The Little Things

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I was getting ready for bed and suddenly felt this uncontrollable urge to write about something that happened today.

My friend, who I met in my Czech language class in the Spring, and I took a break from language review/practice to go for lunch. We went to a restaurant a few minutes from my apartment, and prepared to order.

We had a lovely, young woman as our waitress, and when she approached us, she (of course) spoke to us in Czech. My friend and I ordered our drinks and tried to tell her we needed a few more minutes with the menu. At this point, she switched to English, but I quickly told her we were learning Czech and wanted to practice. She smiled sweetly and switched back to Czech, but made an effort to speak more slowly so we could understand.

Throughout the remaining time at the restaurant this wonderful server treated us with kindness and patience as we fumbled our way through communicating with her in Czech.

Her gentleness and understanding of the fact that we were trying hard to speak in her language has stayed with me all day. I can hardly express how much I appreciated her patience, even though the restaurant was busy and she had many others who needed her service.

If she was frustrated by us, she didn’t show it one bit.

When we made a mistake or said a word incorrectly, there was no judgement.

Her sweet smile never left her face.

After we left, I’m sure she did not give us another thought, but her actions have stayed at the front of my mind all day.

How she treated us may not seem like a big deal to many, especially given that her job is in the service industry, but it meant a lot to me. She made me feel appreciated and valued for attempting to speak only in Czech.

This has not been a regular experience for me; often when I have attempted to speak Czech, the person I am speaking to will switch to English. If they don’t know English, they’ll just use hand gestures. And many times I have sensed their annoyance with me as I stumble through my limited Czech.

My experience today has reminded me of the importance of appreciating the little things.

So often we only focus on the big things – the next adventure, a new experience, going on vacation, the start of a relationship, the big presentation, a visit from a loved one, the wedding day, the birthday celebration.

We spend the time in between ‘the big things’ waiting for, and anticipating the next ‘big thing’.

In doing that, we frequently miss out on the little things that matter just as much as the big things.

The little things like…

Seeing a wooden moose painted with your home country’s flag in a small German town.

When your friend’s 5 year old son wants to sit next to only you.

When you see a beautiful landscape and take a moment to be mesmerized by it.

When you get excited over the appearance of a rainbow in the sky.

When there’s a hammock on the porch of the beautiful cottage you’re staying at for a few days.

I could go on and on…

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Often we can fail to see the beauty in the moments that seem small.

We forget that even the little things need to be celebrated.

We’re so busy planning or praying for that next big thing that we don’t realize how incredible much of the small things are.

A friend of mine writes her blessings in a gratitude journal. It helps her focus on all of the good in her life instead of the negative.

She struggles with anxiety, so it would be easy for her to focus on her trials. Instead she purposely focuses on her blessings and all that she is grateful for.

I used to keep a gratitude journal, and it is something I am going to do again.

I want to focus on all of the positive things, big and small, that God has blessed me with in my life.

I want to remember that every experience, every moment, every word spoken, every action taken matters.

Because we never know how our words or actions may affect someone else.

I am certain that the waitress I had today has no idea what an impact she had on me. I am sure she doesn’t know that she made my day better through her actions. I think she would be surprised to know how much what she did meant to me.

We often have no idea how we can impact people. Something we do that may seem minuscule or ordinary to us may be the difference between a good and a bad day for someone else.

A smile can lift a hurting heart.

Holding a door can straighten burdened shoulders.

Giving up a seat can bring rest to aching legs.

These are all little things.

But they matter so much.

Pay attention to the little things. Find the beauty in them. Find the inspiration in them. Find the joy in them.

Embrace the blessings.

Exude gratitude.

And be the bright spot in someone else’s day.

 

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Thorn in the flesh

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I am currently reading a book by Charles Swindoll called ‘Paul: a Man of Grit and Grace’, which is about the life of the Apostle Paul. The chapter I just completed focused on suffering and the “thorn in the flesh” God gave Paul to keep him humble.

Though many have speculated, it is unknown what Paul’s thorn was, whether it was physical, mental or emotional. All we know is that it caused him great pain, and he pleaded with the Lord three times to have it removed. We also know that God’s response was ‘No’.

Each time He said, ‘My Grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness’.”    2 Corinthians 12:9a

At this point, Paul could have responded in many ways. He could have walked away from the Lord in anger. He could have wallowed in his suffering and given up on life. He could have refused to do God’s work until he was healed.

But instead he accepted his thorn.

So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10

Wow.

I don’t have another response to that, so just, “Wow”.

Paul’s faith and trust in the Lord was so strong that he simply accepted his thorn knowing that in his weakness, God would make him strong. Paul chooses to boast in his weakness so that God may be glorified. He accepts his suffering and trusts God’s promise that His grace is sufficient.

In ‘Paul’, Charles Swindoll writes, “The world needs more followers of Christ who embrace pain and hardship rather than deny it.”

So often people come to Christ and expect that life will suddenly be significantly better. They expect instant happiness, no more pain, and a life without drama. I’ve heard this and witnessed it many times. They think that after they accept Jesus, God will give them everything they need and desire. Then they get so angry and discouraged when that doesn’t happen.

This is why it is so important that those of us who are followers of Christ are open about our struggles. We must be able to show our suffering and reveal our weaknesses. Then we can also show how God uses our times of trial to reveal His grace and strength.

God never promised us a life without suffering. In fact, He promised us the exact opposite. Jesus told us that as His followers, we would face struggle, trial and pain. He was very clear that His way is difficult, but He also promised He would be with us and give us strength, and that our reward in heaven would far outweigh the suffering of this life.

Paul is an inspiring example of true faith and trust God, despite enduring much pain and suffering. Charles Swindoll writes, “The secret to Saul’s contentment was knowing Christ’s strength was perfected in his weakness.”

We all have a thorn in our flesh. For some it is a physical ailment. For others it’s a constant, sinful temptation.

My thorn in the flesh is my mental illness – the depression and anxiety I’ve struggled with since the age of 11.

For many years, my thorn caused me excruciating pain and suffering. I remember nights of sobbing and begging God to take my illness. I remember pleading with Him and offering to do anything to be relieved of the hurt that ravaged me from the inside out. I remember asking what I had done to deserve it, and then promising to be good all my life if He took it from me.

But He never took it from me.

As my suffering and desperation grew, I turned away from God and tried to numb my pain with alcohol, drugs and self-harm. I was drowning in self hatred, anger and hurt, and too many times I came close to ending my life. But in those times, He always saved me, even when I didn’t realize He was.

It was only when I finally turned to Him in my suffering, when I finally laid myself at His feet and asked for His grace that I learned how He could strengthen me in my weakness. In His grace, I found healing. In His strength, I found hope. In His love, I found joy.

And I began to understand Paul’s acceptance and contentment even when God did not remove his thorn.

I discovered that in my weakness, Christ’s strength can be made perfect. I learned that God’s grace in my suffering is sufficient.

He revealed to me how He could use my suffering and use me to bring glory to His name.

God has used my struggles with mental illness to help others. He has used me to help others who also suffer with depression and anxiety. He has given me strength to not only overcome my struggles, but to help others find hope, joy, strength and healing in Him. And that is an incredible gift.

I know that I will always be at risk for my depression and anxiety to attack. I will never be free of my illness as long as I am in this world. But now, with God’s strength and grace, I am prepared for it when it comes.

In fact, just last week, my depression began to surface, so I had to get into “battle” mode and put my fight plan in action. But it’s a battle I cannot win on my own. I am weak and I am broken. But when I turn to Him, He pours His strength into me so I can endure my thorn and battle my demons.

In His grace and strength, my weakness is made strong. With Him, I have nothing to fear, even when my thorn brings me to my knees.

Because of this, I, like Paul, am grateful for my suffering. It has brought me closer to God and allowed me to experience His grace, mercy, power and love.

 

Being Vulnerable

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Working in ministry, I have a lot of conversations with people that can end up being very deep. One thing I see over and over is the struggle many have with vulnerability, and the fear of being vulnerable.

I get it. Being vulnerable is scary.

I’ve spent years working on being more vulnerable and opening myself up. However, with being vulnerable and more open, comes fear of rejection and judgement. I am at a place in my life where it’s less scary to be vulnerable and honest because I know who I am and I know my worth. Through years of therapy, conversations, reading, writing, and prayer, I’ve become very self-aware, and I’ve learned to genuinely love myself. Everything changed when I began to pray that I would see myself as God sees me; I stopped looking for my value in this world and instead sought out my value in Him.

As I spend time with people and engage in conversations, I see so many who are yearning for a deep connection with another human being, yearning for realness and honesty in relationships, and desperately needing a sincere relationship with God. But their fear is holding them back from truly seeking that thing they so desperately desire. Their fear of being vulnerable, and of facing rejection or judgement keeps them trapped inside their guarded walls.

I understand.

I also fear rejection. I also fear being judged.

Like most, I have been rejected and judged multiple times in my life. And it hurts.

I’ve been judged for my choices.

I’ve been judged for my beliefs.

I’ve been judged for my mental illness.

I’ve been judged for not being married and not having children.

I’ve been judged for my mistakes.

I’ve been judged for being “too good”.

I’ve been judged for being not good enough.

I’ve been judged for being too thin.

I’ve been judged for being too big.

I’ve been judged for what I wear.

I’ve been judged for what I’ve said.

I’ve been judged for what I haven’t said.

The list goes on and on.

It’s painful. It’s painful to be judged. It’s painful to be rejected.

While that pain is often never erased, it can be overcome.

It can be overcome by being accepted.

By being welcomed.

By being loved.

By loving others even if they reject you.

By being honest even if some don’t like what you have to say.

By being vulnerable even though you could get hurt.

By not judging even when others are judging you.

And most importantly by knowing you are forever accepted and unconditionally loved by our Father in heaven.

He will never reject you.

He will always want you.

He will always welcome you.

He will always accept you.

He will always love you with a fierceness that none of us can fully comprehend.

So I encourage you to be vulnerable. Be open. Be honest. Be accepting. Be welcoming. Love. Love as our Lord loves us.

Because even if you are sometimes rejected or judged, that love will overpower the hurt.

And you can feel secure knowing that the Almighty is always there.

When I look back and see all the opportunities I missed because I was afraid of being vulnerable, afraid of being judged, and afraid of being rejected, I am filled with sadness. Pure sadness. Yes, I may have avoided being hurt or embarrassed, but I may have also missed out on meaningful relationships, best friendships, chances to love and be loved, and so much more.

As I have gotten older, and my faith has grown, I have realized that all I want to do is love and care for people. Even if they reject that love and care from me. I want to know people, to connect with people, to be vulnerable, to be open, and to be honest. I want to help others and allow them to help me.

And if I am hurt or judged or rejected, that is ok.

At least I’ll know I did what Jesus asked me to do. I’ll love my neighbour, and I’ll serve others.

And I will always know that I am fully loved and accepted by the One who matters most.

 

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Provision

IMG_4998I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday about how, when and if God provides in every situation when we ask Him for something. We had some differing views but came to realize that we actually felt similarily, but how we interpreted the word ‘provides’ played a part in how we discussed our views.

My reasoning was that God always provides in some way even if it is not in the way we want. For me, when God doesn’t answer a specific prayer that is an answer in itself. By Him not giving me what I want, I see that He has a different plan and what I want is not what He feels is best for me. In not giving me what I asked for, I see that as an answer. I still feel He is with me always and that He has a plan and purpose for me, and therefore will provide for HIS purpose.

My friend, who has experience working with people who believe in the prosperity gospel, (ask God for what you want and He will always give it to you, which often looks to Matthew 6:25-34 as reasoning for these views), felt we must be more careful in our word choice and that the word ‘provides’ can be understood by many to mean God will give you everything you ask for. As he explained his reasoning, I understood why he chose his words so delicately when speaking of God’s provision. His thoughts are that God does not always provide, but He is always with us and leading us toward His plan.

So ultimately our viewpoints were along the same lines.

Since this conversation I have been thinking about the requests that we, and I especially, make to God in our daily lives. Currently I am searching for answers on a couple of things, and anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not naturally a patient person. Therefore I find myself getting frustrated and begging God for answers on the same question again and again.

I have to remind myself to be patient. I have to remind myself that I don’t need the answers right now. I want the answers, but it is not about what I want. I need to just trust God and His plan for me and that He will provide answers on what I am seeking in His time, not mine. Otherwise I am simply going to stress myself out unnecessarily trying to control something that God has already figured out.

So often we turn to God only when we want something. We want a specific job. We want a boyfriend/girlfriend. We want a new house. We want more money. We want to move to a new country. We want to punish someone who hurt us. And we get angry with God when He doesn’t provide what we ask for. We claim He’s not listening or He doesn’t care. We may even question His existence and our own faith. All because He didn’t give us what we want when we want it. We expect that because we’ve chosen to follow Him, He should fulfill all of our desires in return.

Why?

How is that true faith?

Why is our belief in Him dependent on Him providing us with exactly what we want?

As I ask these questions, I’m not trying to call anyone out, but I’m pointing the finger at myself.

What right do I have to be so demanding of my God who saved my life? Who sent His son to die so I could be forgiven? Who loves me more than I can possibly imagine and only wants His best for me?

I need to stop demanding from God what I want and ask Him what He wants from me instead. I need to stop being so entitled and simply say, ‘Thank you, God’

As I look back over my life, I see God’s presence in everything. No, He did not give me everything I wanted. And there were times of deep pain and struggle, but God was always there. He was there to comfort me. He was there to strengthen me. He gave me earthly support through people and opportunities. And when I asked Him for something that would not have been good for me, He protected me by not providing it.

God is not a magic genie who will grant our every wish. God is our father who loves us, strengthens us, helps us grow, and leads us. Like any good father, He doesn’t give us everything we want just because we want it. Like any good father, He tells us no when He must and accepts our anger and frustration in response, while still loving us fully and unconditionally.

God will never abandon us. He doesn’t promise us that our lives will be perfect. He doesn’t promise us a life without struggle. He does promise He will always be with us. He does promise that if we follow Him and accept His son, Jesus, that when our time on this earth is over, He will take us home to be with Him for eternity.

And that is more than enough for me.

Nature

 

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It’s been quite some time since I have written on here. I apologize for the silence, but it has been a busy few months. It’s been two and a half months since I moved overseas and began a new life in Prague, Czech Republic as a missionary.

On this beautiful day, after completing a language test I have been studying for all week, I knew I needed to get outside. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and it is 19 degrees Celsius. I decided it was time to do some more exploring in my neighbourhood.

In my attempt to find a place known as the Prosek Rocks (my neighbourhood is called Prosek), which I did find, I also found a wonderful walking trail that is engulfed in trees and nature, that feels like a little peace of heaven in the middle of a busy, metropolitan city.

Those who know me well know how much I love nature. It’s where I feel closest to God. Going for a walk on a trail or in a park energizes me, refreshes me, and brings me a sense of peace. I enjoy my solitude and love having quiet time surrounded by creation.

Usually when I walk alone, I like to listen to music, but after I left my home today I realized I had forgotten my headphones. I like having music on walks because it blocks out all the other noise and helps me relax. I was disappointed I couldn’t enjoy it on my walk today, especially as I headed down a busy street toward the trail I would soon discover.

As I was walking on the path, surrounded by trees that arched over my head like a bridge, I began to notice the sound of the birds chirping around me. Then I tuned in to the sound of the leaves blowing in the wind. I realized I was not without music. God was providing the music of nature to accompany me on my walk.

And as I walked, I could feel stress sliding right out of my body.

The last couple of months have been amazing, but also challenging in ways I didn’t imagine. I’m in a place where I don’t know all the rules and norms of society. I can’t understand 99% of what is being said around me. I can’t read the majority of the signs or understand directions in a city where streets are not labelled on every corner or intersection.

I also can’t understand the song of the birds, but I can recognize it’s beauty.

You don’t always have to understand something to appreciate it. I may not  understand what someone next to me on the metro is saying, but I can respect and appreciate the fact that they offer their seat to an elderly person or pregnant woman.

I don’t have to know or understand every detail of this country’s culture and history to recognize the pride, beauty, strength and courage in the people of Czech.

It comes down to trust.

Trust is not something that comes easily to me. It takes time for me to completely trust people and be vulnerable with them. That has been one of my biggest struggles since arriving here – those that I have built deep, trusting relationships with are thousands of miles away. I want to create relationships like that here, but it takes time.

So what do I do on a bad day when I need a shoulder to cry on?

I trust God. I turn to Him.

I have experienced the excitement of meeting new people and making friends in my new home. But there have been moments when I’ve missed my friends and family back in Canada so much that it physically hurts. So what do I do?

I trust God.

I trust that He brought me here because this is where I am supposed to be. I trust that He has a purpose for my life here. I trust that He is going to provide those deep relationships I am desiring.

And it’s on days that I go for walks and experience nature that I am reminded that He has a plan for each of us. Just as He planned every piece of Creation, He has an intricate plan for each and every one of His children.

I have heard people say that they like being in nature because it’s getting away from everything and enjoying “the simple things”. But if you pay attention to anything in nature, you quickly realize there is nothing simple about it. From the bark of a tree, to the shape and size of a leaf, to the petals of a flower, the detail and beauty of each little thing is exquisite.

And if God put that much detail into a tiny flower petal or blade of glass, think about the incredible detail He has put into the plan for each of our lives. He loves us so much that He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He sees every second of our lives, and He yearns for us to know Him.

And that is exactly why I am here in the Czech Republic.

It’s unacceptable to me that someone could see the detail in the bark of a tree and not know the love and care that God put into creating it.

It’s heartbreaking that people do not know the magnificent and unfathomable love that God put into creating them, and continues to pour out to them every single day.

The beauty and peace of nature is an example of the beauty and peace of God and His unlimited love.

And it is a reminder to all of us who follow Him, that we must share His love.

 

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Eyes on Jesus

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We live in a complicated, broken world. There is so much hurt, so much anger, so much confusion, so much conflict. It’s a world that is suffering and struggling.

Each day I wake up and make intentional choices. I choose to be positive. I choose to treat people well. I choose to smile. I choose to love.

But life continually throws unexpected curves. This chaotic world will constantly try to make us fall.

We can choose to be kind, but some will still be unkind to us.

We can act in love, and may receive hate in return.

We can take risks, and sometimes we will fail miserably.

We can put ourselves out there, and may end up broken hearted.

We can trust people, and they could betray us.

We can do what is right, and others respond with what is wrong.

We can open ourselves up, and someone may shut us down.

This world is hard. It can be dark and cruel. It can make us want to run away and isolate ourselves. It can take away our ability to trust. It can make us give up on love.

In my life, one thing I have learned and practiced – through all of the noise, the stress, the chaos, the heartbreak, the missteps – as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, everything is going to be ok.

With my focus on my Saviour, He shows me how the good triumphs over the bad. He blinds me to the negativity and shines a light on the positive. He deafens my ears to the noise, and blares the kindness. He guards my heart from the hate, and softens it to the love.

We can choose to be kind in the face of unkindness if our eyes are on Jesus.

We can act in genuine love and know that the love of Jesus conquers all hate.

We can take risks and have the opportunity to succeed beyond our wildness dreams, or experience something amazing that we never thought possible.

We can trust people and forgive any betrayal because we know Jesus died so we could be forgiven.

We can do what is right, no matter the response, for we know we honoured our Lord.

We can open ourselves up, and be ok with rejection because with Jesus, we are always accepted.

Yes, this world is hard. Yes, we face many struggles. But with our eyes on Jesus, the joy and love we experience is unfathomable.

With our eyes on Jesus, darkness will become light.

With our eyes on Jesus, hate can transform to love.

With our eyes on Jesus,  hurt is healed.

With our eyes on Jesus, mess can be made beautiful.

So goodbye negativity, I don’t have time for you. I choose to be positive.

I’m sorry hate, but you are not wanted. I serve a God of love.

Farewell betrayal – you can’t have me. I choose forgiveness.

My apologies rejection, but you cannot break me. I belong to Jesus.

And my eyes are on Him.

 

The Places You’ll Go

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Two weeks ago I returned home from Toronto after a week of Pre-Departure training with TEAM, the organization I am partnered with to be a missionary in the Czech Republic. This was a week I had been praying for and anticipating for months. I was looking forward to connecting with friends I’d made at my Missionary Orientation, as well as TEAM staff, making new friends, and taking the next steps in my training.

The week did not disappoint. Although it did go a little faster than I would have liked.

It was cool to have this training in Toronto, a city that love and spent many years in. I had fun introducing my American friends to Tim Hortons, All Dressed chips and poutine. We got a chance to experience the diversity of this amazing city through food, and more food.

I got to meet more amazing people who are giving up their lives to go out in the world and make disciples through church planting, music, sports, and simply building relationships. Soon we will all be spread throughout the world, sharing the gospel and spreading the love of our Lord.

It is so exciting to be a part of.

It’s amazing to hear the stories of everyone and learn how God called them to their respective missionary locations. And it’s inspiring to see so many walking in obedience to God. He has called everyone to a different place – whether it be Japan, France, Guatemala, Mexico, Africa, Spain, Asia – and He has called us each for a specific purpose. To further His Kingdom.

I was (and still am) humbled and honoured to be among these incredible people.

I know when I am on the field, and I face times of struggle and trial, these will be the people I reach out to. And I pray they will reach out to me in their times of need.

Even though we only spent that short time together, we are forever connected as we each set out to fulfill God’s mission in our lives.

All of us will experience things that can only be understood by others who have been in the mission field.

All of us are giving up everything we know, and everything that is comfortable, to share the love of Jesus.

And while our individual struggles may differ depending on the country we’re going to, whether we’re single or married, and what our specific ministry will be, there are common challenges we are all sure to experience.

In our training we talked a lot about cultural values and cultural intelligence. We talked about personal bias and how easy it can be for us to be judgemental when faced with something different. We’ll each face difficulties in language learning, adjusting to cultural norms in our new homes, and dealing with homesickness.

But as long as we know we are fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives, and we trust His path instead of trying to find our own, we will be fine.

We will all commit a cultural faux pas at some point. And we’ll have embarrassing and frustrating stories to share regarding language learning. We’ll have days full of tears where we’re desperate to return home. And we’ll have moments of satisfaction when we can finally order a coffee properly in our host country’s language.

And there will be moments of pure joy – that moment when someone we’ve been building a relationship with, someone who previously didn’t know or care to know Jesus, declares that they believe.

In that moment, all of the cultural mistakes, the frustrations of language learning, and the tears of homesickness, will be worth it.

That’s what we are doing this for.

We are here for God. For His glory. To build His Kingdom.

Throughout the last 8 months of this process – through the highs and lows of fundraising and sharing my calling – I have asked God many times, “Why me?”

I’m not a pastor or a teacher. I’m not a counsellor. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’ve done things I’m ashamed of. I’m overly sensitive and take things too personally. I’m not great in large groups. I can be anti-social. Sometimes, I have a temper.

I am imperfect.

I am so very flawed.

I am also saved.

I am forgiven.

I am loved.

And I want everyone else to know that they are too.

And that is why me.

 

 

He Provides

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As I look back over the last year, one key thing I have been reminded of over and over is this: God is faithful.

Of course, this is something I already knew, but in times of struggle and uncertainty and stress, it is amazing how quickly I forget. I get caught in the worry, the fears, and the “what ifs?” I forget that God is in complete control, and I try to take over. In moments of insecurity, facing the unknown, I unconsciously think that I can do better than Him. Or I convince myself that He has forgotten me.

Yet each time I go back to my Bible, to church, to my friends who are Christ followers, it is so clear and simple: God is faithful. He will provide.

What’s important to remember in this is that, not only does He provide, but He does it in His time. In my own impatience and stubbornness, I often try to speed ahead when I think God is not working fast enough. I try to push forward and force things to happen. And that always ends up in a huge mess.

And again, God gently and graciously reminds me to wait on Him because He will provide at the time that is right.

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”                                                                                              Luke 12:19

For the last 6 months, I have been support raising as I prepare move to the Czech Republic to be a full time missionary. It has been a rewarding and challenging journey with times of great excitement and times of discouragement.

I would joyfully celebrate each time a new monthly partner signed up, but then weeks would go by without any new partners despite my constant support raising efforts. In those times I would question. I would wonder if I’d ever reach the next goal. What if I didn’t make the 60% of my monthly support needed to attend the Pre-Departure training in October? If I missed the deadline, the next training is not until February 2019, weeks after my planned departure date.

What if I can’t get my Bible courses done in time? What if I can’t pay off all of my debts before I go? What if I can’t raise the $40,000 in upfront costs I need?

What if? What if? What if?

I doubted. I became discouraged. I grew impatient. I let frustration set in. I tried to take control.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”                            Romans 8:32           

Then God said, “Why are you worried? Why do you doubt? I called you to this – I will provide.”

And provide He has, as He always does.

I currently sit at 64% of my monthly support, weeks before the deadline, and I am already registered for the Pre-Departure training in October.

Support is coming in regularly, tickets are selling for my upcoming fundraiser, I have nearly half of my upfront costs, my debts are dwindling steadily, and I’ve completed 3 Bible courses and I’m nearly done the 4th.

Why did I doubt? Why did I worry?

God is faithful.

If we are following Him, and the purpose He has chosen for us, we have nothing to fear. He tells us that again and again throughout the Bible.

This is the God who loved us so much, He sent His only son to die, so that we can be saved!

He loves us so much that He knows the number of hairs on our head!

How amazing is that?

How could we ever doubt His faithfulness?

What could we possibly fear?

For if He is for us, who can stand against us?

I want to live every day in utmost joy, knowing my God provides! Knowing He is faithful! Knowing He knows what’s best for me!

In times of struggle and trial, I pray that I don’t doubt or worry or fear. I pray that I stand firm when faced with uncertainty because I know He is in control.

God is all powerful, relentless in His love, and generous in His provision.

There is no reason to fear.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”           Jeremiah 29:11

 

Joys and Challenges

DesignI haven’t written on here in a while. Life has been a bit of a whirlwind as I continue to move forward as a Missionary Appointee of TEAM. There have been lots of ups and downs as I prepare to move to the other side of the world to do God’s work. As my time to move to the Czech Republic gets closer each day, my excitement for this journey increases, as I also recognize, and prepare myself for, leaving behind everything I know.

The joys that have come out of this process have been too many to count. Number one is, without a doubt, the chance to share God’s incredible love and power through what He is doing in my life.

My life has changed drastically over the last decade – from the girl the who spent days in bed due to depression, and would, at times, stand at her front door for hours because her anxiety wouldn’t allow her to open it and walk through – to the woman who is on fire for Jesus and is being sent half way across the world to share the gospel. And I take zero credit for this transformation.

I can tell you: Nothing is impossible with God. God is GOOD!

God took the broken mess that I was and transformed me from the inside out.

How do I thank Him for that?

One way to honour His grace and mercy in my life is to obey Him. So when He said, “I want you to go to the Czech Republic as a full time missionary”, I said “Ok.”

And here I am, almost a year later since He first called me to this.

Another incredible joy has been the people I have gotten to meet and connect with as I have engaged in support raising and training.

My fellow missionaries, whom I met at Missionary Orientation, who have become friends and family, and who I am cheering on as they all prepare to go to their respective countries.

The staff at TEAM, who have been unbelievably supportive and available at all times for any needs, questions or care.

I have had the privilege of meeting new people within my church community as I share God’s calling on my life at small groups, ministry groups, and during a Sunday morning sermon.

I have been able to meet with people within my community who have a connection to the Czech Republic, such as a Kingsville pastor who spent many years in ministry in Prague. He has shared his knowledge of Czech, the people and the needs that are there, as well as offered advice on living there, and connected me with people who currently reside in and around Prague.

Yes, God is good.

I have been blown away by the generosity of people throughout the first 3+ months of support raising. There are so many who have partnered with me because they believe in what God has called me to. There are people I have never met who have become monthly partners or one time donors because they heard me speak at church or heard about me through my friends or family.

Yes, God is good.

But I am not going to pretend these past few months have not had challenges. Support raising has been steady, but it has also been more difficult than I expected. In the past I have only done short term trips, where I needed a specific amount of money (usually $2000-3500), and support raising for ongoing monthly partners is quite different.

I am also very good at getting in my own way. I am still mastering the art of patience, and still learning to let go of control. Daily I need to remind myself that I am NOT in control. God has this – He started it and He is going to provide. It’s not about me.

Hopefully one day I’ll get it. Until then, I will continue to remind myself.

I am also starting to think about things that I am leaving behind. I am trying to process as much as I can now, and start the greiving process, in the hopes that it will help when I actually leave.

I am facing the fact that I won’t be here for my nephew’s 5th birthday or my niece’s 7th. I won’t be here when my other nephew graduates middle school, or when my older niece turns 16.

There will be many family gatherings without me. I won’t be able to grab dinner with my parents, or take my sister’s kids to the movies. Friends will get married and have babies, and start new jobs, and I’ll watch from afar.

It’s going to be challenging. There will be times of struggle.

But I am not going to change my mind about going.

I still have no fear about moving to the other side of the world.

I am not going to slow this process down for a minute.

Why?

Because God said “go”. He is making a long time dream of mine real.

He is the one who brought me out of darkness, and changed me from the inside out.

He is the one who promised to never leave me.

He is the reason I need to go to the Czech Republic because His unending love is so amazing and so powerful that I have to share it with the Czech people.

Wherever He leads, I will follow.

Because He is the one who saved me.

So I will embrace all of the joys and all of the challenges.

I will miss the family gatherings and birthdays and celebrations that happen while I am gone. I will miss the weddings and babies and graduations.

Because it’s not about me.

There are people suffering because they don’t know God. There are people without hope because they haven’t opened their hearts to His love.

How can I stay in my comfortable life when He asks me to go?

Everyone has a calling in life, a purpose He has given you.

Mine is to go out into the world and make disciples.

But I am not doing it alone. Everyone who has partnered with me in prayer and monthly or one time givings is going with me. All of my loved ones are going with me. And most importantly, God is going with me.

If He is for me, who can’t stand against me?

I invite you to check out my profile page on TEAM. And if you are interested in supporting my missions, you can click on ‘Give Now’.

https://team.org/about/profile/1638

 

 

When God Calls

Woman praying and free bird enjoying nature on sunset background

I started this blog over 4 years ago. My original intention was to write about my struggle with mental illness and how I stay happy and healthy despite my disease. I called it Experience Each Day because I wanted to highlight the importance of living each day to the best of our abilities. It is also a reminder not just to live each day, but to experience each day, and embrace all that we encounter, both good and bad.

The blog has evolved and changed over the years to become more than about living with depression. It’s been about life lessons, hope, faith, joy, passion and what really matters in this crazy world. But experiencing each day is still the substance of each post.

In the last couple of months I’ve been writing about my journey into missions. I am moving to the Czech Republic to be a full time missionary.

This was not something that was on my radar a year ago.

I’ve had a heart for missions for many years, and always hoped I would one day do it full time, but of all the places I imagined going, the Czech Republic never crossed my mind. I didn’t even know there was a need there until recent years.

Then God set out steps to get me there on a short term mission last summer. And it was there He revealed His calling for me. The Czech Republic is where He wants me.

So I said  “ok.”

I immediately began the application process with TEAM (www.team.org), and haven’t looked back since.

Once I was accepted and began sharing what I was doing, many people told me I was brave.

Am I brave?

No, I don’t think I am.

I’m obedient to God’s calling, not brave.

Brave is the person who faces a cancer diagnosis with hope and faith. Brave is the woman who testifies against the one who sexually assaulted her. Brave are the students who refuse to back down against the fight for gun control.

No, I’m not brave. I’m going to a beautiful and safe country where I get to tell people about the love of Jesus.

I am blessed.

Something else I’ve heard a lot since I began this journey, “You must be nervous.”

No, not really.

This has been orchestrated and controlled by God from the beginning. Why would I be nervous?

To this people say, “But you’re going all alone – that must be hard.”

I’m not going alone.

I am in the process of building a team who will be supporting me throughout this adventure. I am going to work with other missionaries who are already in Czech. TEAM, the organization sending me, has provided enormous support in training, mentors, advice, direction, prayer and preparation for my transition.

And I’ve got this incredible group of people that I met at my Missionary Orientation, all of whom are going out into the world to share the love of Jesus. It’s amazing that this group of strangers from all over North America came together for one week and instantly felt connected because we each had a calling to be missionaries. Now we get to support each other, pray for each other and cheer each other on as we each follow the path laid out for us.

I am definitely not doing this alone.

And even if I didn’t have all that I’ve mentioned, I still would not be alone. This is the road God chose for me and He will travel it with me.

When God calls us, He is calling us to join Him. He is inviting us to experience His special purpose for our lives. And He’s going to walk with us the whole way.

See, I’m not brave. I’m not nervous. I’m not alone.

I’m blessed.

God called me to do this.

Why me? That is the question.

I’m not special. I’m not a pastor or a teacher. I can’t easily get up in front of a crowd and give an epic speech. I’m not gifted at hospitality or making friends quickly. I’m no good at small talk and don’t do well in large groups.

I don’t have any spectacular talents. There is nothing that makes me more qualified to do this over someone else. In fact, I am certain there are many many many others that would be better to do this than me.

But God called me and I am choosing to listen. I am choosing to obey. Because if He is calling me, then He will equip me with all I need to succeed.

While I may not be a pastor or a teacher, and I may not be the life of the party or the most popular person in the room, I do know how to love fiercely. I am a good listener, a great encourager, and a loyal friend. I am caring, kind and fun. Some even think I’m funny.

And more than anything I want to share the unbreakable joy and ever-lasting peace I have because Jesus loved me enough to die for me.

And that is enough.

He is enough.

Again I think back to when I first started this blog. It was something God asked me to do. He called me to be a voice for those suffering from mental illness.

Now He calls me to be a missionary.

When God calls, I answer.

What an incredible gift He has given me, to go to the Czech Republic to bring more people to Him. And if He is for me, who can stand against me?

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…Matthew 28:19