterly helpless and broken inside. Me too. I’m glad I’m not alone.

This is for you, but it’s also for me. Lord knows I need it too.

I’m in a season of healing. A season of picking up broken pieces and trying to figure out how to put them back together again, a season of hurting but also a season of renewal, a season of loneliness but also of independence.

Quite honestly, it’s not fun most days.

I’ve said on more than one occasion that I absolutely despise the fact that this whole healing process takes time. I don’t want to wait for “time to heal” I just want to be healed.  But, as I’m stubbornly learning, healing isn’t a fast process. It’s slow and most of the time painful. I’m learning that in order to be healed to our fullest, we first need to feel the extent to which we’ve been hurt. As unfortunate as it is, we need to embrace our pain in order to move on from it.

I don’t know what healing looks like for you. Maybe it’s calling your best friend to cry and talk for hours, maybe it’s surrounding yourself with people to escape the loneliness, maybe it’s trying to be more independent by exploring and doing things by yourself, maybe it’s studying and immersing yourself in truth, maybe it’s long drives at 3:00 am, maybe it’s tears streaming down your face. For me it’s all these things and I think it will be all these things for a while.

I think it will be months of letting the tears fall, months of allowing myself to be angry, months of being real and knowing that it’s “okay to not be okay”, months of showering myself in the promises of Jesus and months of embracing this pain I’m feeling. I’m sure it’ll be months for you too.

So, strong girl and brave boy, feel that pain. Let it hurt, cry, scream, get angry, grow, heal, learn because the beautiful part of it all is that Jesus isn’t finished with any of us yet – this is the hope we have and what I’m choosing to hold onto.

A Letter to the Man I Met at 2:30 am

To the man who came into Mr. Sub at 2:30 on Sunday morning,

Quite honestly, you disgust me.

I was mad at you at first for coming in so late when we were getting ready to close the store but that’s just because of how tired I was.

I was mad at you a second time when you swore every second word and when you slurred your words together because of how intoxicated you were – shouldn’t you be past that stage in your life by now? But maybe that’s just pride and unnecessary judgement.

I was mad at you a third time when you stayed after the store was closed but that’s just because I wanted to go home so I could crawl into bed.

But I think the fourth time I was mad at you – no furious with you – is completely justified. The fourth time, I wanted to scream at you, I wanted to hurt you and I was completely dumbfounded of how you could be so ignorant because the fourth time, my unlikely friend, was the time you made a rape joke.

As I stood there shocked, I remember thinking how grateful I was for Jesus’ love for you because it wan’t possible for me to love you in that moment.

I knew saying anything to you wouldn’t do any good because you were drunk and you wouldn’t have remembered what I said the next day anyway. So I’m writing this letter to you. You’ll probably never see it and that’s okay but here’s what I hope for you.

I hope one day you meet a rape victim. I hope you have to sit there and look at them as they cry and as they hurt.

I hope you see the pain in their eyes.

I hope you realize the magnitude of your words. I hope you realize that you really can’t just say whatever you want in this world because your words do have the potential to hurt someone.

I hope you look in that victim’s eyes and apologize for how ignorant you were. I hope you change, I hope you’re able to love people and I pray that you never hurt anyone yourself.

I’m sorry if this is too honest and if I shouldn’t be this angry but rape jokes are never funny and I can’t believe I have to say that in 2017.

From,

the girl who hopes you change.

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.