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 inabiłity 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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Voiceless

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Based on my title, you may think I’m about to write a meaningful, deep blog on those in the world who don’t have a voice due to where they live, their gender, the colour of their skin, their economic status or their religion. While that is a huge topic that does not get nearly enough attention, it is not what I am writing about today.

Today is about my current experience with being voiceless. Literally voiceless.

Last week I developed a nasty cold. I should have taken a few days to rest and stay in bed, but I took lots of medication, still went to work every day and carried on with my normal activities. I thought I was starting to get better by the end of the week.

Then Sunday I spent most of the day in bed, exhausted and nursing a horrible sore throat, fever and headache. On Monday I woke up with a hoarse voice and a ridiculous cough that would act up suddenly and take minutes to calm down.

By Wednesday my voice was gone, my throat still sore and the cough worse, so I finally went to get checked out.

I learned that I have laryngitis, and the only treatment for it is to rest my vocal cords. This means I can’t talk. For 7 days.

That’s pretty extreme. Not talking for an entire week – is that even possible? It’s definitely difficult given that I lead a team of people at work who depend on me for direction, and I work with customers. It’s hard to help a customer when I can’t speak.

Even if I wanted to ignore the doctor’s advice and talk, not much sound would come out anyway. My current voice is hoarse, raspy and so quiet that most can’t hear me. As one of my team members said, I’d be perfect for an anti-smoking PSA right now.

I don’t want this to linger any longer than necessary, so I am listening to the doctor and I will be talking as little as possible for the next week.

It’s weird to not be able to talk. Someone says hello and I can only respond with a smile and a wave. The clerk at Shoppers asks if I want a bag and I can only nod. Someone on my team asks what needs to be done next and I explain through gestures and pointing.

It’s interesting to try and communicate without words and sound. It’s a brand new experience, and it’s made me think about those who are permanently unable to use their voices, as well as those who don’t have things the rest of us take for granted, like sight, hearing and the ability to walk.

My admiration for those who deal with these disabilities daily has skyrocketed. The rest of us run through our days never giving a second thought to how difficult it must often be for those who can’t talk or hear or see.

Not only do we take these amazing abilities for granted, we often use them for the negative. Our voices speak complaints, gossip, anger, and harsh things about others. Our eyes judge and condemn those around us. Our ears take in the gossip, criticism and judgement of others.

I’m not saying this is all we do, but I am saying we do it too much. Myself included.

Not having my voice has made me think about how I use it.

Do I use it to build others up or knock them down?

Do I use it to express love or anger?

Do I use to spread joy or sorrow?

Is what I’m saying worth saying?

Are my words positive or negative?

Although I do use my voice for mostly positive, I can’t deny that it’s been used for the negative as well. I’ve used my voice to complain, to criticize, to judge, to hurt, to lie, and to shout in anger.

And I don’t want to anymore.

When my voice comes back to me, I want to remember what it was like to not be able to speak. I want to think before I speak and be aware of how what I am going to say may affect others.

I want my voice to encourage, to care, to love, to inspire, to compliment, to celebrate, to stand up for what I believe in, to stand up for others, and most importantly, to spread joy.

I am very lucky.

My voice may be gone now, but it will come back. I plan to be more careful about how I use it.

A voice is an incredibly powerful thing.

Use it wisely.

Crossroads

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We have all been there at some point in our lives. We’ve reached a point in our path where there are two different ways to go and we have to decide how to proceed.

Sometimes these crossroads are brought on by a negative or traumatic situations such as being laid off or the end of a relationship. However, there are other times when you reach a crossroads and have to choose between two good opportunities.

The two paths offer different options, neither of which are negative, and both of which would make you happy. It’s this type of crossroads where a decision can be very difficult to make.

I am at this point right now. I am standing with two paths before me, both offering great and positive options, and I have just two days to make a decision. How do I possibly do this?

I knew the first thing I had to do was talk to the trusted person that I usually seek advice from, my dad. I knew he would not tell me what to do, but would offer words of wisdom, and ask me the right questions in order for me to make this tough decision.

My dad pointed out that there is no wrong choice here, but what I decided had to be based on what was best for me.

Of course I will never be able to fully take others out of the weighing of my decision because I will always care about how my actions affect someone else. However, as my dad said, I ultimately have to do what is best for me, my health and my future.

The question he asked that has made me think the most is where do I want to be in 5 years? I struggle with this question because I try not to plan anything too far in advance. I love the unknown and unexpected. I want to make sure I am always open to new adventures and new opportunity.

At the same time I need to be realistic and set goals for myself. Those goals can change over the years, but if I am not heading towards something, what’s the point?

As much as I’d love to avoid planning for the future and simply live moment by moment, I recognize that a lifestyle like that can be unhealthy. And having goals doesn’t mean I am chained to them. I can change my mind. I can go in another direction if the one I choose doesn’t work out.

I already know that I am never going to fully ‘settle down’. It’s not something that is in me. I want to travel the world serving others. I want the freedom of choosing to take each opportunity that presents itself. I don’t ever want to be tied down.

And that is the beauty of facing a crossroads like this one. I know that whatever decision I make does not have to be a permanent one. I don’t have the responsibility of a mortgage or a family to provide for. It’s just me. I am lucky enough that I don’t have to make this decision based on finances, but rather I can make it based on my personal goals and dreams.

Honestly, I am incredibly grateful to be presented with two wonderful opportunities, despite how hard this decision is.

The fact that it is a difficult decision shows that I care. I care about the people it will affect, and I care that the decision is made with great thought.

This crossroads is not a negative one. It’s two paths of great opportunity.

I have not made a decision yet. But I am grateful to be at a point in my life where I have this decision to make.

 

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Costa Rica

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The adventure may have come to an end, but the experience, memories and all that I learned are stamped on my heart.

Costa Rica is the latest country I have fallen in love with. Words can’t describe the beauty of this place, the depth of its culture or the grace of its community. Each day I was in wonder at constant new discoveries and breath-taking views.

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From giant toads (and I mean GIANT) to howling monkeys to colour changing iguanas, the wild life was fascinating. Except when we encountered three snakes during our hike through the rainforest. While my team ran towards them for pictures, I ran past as fast as I could. Nothing would convince to stop and view these slithering creatures I like to call ‘the devil’s pet’.

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Many times throughout the 9 days, I found myself frozen, starring at scenery or wildlife in amazement. There were butterflies coloured in lime green, hummingbirds fluttering past, funny looking, furry creatures causing traffic to stop as they crossed the road, coffee plantations, mango trees, and so much more.

Alligators in a river, a sloth in a tree, clouds surrounding the tip of a volcano, waves gently brushing a rocky, sandy shore. I could write for days on the incredible beauty I had the privilege of viewing.

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A highlight for me was the taste of a guava, my favourite tropical fruit, picked right from a tree. This is something I had not expierenced in over twenty years, since my family moved from the Caribbean.

Beauty, nature and wildlife aside, my heart wraps around the people I met. People who brought me instant joy and will have a place in my heart for the rest of my life.

First there was the Habitat for Humanity team from Canada, which consisted of myself and 6 other women, none of whom I had previously met. It’s intimidating to travel thousands of miles to spend over a week with a group of people you have never met, but I was instantly put at ease with these women.

We were from all over Canada, a variety of ages and life experiences, but we connected right away. There wasn’t a single issue during our 9 days together – no disagreements or hurt feelings or negative encounters. We interacted, laughed and took care of each like we had been friends for years.

Then there was our Costa Rican guide, and our driver, Felipe and Maurizio (who names I may be mis-spelling). The two fun-loving, kind, patient, intelligent men are among the best I’ve ever met. They took care of us from start to finish, made sure we had all we needed, translated for us, showed us many of the treasures of Costa Rica, kept us hydrated and well fed and safe. They quickly became our friends and we enjoyed many laughs together. A memorable night was our second last one together when we sat by the pool of our hotel, in the middle of the mountains, and sang song after song as Felipe accompanied on his guitar.

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Finally, there was the family and community where we helped build the house. The house is for a single mother who has a 3 year old son. It is on the same property as her parents’ home, whom she has been living with. Although a language barrier existed, it did not take long to connect with her and her family as we worked alongside one another, ate together, and at the end of the week, celebrated together.

The first day on the build site, we arrived to nothing but dirt and spots marked for digging. We spent our first day digging deep, narrow holes that the posts for the house would go into. As the week moved on, we made cement, shovelled sand & gravel, put in the posts, and slid in the cement panels to form walls. Many other jobs existed between, but by the last day, the walls were up and the floor was levelled, and it was time for the Costa Rican Crew to begin the wiring.

Helping on the build site was the hardest physical work I have ever had to do. The Canadians all ended up with bumps, bruises and scratches from the work. On the last build day, I sprained my thumb while shovelling sand into a wheel barrow when my shovel forcefully hit a big rock buried in the sand pile.

The end of a work day saw us soaked in sweat, dirty and exhausted, but it was worth it. We helped build a house for a mom and a son who needed a house. It doesn’t get any better than that.

My trip to Costa Rica with Habitat for Humanity was inspiring, incredible, fun, and one of the best experiences of my life.

I can’t wait to do it again.

A very special thank you to all who helped make this possible by donating financially to my trip.

 

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