Saturday, March 22, 2014

I Am Effie {Reflections on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire}

Saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire over the Christmas Break and loved. it. Hoping it's better late then never for some reflection. Because this line from Effie? Man, did it kill me.

-


The tears welled up in her eyes and the heart-wrenching words escaped her lips.

"I am so sorry."

Effie the soiled veteran of the Capitol. She breaks.

I am Effie.

I spend my life working with some of society's most oppressed and impoverished.

Then, dressed in my expensive and extravagant clothes, I go back to my big, warm, safe house, eat a disgustingly big meal and fall asleep in my big, warm, safe bed.

And Effie, she's about to send her beloved victors back into the arena - back to the injustice she saved them from.

Back to the injustice millions face each day.

And she realizes something awful, terrible, horrible. This is all her fault.

Her addiction to the Capitol - the luxury, the extravagance, the everyday comfort - has fuelled a train of injustice until that train has barrelled right into her heart and broken her. 

The wealth that she probably didn't even choose to be saturated in, the wealth that she has learned to love so dearly, and the system called the Hunger Games that she believes in, heart and soul - this has fed the suffering and injustice of millions for years. and years. and years.

Seventy-five, to be exact.

It's here, in the midst of these awful, unfair, Quarter Quell 75th Games, that she realizes the horrible truth. This is all. her. fault.

And, with tears welling in her eyes - she is so sorry.

She is devastated, crushed, mortified.

Because while she wants to help her victors - while she is so sorry - she can't fathom giving up the Capitol. 

She is so sorry.

I am Effie.

I am so sorry.

Yet each day, I fuel the Capitol.

While I want to fight injustice, to love the least of these, sometimes I want the Capitol more. I can't fathom giving it up.

And, with tears welling in my eyes - I am so sorry.

Sitting in that theatre, each of Effie's mortified words to Katniss shoot straight into my heart, emphatically piercing my soul -

"I am so sorry."

That train, barreling right into my heart and breaking me.

I am Effie. The soiled veteran of the Capitol.

She breaks. 

And the only hope is that it is for the better.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

That Time I Forgot to Blog {February Life Updates}

So I kinda sorta forgot to blog.

I do have at least a couple things to blog about and when I have a bit of time where I feel slightly coherent I will definitely put those thoughts down.

But for now, quick life-since-last-post update via my twitter and instagram {as I procrastinate from English homework}:






canada's golden couple, no matter what. such beautiful and talented people. :)
instagram: @_godsgal4ever, February 17



gearing up for one of the craziest nights of our lives.
(post on this night coming soon, but the following tweets give a teaser!)
instagram: @_godsgal4ever, February 22





was so very very proud to be canadian over these past couple weeks. :)
#gocanadago #canadaproud #wearewinter
instagram: @_godsgal4ever, February 23




instagram: @_godsgal4ever, February 24


So that's life around here. Nothing new - laughing lots, living loud and loving Jesus. :) 

How 'bout you?

Monday, February 3, 2014

In Too Deep

Minor face-lift around here... same old space, don't worry. :)

Oh, and ps: this becoming the all-time most-read post ever around here (by a long shot!)? Crazy. Blown away and thankful for grace. Praying that it touches and launches hearts into an extraordinary way of holding up the talented among us. 

Anyways - just some Jesus-thoughts for your soul around here today. In the dead of  a pretty dreary winter, lots of souls might need a little bit of comfort. 

Happy Monday!

-

Hey, child of the Most High? 

Sure - there are lots of reasons to stop believing.

But before you go, you precious, precious creation, contemplate this - there's something oddly comforting about Jesus being your only option.

Not your #1. But your only.

We sang it during worship last week - There is none besides You, God.

Yeah, I get it. Sometimes it seems like hope will never show.

But this. This -  

To whom shall we go?

I imagine Jesus' face, asking this question to his disciples: "You do not want to leave too, do you?"

Don't you think his face was just utter disappointment, accepted defeat, hopelessness? A sadness that says: I love you. I. Love. You. But I can just see you leaving this love behind.

Kind of like that boy in middle school - the one everyone roots for - that wears his heart on his sleeve and the girl still says no. C'mon - you know that face. 

Or like that girl in that book that says I love you. But this cancer in me will only hurt you and I accept that you'll go.

But the boy that she says that to? He goes Too late. I'm in too deep. To whom would I go?

And that's Jesus, here in this story - "You do not want to leave too, do you?" 

His face reflects a moment of sadness as he watches his bride run - run because his words are too much to handle; the prospect of this love is too much to grasp; the present pain too much to bear, even for an eternal love in the long run.

And Peter's response is as painfully real and profoundly comforting as it gets - "Master, to whom would we go? We've already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God."

We're in too deep, he says - and absolutely, positively, profoundly OK with that. Oddly and desperately comforted by it.

We know nothing else. We don't want to know anything else. And even if we did - we couldn't. Just couldn't.

Yeah, nothing holds us back, but for some strange reason, even if your head says go, your heart - somewhere deep in your subconscious - pulls you to stay.

Because you're in too deep and that is the most beautiful thing of all.

I know it sounds strange, but think about it and feel it.

This rhythm of grace, just let it overcome you. Let it be your life.

There is none besides You, God.

And for that - I am thankful.

Hold on, you wild, passionate, tired soul. Because I believe you can.

I believe you will.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dear Justin Bieber -

source

"Mr. Bieber, you are charged with the following: DUI - alcohol or drugs, resisting without violence, and driving with an expired driver's licence." 
- Florida Judge Joseph P. Farina

Dear Justin,

After I finished watching the judge read you your charges, I clicked replay, tuned him out for this second time through, and just watched you.

And you just broke my heart.

Because we failed you.

I'm not at all a Belieber, sorry man. I don't claim to be even half as supportive of you as all those who have trended #WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin on Twitter for more than 24 hours now. I follow you and your sweet mom on Twitter and have a grand total of two JB songs in my iTunes, and that's about it.

But although I might not be a Belieber, somehow I always wanted to believe in you. 

And I still do.

I want to believe that this is the real you:

source

source

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I think you saw it. What I saw. And I think you fell just as deeply in love with the Philippines last fall as I did two summers ago.

I think that moment you handed that boy that pencil or cradled that baby you felt it. That joy of being fully in sync with who you were created to be - a vulnerable human who simply loves other vulnerable humans.

That joy of reaching out - no million-dollar cars, no drugs, no drag races needed. All the fullness of life - any drug or fix or thrill you ever needed - was cradled in your arms, reaching for your gift of a pencil, or cradling your neck as you pulled her off that wooden porch and into your arms.

Justin - they're saying some nasty things about you out there. And yeah, let me tell you, you're an idiot. Your actions definitely need to be dealt with because DUI and street racing and weed is not cool or healthy or safe for anyone. Please try to be better.

But oh man, this is our fault too.

Congrats on being next on the long, long, long list of names that society ran in to rehab, jail, insanity, mental breakdown and loss of self-identity. Just in our lifetime, Justin, that list starts with a couple of girls named Lindsay and Britney and more recently continues with a girl named Miley and apparently, you.

We're so desperate to see you guys fall. So excited to see what crazy thing you're going to pull off next. Because we're just messed up like that. 

We live in a society where people who have extraordinary talent are destroyed in an average of 5 years flat.

You're pushed and pulled and expected to do superhuman things on a superhuman schedule and still stay perfectly put-together.

Why couldn't we just let you sing?

Why did we also have to read truth and lies about you in magazines? Why did we also have to chase you on the streets, take your picture, threaten your girlfriend and cover our bedroom walls with your face?

Why wasn't just listening to your music enough?

Why do you have to sacrifice yourself on the altar of Hollywood in order to share your God-given talents?

So I can't stand silent while people say that supporting you is terrible because you're a terrible person.

We're all terrible people. 

And I mean, I don't know about them, but I'd sure like to be supported even though I'm a terrible person. 

Justin - I believe in an amazing-grace Jesus who associates with terrible people. And I know you do too.

And not only does He associate with terrible people, He loves them. Believes in them.

Justin, I still want to believe in you. 

And I think if we all tried together, we could start to believe in the world, too - terrible as it is.

So let's try, shall we? In your very own words -

"Let's make the world better."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Freedom {Guest Blogging + Another Freedom Creations Giveaway!}

I'm so excited to be guest blogging over at Compassion Family today. Hope you'll join me.

And yes - it's true. Jill, the amazing woman who blogs over at Compassion Family, is hosting a Freedom Creations giveaway along with my guest post. Don't miss it!


This green ear warmer headband is up for grabs! :)


“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela

The recent death of Nelson Mandela struck a deeper chord with me than it probably would have if he had died a few months earlier.

You see, in October, I started something called Freedom Creations – a social enterprise that sells handmade knitted accessories and donates 100% of the profit to International Justice Mission.


Freedom hits home for me more than ever, now, and Nelson Mandela’s death got me thinking of this quote of his: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

This man fought for freedom with his whole being – and therein lies his freedom.

His freedom didn’t come in being released from jail, but in enhancing the freedom of others.

The result? He freed a nation.

Yet there’s still so much work to be done. 


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Less is More {#oneword2014}

I know I promised to share on my One Word for 2014 ages ago - but goodness is that first week of school pedal-to-the-metal right away!

Match that with a bunch of custom orders coming into Freedom Creations... you get the picture. January (and February) are just like September and October - and unexpected New Year's rush of everything happening all at once.

And so here I am forcing myself to tap this out on the keys, even with things still on the to-do list, because with exams coming up, I'm not gonna have a spare moment unless I force myself to.

And it's just so ironic because my One Word for 2014?

Less.


There are many ways I'm interpreting this word this year, but it comes down to this:

Less stuff in my life for more room for Jesus. 

Simple enough, right?

Not a less that ends in less - but a radical less that leaves room for more of what's really important. 

Less, so I can give more to the fewer things in my life.

I think I'll break it down into three lesses - 

Less stuff.
I'm realizing that if I really do want to spend my life serving and living amongst the least of these, the materialistic culture that I've grown up in is going to be very far away. And I need to get used to living with less - even if I have more. We'll see how this comes into serious practice, but I'm seeing a closet clean-out in my near future, for starters. Perhaps trying to buy lunch only twice a month instead of once a week. De-cluttering [my mom just cheered through weeping thankfulness. ;)]. Seriously asking myself this before I spend/keep/take/get: Is it a need (like a basic human-right need, not a I-need-a-treat need)? Does it build something eternal (a relationship, a soul, joy, etc.)? I already try do this "less" already - but I'm excited to get more intentional about it.

Less distraction.
How many things distract me from the eternal? Like a lot. Like getting to band practice on-time, getting 100% (as opposed to 98% - because the extra two percent is totally gonna make or break my life, right?) on my math test, like worrying about things that don't quite matter. And as it is with stuff, I also need to ask questions about how I spend my time: Is is a need? Does it build something eternal?

Less me.
And this is basically what it comes down to. I'm not really that big of a deal. In fact, I'm more messed up than I'd ever be willing to admit, and there's my first flaw right there - perfectionism. And the Creator of the universe offers to take over my flawed life and all I have to do is step aside and this is what it comes down to: Less me. More Jesus. I considered humble as my One Word for 2014. I ended up deciding that less captured more of my thoughts - but humble is definitely a huge part of less. Less trying to make myself look perfect. Less worrying about myself. More working for His Kingdom. Because that is really what I want need this life to be about - building something eternal.

So here goes nothing. 

I so get how this word could get misinterpreted - less = sitting around doing nothing/resting, right?

No way - less = more room for Jesus to do those absolutely crazy, radical things he does.

Live simply so others can simply live? Yes - but live is still a huge part of that saying. Live. Live. Live.

And so I am looking forward to living a radically less-is-more year.


He must become greater; I must become less. - John 3:30

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

How'd we get here so fast? 

Similar to last year, I thought it'd be good/fun/reflective/nice to do a little year in review before sharing my #oneword2014. [See last year's here!]

I was patient this year. Or at least I tried to be. I've waited for words. I've waited for loved ones to see light. I've [tried to be] patient through goodbyes, health scares and forever figuring out how to be damaged. I've waited for things that didn't come, but most times I saw patience end in ridiculous amounts of beauty, time and time again. In the end, patience has reminded me that my God is always faithful even when it might feel like those 400 years (and really, it's usually not that drastic.), and that slowing down to listen for His best is always the better option.

[ps Loved these beautiful blog posts on patience this year: Hope is Slow {Minivans are Hot} (I'm forever coming back to this.) | When You're Missing Hope {A Holy Experience} (This: "And the only kingdom that will last for eternity still waits, this millennia-long, unwavering-hope for return of its King. Instead of chafing, we accept that waiting is a strand in the DNA of the Body of Christ.") | Pause {Shaun Groves} | Christmas in Africa {Seeing Joy}]

In January, I got back to blogging after a month-long break, trying to sort out peace and perfectionism. Y'know, everyday, light things like that. ;)

In February, I turned sweet 16 and got blown away by the beloved people around me who responded to my foolishness and gifted me with a ridiculous amount of world-change for my birthday. [This also became my most-read post ever.] Oh, and I also got a driver's license!

Blowing out 16 candles.

My first time behind the wheel... Let's start in the parking lot, shall we? ;)

In March, I was so humbled to be awarded with a provincial writing award for a piece I wrote on the courage of Malala Yousafzai (which I didn't get around to writing about until the summer). I also went to Wilmington again and God answered my "discomfort me for the things that discomfort You prayer", then turned my world upside down all over again.

With the published piece! :)

At UrbanPromise Wilmington - Camp Victory. Love and miss that place.

With the Wilmington team.

Basketball in Wilmington.

Visiting Camden, NJ - One of my favourite memories of 2013.

In April, worlds exploded - and this girl, born into a crazy broken world, just tried to make some sense of the pieces.

May and June brought some quiet time here on the blog, while I said goodbyes to a few beloved people and spent lots of time with friends (leaving and not leaving), just because I was so reminded of how fast people go.




The summer brought reflection, more broken-world, scary vision loss and a big 'ol famjam road trip (during which I get to show my family around Wilmington and be a tourist in that city I love so much!).

Showing my family around Wilmington - so thankful for this opportunity.
#famjam


September came around and that's Compassion blog month, which I suck at and love all at once. Find that here, here and here. Oh, and my brother also became a teenager and officially taller than me and last week someone may or may not have asked who's older. Yeah.



The rest of fall was a whirlwind of not a whole lot on the blog, but a whole lot did go on. I was awarded with a YMCA Peace Medallion, guest blogged about peace on my church's Transform blog, spoke at the same event as a federal MP and was on the front page of the local newspaper which was really no big deal, right? (AHHHHHHHHHH) In all of that I could only repeat one thing to myself: Only. by. His. grace.


Speaking at the Peace Medallion Ceremony

Fall also brought Compassion Canada's 50th anniversary, where I met Wess Stafford (!!!!!) and was through the roof inspired and in love with Compassion's work all over again.

Such an inspiring human being - one of my greatest role models.


However, what sits heaviest on Fall for me is this:

Typhoon Haiyan

The country of the Philippines, that I love so much, engulfed and devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan. Fall was filled with pleas for donations, Compassion events dedicated to Typhoon relief, and a lot of heart-wrenching CNN-watching. It's not on the news anymore and the government matching is done, but the Philippines still needs every prayer, donation and support.

December saw the blog-introduction of Freedom Creations, something I started in October to simply try and do something in the fight against slavery. I've been ridiculously blown away by the crazy response this has gotten. Again, only ever by His grace. Check it out here.


And these past few weeks have just been a time of returning to the manger. (Here on the blog, that was through creative words.)

It's been a whirlwind, crazy, overall wonderful year of patience, growth, community, family, love and hope. Always hope. :) It's cliche - but when looking back, I can only ever marvel at God's amazing grace. <3 nbsp="">

And to my beloved bloggy friends: Thank you for journeying with me this year. Much love. :)

[Stay tuned for #oneword2014... can't wait to hear all of yours, too!]
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