Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Cleaning Day

Ah cleaning... Matt was out today, so I had many hours to fill, and I decided to be wifey and do the bajillion chores I/we've been putting off for weeks.

First up: our storage closet
Before, then after - you can't really see, but there is about 9 square feet of floorspace that we didn't have before!Also, yesterday, Matt and I did some re-arranging in our living room because we got some new furniture from Ikea that is great!! (The white chair, and the coffee table are new)And we are very excited about our music nook now that it is a real nook with our new bookcase to store music! Music used to live in a cardboard box, so Matt is very happy to have the boxes gone, and our whole apartment just feels even cozier and homier than ever before :)
Wanna come over??

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From Matt and Me and Nimoy!! No, we didn't give him any presents. He has a big beef chew thing he's working on though, so he had a nice Christmas :)We had a great Christmas because we were able to DRIVE to Orillia for Christmas dinner!! In our car, the Blat. It's a '95 Honda Civic, 5-speed, and a little drafty. It is beautiful :)
This is a picture I took of our office window a couple weeks ago because the ice was too beautiful to stand. It just froze like that! It felt like a present.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Can I get an Amen?

Yesterday at church we had some visitors who are a little more outspoken and charismatic in terms of their worship/listening-to-sermon style than most at ABC, and that of course encouraged many of our own members who are outspoken and charismatic but usually lay low (the closet ameners and hallelujah-ers, as I like to think of them). Long story short, as our pastor neared the end of his sermon, some folks was gettin riled up! He was preaching about the invalid Jesus healed at Bethsaida in John 5, and about why Jesus asked if he wanted to be well. Because being well means standing up for Jesus (Amen!), it might mean becoming unpopular, and this man quickly found himself in conflict with the pharisees over Sabbath laws (Jesus told him to pick up his mat, then the pharisees busted him for it). Being well could mean saying no to premarital sex (Amen!); it could mean losing a job (crickets chirped).

Okay, so crickets didn't literally chirp. But there was a silence that I found... hilarious. All of these grown, married people were all fired up to yell Amen against premarital sex, but nobody seemed too concerned to shout a spiritual high five to our pastor for talking about job loss. Maybe they were just catching their breath.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


What would Jesus do... for Christmas? I've been thinking about this since our church Christmas dinner on the weekend. It was a great time - delicious food, good to catch up and visit with some people, really fun to sing carols and enjoy decorations. We also had a sermon. The message itself was good - "don't miss the invisible" by giving into stress over Christmas. Don't get caught up in busyness, because when you are stressed and agitated you feel nasty, and that's not Christmassy! The speaker (God bless him) took longer than I would have to get his point across.

There was nothing revolutionary in this sermon, and since I have The Irresistible Revolution fresh in my brain, revolutionary is what I am really craving from church. I would like to see/join Christians in doing something ridiculous and/or unexpected for the gospel, that Jesus would shine his light through us. That sermons would call for something a bit more tangible than praying "Dear Jesus, there is room for you in our Christmas." Something like... talk to people at the mall until you find someone who is alone for the holidays and invite them home for a meal. Maybe not the big family meal with presents, but a meal. Maybe buy some new hats, gloves, even coats
and donating them to our fabulous community services center so they can be given to someone who is cold. By the end of the sermon, it felt a bit like we should be proud of ourselves for saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, and try not to get stressed out with all the shopping because we need to be kind. We do need to be kind! But Jesus didn't come to earth to let people budge in front of him at Walmart.

~*~ Up to this point has been thoughts I wrote down yesterday afternoon. Little did I know that God was working out an answer to this unintentional prayer. Matt and I went to our first pastoral hospital visit last night.

A nurse from the ICU at Scarborough General Hospital had called the church that afternoon because a family had requested a baptist pastor to come and pray with them and their son (in his 40s I think) who had been given hours to live. Our senior pastor doesn't have a phone, so Matt sent him a couple emails but didn't hear anything back, and it was still on his mind when he got home around 8:30pm. We chatted about our days and tied string onto some ornaments so we could finish decorating our tree. He was about to get in the shower when he decided to just call the hospital and see if anyone had some to see the family. Nobody had. And Matt said that in that moment his heart broke - people needed someone to come be with them, and nobody was coming. Roads were bad; they couldn't be reached; so sorry we can't help.

So he spoke to the mother and explained that he wasn't the senior pastor, but he was on staff at the church and he would come to the hospital if it would help. He called up our friend Stuart (who was also planning to shower but kept being distracted by little things until we called), and Stuart drove us to the hospital. We had prayed in the elevator going down to get picked up, that we wouldn't be afraid or intimidated because we were just trying to bring God, to be ambassadors for Jesus to people who felt afraid and alone, it wasn't that we could really do anything.

So we got there, and the mom introduced us, and we all put on gowns over our clothes and gloves and masks and held hands in a circle around this guy's bed and prayed. Matt was a lot younger than they expected for a pastor; I don't know what they thought of me. But after we prayed, Matt then me, then Matt then me, everyone said thank you very much and that it was beautiful and they appreciated our coming. I felt very humble that they would join hands with us and pray and let us into their fear and grief, and I hope that it wasn't just beautiful words they heard. I hope they realized they were participating in intercession for their brother and son and friend to God.

Most of the people left, then it was just Matt and I, the mom and a cousin - two women who were the only believers in the group, and we prayed again, the four of us hugging. I felt in that moment like communion had come to life - we were four people from three denominations (four even, lol if you count mine and Matt's backgrounds instead of our membership right now), lifting up one prayer to our Father, and strength and hope and grief were flowing around us, and it was all very rich and good.

I think that Matt and I were the ones God wanted to send that night, not only because it happened that way. And it was a beautiful answer to my prayer that Jesus would shine his love through me. I pray that God will do that for more and more people in our church, and that he would keep doing it for us!! Because it is great.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Matt and I met one of our neighbours from the building next to us this weekend - a young man from India (younger than us!) who is here studying. We got his number from the Keidanns (Pastor John met him on the TTC, need I say more?) and invited him to church with us. He is a Christian and doesn't have a home church here yet, so he came with us, and then he came over last night to watch a movie with some friends of ours (thanks for the Christmas baking Mom, it helps us be star hosts even when our fridge is empty!).

I don't know how his apartment is, but it might not matter because it sounds like he's not there for much more than sleeping. While he is doing post-grad studies, S (no need to drop his name on the internet) also has a job doing cleaning work - sometimes a 12 hour night shift from 8pm-8am. After he finishes work, he goes to school. After school he sleeps until work - he said usually about 4 hours. I almost felt bad for inviting him over because he could have used the two hours we spent watching X-Men to sleep!

SO I am making an effort not to whine about the fullness of my life - waking up around 6 for work, seeing friends, having hobbies, trying new recipes, finally blogging some of the thoughts that have been bouncing around my mind. I am grateful that I get to sleep at nighttime, that I come home to a husband and a dog, that our apartment is Christmassy as of yesterday. I am grateful for a job I sit down at, where I use the internet on my lunch and hope for a year-end bonus.

God is truly so good to us, and when I realize how abundantly generous he is it makes my fears and clingyness seem very small and foolish. So I am hoping that the fullness I feel shines through, that I continue to appreciate what I have, and that maybe all of the goodness will catch on for others as well. In the busyness of life, just feeling happy is very refreshing :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010


One thing I might miss once I graduate is the fantastic feeling of freedom after finishing all the assignments for a class - this I have done when it comes to Sociology 101. I handed in a really great research paper last night, and I feel so free! I have my final in two weeks, and I will be one semester away from graduation :)

We talked a little bit about religion in class last night, and discussed Marx's view that the teachings of religion legitimate social inequalities. This is the opposite of what Christians would like to believe! Jesus was a revolutionary because he taught that women and children are worth as much as men; he drove money changers out of the temple; he healed lepers. However, churches don't always manage to keep the same revolutionary perspective when they look at the world.

The brokenness of the world is a matter of fact for now, and we talked in class about how the prosperity gospel has some problems. Like corrupt leaders who spend more money fueling their cars/hummers in a month than their parishioners spend on food. And like the fact that Jesus was killed naked on a cross. Not so prosperous.

The thing is that religions (in Marx's sense) give so many more answers than faith tends to do, and it is comforting to feel that life can be solved. I think this is why churches that justify social inequalities often get large followings, often including very sincere people, because people want an answer to the world's brokenness: "the [insert people who suffer] deserve it because they are sinners - just look at the drugs they abuse and the gay sex they have, the illegitimate children they bear or the idolatry of their culture; but you can have anything you want if you truly have faith God will give it to you" - like he's a mind-operated arcade game.

Faith, on the other hand, "is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1) The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, "For by it the people of old received their commendation." Faith is powerful, but it doesn't mean you get everything you want before you die, and it doesn't mean you get all the answers to life. A lot of people died waiting for Jesus to come. A lot of people have died waiting for him to come back again.

But this suspense is why (and I know that religion is often just the structure that our faith fits into, the two aren't mutually exclusive, but I need the ideas separate to make sense) Christianity as a faith defies Marx's ideas about religion - because when Christians truly live out their faith with God's help, social inequalities cannot fool us into thinking that some people are worth more than others, or that injustice is inevitable. Yes, so much brokenness is caused by sin, but that is not the final word on the matter: every single person is a candidate for redemption, and the worse off they are, the greater God's power and grace and glory can be shown. This is the assurance we live with every day as Christians, even though it hasn't happened yet.

A couple weeks ago in class someone raised this issue about churches: Do we settle for peace rather than truth? Sometimes, yes, and I think it can be okay because church unity is really important and honours God. However, there are truths that can never be sacrificed in order to have peace, and I think this applies to inner peace as well. Sometimes it is so draining to see injustice or suffering, and it is tempting to brush it aside with the mantra "God is sovereign; Jesus is coming." I think that Jesus would rather us to be disturbed and horrified and pained, to struggle in prayer on behalf of others, and to draw our strength from him instead of checking out when it gets to be too much.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jonah and Hesed

Jonah 2:9 "But with the voice of thanksgiving, I will sacrifice to you"

Jonah prays in chapter 2 from inside a fish. He was up in there for three days and nights before he said anything that was recorded in the Bible, and at the end of the prayer the fish spits him up (and, apparently, his robe comes loose), which I guess means Jonah said something wise :) Needless to say, this prayer was born out of a lot of sitting and thinking.

So I have been sitting and thinking about Jonah. I think the strongest theme in the book is grace, and Jonah's prayer is him recognizing, accepting and responding to God's grace for him. His sacrifice of giving thanks is a huge step, because it means that God is ultimately good, whatever circumstances are happening around us. Gratitude is sacrifice because it means submission.

The alternative to submission is taking charge, blazing our own path, which Jonah tried to do. After three days in a fish, Jonah's reflection on independence comes in 2:8 - "Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love." Jonah realizes that he fled from God because he gave up his hope of hesed - the love and mercy and kindness of God that English doesn't have enough words for.

Jonah didn't know about Jesus, so when he speaks of steadfast love, he does so without the picture of God allowing himself to be nailed to a tree. It would probably never occur to Jonah that God would become a human and experience torture for the sake of redeeming lost people. As Christians, this is the hesed that we proclaim when we share the gospel, but like Jonah, we often resist the God whose grace is too overwhelming to look in the face.

In Jonah 4, the prophet is infuriated that God has spared Nineveh, and he rants, "This is why I tried to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in hesed. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah is essentially asking God to take back his grace - to "un-spare" his life - because Jonah cannot stand what it means. As a prophet, he is humiliated because the destruction he prophesied will not be fulfilled; as an Israelite, his sense of justice is totally unfulfilled because the Ninevites were filthy and evil.

But God does not kill Jonah or the Ninevites. When Jonah gets mad because a plant that shaded him dies (and again tells God he wants to die), God explains himself to Jonah (rare in the Bible!). Jonah cares about a plant dying that he didn't plant or tend, or even sit under for more than a day! Well, God has pity on "that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 people" - they have done evil, but God made them. Heck, there is also "much cattle"! And that's how the book ends. Jonah doesn't get to say any more, we are just left with this bizarre story filled with people turning to God (the sailors in chapter 1 and Nineveh in chapter 3), and a prophet who keeps wanting to die.

So if the great big theme is grace, what does the story mean? At this point, I think it means God doesn't always do what we want. He does what HE wants, what he cares about, and if we are going to be part of it, then it is going to be a big ugly sacrifice for us to praise him sometimes. Because God loves people, all people, and we really tend to love ourselves. This is not hesed.

Hesed means remembering that God took care to create each of us and bring us to where we are today. God never forgets this, of course, but I think we often do. We forget it for ourselves, and we forget it even worse for people we don't like. Hesed sucks because there are people who put my stomach in knots when I think of God just letting them off the hook for being scum bags. It's hard for me to believe that there is really no one in the world who God looks at and just sees trash. Sometimes people get hung up on this and won't believe in him because "how can God love bad people?" Well... how can God love you? Of course it's easy for me to write because I know why God loves me - I'm almost done my religious studies degree!!

That was sarcasm at the end there - what I'm getting at is that grace is something that can put our stomach in knots, and it can make us want to die because it is so terrible. But it is also our only hope, and when it becomes offensive to us then we are not on the same page as God. When that happens, it takes a sacrifice to get back on the same page, and that is Jonah's prayer from the belly of a fish - idols are for those who have given up on steadfast love, but I will make a sacrifice of thanksgiving to you. Idols are like band-aids maybe, when the situation calls for an amputation; grace means that when our limbs get chopped off, healthy ones grow in their place.

These are ongoing thoughts, and I'm not sure how to wrap them up, but I am reminded of John Eldredge's book Desire. In the spirit of that book, I will end by saying that "just getting by" is an idolatrous band-aid we put on our hearts when we are tired of hoping. I fall into that trap all the time - wishing myself through a couple more weeks of school, or one bad month for money, or whatever. Maybe if I let myself be a bit more angsty with God instead of just getting by, then I would see more of the things I keep putting band-aids on that aren't going away - my trust issues, pride, laziness to spend time with God - the struggles I cycle through but never seem to really beat. The trick is seeing the futility of my own efforts without giving in to despair. That's where hope comes in, and with it thankfulness that (the last line of Jonah's prayer): Salvation belongs to the Lord!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

God Helps

I have been in kind of a funk the last few days especially, feeling generally cranky and disconnected from life and God. My devotional time has been minimal, which always takes a toll on me, and I was having a hard time being caught in the vicious cycle of "don't spend time with God, don't want to spend time with God."

I tried to pray about it last night and asked Matt to pray for me as well with no epiphanies, but I think God has answered those prayers in a couple of ways today, so I wanted to share!

First of all, my friend B called me this morning out of the blue after probably more than six months if not ten of not being in touch with each other. She has had a crazy life and crazy journey with God, so I thought it was really cool to hear that she is currently attending a Messianic synagogue! We made plans to hang out, and I am going to try to go to a worship service with her some Saturday because I would LOVE to see what a Messianic synagogue is like. Apparently they give out bagels after the service :)

B is pretty mystical and open as far as Christians go, and when I told her how happy I was for her to call this morning because I have been not feeling very good about God or life (not that I have complaints, just my mood has sucked) she told me to look at my hands. She said that when I feel sucky I should look at my hands until I'm sure of God's existence and presence. I am going to.

Then at church this morning I felt really connected to God during the praise time. This was strange because when I play keyboard I usually focus on not messing up and maybe singing and that takes up all the thinking I can do, but this morning during one song especially, I just stepped back from the mike and played strings of notes instead of chords, and it felt like prayer.

THEN after church I had a great conversation with a newish friend and it was really encouraging to just connect with someone.

So God is all over me today, and I am so grateful.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Sponsor Child

Matt blogged about this, so rather than re-tell the whole story - you can read about the little girl we now sponsor, named Fabiola!

(click an ad while you're there!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Four Great Years!

I guess Matt and I are officially an old married couple since we both forgot that November 8 marks four years since he asked me to be his girlfriend :) Ah well, since we both missed it neither of us feels too bad lol. Here's a cute picture of us on the subway and...

Here is a picture of us the night we went to Dirty Dancing for our one-year (aww!) Is it just me, or does Matt totally look like a hockey player in this picture?

Monday, November 8, 2010


Let me first say that I am officially fed up with Daylight Savings. I still wake up before the sun, and now I have an hour less sunshine to enjoy. Thanks for nothing, George Vernon Hudson.

I was inspired by Matt's blog on 1 Peter 5 to reflect on the privilege of ministry, because sometimes it doesn't feel like a great big thrill to be subjected to accountability, expectations and nut-jobs. However, I am encouraged by the passage in 1 Peter, and by this passage from 1 Timothy 1:12-16

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

I think one of the best things about Paul is that he didn't forget his unflattering past. I think this is the key to being a person of grace (which I am frequently not but strive to be). When Paul reminds his readers (and himself?) of his insolence, ignorance and unbelief, he strips himself of entitlement and pride and is left with this outburst of worship in verse 17: All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

This is much more appealing to me than the smug advice I daydream about giving to people who haven't figured out the things I have. Which isn't advice I would have taken in their place anyways. And I probably don't have it as figured out as I think. Paul's biggest hope is not for people to get their act together, but for them to realize that they can believe in Jesus and receive eternal life. I need to remember that God's calling for me is to serve him and leave it at that. He can handle the rest :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We are Cultural!

Matt and I made our own sushi last night. With REAL RAW FISH. Neither of us was sick, although we both felt like our brains were getting punched from inside our heads when we added wasabi. I don't know what happens to the wasabi that you get from sushi places in the food court - maybe it dries out or is not as strong because Canadians are wimps - but I literally screamed with surprise and pain when our legit, Chinese-grocery-store-wasabi-from-a-tube kicked in behind my nose and under my brain. The good thing is that just shortly after the wasabi spice has incinerated your will to live, the pain simply ends, unlike hot sauce or peppers, which leave you to suffer for hours until you overdose on milk, choke on bread, or simply drown in your own tears and mucous. Long story short: sushi was a huge success and we're gonna do it again!

This pose is all I remember from our Japanese students in Grade 7. This and something like "oh-ha," very cute.
THIS was a completely unexpected moment of culture, waiting for our friend Joyce outside her building. This is not Joyce. This is an Asian woman in pink leggings and a cape, about a week too early for Halloween. It is difficult to capture how funny she was with this paparazzi-style shot from my cell phone inside the car, but we all laughed. Respectfully ;)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Changed Forever

Please pray for Matt and I - life is so busy, and it is good in so many ways, but it can also be hard to keep up and I feel myself wearing thin. I am sick - I missed work but managed to write my midterm tonight - which in a crazy way is good because it forces me to take better care of myself... but it is not good for anything else because I can't think clearly and have no physical stamina. This is all beside the point.

I was reading my Bible while I waited for the bus to school, and decided to pick up where I left off weeks ago in the book of Mark. I started in chapter 8 and continued into chapter 9, struck by Jesus, not really making sense of what he does or says - I mean, it makes sense in a Sunday School kind of way (it's in the Bible, so it's right), but if I imagine these scenes in real life 2000 years ago... no wonder the disciples were confused. In between doing miracles, Jesus tells the Pharisees that they won't get a sign from him, and he's always trying to be covert, healing a blind man outside of the city and telling his disciples not to reveal that he was the Christ.

Then I came to the healing of a demon possessed boy in Mark 9:14-29. Jesus is returning with Peter, James and John from his mountaintop Transfiguration, and there is a huge commotion. There is a huge crowd around the disciples, and there are scribes arguing as well - Matt and I were waiting for a bus when there was some crazy argument between a bunch of muslim girls and a group of guys - possibly someone was getting dumped. But from across the station, it just sounded like chaos, voices cackling and arms flinging and two sides facing off but so close together it looked like one small mob... and this story reminds me of that.

Jesus finds out that the disciples were unable to cast a demon out of a boy, and the boys father pleads with Jesus for help. I have the father's statement in verse 24 highlighted in my Bible: "I believe; help my unbelief!" Because so often that is where I find myself with God.

But today I was struck by Jesus' words in the next verse: "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." Jesus is tough - he just lays down the law. And the spirit comes out so violently that people think the boy is dead, but Jesus helps him up. I am still confused because Jesus tells the disciples that this type of demon can only be cast out by prayer (but when did Jesus pray? - or was this just a demon that only the Son of God himself could cast out?), but I am encouraged by the permanence of Jesus' command.

It reminded me of when I really gave my life to God, and I became worried that maybe I was just on a new spiritual high that would fade like all the other times, and I would just continue life on a merry-go-round of faith, sometimes up sometimes down, never really getting anywhere. Jude 24 was a huge encouragement at that time, but I also believe that this story speaks to the part of me that is afraid of spiritual intimacy and spiritual growth - that those things are just setups for a future letdown. A friend of mine once encouraged me that what God does never comes undone - that when I'm covering ground for the third, fourth, fifth time, God is doing new things in me, even when it feels like I'm just at the same place. That is important to me when it comes to my habitual failures of selfishness and fear... and I think the reason I have to keep coming back to fight the same lies in my heart is because if Jesus just blasted them out of me, it might leave me looking like a dead person. So we take things step by step.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


There are two sisters who live on our floor who are believers. Many times when Matt and I have chatted with them, they always manage to insert "Jesus is coming soon" into the conversation.

This I believe, but I don't say it much, especially like "Yes, I'm coming home from work right now. Jesus is coming!" but this morning, I decided to go for it. Matt and I took the elevator down with them on our way to church and we were talking about how great the weather is this weekend. One sister said, "but the time is coming. Winter." And I said, "I hope Jesus comes back first - I will tell him in my prayers - Lord, please come back, maybe Tuesday."

This woman looked me in the face and said, "You are selfish. More people need to know Jesus - he is being patient."

Oh. Right.

So I got busted. If I have any charismatic tendencies, I struggle to take them seriously.

Matt and I talked about it as we walked to church, and we agreed that we liked me being chastised (it's Biblical!). It is better for us to remember that God is being patient than to just be depressed that Jesus isn't back yet and we have bills and snow coming.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Who God Is

In Bible study (at Chazown!!) this week we talked about Moses and how desperately he tried to get out of God's call on his life. One of his excuses was that he didn't know enough about God to tell the Israelites about him. I was struck by God's response - he tells Moses his name (I AM) but also explains who he is - a God of action: God who is sending Moses to his people, God who was with their ancestors, and God who will be remembered through all generations.

God assures Moses that he is not confounded by the Israelites' slavery - he was with Jacob when he brought his family to Egypt generations before - and he will be the God remembered by the children of Israel, not the gods of Egypt.

Jesus' life was not the only time that Yahweh stepped into human history - as he taught Moses in the wilderness near Horeb: he IS. He exists beyond creation, but he desires to be known through creation - through his people and by his people.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I have been busy busy the last few weeks and have wanted to blog but didn't. I have thoughts in the works, but they will have to wait because there is laundry waiting to be moved into a dryer and greasy hair to wash! Life does not feel glamorous, but it is definitely fun, and I am happy to say that despite blogging getting pushed to the side, I am mostly happy with the things that are keeping me busy - playing keyboard in church, seeing friends, walking my ridiculous dog and spending time with this guy I married who made amazing soup today :)

Sunday afternoon was a great break from being busy with things I should do though (laundry, homework, limitless things to clean): Annie and I made cookies!Matt and I had a Brazilian lunch of feijoada at the Keidann's, then Annie and I had the house to ourselves to make a batch of the best decorated cookies I have ever been privileged to help make (note "disco bear" above - and the glittery sprinkles he has on his paws). It made me want to bake more!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


One of the youth led Bible study at Chazown this week, and it was great! We read about Peter denying Jesus in Matthew 26, and something new stood out to me - in verse 73 a bystander comes up to Peter and says, "Certainly you are one of [the men with Jesus], for your accent betrays you."

Peter was a Galilean, and the way he spoke made it obvious, even when he was trying to blend in with the crowd outside the courtyard. I don't think Christians should try to keep their faith a secret, but there are many times it may not be possible or appropriate to preach and evangelize. For those times, I hope I will live with an ever-strengthening accent: a humble attitude, gracious spirit, and integrity of character - all testifying to the work God has done in me, so that no matter what my words happen to be, bystanders will recognize that I belong to Jesus.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Matt and I were chatting with an atheist friend of ours who grew up in the church and is now done with God. It was a really good conversation even though he didn't decide to convert at the end. One of the things he said got me thinking though - that IF there were a God (which he denies), he is either not all-knowing or a jerk. Our friend didn't say jerk, but it was a four-letter word that ends in k.

God's a jerk, he says, because he gave humans free will knowing we'd mess it up, and then he punished us for messing up.

A few months ago, Matt and I had a great conversation with friends of ours about God's sovereignty and free will, and whether it's possible for them to coexist, or whether one has to be a lie... We didn't come to any conclusions, but I thought of it the other night when our friend talked about how much of a - jerk - God would be if he existed. Because I think maybe punishment is the link between God's sovereignty and human free will that allows them both to be complete.

I memorized Hebrews 12 last year - it is full of great stuff including "God disciplines those he loves" and "for the moment discipline is painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." I don't think that punishment is just God being angry with us for messing up like he knew we would - it is meant to be corrective. My parents tried this line on me a couple times when I got in trouble as a kid: "we are punishing you because we love you. If we didn't care then we would let you be rude and misbehaved, but we care, so go to your room."

God's discipline is even wiser and more effective than that of good earthly parents! John Eldredge talks about this in Desire, that futility and failure, loneliness and heartache are included in God's curses on Adam and Eve not as a vindictive slap in the face to disobedient children but as limits to earthly happiness that will leave them longing for the Paradise he wants to give them.

It is hard to talk about God's punishment because a lot of painful things happen in the world, and it's not always something from God. Sometimes it's pure evil; sometimes it's just flying debris from the world's brokenness and nothing supernatural is to blame. Nothing is beyond God's redemption though, and everything on earth that falls short of glory just emphasizes how great God's promises will be when they are fulfilled. The hard things that do come from God as punishment when we sin are designed to train us and shape us to be more Christ-like so that our free will will not conflict with God's will.

God's not a jerk. He loves us (human beings) so much that he thinks we're worth the whole effort of human history, and he has invested his entire self in the redemption he knew we'd need from before the beginning. Such love!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I gave my testimony at our church picnic this year, which was great! I was happy to share the great things God has done for me and in me, and it helped me to connect with some new people so I am making more friends at church :) I said more than I wrote down, but here's what I had written:

Hello, I want to say first of all how happy I am to be sharing my testimony with all of you. I hope that you will be encouraged in your faith to hear how faithful God has been to me in my life.
     My father is a pastor, and I grew up going to church and learning about God. I believed in Jesus when I was very young, and I was baptized when I was 7 years old. It was always important to me to be a good Christian. I tried to be kind to everyone at school, even if they were unpopular, I memorized Bible verses in Sunday school, and I volunteered at my church’s programs.
     When I was 14 I found a lump in my neck. There was a cyst growing on my thyroid that grew bigger and bigger, so by the time I had surgery it was bigger than my fist. There was cancer in the lump, so I had radiation treatment, and after the radiation treatment I had another even bigger surgery to make sure that there was no cancer left in my neck.
     This was a very difficult time for my family because my parents were very worried about me. My church was praying for me, and even strangers from other churches who knew my story prayed for me and my family. It was frightening for me too because I felt very young to be so sick, but whenever I was scared or sad I would pray and ask God to help me be brave and to make me better. God helped me and everyone in my family to trust him, and finally my cancer was cured.
     Gradually as time passed I started to drift away from God. I knew that he had helped me a lot when I was sick, but I was tired of all the rules to being a good Christian getting in the way of things I wanted to do. I started going to parties with friends and drinking alcohol on the weekend, but I always went to church on Sunday too. This went on for about a year – I still tried to be a good person, and I worked hard in school, but I rarely thought about God and it didn’t seem to matter very much.
     Finally one day I was sitting in church hung over and realized that I had become a huge hypocrite. There wasn’t anything in particular happening during the service that convicted me, but there was a stillness in my mind and a very clear understanding that it was time to choose whether I was going to obey God or choose my own path, and I knew that the decisions I was making were not leading to the kind of life I wanted to have.
     I prayed and asked God to help me begin a new relationship with him, not just keeping rules so people would see what a good Christian I was, and not just going to church so that I wouldn’t feel guilty, but getting to know God and becoming more like his child. I started going to a mid-week Bible study to get a more solid grounding in my faith, and I started living with more integrity and honesty. It wasn’t easy, and I made a lot of mistakes. I had bad habits, and most of my friends didn’t understand why I would want anything different. I was afraid that I would give up and walk away from God again, but one day when I was reading my Bible I realized that God has made an amazing promise:
     Jude v 24 says that God is able to keep you from stumbling and to bring you into his glorious presence faultless and full of joy. When I read that, I memorized the promise so I could remember it in any circumstance, that no matter how much I fail, no matter how weak or vulnerable I am to sin, I can remember that God is able to hold on to me.
     What I have learned in my relationship with God is that he loves me more than I can understand, and he cares about my life. He matches all of the effort that we put into our relationship with him, and he helps us to understand and do what is right and to become people who are pleasing to him, who want the same things as he wants for the world.
     This past week I was reading in 1 Peter and was struck by chapter 2 verse 10 – “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
     It’s not that God wasn’t merciful before I gave my life to him – he totally was! Merciful by the family he gave me, merciful that things didn’t get more out of hand than they did when I was drinking, merciful to be ready to forgive me before I asked and merciful to convict me, to speak gently to me when I was hungover in church. Jesus died for us while we were still his enemies – Romans 5:8, so what does Peter mean about receiving mercy? I think that before we are saved, it is there for the taking but we don’t accept it. Now that we have accepted it, how fully it is ours! We cannot allow ourselves to question God’s mercy toward us – no amount of backsliding or frailty or lostness can keep us from God’s mercy or disqualify us from forgiveness. It is God’s will to keep us from stumbling and we can claim that promise! God is faithful not only to forgive us but to gently, mercifully shape us and change us – not that we ever get past the point of needing forgiveness, but he makes us able to rejoice in our salvation free of guilt or shame or fear!

Monday, September 13, 2010

a Car (Pt. 1)

Matt and I were talking last night about how it is making less and less sense for us not to have a car. Financially it makes all the sense in the world, but spiritually there are so many ways Matt's ministry is stifled by his lack of mobility. Sometimes we are both overwhelmed by our financial situation, but in the spirit of faith that God knows our every need and is able to do more than we ask or imagine, we have decided to pray for a vehicle and trust that God won't give it to us until he also has a way for us to run it.
I look forward to part 2 of this post, when I can share however God has done it :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010


God is so funny. For weeks I have been meaning to knock on my neighbour's door and just say hello and that Matt and I would love to get together for a visit some time, maybe invite her over for tea or a smoke on our balcony since she is 83 and her balcony is under construction, so she is forced to smoke in her apartment. This last week specifically, I have been meaning to every day, but each day I had some errand or chore take up time so I excused myself from going by. We have chatted in the elevator and said hi in passing in the hallway, so there was really no reason for my hesitancy and procrastination, but there it was.

At work on Friday I was thinking about how this was my last day before yet another week had passed of my fruitless intentions, and I prayed for God to help me, to want to go by even more than I already wanted to, and to get over whatever hangup was in my brain. I knew I wanted to make muffins and do a load of laundry, but there would be time to just stop by and say hi and hopefully make plans to get together within another week or so.

I stopped at No Frills on the way home to pick up sour cream for the muffins, got home and took Nimoy out, then began to mix my butter and sugar. My plan was to get the muffins in the oven, then take the laundry down, then put away dry laundry that was hanging in the office, then hopefully the muffins would be done and... it was pretty unlikely that I would actually make it down the hall to say hi to Dorothy. Rats.

As I continued to beat the butter and sugar, I realized that I hadn't thought to make sure we had eggs, and I had a sinking feeling we were out. How could I forget eggs? And I had already been to the grocery store... I didn't have time to make another trip and I didn't want to anyways. It occurred to me that Dorothy might have eggs, and what a perfect excuse to go by and say hi. "Perfect" might be an overstatement... but I had the sinking feeling that God had set me up in answer to my prayers and that ignoring the opportunity would be a lame move. So I shuffled down the hall in my baking slippers (okay, they're just regular slippers) and knocked on her door.

She had the eggs I needed, and we ended up chatting for about an hour - it was great :) She has a huge family and has traveled all over Canada, and it was really nice to just get to know each other a bit better.

Laundry didn't happen, but I did make some delicious muffins, and I am thankful for such a silly kick in the pants from God.

P.S. When I googled the egg picture, I got SO distracted reading about eggs!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

a Comic

I printed out this comic and taped it up at my desk, where it delights me every day:

If only I had thought to post this instead of my sappy anniversary post! I am happy to say that Matt and I have not yet resorted to this tactic to solve our issues :)

To satirize religion instead of relationships, I like to imagine this comic with just a slight variation:
  • Comic title - White Ninja saves a soul
  • First frame script - "forget the counselling, I've figured out how to solve all of your life issues"
  • Second frame - "the gospel"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Our preacher this Sunday spoke on Psalm 23, focusing on verses 5 and 6. In the sermon he also commented on the parable of the ten virgins - five wise and five foolish. The only difference between the wise virgins and foolish virgins was whether or not they had enough oil, and the preacher used OIL as an acrostic to describe what it represents in terms of believers being prepared as we wait for our bridegroom (Jesus!) to return. This is one of the few acrostics I have heard/seen used in a sermon that actually enhanced my memory and understanding of the preacher's point, so I thought I'd share:

O - obedience
I - intimacy (not waiting for death and eternal life in heaven to participate in the intimate, personal, real relationship we can have with God through Jesus)
L - love (I prefer longing here, because it is less vulnerable to cliche. We must truly long for Jesus to come back because we love him)

It was also a pretty sweet sermon because it was a communion Sunday, and he reminded us that communion is not only a remembrance of the Last Supper, but an anticipation of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

All in all, God was very generous with himself to me this Sunday =)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I was reminded this Sunday of how meaningful it is to worship in one's own language. It is easy to forget in Canada, but it was something I learned the hard way in Brazil, where it was often very lonely and unfulfilled to stumble through worship songs in Portuguese, focusing more on phonics than God. I could sing or pray or cry to God in English any time, but communal worship is an integral part of Christian practice, and I missed it. One week Joyce (the missionary who hosted me) took me to an English-speaking church in Brasilia, and I loved it so much. I soaked in the announcements, sang from the heart, took notes during the sermon, and read the bulletin as if it was the 67th book of the Bible (youth group to play board games at the Walkers on Thursday? Amazing!).

Church is always in my language now, and my heart has been lazy to appreciate it. I have been struggling on and off to really worship God at church this summer, but I loved this past Sunday because we had someone sing special music in Tamil. The English translation of the song was printed in the bulletin, so everybody could read the words, and the words were beautiful, but they weren't what struck me. My heart was touched when part way through the song and again at the end, I heard the Tamil people in the pew behind me humming and singing along under their breath with the singer. It reminded me of my longing for English worship, and I was humbled to remember that these people participate every week in our English service without complaining that the language of their hearts is not represented.

(We) English speakers find a lot to complain about in our church services - too long, not enough time spent on a certain aspect, wrong type of music, hating that we repeat a chorus 9 times, wishing people were "more spiritual," wishing people would mind their business about our spirituality - what a miracle that in heaven we will still have our differences but without any division - "a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all trives and peoples and tongues, standing before the throng and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches [in] their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Rev. 7:9-10)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Happy Year!

It's mine and Matt's first anniversary, and I have been so excited for the last few weeks looking forward to it!

I am happy to honestly say it has been a great year - although there were times I wasn't sure it would be possible (maybe one day I will blog about how nuts The Pill made me and how happy I am to be off it, as well as how grateful I am for a husband who continued to love me through ridiculous mood swings and relentless, senseless tears).

Of course, there are still ups and downs, and we both have a lot to learn and lots of growing to do, but in general... life is so darn good together!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oneness with God

A lot of Christians like to talk about following Jesus, which I've been thinking about a lot since I got an email from a wonderful sister in Christ about intimacy with God. She wrote:

I am covered in the blood - the inseparable life of Christ. I don't need to be a follower now his life is complete in me. Nothing can separate us from his life not in action, thought or deed. His life is living and breathing and very exciting to live in that relationship place.

I find so much strength and comfort knowing that nothing can separate me from him or his life.

I've been thinking about this the last few days - and I agree there are times when our mentality as Christians should be as Christ-followers, but I like the way Jesus takes out a step by sending the Holy Spirit to live in us and guide us straight from the heart, not only from our minds solving the answer to WWJD. It is so good in those times when I can get out of my own way to trust God and allow him to use me, and those are the times when I really realize how useless we are apart from him.

I want it more!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Gerasenes

The sermon I heard on Sunday was about the demon-possessed man Jesus set free in Luke 8:26-39. This was the weirdest thing that struck me:

When Jesus arrived, "He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs... [The demon that possessed him] had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert...many demons had entered him."

Nuts, right? This guy is scary, and his situation is scary. He is not someone I would want as a neighbour, even if he did keep to the tombs. This is not a man I would want to have to explain to my children.

How did the Gerasenes feel? "The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. "

I don't know what is scary about this. I'm trying to think if maybe there is anything in my life that (insanely) I am more scared of Jesus making right than just living with it.


Thursday, August 19, 2010


Last month, I read Desire by John Eldridge. His message is that desire is the key to our hearts, and too many Christians are smothering their desires in efforts to be "godlier." He says that by killing our desires, our hearts are dying also, and as a result we are left as dull and sterile shadows of who God would have us be. Eldridge says that Christians must not allow themselves to be satisfied in this world, because we were designed for Paradise.

Sometimes I feel like I could swell up and explode with how full life can be - the moments of contentment, abundance, and delight. But I also swing (usually quickly) to the other extreme of cynicism and fatigue, seemingly unable to embrace life to the full because... I don't know why. It feels like I just shut down.

The last two weeks have had so many spiritual ups and downs, but in a very different way than I've experienced before - usually I rebound between intimacy with God and independence or indifference, but these ups and downs have been all wrapped up in closeness with God. The ups have been conversations and prayers God has used to convict and heal and challenge me; lows have been letting myself hurt and loving people who are hurt, and mourning. Sometimes it is so good to just break down in front of God, but it can also be scary because there aren't guarantees that God will put everything back together. Sometimes there are still jagged edges and frailty, and God doesn't pat me on the head and tell me it's okay, because it just isn't. But I'm comforted that God doesn't allow his dissatisfaction to come in the way of his love, and neither should we.

I've had this song stuck in my head lately... You Never Let Go - Matt Redman

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Being Broken

I stayed home from church last week - to rest. Is that ironic? I listened to a sermon online, prayed when I was moved and convicted, sat quietly, and tidied up around the house when I was done.

I'm afraid there is something about church that inhibits rather than fosters spiritual intimacy with God and others. We bring our "best" selves - put together, not too flashy - and I'm worried that our best selves are not prepared to be broken. What if we came to church ready for God to make us cry? For him to pull the rug out from under us with the reminder that we sin, and it is offensive to him. Or for him to allow us glimpses of glory that leave us speechless and aching with wonder.

What if "how was your week?" could have answers other than "good thanks"? (I know this is true at some churches, and with some people... but I think that generally people ask to be polite, not because they're ready for a messy answer)

What if church was a place where instead of learning to slap Christian labels on our lives, we could be moved by the Holy Spirit to reflect Jesus more and more, regardless of the music playing in the background, whether we are "hanging out" or "having fellowship," even if the movie we're watching or game we're playing doesn't have direct ties to Scripture?

God is reminding me of my brokenness, and it is... great. So I wiiiish that could be happening more in our churches because it brings such deep change and growth and intimacy with God and awareness of grace.

Thanks for your prayers :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Falling Behind

I have enjoyed so much of this summer as a break from classes, time for friends and settling into the apartment and neighbourhood and do things I want to do... but the last couple days (I want to say weeks, but that is probably an exaggeration) have been so long and full and draining that I am wearing out. I discovered a journal that I kept in 2007 this morning and read it over on the subway to work, so I might cheat and blog an entry or two from there to try and be consistent... I have other ideas in the works that I'd like to write, but I just don't have the juice in me to do it at this point.

It appears that our pest control problems are under control, so hopefully this time that we set up our kitchen (and other rooms) it stays that way and we can truly settle in. There is a railing on our balcony, but our door is still barred shut so we can't go out on it.

Please pray for us :) Matt is co-ordinating VBS next week, so he doesn't really have any spare minutes either - I am hoping that once VBS is through we can enjoy the last two weeks before classes start (I'm also hoping for an EASY semester with only one course - we'll see!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I'm giving up on setting limits;
We now have cockroaches.

By now, I mean we have probably had them all along but kept trying to deny it, didn't want to deal with it - I compromised by setting limits:

The first few roaches we found were just dead, and we thought maybe they were just left over from the previous tenant. No biggie, whatever poison or spray they used before we moved in had worked and we were just seeing the remnant of a situation that was under control. I decided this was okay; my limit was bugs that were alive.

Then we started seeing tiny little baby roaches, and they didn't freak me out too much, so I budged the boundaries of my mental limit to include tiny baby roaches that don't do any harm (and certainly don't grow up into real roaches).

Then, Matt and I were up late one night, and it occurred to me that since cockroaches like the dark, the middle of the night was probably a decent time to wander into the kitchen, flick on the light and see just what the situation was. It was bigger bugs. The cupboards under our sink are all sitting empty since Matt plugged up the mouse hole, so at least the roaches couldn't hide amongst our pots and pans. I killed a bunch with our fly swatter, and threw out their gross bodies. One escaped through an impossible crack at the bottom of our cupboard, so Matt said he could fill that with drywall compound too. My new bizarro limit - under the sink is okay as long as the upper cupboards stay pure.

Last night I was getting a glass of water when I startled a full-grown, speedy-fast cockroach in the cupboards. I screamed and then felt really disappointed that we definitely have to deal with this. Ugh.

Let me tell you something crazy though - these cockroaches aren't THAT big a deal to me. Yes they're gross... everyone knows how I feel about bugs. But I was baptized by fire in Brazil, and the fact that I can't hear these roaches run, their bodies are shorter than the width of my hand, and they can be killed with a fly swatter... It's gonna be okay!

I hope we get rid of them, that the super steps up and has some cockroach A-bomb, because apart from this issue our apartment is getting kind of homey, and I would love to just enjoy it :)
Here's my thought about setting limits - I've been reading Job and loving it, getting a lot more from it than I ever thought I would. And my continually expanding limits of what's okay for me reminded me of God and Satan arguing over limits for Job - first, Satan isn't allowed to touch Job's body, but then later his only limit is not to take Job's life. I am sure that Job was much more upset than I was to have his limits continually pushed, moved back, and disrespected. At the end of the book, however, he is able to say to God, "I had heard of you... but now my eye sees you" (42:5). I pray that no matter how outrageously, laughably, or tragically my physical, emotional and spiritual limits are tested, that God will see me through

In other news, there are ropes hanging in front of our living room window - hopefully we will have balcony railings soon and can enjoy our balcony for the rest of the summer! Also, I met a sweet old lady from our floor who has lived there 15 years. Her name is Dorothy, and her door is often propped open, so maybe we will visit some time!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

At War

It's official: we have mice.

Matt emailed me at work (Thursday) to tell me that a mouse ran across our living room floor - we went to war with traps and sticky paper and killed three mice in an afternoon - it turns out they came out to play every time we left the house. Crazy! (Update: it is Saturday night and we've killed a total of 7)

Our game plan is to kill them until there aren't any left, then seal up the hole where they came from so a new family doesn't take their place. I have less despair than when I opened a cupboard door Wednesday night to see droppings everywhere in our empty, bleached pantry.

I'm also SO glad I married a man like Matt, who is tough enough to get rid of the bodies! :) I'm not squeamish about them being dead, but I have this irrational dread that if I have to touch one, THAT's the one that will not actually be dead, will flinch alive and bite me - as if mice play dead inside cupboards to prank people.

Being at war with the mice drew me back to a verse that struck me last week - Colossians 4:12 "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers..." I love that reminder that prayer can be a struggle. Not just a struggle to do it, but a way to fight, to go to work spiritually for others or ourselves.

I struggle (the bad way) to be diligent in prayer, often procrastinating, postponing, and neglecting to do it, but every time I do I remember how deeply I need it. I pray that I would be quicker to pray, to take advantage of this weapon and tool that God has given us - free access to the King of kings and Lord of angel armies! He is my Defender, Comforter and Provider, and I know I need to be in his presence to truly thrive.

So this war with the mice is a good reminder for me of the struggle I need to also make in prayer, to "stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God" (that's what Epaphras prayed for the Colossians).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Disappointment and Trust

I had dinner with my mentor on Monday, and one of the things we talked about is how difficult it is to recover from disappointments that make us feel betrayed by God. The scenarios are different for different people, but I think that most people experience some kind of crisis that makes them question God - why He didn't intervene to save a loved one, rescue a relationship, open doors for a job or a mission trip. These things can shake the foundations of our faith: Doesn't God know what's going on? Doesn't he care?

I think an important realization to come out of these crises is that it's not personal. Each of us is a thread in the tapestry God weaves in the world, and I think part of spiritual maturation is realizing there is more to God's plan than loving me and me loving him. He is at work in the world, building a kingdom. We get to be a part of that, and loving him is a huge part of that, and his love for us is the basis for everything else; but his love is also much bigger than us and frequently supersedes what we can understand. Sometimes no matter how long or how hard we cry out for answers, we simply don't get one. We have to trust that he knows and he cares; we must learn to live beyond the self-centered emotion of betrayal and trust God again - to be able to seek his guidance without guarantees other than his goodness and love.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Shadows and Substance

Colossians 2:16-17 says,“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

This passage struck me when I read it on the subway Wednesday morning, and it kind of stuck with me unsettled until that evening. After prayer meeting, I was visiting with the two other women who were there and shared how God is encouraging me so much this week through Colossians, and how this passage appealed to me even though I didn’t fully understand it.

Nimoy was wandering around in the church library while this chat was going on, and I thought about how crazy his shadow looks, how if his shadow was all I could see, I would never imagine what he was (a dog), much less what kind of dog he was (wriggly and sniffy). On the flip side, because I can see Nimoy, I can see how his shadow works.

It’s hard to write out thought processes that happen in a second, so I hope you’re still with me. Basically I realized that trying to figure out the rules will get you nowhere if your mind isn’t first set on Christ. He is the substance that gives meaning to the shadows. It doesn’t mean that shadows aren’t important, but they can be distractions if they’re not kept in perspective. This is encouraging me to continue exploring this theme of the rich hope there is in Christ and sinking spiritual roots into it!

Monday, June 28, 2010


The building I work in is behind the security fence for G20, so we have been busy this week, starting work early and going home as soon as all the work is done.

Starting at 6:30 instead of 7:30 means waking up at 5:15 to catch a bus at 5:40 - after six working days of this schedule, my body is repaying me with achy muscles and a summer cold. I can't believe it will feel almost like sleeping in to wake up at 6am tomorrow!

There is a bright side to this trauma of waking up before the sun, however. Three mornings I've taken the elevator with a woman who lives on my floor - Elizabeth. I might not have met her if not for waking up so early, and this morning I even saw which apartment is hers, so I can leave her a note or a card to invite her over for tea or something.

This morning I also happened to take the bus with a woman whose daughter comes to youth group. We just met for the first time Friday night, so it was great to sit together and chat this morning - I am thankful for these opportunities I've had, and thankful that God has helped me recognize them!

Matt and I were accepted as members at Agincourt this Sunday, and each new member was given a verse. Mine was Colossians 3:16-17, so I wrote out part of it and taped it to my computer at work. It says:

"Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, fill your life... Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."

This is something I want to live up to, even though I definitely don't manage it most days, so it was a great verse to be reminded of, and I wanted to share it :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010


This week I read a book called Total Abandon, the true story of a missionary woman who was martyred in Lebanon in 2002, written by her husband. It was very sad, but also hopeful, and I was struck by this passage about their ministry:

"We shared the message of Jesus-the same message that compels Christians to go to the refugee camps to the street kids, and to the prostitutes of the world-not to convert them to some boring "religion," but to give them hope."

That perspective on evangelism eases the pressure and tension I sometimes feel about opportunities to witness - I pray that I can live in a way that witnesses to my hope in Jesus, that it prompts questions in people's minds, and then when the opportunity arises I can articulate that hope and share my testimony.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Fly in the Ointment

Matt and I had a fantastic vacation in Victoria and just got back last night. We had great flights, watched the Book of Eli on the plane, and managed to get home around midnight.

After church this morning and an afternoon nap, I started making a grocery list so Matt and I could have sustenance this week, since we tried to leave as bare of cupboards as possible before our trip. I forget now what I was looking for - garlic or peanut butter or something - when I looked in the pantry under our kitchen counter and realized there was debris all over everything. "What would cause that?" I thought, then it hit me. Rodents. Poop. The debris was poop (not the word I used to describe it to Matt, who was in the living room, because when it's in your cupboards, in your home, "poop" doesn't quite capture the essence of those little brown pieces). Mice had a house party in our cupboard while we were away, probably drunk on cornmeal, eating and pooping, smoking cigarettes and listening to mouse rap at top volume.

Matt and I made a second list - things to buy at Walmart, including gloves and masks, poison, and air-tight plastic tubs. We bought what we needed (including groceries!) and came home to wage war - emptying our cupboards into our dining room, sorting contaminated food from what was still good, and bleaching the smell out of our pantry.

Matt's going to call the super tomorrow and see what he says. I am hopeful that the problem is just that our kitchen is adjacent to the stairwell, we were gone for a week and a half, and we were noobs to put food in that pantry that wasn't gnaw-proof. I have high hopes that bleach and lack of anything to eat whatsoever will resolve the rodent issue. We also have a trap set and some poison. Matt might buy concrete later this week to close up their hole. Nimoy is staying with our friend for an extra night.

It's okay so far - we'll see how things go over the next couple of days and how Matt and I both hold up in our re-chaotic apartment, but for now I feel two notches tougher and just pray it's not a long-term situation.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Moving In

There was a presentation by a ministry called MoveIn at church on Sunday – they are a group of Christians who move into high-risk/high-need neighbourhoods and commit to pray, then see what God does. I have read a number of articles about this ministry over the months before our move, and it has been a strong influence to be intentional neighbours – to pray for people in our building especially and be open to starting conversations or extending invitations over or receiving hospitality.

So far we have met some really nice people in passing – people holding a door or elevator for us when we had arms full of boxes, having friendly chats in the elevator, or asking what our funny-looking dog is named. On the weekend, the lawn behind our building was covered with people – it looked like a big barbeque on Saturday, and a cricket game on Sunday. I feel a lot of anticipation because there seems to be general openness to community in our building, so hopefully Matt and I are able to keep making connections, praying, and seeing what God does!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

To Be Known

There is an Anglican church just a subway stop away from work where I decided to go and chill on my lunch today. I went once or twice last summer because it's a gorgeous church, and its just a short walk even if I don't take the train. On my literally 30 second walk from the subway station to the church, I passed a man sitting with an empty coffee cup panhandling - everyone walked by without any hesitations or acknowledgment as he wished each person a good day.

Monday night I ignored a panhandler at Bloor station with crippled legs and then felt convicted about it and went back to try to find him and wasn't able to, so today when I saw this man I felt like it was an opportunity to make up for freezing up on Monday. Don't get me wrong - I am too broke to give money to every panhandler... before our tax cheques came, I was too broke to give money to any panhandlers! But in both of these cases I really felt like I should give some money, and if I tried to explain this all in the context of all my thought processes, this post would probably never end. So. I gave this guy a toonie and went back into the church to pray.

I ended up flipping through the pew bible and reading Matthew 11:25-30. What struck me the most is when Jesus says in verse 27 that, "no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son". I never realized what an intense and intimate picture this is - I always thought "oh, obviously - since they're GOD. No one gets it but them - next verse."

But then I thought about the man sitting outside wishing good days on strangers who wouldn't look at him, and of the loneliness that Jesus must have felt as a man who nobody understood, who was violently misunderstood. What a comfort it is to know that each of us is truly, deeply, completely known by the God who made us and loves us. And we can know him because of Jesus!

I asked the man his name as I walked back to work - it was Mark. We chatted a little bit, and he said he's there regularly, so I will be sure to say hi if I see him again. This encounter made me reflect on what it means to be known, to really connect and share with others. I think this need is what Jesus experienced and why he had such a deep relationship with the Father - God was not his ticket to heaven, or a magic genie he could ask for blessings but the solution to the deepest of human needs: to be known.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Moving with God

It has been a while since I have kept a blog, and it was nice to take a break. But I think I'm back.

Here's the thing - Matt and I are moving to Scarborough in June, and we're both pretty excited about it. We'll be much closer to the church, so it's a great opportunity for Matt and I to be closer to our ministry and build more community in the area we are serving. I hope we can have people over more often and have more energy to invest in relationships, since the people we want to befriend and get to know better will no longer be a 45 minute bus ride away! :)

The reason I wanted to start blogging again is to create some accountability for the hopes and dreams I have for this move. My goal is to live with intentionality in this community that God is giving us - to be salt and light in our neighbourhood and specifically in our building. It's not the best neighbourhood, and there are certainly nicer buildings near by (although they did not have affordable 2-bedrooms!) - but I have a strong sense that God has plans for us in our new place, and I want to chase after them - to take risks of obedience and vulnerability and discomfort and be changed and grow like never before. And God has done crazy things in my life before, so this is a big deal.

My hope is to share the journey of moving with God - seeking his presence and joining the work he already has in progress. I hope that this blog will be a way to reflect on and share what is happening and where I'm at from week to week - beyond the bliss of living above ground and in walking distance to a grocery store.

Please pray for us! And stay tuned :)