Monday, January 26, 2015

Embracing His Heart

I'm done with this whole "Jesus lives in my heart" deal.

At four-years old, I asked Jesus to come a live in my heart, but I am so over that.

Now before you call my youth pastor to report another young person running from Christianity, just hold up and hear me out for a second.

Rather than Jesus living in my heart, I want to live in His.

I am so over a Christian culture where Jesus comes to live in our hearts - but dude, like, keep your feet off my heart's coffee table, OK? And, yeah, the guest bed is in the basement.

Make yourself at home (but please stay out of my bedroom), fair trade(-ish) coffee's in the coffeepot, here's the wifi password, and I'll see you when I get back from Function/Activity/Meeting No. 24573290.

Huh?

No way. That is not what pursuing, embracing, living like Jesus is about. 

We have to stop just fitting Jesus into our hearts, lives, agendas, and start living out His heart.

We're ok with the whole Christian deal, as long as Jesus moves into our lives. But what if we abandoned it all to live in the middle of His heart?

Forget about moving Him into the guest bed in the basement of our hearts and just giving Him Sundays... Imagine what could happen if we literally pulled out our entire, beating, ugly, bleeding hearts, held them out to the One who bled for us and said "Here - do what you will with this awful mess."

I'm gonna take a wild guess here and say it would be beautifully ravaging... ravaging-ly beautiful.

OK... So maybe I'm not totally over this Jesus lives in my heart thing. 

But let's be Kingdom-people who live for more than that.

Let's literally surrender our entire hearts to Jesus - give up the whole entire thing and tell Him to take. it. away.

We want to know His heart.

Let's surrender our entire bleeding, beating hearts to the One who bled for us and really mean it -

Take me to the middle of Your heart.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Meet Johnrel


"I can't get that beach out of my head." 

I'm not your typical muddle-of-tears girl [OK, I am, but it would just be insensitive not to cry through some of those movies, don't you think?], but oh yeah, I'm choke-whispering those words out though a blur.

Bless my sweet friend's soul for putting up with this.

This is October. I'm chatting with my mama a few days later and she goes, "So, are you gonna sponsor a child from that community?"

And - oh yes. This is the greatest part, you see.

I serve a God who refuses to leave me in that muddle-of-tears state. When all that grief is over and all that's left is this burden for a certain beach under a certain bridge that connects two islands that belong to a certain cluster of islands that make up a certain country... I am not left to helplessly carry this burden.

I serve a God who gives me this invitation...

"Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help."
- Isaiah 58:6-7

What a privilege, blessing, hope this is.

Believe this, friends: We don't have to serve and love the world's poor and vulnerable. 

We get to.

Because He first loved us, we get to partner with Love Himself to feed, serve, love His sheep

What could be greater in this world?

And so it is with absolute joy that I introduce you to Johnrel:


Johnrel attends the Compassion Child Development Centre that ministers to the community under that bridge. And he is my new Compassion child.

It's wild to think that just a few short months ago I was standing in his community during a filming trip for True Story: What God Wants Us To Do About Poverty, Compassion Canada's new youth curriculum video series. Did I walk by his home, his parents' place of work, his favourite places to play? Did I walk by him? 


Totally not gonna lie... I've been looking through photos from our trip for a possible Johnrel sighting. ;)

I am beyond excited about adding Johnrel to our Compassion family.

On top of that - I remain immensely thankful for the ministry of Compassion International. 

Not only for their instrumental role in enabling individuals to respond to God's call to serve and love the poor, but for their unwavering commitment to serving children, empowering the church, and most importantly, to bringing people to Christ

Because even when physical poverty is gone, hopelessness can still remain. Just ask the rich young ruler. Or better yet, maybe ask those hopeless parts of yourself? I know I have to all too often. 

But when the Hope of Christ is brought to the darkest places of this world and of our hearts... This is where poverty, hopelessness, despair, and brokenness find an eternal end. 


I think that's pretty sweet.

So, to sum this all up, I guess this just means I'll have to wander my way back over to the Philippines sometime soon to meet Johnrel. :)

-

Need your own little excuse to travel? Here you go: Sponsor a Child with Compassion. [Really, it'll change your life. I mean, how cool is it that we get to partner with the Creator of this universe in loving on His kids?]

Also - it's coming soon, friends... I can. not. wait. to share True Story with you!!! AHHHHHH. :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

#oneword2015: Embrace



We did this exercise at church the other week where we all formed our hands into this cupped/open hands shape to symbolize grace, and the beauty of the exercise was that it was unclear whether we were giving or receiving grace.

That's my word this year.

Embrace.

Or rather, embraced and embracing. Because I am embraced by the love of Christ, I can embrace others with the love of Christ.

The idea of this #oneword2015 comes from this: My soul will rest in Your embrace.

And it just started to make a lot of sense.

First off... Is that verse not a perfect transition from "less" into "embrace"?! I think so.

I've dumped it all in the trash because...

I want a heightened awareness of His ever-steady embrace, and to embrace Him more and more in return. This may start with shakily attempting to read the Bible in a year using the She Reads Truth app... or at least the New Testament + the Psalms. I think I might fail. But the point here isn't successfully reading the entire New Testament [Take note, Miss-Perfectionist-Me who doesn't fail and tends to miss the point of these things!]... the point is becoming more aware of His embrace. Giving myself more space to rest in His embrace. And that may prove to be much harder... and way more important

I want to embrace others with His {love, grace, hope, peace} more and more this year. The people around me. The people in my community who may be harder to spot. The people all around the world. I can embrace others with His love because I have been embraced by Him. And my embrace of Him is expressed by embracing His children... This all goes hand-in-hand!

I want to embrace the places, experiences and communities in which He places me this year. As I step into new communities this year after graduation in June, I want to embrace the places He calls me to as for-such-a-time-as-this moments. I want to be so aware of the people around me in these new communities that need to be embraced by His love, and act on it.

Happy New Year, friends! Here's to 2015... May we all be embraced and embracing.


What's your #oneword2015?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year In Review

"Well, that was unexpected." 

That 4-word phrase seemed to be the theme of my 2014.

I guess when you make your #oneword2014 LESS - as in less-me-more-Jesus - He fills your year with crazy, unexpected grace.

My year felt like anything but less, but in the most crazy-grace way, it was filled with less stuff and more Kingdom - and could a girl ask for anything more?

And so we find ourselves here, at the 2014 Year in Review, and I can only look back and smile... Thanks.

January brought this blog's most-read post ever - by a long shot.

February was freezing... The perfect month to cheer on Team Canada in Sochi, turn sweet seventeen, and spend a night sleeping outside for a youth curriculum on empathy?! Sure. ;)




March felt like this year's quietest month. I did officially become our family's second-fastest cuber... Although I think my calling really is in helping to run those comps, not compete in them. ;) Spring was also a wondrous time to be a Toronto Raptors fan [as it is now] and you can be sure that this basketball family was cheering loud. [Like, loud. Really. Just ask mom. ;)]




In April, my family said goodbye to my beloved grandfather, as he stepped from this earth and into eternity with our Creator. As I've reflected on his life more than ever throughout this past year, I've only become even more thankful for him, his life, and his courage.



And then it was just a whirlwind from there... One I feel like I'm still just recovering from, in every good way possible. 

June molasses-crawled its way by leading up to us getting on a jet plane headed for a certain cluster of islands that is quite close to my heart. My little bro graduated from the only elementary school either of us has ever known, this little boy named Jamson who stole my heart at a concert found a Compassion sponsor and finally, finally - we headed for the airport.




Our time in the Philippines was simply a joy. While there were many somber moments reflecting on the life of my grandpa, we knew we had so much to celebrate because of the life he lived. We met our newest Compassion child, JD, and we were able to spend time with Florianlyn and Rechelle for a second time. We visited with family, saw the field work of two of our other favourite organizations, International Justice Mission and Habitat for Humanity Philippines, and just enjoyed the relaxed pace of the Philippines.









And then... the biggest example of unexpected, crazy grace in this year makes a quiet entrance: Would I like to be the host of Compassion Canada's youth curriculum video series on poverty, injustice, and what our response as Christians can and should be? 

Uh, yes. 

And trip #2 to the Philippines ensued... this time to do some filming for the curriculum with JD, his family, and community.


The fall was readjustment back into First World culture. I grappled lots with what I experienced in the Philippines over the summer. September also brought the beginning of my last year of high school and the domestic filming of the Compassion Canada curriculum (which was also named True Story: What God Wants Us To Do About Poverty in September!).




The rest of Fall has been typical, busy Fall: university applications, Freedom Creations, speaking and advocating at Compassion events, seeing True Story begin to come together, scholarship applications, youth group, school, friends, life. Just your not-really-that-normal 17-year-old's life. ;)








I am ending this year incredibly thankful for the beautiful ways my Creator worked throughout this year. Less truly became more only through Him, and I can only marvel at the grace He continually gives.

To all of you here in the blog-sphere... I know this blog was one place where "less" was really evident this year. But thank you for reading these words when I come up with them. As we ring in the new year, the blog-shpere community is one thing I will surely be thanking our Abba Father for. Your words of encouragement, inspiration and love are so, so, so valuable to me. Thank You.

May His love, joy & peace be yours in the coming New Year! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Worlds Collide

As we barrel in towards Christmas, a re-post... One of my favourites from last year's Seven straight days of Christmas Creative Writing - a 7-day journey to the manger through creative words.

You notice her. She’s got one of those faces that makes you look twice. She’s maybe only a few years older than you. You wonder what it’d be like, to stand out in vibrant colour like that, instead of always being the faded black and white in the background. She catches your eye and for a moment you think she’s noticed you. Then she opens the door and slips into the warm world of red, snowflake-covered cups of low-fat, double pump, extra whip. You shut your eyes and lean your head against the wall, bitterly trying to tune out a Christmas carol coming from who-knows-where. His law is love, and His gospel is peace. Yeah, right.

A few minutes later, you feel the fleeting heat on your cheek for a moment as the door opens again but you don’t bother to open your eyes or reach for your cardboard sign, because you know the answer will be no, as usual. You understand but you don’t all at once. They have places to go and family to see and you just don’t belong in that world of vibrant colour. You’ll always be faded background noise, the part of the 7 billion that enables the other part to drink from their red, snowflake-covered cups.

"Excuse me?" Your eyes flutter open as you realize the voice is close enough to possibly be talking to you. It’s her, and she’s holding out a red, snowflake-covered cup, and a pretty paper bag. “I bought you some hot chocolate. And a muffin.” You stare at her. “I mean, you don’t have to - Actually I was just - I mean, it’s for you.” She fumbles slightly and holds it out and you can’t believe this face that lives in colour and makes you look twice is even capable of stumbling over her words. You reach out and grab today’s grace. Today’s healing. And you decide that it’s enough for you to believe that His gospel is peace again, at least for today.

-

You notice her. She’s got one of those faces that makes you look twice. She’s maybe only a few years younger than you. You wonder what it’d be like, to fade into a quiet black and white background, instead of always living in fast-paced, vibrant colour. She catches your eye and for a moment you think she’s noticed you. You panic, and quickly open the door and slip into the warm world of red, snowflake-covered cups of low-fat, double pump, extra whip. You shut your eyes and think about what that girl must think of all these people running past her for five dollar coffees and you hear a carol in the background and you wonder if she even believes it. His law is love and His gospel is peace. Yeah, right.

You step up to the counter and order a peppermint hot chocolate. Then you surprise yourself and order a second, along with an apple-cinnamon muffin. You push open the door, and you’re not sure why your heart’s beating out of your chest. You’ve nailed every big presentation you’ve ever made and somehow you’re nervous about offering this girl some breakfast. She’s still there, eyes closed, head leaned back and you understand and you don’t all at once. You just don’t know that black and white world. You’ve always lived in this intoxicating vibrant colour and you just hate that these two worlds even exist and you know you have nothing and everything to do with their existence.

“Excuse me?” Her eyes flutter open and your heart beats faster. You hold out the red, snowflake-covered cup, and the paper bag. “I bought you some hot chocolate. And a muffin.” She stares at you. “I mean, you don’t have to - Actually I was just - I mean, it’s for you.” You fumble slightly and hold it out and you wonder if this face that lives in black and white and makes you look twice ever feels nervous holding out her cardboard sign. She reaches out and grabs the meager offering and this is today's grace. Today’s healing. And you decide that it’s enough for you to believe that His gospel is peace again, at least for today.


Merry Two-Days til Christmas... Let's live like His law is love, in this season and always.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Haiyan - One Year Later {+Giveaway Winner!}

So... Giveaway winner. I am please to announce that the winner of the Freedom Creations giveaway is Tara! Woot! :)

Today, we're heading back to the Philippines, as this month marks the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan...

-

The day my family and I roll into this coastal Filipino town, the sun is shining and the light ocean breeze is the type that lightly dances across your skin, providing a short reprieve from the humid air. A few storm clouds occasionally threaten to let loose, but our day stays relatively dry for a Filipino rainy-season day.



The ocean is calm and skies are clear today, and by the innocence of the lightly bouncing waves and rolling clouds, you'd never be able to guess the havoc those same waves and skies wreaked on this town just months before.




But Haiyan's mark is still evident in Daanbantayan. An occasional pile of wreckage, a home nobody has bothered to repair, or blindingly shiny roofs - replacements of the ones that blew away - are reminders of the infamous Typhoon Haiyan



In some ways, everything has changed for the people of this coastal town. Yet in other ways, life has gone on, and the resilience of the people of the Philippines has never shined brighter. 

We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with a staff member from Habitat for Humanity Philippines, Love, who tells us first-hand about being one of the first NGOs on the ground after Typhoon Haiyan hit. 

I never cease to be blown away by those who implement the work on the field for organizations that I hear, speak, and write so much about back here at home. As someone who hopes to work in the field one day, it's both inspiring and challenging. As an advocate for these organizations back here at home, it's something I want to share again and again - give, volunteer, spread the word! Because there are people working so. hard. day in and day out and how could we not support them?!

We were able to visit some of Habitat for Humanity's build sites, and see the homes (at various stages) that will be given to victims of Typhoon Haiyan. The willingness of the staff and volunteers to give of themselves is absolutely incredible. We can all learn from their servant hearts and radical generosity.





You see - amongst all the wreckage, there is hope for that broken and beautiful country. I believed that before Haiyan, and I will continue to believe that after. 

Yes, one year later, the scars still run deep. How could they not?

But one year later, this country has also begun a resilient rebuild. 

One year later, there is hope that can be found in the shambles, and that is a beautiful thing. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Here Comes The Cold! {Freedom Creations Giveaway}

Happy First Wednesday of November!

I don't know about where you live, but November brings the cold around here, and to be completely honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the cold winter months. 

But - one thing makes winter better (other than Christmas, of course), and that is Freedom Creations! :)

Winter brings Freedom Creations into full swing and to celebrate, why not have a little fun and get a giveaway going?

For those of you who aren't familiar, I started Freedom Creations last October. I sell handknit products, and donate 100% of profits to International Justice Mission, a human rights agency committed to ending modern-day slavery and violent oppression. You can track Freedom Creations' efforts on our IJM Just Act page.

So... Giveaway!

Here's what's up for grabs:


Orange Ear Warmer Headband
50% Wool, 50% Acrylic
Size: One Size Adult

Here's how to enter to win it:
- Like Freedom Creations on Facebook* [1 entry]
- Follow Freedom Creations on Twitter or Instagram* [1 entry each]
- Share Freedom Creations and/or this giveaway on any form of social media (feel free to use the graphic above!) [2 entries per share]
* If you already like or follow us, let me know and you'll for sure get your entries. Thanks for your on-going support! :)

Make sure to leave a comment letting me know what you did so I can enter your name into the draw!

This giveaway closes one week from today - on Wednesday, November 12th at 3PM (EST). I'll do a random draw and post the winner soon after! :)

In the meantime, have a fantastic rest of the week!
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