Wednesday, October 26, 2011


First thing this morning, I came across this quote:

‎"Faith in the nature of God is what keeps you moving even when situations are against you. You KNOW that God is faithful, so even when a situation seems bleak or even impossible, you know enough to wait for Him to come to your aid.” {Graham Cooke}

This statement really struck me, and naively, I wondered how exactly I could apply that to my life right now, seeing that things are going fairly smoothly for the first time in a long time. You know, as though I don’t really need faith in this moment. Or something like that.

Then I got a phone call. An answer to my question. My husband called with a curveball, and it threw me for a loop. Suddenly this quote I’d read just hours earlier was swinging right back on to the forefront of my mind, and I realized I had a choice to make. Either I react in fear and worry, my usual “panic mode” response, desperately gathering up all my resources and trying to find a solution -- or I trust. When life throws a curveball, it really does feel like the situation is working against you. It does seem bleak or even impossible. But thank God He is faithful in spite of what seems. Thank God that we have all those stories of His provision in the lives of the fathers and mothers of our faith, of our friends, our families, and in our own lives to look back on and remember that He is good. That He will come through again and again for us, because, simply put, He loves us.

It’s not easy to surpass our humanity, is it? Sometimes it feels like God is asking me to do so much more than I feel I’m capable of -- but the truth is, I am incapable. Curveball moments prove that fact. The great news is, He is able, and because His Spirit lives in me, I’m empowered to keep moving forward in faith.

‎"Faith in the nature of God is what keeps you moving even when situations are against you. You KNOW that God is faithful, so even when a situation seems bleak or even impossible, you know enough to wait for Him to come to your aid.” {Graham Cooke}

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the door.

Jesus came to my door last night. I was busy in the church kitchen, cutting cubes of cheese and strategically garnishing silver platters with Ritz crackers. It’s all about the presentation, I reassured myself and the girls who were helping me, as I silently criticized the way my friend towered the grapes on the plate. Did you brew the coffee? Do we have any cream? Should I offer tea? Oh shoot, where are the stir sticks? So much to remember, so much to do…

And then He came. In the form of Christy, my beautiful friend with Down’s syndrome. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw her standing quietly, unassuming, at the kitchen door. I scurried about, my head swimming, my stomach in knots, acknowledging her for the sake of being friendly.
“Hi Christy,” I said, refusing to look her in the eye.
“Hey guys,” she replied softly.
For a few moments, she said nothing. I scurried. Then a still, small voice:
“Uh, guys, I feel that maybe you would like some help. Is there anything I can do for you?”
Silence. More scurrying.
“You know, Christy, I think we’re OK. Thanks for asking, though,” I answered.
For a brief moment, I looked at my friend as she stood still and silent, the mark of disappointment and sincerity on her face. Surely I could find something for Christy to lend a hand with, but that would only set me back. Why waste time delegating when I could just as easily do it myself? I quickly set my gaze back to the task, back to the cheese and crackers and the characteristically bitter church coffee. All the while, songs of worship to Creator God echoed from the sanctuary. Christy was gone. And I was busy.

Last night, Christy was Jesus. Maybe just for me, just for that small, significantly insignificant moment. Vulnerable, she stood at that door – He stood at that door – offering Himself to a busy and hurried, overwhelmed and over-done girl in desperate need of care. Gentle and meek, fiercely loving, Jesus came to me without agenda, without reprimand, to say, “Let me help you.” And swept up in a sea of duty and control, prudence and efficiency, I said in reply, “You know, Jesus, I think I’m OK.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

faith to fly.

It's no secret I'm absolutely terrible at keeping up with the blog. A few of you wonderful people have poked and prodded at me to write, which really has been encouraging. So thank you! But to be entirely honest, I've been struggling with it. I've been quietly wondering about the purpose of this little online journal, about my focus here, my motivations. In my first post, I expressed similar sentiments, but decided to take the plunge anyhow, and I really am glad I did. But I think it's natural to reconnect with and reevaluate your motives every once in a while, and I suppose that's been the sound of my silence.

I love me a good, "everyday-life" kind of blog. I read Kelle Hampton so often she feels like a friend (Pathetic? Perhaps.), and my real best friend, Heather, and I recently joked about how reading those blogs is a little like reading People magazine. Once you start, you just can't stop. It's addictive. Like crack for the stay-at-home-mom or procrastinating student! The reason I started "in search of words", however, wasn't so much to document my everyday activity, as it was to stay accountable to my passion. To share some of the thoughts and musings swirling around in my head. To maybe validate someone, nurture someone, encourage them and point to Light. I suppose that writing, for me, has always been about self-expression and the freedom that accompanies that -- but it's also an offering. A way to worship a God who's instilled in me a passion for weaving words together to (hopefully) form something beautiful.

Have you ever read Madeleine L'Engle? She wrote a wonderful book called Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, which I highly recommend if you're artistic or creative in any way. She writes this beautiful account of how her faith and her art of writing are innately interconnected; how, like life, creating is a risk, an act of faith. The book is filled with some great parallels and metaphors, but one idea in particular that spoke to me years ago when I read it still speaks to me today: You must serve your art. A profound little sentence with so much meaning.

And what does it mean? For me, when I think of serving my art, I think about honouring, respecting, and trusting it. Honouring my writing enough to try my best. Respecting it enough to not put it down if it isn't shaping up to be what I want it to be in the moment. And trusting that maybe, just maybe, the sometimes long and arduous process of creating is worth the time and the risk.

I'm a perfectionist, often too hard on myself. What if the point of all this is to learn to trust? To offer up, in faith, that part of myself that loves to create, and just let it be what it's meant to be? We all have gifts that are meant to be given, and I think at some level, we're all just a little bit of afraid of what might happen if we give those gifts away. But I truly believe that God wants us to live in freedom, wings out, confident that we are valuable as we are and empowered to make a mark on our little corner of the earth. It really does take faith to fly, doesn't it? With that renewed sense of purpose, I think I'll keep on sending up my offering and let God do with it what He will.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

oh, little white desk.

A couple of weeks ago as I was driving into our cul-de-sac, a pretty little white desk sitting curbside at our neighbour's house caught my eye. I peeled into our driveway, grabbed David, and nearly ran over to the house a few doors down to see if I could snag this baby for myself. Ever since school ended for the semester, I've had just a bit of time on my hands. So I read design blogs. And dream about things to fix and distress and repaint and create. Incessantly, actually. (A good indication that you're officially obsessed is when you literally fall asleep at night thinking about colour schemes and refinishing techniques.) So you can imagine my delight when the owners of this cute-as-a-button little piece of furniture happily told me that she was all mine. I think I may have actually clicked my heels together. Free? And with so much character? My design dreams were finally coming true!

David and I and chatted a few minutes longer with our neighbours until he and the neighbour's son decided to carry the desk down the street to our backyard. Now I didn't mention that our dog, Jasper, had tagged along with us and was up until this point, happily (and obediently) prancing around and enjoying his off-leash freedom. As David lumbered away with the desk, he asked me to grab Jasper because he saw another dog coming toward us. Part gleeful and high on my new treasure, and part distracted by my conversation with the neighbour lady, I half-heartedly grabbed hold of Jasper's leash, thinking I had a good grip on him. Um, nope. Turns out the little lovemuffin had the hots for this cute Golden Retriever and literally bounded toward her. Sad part is I was still attached to him. My fingers were caught under his collar, my flip-flopped feet weren't fast enough to keep up with his ever increasing speed, and I just didn't have time to think of an escape route! Jasper kept running, I kept dragging, and finally my fingers unlatched and I flew threw the air, landing - get this - face-down on the pavement. Yes, my friends, I literally flew. And yes, face-down. All I heard were gasps from the neighbour, her grown daughter, and the owner of this cursed Golden Retriever, who by this time, had a front row seat to my personal little gong show. "Are you OK? Your poor knees! Oh my goodness, grab the dog!" I heard, as I lay face-planted on the road. I flipped over on to my back so that I didn't look like I was dead or something, but that only elicited more consolations - my personal favourite being from my loving hubby from way down the street, arms full o' desk: "Hun, are you OK? What happened?!" I jumped up, awkwardly trying to feign off embarrassment and murderous feelings toward my dog, brushed off my hands and knees, and used this humiliating moment as a sign that I needed to "discipline my dog" and head home.

To quote my head-shaking Italian grandpa: "Mamma mia." I mean, I've had embarrassing moments but this was one of those only-happens-in-the-movies kind of things. Initially I was pissed at Jasper, but really, it wasn't his fault for following his instincts. And honestly, it could have been so much worse. Miraculously, I only scraped the palms of my hands which, for the record, are excellent fall-breakers should you ever find yourself needing to use them for that purpose. Also, if they're anything like me, I'm positive the neighbours had a good laugh about the whole sordid scenario later on. In fact, I hope they did, because I'm still giggling about it. (Is it wrong that I find people getting non-critically injured funny?) And let's be honest, I got a pretty sweet deal out of the whole thing. A free antique desk for the very low price of one pride-snuffing nose dive in front of a bunch of strangers? Sure! Why not?

As I refinish this little work of art, time will tell whether or not she was, in fact, worth the all the trouble. Keep ya posted.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

on forgiveness.

I had the privilege of taking an amazing course at school a couple weeks of ago, entitled Theological Issues in Counselling. Judging by the name of the course, you might not be feeling too jazzed - but the actual content of the class revolved around forgiveness. Forgiveness as a concept, and how it relates to our faith and our practice as therapists - and ultimately, as human beings.

The professor arranged for guest speakers to come in each day and share their stories of forgiveness with us. From a survivor of domestic violence to a former Northern Ireland anti-terrorist police officer to an advocate for restorative justice, we heard deep, impassioned stories of brokenness and forgiveness. But without a doubt, the most impactful story I heard was shared by a beautiful woman who had survived an attempted murder - at the hands of her brother.

At fifteen years old, Karen* had awoken in the middle of the night to her father shaking her and screaming at her to get up. She looked around, confused and disoriented, to see that her house was engulfed in flames. She and her dad escaped the house and when Karen woke up the next morning in the hospital, she was shattered with news that would forever change her life. The authorities told her that during the night, three men had broken in to her family home, beat her and her parents to the point of death, and sadly, had succeeded in murdering her mother. When they finished, they doused the house with kerosene and lit a match, hoping to absolve any evidence of their crime. Karen was then told that her brother and his two friends had been arrested in connetion with the crime. She spent the next six months in hospital recovering, and a few months later, she was miraculously back at school, trying to reorient herself to life once again.

A few years later, Karen was newly married and found herself emotionally revisiting that painful, life-altering experience. She started seeing a therapist and decided that she wanted to forgive her brother. In fact, she had already been in contact with him through letters (he of course was in prison at this point), and her urge to be free from the brokenness her family had experienced compelled her to seek reconciliation. Over time, she ended up connecting with restorative justice consultants (an incredible and healing service provided to victims and offenders - check out for an idea of the work they do) and eventually met with her brother in person to tell him she loved and forgave him.

Clearly, this story baffles most minds. What would compel anyone to forgive the person who tried to murder them? Who actually murdered their mother? To reach out in love toward the very person who intentionally victimized you and stole from you one of the most important people in your life? Karen described that forgiveness, for her, became the only option. She certainly suffered physically, emotionally, and psychologically (and still does, to some extent) - but on a spiritual level, God touched her and spoke to her about letting go, moving forward, receiving new life. Forgiveness was her act of obedience and faith.

You should know that during this entire testimony, Karen had two of what I assumed to be friends or family members sitting at the sideline. I imagined she brought them for moral support, a familiar and safe presence during a vulnerable and raw time of sharing. When she concluded her presentation, she introduced her entourage to the class - one, her adopted daughter, and the other, her brother. Yes, that brother. You can imagine the stunned silence that filled the room when we all realized that the very man who caused her pain and suffering was sitting right before us the entire time. Victim and perpetrator, side by side. The emotion was palpable. Tears streamed down many students' faces, mine included. I realized at that very moment that never before in my life had I witnessed such a tangible act of mercy and love. Ever. You hear of these great stories of forgiveness, people choosing to see beyond their pain and create something meaningful out of it, but how rarely we see it up close and personal. It was an intense and life-changing moment for me.

I've been thinking a lot about Karen's story and my story and how forgiveness (or a lack thereof) impacts my world, my vision, my heart. I don't have all the answers - I know that life is messy and complex and rarely black or white. We all have our scars and could probably tell a story or two of how we've been wronged or damaged, how it's changed us for good. All I know is that the choice is always ours as to how we respond. For me, I'm aware that I survive only by God's grace - without that constant stream of Forgiveness and Love running through my life, where would I be? Aware that God has forgiven me and continues to love me despite my failings, foibles, and faithlessness, I'm left with the question of how, then, could I not forgive others?

It's not easy living a life that embodies forgiveness. It's more of a journey than a one-time-all-is-well decision, I think. It takes practice, perseverance, courage, and trust. I certainly have my hang-ups and soft spots, and I'm so thankful for people like Karen who show the world that the seemingly impossible is, in fact, possible with Jesus.

*Karen's real name was changed out of respect, since I didn't obtain her permission to tell her story here. However, she does do public speaking and if you're interested in finding out more about her story or inviting her to speak at an event, let me know and I'll forward you her contact information.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Life is a whirlwind. OK, I should clarify: my life has been a whirlwind. After a quick and exhausting (but totally smooth!) move in the dead of prairie winter (not highly recommended), we're back home from the Winnipeg Adventure of 2010. Short-lived, yes. But long-lasting effects? Most definitely.

In some ways, we're still reeling from our time away - so much happened that challenged us, angered us, frustrated us, and drew us closer to a faithful-though-everything-fails-us God. It was hard, but it was good. Kind of like exercise or eating cooked carrots. Not the most pleasant of experiences, but good-for-you-anyway. The most predominant thing on my mind as I process it all, though, has been the re-realization that life sometimes just doesn't go the way you plan. "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" is a verse in Proverbs that has been swimming around in my head for weeks. Our plan when we arrived in Winnipeg was so logical and practical and dare I say, boring. We thought A + B = C, but in reality, time proved us otherwise and we were stumped and stupefied. I believe with all my heart that God is loving and faithful, so I can now look at the disappointments and what we might falsely judge failures in our lives with a sense of hope, purpose, and gratitude. Of course I still sometimes wonder why certain things happened when they did, detail for detail - but I'm satisfied knowing that God remained constant to us in the midst of it all and that deep things were and are happening in us still because of what we experienced.

A teacher I really respect once said: "Never trust in what God is doing - always trust His nature." Isn't that just so true? We can never predict what God is going to do in our lives - and, as David and I learned during the past few months, this is true even when we act in faith and obedience to His leading. My circumstances will change; that is a sure-as-hell inevitability. But God never will. He's always good, always faithful, always patient, always driven by love, always unpredictable. I guess that's the risk we take in loving Him and letting Him love us, isn't it?

So here we are, back home, back into the swing of things, excited and grateful and wondering how God is going to move in the next few months. I think it's safe to say, though, that I'm quite content to just bask in His goodness for a while, enjoying the good things He's given us, but even more, the promise of His fierce and unpredictable love - regardless of the details.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

optimism or hope?

Thanks to my Masters courses and recent personal experiences, I've been reflecting a lot lately on the idea of hardship and suffering. I think that when you have some pretty tough stuff thrown at you, it's natural to start to think about the why's and how's and what-if's a lot more often than you do when everything is smooth sailing. Throughout the past few weeks, I've finally been able to admit how hard it is for me to let myself experience my brokenness. There's this little voice inside me that says I should have it all together, especially now that I'm in this position of learning how to professionally counsel hurting people. That if I expect to be a strong force in this world, an advocate for the broken, a ray of light in a dark room, I should have my shit together. (Translation: be perfect.) Right? No, not right. Not right at all. When I listen to that voice, all it does for me is remind of how much I'm failing to attain this impossible standard, fuels the pressure to somehow live up to it, and denies the rawness of my experience. And I think I'm finally at the end of my quickly fraying rope trying to do that.

My gut tells me that when it really comes down to it, all I want is wholeness. This isn't crazy or unrealistic or some fantastic pipe dream. This is actually what God intended for us when He made us in His perfect image, and obviously we're not living in that place. We're broken, we're affected by the hurtful actions of others, and heck, we're trying our best to make do and even rise above it all. But it doesn't somehow make us immune to pain. We're broken people in a beautiful world held hostage by sin. I'm really drawn to the story of Job these days -- especially the part when Job loses everything good in his life and rather than hiding his feelings about it, shouts out to God and tells him just what he thinks about this bunk. I love even more the part when God listens and loves him and gives everything back -- and more. God knows He's God. He has no reason to be insecure when we question or doubt Him, and I absolutely love that He's OK with our honesty. In fact, I think He loves it.

And the funny thing is, when I've opened myself up to honesty, both to God and to myself, I feel this wave of hope come over me. Because I've freed myself from trying to be optimistic and "spiritual" and only half-truthful with myself, and instead chosen to see the promise of God alive in my story. So I'm going to let myself wade around in this for a while, giving myself permission to be human and recognizing that to feel the mess is to live. But I'm also going to remember to hope. Because Jesus has already bought my freedom and victory. And while I may not see it in its fullness this side of heaven, I will see it one day. That's hope.