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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.

 

Some 4 AM Thoughts

“Airports are weird,” I think to myself at 4 am. At this hour it’s the only semi-deep and cohesive thought I can come up with.

I’ve been travelling since 5 pm yesterday afternoon. My family lives in Puerto Maldonado, Peru and let me tell yah, getting there is quite the adventure.

It’s filled with long flights, endless layovers, overpriced airport food and aiming to get 8 hours of sleep but only actually getting 2. It’s long and hard and I get very cranky in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping but tonight, while eating an expensive quiche and coffee, I’ve found myself reflecting on the sanctity of airports.

To me, airports are so diverse. It always confuses me how there can be so much sadness and happiness in one place. You see people reuniting after days, weeks, months, maybe even years of not seeing one another. You hear screams of joy, you see hugs and long awaited kisses, you watch as tears of joy fall down strangers faces and yet, you turn the corner and see the opposite. You see the hurt the words, “good bye” carry. You see the tears of sadness and the farewell hugs. You see the words, “I love you” being said and meant.

I’ve been on both sides of the airport and I can tell you for a fact that one completely rips your heart out of your chest but the other makes it full until it is absolutely overflowing with love and joy.

The goodbyes don’t get any easier and the hellos never get dull. Yes, airports are weird but maybe it’s because people are weird. Maybe it’s because our emotions take us place we didn’t know we could go – if we even wanted to go there in the first place. I think that’s the beautiful thing about being human. We get to feel these emotions, we get to love and laugh and cry and yell and every time, those emotions are just as intense as the last.

On the other hand – it’s 5 in the morning and I could just be going crazy. You can decide.

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.

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.