The Words We Choose

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I didn’t really like High School. Or Junior High. Or Elementary school. School wasn’t so bad when I started as an innocent 4 year old in Ottawa, but it gradually got worse as I got older. By the time I graduated High School, I absolutely hated it.

Why?

Words.

It’s odd as a writer to say I hated something because of words. I actually love words. What I hated was the words my peers chose to use with each other, and especially with me.

I was born into a world of love. I had amazing parents, an older sister I followed around, and people in my life who protected me. But before I reached the end of my first decade on this earth, I learned how cruel others could be.

Living in the Caribbean at a young age, a minority at a local school, I was exposed to harsh words. I was bullied daily, and the words directed at me cut very deep. I quickly learned that words can destroy. Cruel words uttered more than two decades ago still occasionally taunt me. Sometimes I still hear them when I look in the mirror. The wounds from back then may have healed, but I still carry the scars of the verbal abuse.

As a kid I believed that once I was done school, once I was an adult, I would no longer have to endure bullying and mean words. Of course adults would never say nasty things to each like kids do, right?

Oh, how wrong I was.

I continued to be a victim of ridicule, gossip, and bullying. And as I got older, this caused such anxiety in me that it bordered on paranoia. Anytime I was in public and heard someone laugh, I assumed they were laughing at me. Anytime people spoke in hushed tones, I assumed they were talking negatively about me.

It got so bad that I was afraid to leave my apartment. Some mornings I would stand at my front door for up to an hour trying to find the courage to open it and walk out. Those days I was very late for work, if I made it at all.

Words can destroy.

I am lucky that through counselling and support of family and friends, I overcame my anxiety and paranoia. I learned to find my self-worth in God instead of how others viewed me. I prayed that God would allow me to see myself as He saw me, and I finally began to smile at the person in the mirror.

I learned to love and accept myself as a precious daughter of the Lord. I realized His view of me was the only one that truly mattered, and if He loved and cared for me, then what right did I have not to love and care for myself?

I also realized that God could help me change the things I didn’t like about myself. I had a very negative, cynical view of the world. I had lost faith in love, in people, and in the church. I was easily irritated and had a horrific temper that could explode without warning. I also found that I had developed a mean streak. The years of bullying and verbal abuse had created an ugliness inside me that came out in gossip, judgement, and rude comments.

I didn’t like that side of me. I didn’t want to be that person. So I chose not to be. I began to ask God to let me see others as He saw them. When I wanted to judge someone, I stopped and reminded myself that I had no idea what was happening in their life or what struggles they could be experiencing. When I wanted to express a mean word or cruel statement, I bit my tongue, and reminded myself of all the harsh words used against me and how much damage they had caused. Instead I would ask myself how I could make the situation better instead of worse.

I am not perfect. Sometimes I still give in to anger and judgement. Sometimes I catch myself engaging in gossip. But not nearly as often as I once did. And at least now, I am instantly aware of it and able to repent.

I try very hard to see the good, to choose the good. I wake up every day and choose to be positive, and choose to love first.

Why am I writing about this today?

Because I am still constantly heartbroken at the words people choose to use with each other. I am still in shock by the cruel things said to one another, and the judgement that is so easily placed.

Working at a church, I see so many people worshipping Jesus, and attending workshops and courses on how to be healthy, loving people, but then the sun rises on Monday, and so many of the same people are quick to tear each other down.

Why?

Why do we do this to each other?

Why do we engage in this competition to trash one other?

Children and teens are committing suicide due to endless bullying. People use social media to call others names and tear them to pieces. The president of the most powerful country in the world regularly uses Twitter to call people dumb, pathetic, obnoxious & fat, (among other things).

What’s going on with us?

Why do we allow ourselves to engage in this narrative?

Why do we accept such hateful language?

Yes, words can destroy. The above points to that fact.

But words can also build up. Words can love. Words can heal. Words can encourage.

Words can change the world.

Let’s change the narrative of our world.

Let’s change the words we choose.

Let’s choose love.

 

LOVE FIRST

 

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Love First

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It is hard to be a part of today’s world. There is so much evil, hurt, anger and suffering. I find myself avoiding the daily news because I don’t want to see another story about a parent who has killed their child, or a senior who was brutally beaten while going for a walk, or a gunman who opened fire on a crowd at an event.

Sometimes it’s just too much. We get dragged down by the sadness. The horrendous reality that another human has committed these acts is overwhelming and disturbing. It becomes difficult to sleep at night, and we lay awake praying for those who are suffering, a list that keeps getting longer and longer.

So what is the answer?

Do we avoid all media?

Do we shield our eyes when passing the newspapers in the grocery store?

Do we move to the middle of nowhere and live as a hermit in ignorant bliss?

Is it even possible to block out all of the tragedy?

Unlikely.

In today’s world of technology, all news and information is available within seconds. There’s no avoiding the chaos. And living as a hermit is not the answer.

We may not be able to shut out the trauma around us, but we can do something in response to it.

Often in these horrific events, we are given a glimpse of the goodness in people. We see strangers helping strangers. We see people protecting each other. We see people opening their homes to those in need.

We see love.

And that is what we need in these times of evil actions. We need to respond in love.

Each day, whether there has been a tragic event or not, we need to choose love. That is how we defeat evil. That is how we make our world better.

We need to love first.

We are so quick to judge one another. We are quick to gossip, quick to curse another, quick to anger, quick to inflict pain whether emotionally or physically.

What if instead we were quick to love?

What if instead of judgement, we chose compassion?

What if we responded to rudeness with kindness?

What if instead of cursing the one who cuts us off in traffic, we ask God to bless their day?

What if we choose to love first?

I think our world would become a much better place if we all choose to love first.

It starts with you and me.

Love first.

 

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Travel with Purpose

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I love to travel. I love to explore new places, meet new people and experience different cultures. I love journeying to other countries and learning about their traditions and values. Each place in this world is fantastically unique, filled with beautiful people who each have a story to tell.

I can’t pinpoint where or when I developed my love of travel. I suspect it goes back to my childhood when my family constantly moved around and had to adapt to new surroundings.

The move that impacted me the most was when my dad was transferred to the island of St. Kitts in the Eastern Caribbean. For us, that involved more than simply adapting to new surroundings. We had to adapt to a new culture, a new climate and a completely new way of life.

While there were lots of incredible experiences living in St. Kitts, there were also many experiences that gave me nightmares for years after moving back to Canada. My eyes were too young and innocent to witness the violence and poverty that surrounded me. My mind and soul were too naive to comprehend the intolerance and cruelty I faced regularly.

However, my young self didn’t know that nearly two decades later, these haunting experiences would influence my travel choices in a positive way.

While I have taken some fun and amazing vacations on cruise ships, and to beautiful cities like Boston and Chicago, my travel desires have changed as I have gotten older. Now, they tend to be shaped around more purposeful journeys.

I want to see new places and experience different cultures, but not from a beach-side resort where I am being served a beverage in a coconut shell while sunbathing in a lounge chair. That would be amazing for about two days and then I would be quite bored.

The travel experiences I currently desire are not about me being comfortable and waited on. I don’t simply want to see a new culture, but I want to experience it. I don’t want to just meet new people, I want to know them. At the end of the day, I don’t want to only wash beach sand off my body, but also dirt, sweat, and even some tears.

I want to travel with purpose.

For me, right now that means short term mission and volunteer trips. I want to serve others, learn their stories and share their journeys. I want to travel in teams where we work together and have fun together. I want to learn about how others live, what values they hold dear, and how they came to be who they are. I want to hear their struggles, where they get strength and what makes them happy.

Two weeks ago I returned from a 12 day mission trip to the Czech Republic. Many people wonder why this country is a destination for mission work. They hear Prague and imagine a wealthy tourist area.

It is true that the Czech Republic is not physically poor, but when it comes to spiritual poverty, they are among the poorest. It is regularly described as an atheist country, and this is due to a complicated and difficult history when the people of the country were not allowed to speak about religion, let alone pursue it.

The team that I travelled with was not there to provide food, clothing or any material goods. We were there to bring the love of God, and what an honour it was to be a part of that. During our time there, we saw God at work, opening minds and softening hearts toward him. There were some proclaimed atheists who showed up at church on our final Sunday. God’s presence was everywhere and it was exhilarating.

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The Team

I had the privilege of working with 10 incredible teens, all of whom dug deep into my heart. Two weeks have passed and I miss them terribly. When the time came to return home, I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to stay and continue journey with the beautiful youth I had gotten to know.

Thank goodness for technology and Facebook so I can stay in touch with them.

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The wonderful teens I worked with

This world is full of beautiful people who have struggled, fought for themselves and their families, and survived unbelievable experiences. I have learned so much from those I have met on my travels. They have taught me about faith, strength, endurance, hope, redemption, joy, and most importantly, love. They have shown me what truly matters in this world – love and compassion for one another.

The experiences I have had on mission trips have opened my eyes to my own blind spots. They’ve put my flaws and weaknesses on full display. And they’ve taught me acceptance; acceptance of others and acceptance of myself.

The first mission trip I went on changed me. Each one after that awoke another part of my soul and reminded me of why we are here – to care for one another.

We live in a broken world. The only way we can begin to repair it is together. And to work together, we need to learn about and accept the uniqueness of each culture, country, and person. That doesn’t mean we always have to agree, but it does mean we have to have respect.

For me, that means continuing to travel with purpose, and continuing to learn.

I don’t simply want to see the world – I want to change it for the better. Yes, that is a massive goal, but years ago I laid myself before the Lord and said “Use me”. His response was to provide opportunities for mission and volunteer trips.

I am lucky enough to have the support and ability to continue to take part in these travels. I know it is not something everyone can do, but God has given me a lifestyle that allows it. I am single and child-free so I can jump at the opportunities that come my way.

I hope I can continue to do mission trips throughout my life. I am grateful for those who have supported me in these trips, both financially and spiritually.

I don’t know if I am actually changing the world for the better. I don’t know if I am making any difference at all. But I am trying.

That’s all any of us can do.

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Home Run

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Those who know me well know I am a huge fan of baseball. When the season starts in April, I activate the MLB app on my phone and I am checking out stats, getting updates and watching my team play as much as I can.

My team is the Toronto Blue Jays. I have been a fan for many years, and I have a deep love for the only Canadian baseball team. I grew up watching baseball with my dad, and a decade of living in Toronto solidified my support of the Jays. I often laugh about how while most young girls in the early 90s had posters of New Kids on the Block on their bedroom walls, I had posters of Joe Carter. He was my pre-teen celebrity crush.

Yesterday I was watching my Jays as they began a series in Texas against the Rangers. The Jays and the Rangers have a history with some animosity; there was the infamous bat flip of Jose Bautista, and of course the physical altercation between Bautista and the Rangers’ Rougned Odor.

Rangers fans remain quite hostile toward Bautista, and as usual, he was greeted with “boos” each time he stepped into the batter’s box last night.

As the boos rained down from the surrounding stands, the Blue Jay commentators joked that they shouldn’t waste their time with the boos because that makes Jose a better hitter. The hostility actually works against the Rangers fans because it pumps Bautista up; he has the tendency to rise above it, take the challenge and show ’em what he can do. And he did that again last night with a home run.

Personally, I don’t think it’s right to ever boo someone. It’s ok to cheer for whoever you choose, but there is no need to openly put someone down through booing. I understand it is a way for fans at sporting events to express their disapproval, but I can’t support booing an individual simply because you don’t like him (or her).

As I was waiting for a staff meeting to start today, I was thinking about my dislike of “booing”, and of how Jose Bautista responded in a positive way to a negative action. Those thoughts led me to think about Jesus and how he would respond when his enemies would “boo” him.

In the times of Jesus, the Pharisees were not “fans” of him despite his many followers. They talked behind his back, they tried to trick him and trap him with certain questions. They mocked him and plotted against him. They turned others against him.

The Pharisees were “booing” Jesus. They didn’t like him. And they tried everything they could to “throw him off of his game”.

Yet, every time the Pharisees tried to beat him, Jesus came back swinging. He stood stronger. He hit the ball harder. He refused to back down.

He continued his ministry day after day, never losing sight of his position.

They tried to strike him out. They tried to shut him down. They tried to tell him the “rules”. But he wasn’t interested in playing their game.

Jesus had a much more important mission. And he never lost focus. He never took his eye off the ball.

Jesus hit home run after home run despite the boos of those around him. He didn’t get upset over the cheaters. He didn’t give in to the liars.

Jesus played his own game.

His game was a game of love, passion, grace, mercy and peace. He was leading people to the greatest win imaginable.

And just when it looked like his opponents had taken the lead, when it looked like the game was lost, Jesus hit the ultimate grand slam.

He won the game for all of us.

He showed us we can win in love. We can hit a home run despite those who are booing us.

Because He did it first.

He loved first.

 

Love Shines Brighter

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It often seems as though our world is completely falling apart, or turning to pure evil. Every day we wake up to disturbing and horrific news. There are stories of parents starving their own children, teens murdering their parents, and people vanishing from the streets daily due to kidnappings.

Because I work at a church, I hear many heart-breaking stories of illness, abuse, violence, and addiction. I have friends who have lived through the unimaginable, and I meet people regularly who have either gone through horrific experiences or are currently enduring them.

Then this week there was another bombing attributed to terrorism. This bombing took place in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert, a building filled with children, teens and families.

What is happening?

Today there are so many places that were once considered safe places that no longer are – elementary & high schools, airports, churches, universities, entertainment stadiums, and the list goes on.

Today, nowhere is truly safe.

How can this be?

With all of the bad news we are bombarded with daily – in the newspapers, online and on TV – don’t you want to hide under the covers in bed some days?

Do you sometimes feel like just giving up?

I know there are times I do.

But then I hear the counter stories of all of this terrible news. There are the stories of the people in Manchester who immediately opened their homes to those displaced after the concert bombing. They welcomed strangers who couldn’t immmediately find friends or family members who were with them at the concert.

How beautiful is that?

Other times when I am ready to give up, I get the honour of witnessing an act of pure love, kindness or generosity.

A woman who has been ill and just received some terrible news from her doctor comes into the church sobbing. She is immediately embraced by two female pastors and a compassionate volunteer who comfort her and pray for her. By the time she leaves she is filled with hope and joy, and a wide smile covers her face.

In July I am going on a mission trip, and last night the team had our big fundraiser. It was an amazing example of the generosity and kindness of others. It was not just the generosity of those who attended the fundraiser and bid on auction items that blew me away, but the generosity of the whole community with donations they gave to include in our two auctions. Many of those who donated had nothing to do with our church or our mission, but gladly offered what they could. Then there were the many volunteers, aside from the team members, who gave their time and energy to help organize, set-up, prepare food and clean up for the fundraiser. We also have people consistently offering financial donations, so our team of 14 people can travel to spread the love of Jesus.

How incredible is that?

It can be easy to become discouraged by the many devastating things that are happening in our world. The news and stories are shocking and heartbreaking, and can be too much to bear. There are days I purposefully avoid the news and certain websites because I can’t handle another sad story.

Instead of getting weighed down by the bad, we need to switch our focus.

We need to focus on the good.

We need to peacefully stand against the evil, and we need to do it together, hand in hand.

I firmly believe there is more good than bad in this world. I whole-heartedly believe that the love outweighs the hate in humanity.

So let’s focus on the love.

Let’s refuse to stand for the hate.

That does not mean attacking in retaliation. It does not mean banning or abusing the Muslims in our communities because the terrorist groups claim to be acting on behalf of Islam.

Before condemning all because of the acts of few, take a moment to learn a little about the Muslim faith. I don’t know a lot about it, but I do know it is a religion of peace.

These terrorist groups are not true Muslims or working in the name of Islam.

So don’t turn on your Muslim neighbour and add to the hate.

We are angry about these acts of violence. Our hearts are broken, and we want justice for those who lost their lives or were injured.

But anger is not the way to respond. Although it feels natural, anger and hate will never win.

Let’s respond in love.

For those who, like me, are followers of Jesus, remember his teachings. He said to love our neighbour as ourselves. He sad to show grace, kindness and mercy. He asked us not to pass judgement on others, but to love our enemies. He asked us to go in peace.

Be like Jesus.

There are many examples of love, compassion, unity and kindness out there. Find them and use them as strength.

In times of struggle and strife, be the first to reach out a helping hand.

Be the love.

There’s a song by Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera that is one of my favourites. The chorus repeats “Turn up the love. Turn down the hate”.

Let’s turn up the love and overcome the hate.

Because love will always shine brighter.

 

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Time

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Time is an amazing thing. It is one of the few things in this world that is constant and reliable, yet it often appears to change its pace.

One day time may move so slowly that I would swear the minutes were moving backwards; then suddenly time is soaring and I look back at weeks gone by and wonder where they went.

I look at my little niece and nephew and pray desperately for time to slow down. They are growing rapidly and there is not enough time to savour each moment of their lives and their growth.

Occasionally I visualize upcoming adventures and I am suddenly looking for time to sprint ahead. I want the hours to move quicker as I await an exciting future experience.

Time can never win with all of the indecisiveness of humans. We are constantly frustrated by it moving too slow or we’re unnerved by its rapid pace.

But the thing about time is that it is consistent, unlike most things on earth. Time never changes what it is. It’s our perception of it that keeps changing.

It’s our own impatience that makes it feel too slow.

It’s our fear and inabiÅ‚ity to keep up that makes it feel accelerated.

Time is constant and steady.

Time keeps moving forward even if we decide to stop.

Time doesn’t try to catch up if we choose to speed ahead.

Time is stable, but it is also unforgiving.

Time never goes back. No matter how much we beg for a rewind, it keeps ticking forward.

Time that has passed will never come back. We cannot recapture moments or bank them for future use. Once time is used, it never appears again.

Time is unrelenting. In our darkest moments, it does not pause for us. It doesn’t take a break when we get sick or hurt. It doesn’t stop for pain or suffering, for war or celebration, for love or anger. It keeps trekking on.

There is much we can learn from time.

Time teaches us to continue moving forward; no matter the pain or struggle, we need to keep going. The hope is that the next moment will be better than the last.

If time gets caught in a hurricane, it keeps moving toward the rainbow after the storm.

If time is lost in darkness, it ticks forward to the sunrise.

Time teaches us to always move ahead.

And because time is always taking the next step, it also teaches us the value of each moment. Once a second has passed, it’s gone forever.

For time, the past is history. There is no moving backwards. There is no rewind. It is up to us to make each minute count. It is up to us not to waste the time we are given. Time is immortal, but we are not.

So, what are you going to do with each minute, each second?

How are you using the time you are given?

I can admit that I don’t use all of my time wisely. I’ve wasted time – I’ve let it slip away from me. I’ve had experiences where I have stopped dead and let time pass me by.

I can’t get that lost time back. But I know that moving forward, I don’t want to continue letting time slip by me. I don’t want to miss moments. I don’t want to miss opportunities. I don’t want anymore of my time wasted.

We all get a certain amount of time in this world. None of us know what amount we receive. I don’t want to be at death’s door wishing I had used my time more effectively. When I leave this earth I want to do so peacefully, knowing that I did the best I could with the time I had.

I want to know that my time here had a purpose; I want to know I used it to make a positive difference in the world.

No matter how much time each of us has here, I am certain we are all here for a specific purpose. Each of us is here for an important reason, although we may not know that reason until many years into our lives.

All I know is that I don’t want to leave this world with my purpose for being here unfulfilled.

Do you?

Each day I am actively and openly trying to determine the purpose I have been given. I am observing and listening, and I am doing my best to follow the path I feel I am being led on.

Are you using your time wisely?

Are you fulfilling your purpose?

 

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He is Risen

Fergusonbm_crossToday is Easter Sunday. On this day, over two thousand years ago, the women in the life of Jesus went to His tomb and found it empty. Jesus had risen from the dead.

I’ve never kept it a secret that I am a follower of Christ. I am open about my faith and my love for Jesus.

However, even I, despite a deep and strong faith, sometimes fail to comprehend the magnitude of what Jesus did for me. Logically, I get it. He died so I could be forgiven. Seems simple.

But it is so far from simple.

He didn’t just die so I can be forgiven and go to heaven.

He was betrayed by His friend and disciple.

He was arrested despite having done nothing wrong.

He was beaten mercilessly.

He was mocked by crowds and spit on.

A crown of thorns was placed on His head.

He was abandoned by everyone He trusted.

He was nailed, not hung, nailed to a cross.

Jesus suffered the most inhumane treatment imaginable. And He did it for me.

I know this truth every day, but it can be so overwhelming to think of what He did for us. I think that is why my mind sometimes chooses to think of His sacrifice more simply.

The reality of what He did for me brings me to my knees. I am left in awe of His love, and the knowledge that I don’t deserve it.

Yet He gives it freely.

Jesus came to save us, to free us. To free us from our sins; to free us from our darkness; to release the grasp Satan had on us. And He endured unimaginable pain to do it.

Because of Jesus, the chains of my depression that held me captive for many years, are removed. I spent years struggling, trying to control my disease. When I finally surrendered to Jesus, I was free. My chains broke instantly.

Jesus died for us over two thousand years ago. After that He could have said, “ok, my part is done.” But He rose from the dead and He continues to fight for us. Every. Single. Day.

How can any of us comprehend the magnitude of that kind of love?

So in those days when you feel so alone, so dark, so empty; in those days when it seems everyone has abandoned you, please remember – Jesus is with you. He will never abandoned you.

And He loves you so much that He sacrificed His life for you.

Happy Easter.

 

 

Every Day Birthday

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My birthday was a week ago. I had a lovely day filled with birthday wishes via email, Facebook, text and phone calls. There was a BBQ at my parents’ house where I was able to hang out with my family, which is one of my favourite things to do. The day ended perfectly because I got to to watch my beloved Blue Jays play baseball.

As I was thinking about birthdays in general, I realize they are an interesting yearly celebration our society created. It is a day where one can be completely selfish and celebrate themselves with friends and family while receiving gifts. And this all happens simply because the person was born on that day, which if you think about it, being born is not a difficult or amazing feat. Really we should be celebrating our mothers on our birthdays because they’re the ones who endured the pain and hardship of labour and giving birth to bring us into this world. They did all of the work. We just showed up screaming.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate birthdays. Birthdays are not just a celebration of that single individual, but they are a celebration of life, which is a precious thing

As a kid, birthdays are super exciting; you get to eat cake and candy, have all of your friends over and open presents. It’s a day to make a chîld feel extra special, to show them how happy you are that they exist.

Some adults respond to their birthdays in the same way as children; they get excited and throw themselves big parties. Multiple presents are of less importance in adulthood, but the chance to be the centre of attention for a full day and have everyone praise you is something many adults relish.

Then there are those who view their birthdays negatively. They cringe at getting older and finding another gray hair. They study their face endlessly for the appearance of a wrinkle or age spots. They despise having their age go up by one.

Some get depressed around their birthdays. They focus on what they don’t have, what goals they have failed to achieve, the losses they endured. They see their birthday as another year passing by where they didn’t accomplish anything. They bury themselves in shame because they are not where they thought they would be by “this” age.

Birthdays can bring a lot of stress and pressure for many.

In the past I’ve experienced everything I’ve described above at different birthdays. However, now I see things differently.

When my birthday comes along I embrace it with such gratitude that I am alive another year. There was a time that I never thought I’d make it to my 30s. I was speeding down the road of self-destruction in my early 20s and really didn’t believe I’d see past 25.

So now, I am grateful for every birthday that comes, every day that I get older. Because I once thought I wouldn’t make it this far.

And while I could easily use my birthdays to focus on what I haven’t done and where I haven’t gotten to, I instead choose to focus on what I have done. I choose to focus on what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown and who I’ve helped.

But I don’t want to just do that once a year on my birthday. I want to do it every day. I want to treat everyday like my birthday where I can wake up excited that I have another day.

I want to embrace each day with joy and gratitude.

I want to learn from where I’ve been, but then focus on where I am going.

I want to celebrate life.

And I want you to celebrate it with me, every single day.

You can focus on the failures, hurts and betrayals of yesterday, or you can embrace what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown and move forward with excitement and anticipation.

You can linger in the anger of days gone by, and let that anger set the tone of your tomorrow, or you can choose to forgive, let go, and put a smile on someone else’s face.

Treat every day like it’s your birthday.

Celebrate that you are alive and opportunity lays before you.

Celebrate life!

 

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Embrace the Risk

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On Wednesday evening, my church had a Leaders Village. This is an opportunity for staff and those in volunteer leadership positions to feed themselves, share their successes and learn how to become betterment leaders.

At this recent event we watched a video of Jossy Chacko, who was speaking about “Ways to Expand your Leadership Reach”. He had three key things that we need to do as leaders to expand our leadership reach.

The first is that we need to enlarge our vision. The second is that we need to empower our people. The third is to embrace risk.

The call to embrace risk is the one I found most challenging. It is also the one I can’t stop thinking about.

Because when it comes to leadership, taking a risk is what has held me back. Fear has held me back.

Fear of what?

Fear of judgement. Fear of failure. Fear of ridicule. Fear of not being good enough.

There are many reasons to fear leadership. There are many reasons to fear starting something new. There are many reasons to fear risk.

Then Jossy said, “God has not given us a spirit of fear. Fear is from the enemy.”

BOOM

That got my attention.

It was something I never considered before. We all see fear as a natural emotion like happiness, sadness or anger. But our fearful nature did not come from God.

It shook me to realize that every time I’ve walked away from a risk due to fear, I was essentially giving in to the enemy. Even at times when I have felt God calling me to something, I’ve let fear stand in my way.

Then came the sentence that gave me chills and completely kicked my butt…

“If you are not taking the risk, who is missing out?”

Wow.

Who is missing out because I am not following a calling from God?

Who is missing out because I am giving in to fear?

I am not saying that I’m meant to do great things that will change the world. But maybe I’m supposed to take a step in a new leadership direction in order to help with something that could change lives.

What if me saying no to a leadership opportunity means someone doesn’t get to be a part of something that they really need like a small group?

What if me refusing to take a risk in leadership means someone doesn’t come to know God?

What if….?

I’ve known for a long time what God is calling me to do. At times I have embraced and pursued it, but never to the extent that He was asking.

I’ve let the voices of those who put me down echo in my head and used them as an excuse to take a different path.

I’ve allowed my own insecurity and fear of judgement to overcome my desire to follow where God is leading.

Who is missing out because I am not willing to take the risk?

I don’t know, nor do I intend to find out.

Because it is time for me to embrace the risk.

There are still a lot of things I need to figure out. I’m not sure where to start or how to start.

I know if I walk in with a willing and open heart, then God will do the rest.

And if it doesn’t work out? If I fail?

That’s ok.

I’ll just try again.

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When Things Fall into Place

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written on here – the reason for that will be shared further on in this post…

Yesterday my mom said to me, “I’m so glad things are falling into place for you finally.”

As I reflected on that comment, I realized how at peace I felt because she was right. Lately everything just seems to be falling into place.

Since moving back to the Windsor area in April 2013, I have struggled to find my place, to figure out where I fit. I’ve had 5 different jobs in less than 4 years and I have moved 5 times. My life has been unsteady, to say the least.

I have faced difficulty in finding community and making close friends.

I had to start all over again when I moved back here and it was hard. No matter what I did, I didn’t feel content.

A couple of the jobs I had over the last few years have been fantastic. Working at BeachWalk Family Fitness was one of the best employments I’ve ever had. It was a great job, working for an amazing boss. I was given the opportunity to grow and challenge myself in ways I will be forever grateful for.

As much as I loved the job, I struggled financially. As a single person trying to pay bills, car insurance, gas, groceries, and for very expensive medications, I never seemed to be able to make ends meet.

It didn’t help that my living situation kept changing due to unforeseen circumstances, and that I ended up in a place where my hydro bills were three times what I’d been told they’d be.

I also know myself well enough to admit that I am not the best when it comes to managing money. I have often used shopping as therapy and that has gotten me into trouble.

I ended up leaving the gym for a job at Indigo after working both jobs for a while. I sincerely enjoyed working at Indigo and believe it is a fantastic company, but things didn’t turn out as I had hoped.

My hours dropped after Christmas, and due to my early morning shifts, it became increasingly difficult to have any social life.

I also worked most Sundays so I wasn’t able to attend church much, which eventually took a toll on my spiritual well-being.

By early January I was in a slump.

My time was spent working, sleeping and trying to figure out where I was going to live (I am currently inhabiting the guest room in my parents’ house).

My energy was zapped. My motivation was gone.

I had hit a wall.

I knew I needed to find a new job with regular hours. I also knew I needed to get off my butt and start volunterring and socializing again. All hard to do without motivation.

Then a woman I have known since my teens who has always been someone I greatly respect and admire contacted me to say she needed leaders for Alpha at Lakeshore St. Andrews Church, and I had come to her mind.

LSA Church was my church in my teens, and the church I went back to when I moved back to this area. However, as already mentioned, I hadn’t been able to attend much in recent months.

This woman is someone I could not say no to and I agreed to meet with her to discuss things further.

During our meeting she handed me the previous Sunday’s bulletin, and highlighted was a job opportunity at the church as an Office Administrator.

After my meeting with her, I met with another church staff member to discuss another ministry I was interested in volunteering with. Later that afternoon, I got an email from this staff member telling me about the job opening “in case I was interested”.

It was almost exactly seven years ago that I first felt the calling to work in ministry. That eventually led to my job at The Meeting House in the GTA. When I lost that job I didn’t think I would ever work in ministry again. I also didn’t know if I ever wanted to work in ministry again.

But even as I pursued other career paths, God was still dropping little hints that He wanted me in ministry again. I even applied for an admin job at another church last summer, but declined the interview when I was hired at Indigo.

I couldn’t ignore God’s voice any longer. He’d been patient with me throughout my slump, and throughout the previous three years as I tried to create my own path.

Now He being very clear about what He wanted from me.

So I applied for the job and got it.

I also became a leader at Alpha.

Last week I found out my application had been approved for a duplex in Belle River that I love and is perfect for me.

Suddenly everything is falling into place.

And for the first in a while I feel alive.

I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Funny how that happens when you put your own agenda aside and start listening to God’s voice.

His way is definitely better than mine.

 

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