Do you know what you are getting yourself into?

We just elected a new committee (congrats, guys!), I’m graduating (and getting a job?!?!?!), my best friend just got married (AGAIN, congrats), my church is in the middle of a transition (exciting things ahead), my sister starts university next year (YAY Ryerson!), and my grandparents will be moving to the GTA sometime in the next year (first time I’ll have near-by family in my life). A lot of these would signal the phrase “new beginnings”, but to me most of these represent the death of everything I have looked forward to, worked towards, and dreamed about my whole life. Good or bad, my life as I know it is ending. And I have no idea what is going to happen.

When was the last time you talked to a new/on fire Christian? I’m talking brand new just accepted Christ last week/just decided that they needed to live for God and change everything/on fire in that unique special way people are when they catch that vision that is Christ (I usually encounter this type of person at camp or at a baptism). They are letting the life that they used to have die, and instead embracing the new beginning that is before them. It isn’t even hard to ask themselves what they’re doing.

And yet when I see them I can’t help thinking “Do you really know what you’re getting yourself into?” I have this cynical doubt that people truly understand the suffering they’re about to feel, the struggles they’re about to go through as people lash back at the changes they’re trying to make in their lives. I wonder if they’ll hold up, or if they think it’s a magical moment that will make their lives better and less difficult.

In my life I have been so caught up in the dying of things, the change in lifestyles, friends – even the way my room is set up (not that i’m really that sad to box up the textbooks…). I’ve been dreading the upcoming changes – terrified even. What will I do? I don’t have very many aspirations and dreams past this point … I’ve pretty much arrived at the goals I’ve set. And I’m starting all these new scary things and there I am asking myself “Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?” Will it be ok or will everything fall apart? Will I have a life? Any friends at all? Will I be single forever?

But recently, I realized I’ve forgotten the most important thing. The most important thing about those new/on fire Christians. The one thing that means everything will be ok, even if it all goes up in flames.

He said, “I love you and that’s what you are getting yourself into.”

– Christy

Yes, I am single

Please note this is more tailored towards females, though males are welcome to read…

Yes, I have been single for a while.

No, I’m not upset I’ll be flower-less on Valentines Day.

Yes, it hurts sometimes to see other people pair up.

No, I don’t need to you remind me/try and introduce me to someone.

More times than I would like to admit, I have found myself questioning my relationships status. And more times than I like to remember, I’ve had another girl confide to me their desire to not be single. It’s weird that we get to this point and suddenly all we can think about is our lack of something. Aren’t we supposed to be all-fulfilled in Christ?

There is so much advice out there – hundreds of articles offering super valid insight into who you should look for, why you should wait, what to do instead of waiting, the absolute gift you have of being single (so much time ALL TO YOURSELF), and for the most part they’re great – fantastic.

So I just want to tell all you girls ONE thing, regardless if you’ve read the plethora of articles out there…

Stop waiting.

Just stop. Stop waiting for a guy to notice you, to ask you out, or to decide you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. You do not need a guy to validate who you are, and when you wait for one to do so you are decreasing the value that you have – do you know how much that value is?

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
– Psalm 139:13

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
– Luke 12:7

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
– Genesis 1:27

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
– 1 Peter 2:9

You are not defined by man. You are defined by an all powerful God who loves you. We all forget at times, and so we can all remind each other. This is me reminding you.

So go out and live like you’re loved.

– Christy

Be Prepared

My mom is taking a night course this year. It’s her first class she’s taken in years, and she wants to do really well in it because work is paying for it. Her midterm was last week and the entire week and a half before you could find her sitting at the kitchen table writing out study notes and then sitting memorizing them. She brought her notes with her when we went on our annual family walk through the leaves and studied in the car. She took them to work and studied on her break. She studied in the car waiting to pick people up from school.

She studied a lot. And she studied pretty much every single thing that was in the slides and in the textbook.

And she did really well! yay mom~

I had a midterm this week and I “started studying” on reading week, and then “actually studied” the night before/day of. I guessed which questions were most likely to come up/I knew the most, and just went from there.

It wasn’t the best exam, but I made it through.

What’s the point?

We don’t get to write the test of our lives. I don’t get to pick which issues I’ll have come up during my 25th year of living any more than I get to pick which of Taylor Swift’s tracks are released next. What I do get to choose is how to prepare for my life – the good parts and the bad parts!

I can choose to take time to read my Bible, and to learn about what I’m reading. To not ignore the things I find intimidating, and to continue to choose to walk with God. It doesn’t mean the trials will be less frequent, but it means there’s something to hold onto when they come.

– Christy

P.S. Also you can sing the Disney Song.

be prepare

 

 

Friends I Never Thought I’d Have

As I was reflecting on starting fourth year (I still don’t believe I’m graduating – that sounds so scary!), I was thinking about all the people God has blessed me with over the last few years. They’ve helped me learn about myself, what I like (and really, really hate), what I value, and what I believe in. Believe it or not, I’ve also had some really good times with them in there too!

The reason I bring up this friend situation is because I started off university knowing (wait for it …. ) 0 people! Yep. I didn’t know a soul at Ryerson, I was commuting, I had just spent the entire summer at camp making friends I was about to miss a lot, and I was wishing I had gone to Moody Bible Institute instead. Instead God introduced me to the girl who would become my best friend on the second day of school, and in the course of the rest of the year I met wonderful people who challenged me in my faith and also in my search for “me” (sounds cliche but we all do it). But most of those people I didn’t actually meet until second semester (and second year…)! It was a long wait, but it was worth it!

Point: I knew no one and now I’m so enriched by friends who I can laugh with anytime, friends who sometimes I call up and we just cry together over the most recent difficulty in life, friends who challenge my way of thinking, and even friends who listen when I get on a rant about irrelevant topics. I have sisters I didn’t have, and I also have brothers I didn’t even know I was missing in my life!

The Bible talks a lot about friendship too. One of my favourite stories is about David and Jonathan and how Jonathan sacrificed everything he had for David – lets take a look…

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house.  Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. (1 Samuel 18:1-5)

Who wouldn’t want that? I know for myself I typically wish that my friends were Jonathans, but then I have to ask myself if I’m willing to be the Jonathan back to them. Would I just hand over all my stuff to my best friend? Probably not (sorry Hannah). But I can do things that show my friends I care about them and that I do love them. Sometimes I write them letters, and sometimes I buy them things. Sometimes I listen when they need to talk, and sometimes I just tell them how awesome I think they are. The point is that I’m investing back into them and building the friendships and, by extension, community that God has given me.

So I did have some take aways that I wanted you to take away (go figure)…and I don’t know if they’re obvious so I’ll point form them for ya:

  • Friendships don’t always happen right away. They take work from you as well as the other person – and they can take a long time to grow into, and sometimes you end up being bestest friends with the person you thought you were least likely to talk with ever.
  • Friendship is tough. Sometimes you give more than you get, or so it seems. And other times you’ll get more than you give and just melt in a puddle of love
  • How can you show a friend that you care about them and are thankful for their investment in your life this week?
  • The image made me laugh, but for reals – are you stuck like glue to your friends, even if God told you they were supposed to be king instead of you??

– Christy

Close Enough to Hear God Breathe

A Father's LoveLately I have been reading a book by Greg Paul called Close Enough to Hear God Breathe. Greg Paul, if you don’t know, is the pastor of Santuary Church that reaches out to homeless and other impoverished people in downtown Toronto.  The book has really been challenging me to re-evaluate the way I see my personal relationship with God (in a good way!).

So often I find it extremely easy to put myself down and kick my own self-esteem in the dirt, and I wonder how in the world God could love someone like me. But what I needed to realize was that God loved me because he made me. He created me for a wonderful purpose and he loves me as a daughter. One of the verses Paul brings up is Romans 18:15-16

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (NIV 1984)

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard what Abba exactly means (I had, but conveniently forgot), but it’s the equivalent, as Paul says, to “Da-da” or “Daddy”. What a joy to realize that God loves me light a daughter. He loves me because of who I am, not because of what I fail at doing or what I mess up at, he loves me because I am me. Over and over again the book has brought up instances in scripture where the love God lavishes upon his people is mind boggling – especially when I realize he is offering the same love to me.

I was driving home the other day after a late night at school and I felt God’s presence so near to me in that moment. I just couldn’t believe that he would want to sit next to me while I was driving. Such a mundane task, but he wanted to share in it with me! I was moved to tears that an almighty and powerful God could love me so much that he literally wants to share in every moment of my day and know exactly how I’m feeling and what I’m struggling with – he wants to share in my life.

He is calling out to me, and to you, telling you how much he loves you and wants to be a part of what you’re going through. He wants to show you how precious you are to him. You just have to be still enough to listen for it.

“It’s only a whisper at first. But when I still myself and filter out the competing sounds, the volume grows.” – Greg Paul

– Christy

Conversations With a Saviour

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve recently been trying a new type of prayer, called the “Companion Walk”. It involves walking around and holding a conversation with whoever you want, pretending they are walking next to you (I know it sounds weird, but bear with me here). I tend to envision Jesus walking beside me. The conversations I have are fairly enlightening for me because when I envision the answers I think Jesus would give me I often resort to Scripture, and then I realize that I knew the answers all along, I just needed to hear them from “someone” other than myself.

I often hear people talking about how their goal in prayer is to have a conversation with God all day. This has been a goal I’ve been working towards since seventh grade – and it’s really, really, really hard. However, I’ve also found that these conversations I have on my Companion Walk are a way to get started in my day. They remind me that God wants to hear about my day, know what I’m going through, and walk with me throughout my day.

This is what has inspired these “Conversations with a Saviour” below. They are adaptations of what I’ve been talking about on my walks.

*knock knock*

“Hello?”

“Yes, this is your Saviour speaking. I –”

“Oh hiiiiii………yea right now is not a good time”

“I was hoping to spend some time with you today. You’ve been really stressed lately and I’d like to hear about how you’re feeling.”

“Um … how about we do that after I finish this thing here that is clearly more important right now…”

“I really think we should do it now. Are you sure that your paper due in a week is more important than me?”

“Well, I suppose it is due in a week. But I have all these other things I have to do, too!”

“Are you willing to let me into this part of your life? I would love to take control of these things that are worrying you so much.”

“I … um … what?”

“I love you. And I want to see you enjoy the relationship that we have – and you can’t do that if you’re worried about doing work for me instead of spending time with me.”

“Oh. Well when you put it that way … I’m warning you though, this isn’t going to be easy …”

“I know.”

“Right. Of course you do.”

***

*knock knock*

“Hello?”

“Hi, you called for me?”

“Oh yes, I did! I just didn’t think you would answer…”

“I always have time to spend with my children.”

“Right. Anyway, I was just wondering …”

“Yes?”

“I want to know why everyone else seems to be having such a great life. I’m sitting here watching everyone else get all these things that I long for so desperately. Everyone else seems to be happy! Why am I so … not-happy? I don’t want to complain, but I just feel so forgotten…”

“I have not forgotten about you. I love you. Your story is a unique story, and I’m writing it in the best way possible.”

“I know, I know. But it just doesn’t seem fair! Why do I have to wait so patiently for things to happen? I just want to see something work out now.”

“Don’t you trust that I have a great plan in store for you? I know what timing is best – I AM. I can see things that you can’t, and I choose to write your story in the best way for you. I don’t want you to worry about tomorrow, it will take care of itself. Just worry about today.”

“That’s it? Just continue to be patient? Continue to wait? That doesn’t sound like much help.”

“You’re still worrying about what will happen. Just let go of what you want to happen in your life, and know that I will take care of it for you. I promise you won’t regret it.”

“…just worry about today? I think I can handle that…”

“And I’ll be right here when you need me.”

“Alright. I’ll try to do that. And thank you for taking some time to talk with me.”

“I always will have time to listen to how you’re feeling.”

***

The time you spend with God should overflow into the rest of your life, not be sectioned away in half an hour of your day. So I encourage you to try and include God more in your daily routine, and try and bridge the gap between “quiet time” and the “rest of your day”. Maybe that looks like starting to have a quiet time, maybe that looks like writing a verse on a piece of paper and carrying it around with you, and maybe that looks like making time to pray in your day. Whatever it is, try to make God an important part of your life.

– Christy

Welcome Back

Welcome BackIt has begun!

I hope you all had a fantastic break and are ready for another semester. I found that the break was a much needed time of relaxing and spending time with my family.

Lately I’ve been learning a lot about how God has a fantastic master plan, even though I don’t get to see all the pieces and how they work together. When I was at camp, I got to work one week in a different location, and their theme verse was Jeremiah 29: 11-13.

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (ESV)

It was super easy to tell kids that, but when I look at my own life, I find that I often don’t put the belief that God has a plan for me into action. I constantly worry and stress out about everything, and once it’s over, I play it back in my head for a few weeks thinking of all the ways I could have done it better.

But God promises that he has a good plan for me. So I shouldn’t worry about all these different things that happen in my life. 2013 has already brought its share of joy and sorrow, and while I wish it hadn’t, I know that everything will be worked together for good. That doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it easier.

As you go back to classes, I encourage you to make sure that you take the time to make sure you’re consulting the one with the plan. That you’re being guided by his presence and not your own desires. That you would take the time to pause and call upon him with your heart.

I look forward to walking with you this semester.

– Christy

Priorities

PriorityI’ve been blessed with a mother who cares very for my sanity. She has pretty much spent the last 20 years caring for me and said sanity. And like any good investment, she has tried to make me self-sustainable (or at least enough that I can sustain my sanity).

One of the most important things I’ve learned from her his time management/how to manage your priorities. These two concepts are basically what has kept me from pulling all-nighters and has allowed me to have time to do various things in addition to school. However, I never truly realized the impact of the things she taught me until this semester. As the semester is coming to a close, I thought I would share with you what I have come to understand.

1. You only have 24 hours in a day

I know you all know this – but most of you probably have wished at one point or another that you had an extra few hours to do things in. Well, you probably don’t. There are 24 hours in a day – and that’s enough. If you honestly thought about it, what difference would an hour a day make? The odds of it always being spent to do school work is slim. So don’t kid yourself into thinking you just need more time – use your time you have been given instead of wasting it.

2. 10 minutes a day is a lot of time

One of my profs has a saying that he uses all the time. He teaches a printing course and talks about the sustainability and efficiency required in the industry because we have such a low profit margin. This what he tells us every class: “Ten minutes a day adds up to a week of production time lost in a year”. While he is talking about Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, I’m pretty sure its about the same for 7 days a week. This semester I really had to look at how I was spending my time. It wasn’t always used very well – I’m pretty sure I lost a week this semester alone to Facebook. This isn’t to say we should all quite Facebook, just that maybe we spend too much time doing things that we actually don’t care about that much, which takes away from being able to do things we actually find enjoyable and enriching. For example, I can easily waste my Gotrain rides – or I can use them to do something. Which brings me to point 3.

3. Your priorities must be a priority

When you say something is a priority, that doesn’t mean that it is magically going to get done. You choose to spend you’re time the way you want it spent. Having a priority means that you have to fight for time to do it. You have to cut out time from other things to make time for what you call a priority. That’s what making something a priority means – committing to fight for time and to make it a part of your daily commitment. That’s why people say that being a part of something or doing well in something takes hard work – it literally does.

Honestly, I’m not the best at all of these things. Clearly, since this is being written a day late. But these are concepts that I have found to be true this semester. There is time to do everything that you need to get done. In Ecclesisates Solomon talks about how there is a time for everything. So while we are in school, it is the time to be in school and to build up ourselves in Christ. To do this requires our time. It requires us to use our time the best we can so that no matter what we say or do, it is pleasing to Him.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

– Christy (and, unbeknownst to her, Christy’s mom)

Satisfied

satisfyAs many of you know, I really like music. I rarely find someone with more songs on their iTunes than me, I like making music – I even teach music. The love of music is mostly something that I picked up from my dad, who, coincidentally, also is a great lover of music. Currently, we’re both going through a “country phase”.

Now, you may be asking, “why is this relevant …”. It is. I promise.

Sometimes when I’m doing something, like driving or commuting, I have a certain type of song I’m looking for that suits my mood perfectly. I have randomly named playlists based on times when I had a feeling and I found songs to go with it. These songs are a way that I can satisfy my desire to be at peace from a headache that’s coming, to stay awake while working, to soothe an aching heart, or to enjoy a Friday night.

But, today, God decided to teach me a little lesson in satisfaction.

satisfy |ˈsatisˌfī|
verb ( -fies, -fied) [ trans. ]
meet the expectations, needs, or desires of (someone)

Today I was on the train home, and it was one of those super full ones so everyone who gets on at the right time is late, and therefore must stand (in case you were wondering, I was standing). This train in particular was really full. This point in time, I was also not having a good day.

So, I started on my phone. I tried playing angry birds, and then I got upset because I played all the easy levels and the hard levels were hard. Also, my phone decided to tell me it was low on battery, and since I wasn’t going home until much later, I stopped. Next I moved onto my iPod to play solitaire. Lost a game, and then found out my iPod was dying too. Then I heard a little voice in my head. Our conversation went something like this:

“ahem … so Christy …  you know what would actually satisfy you right now, don’t you?”
“Well, yea, but I mean … my Bible’s all the way in my bag and this is a really full train…”
“You know that it is what you’re looking for, though.”
“Well, yea, but I mean, by the time I get it out and open it I’ll be at my stop and-
“You know what you need.”
“FINE.”

Needless to say, God reminded me that I needed my Bible. And lo and behold, we open to 2 Chronicles 31-32. The latter half of Hezekiah’s life. In particular, verses 24-26 stood out.

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death, and he prayed to the Lord, and he answered him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

Just like that. He realized he did wrong, humbled himself, and re-found his satisfaction in God.

All too often, I find that I am searching for things of the world to satisfy me – I don’t even realize it half of the time! But God is all that I will ever need, and He will always satisfy any need that I have. I think I can find it myself, but really, it’s just me being proud in my own abilities. I must constantly humble myself, and accept that I need him to be my satisfaction every day.

And the best part? He likes satisfying me. And he wants to satisfy you too.

Christy

All for His Glory

gloryToday something about God and His timing sort of slapped me across the face – everything He does is for His glory.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew this already. But I typically don’t realize it in all aspects of life. So let me tell you about how I tripped over this fact today.

I am currently trying to read the Bible in its entirety, because I have never actually done that before. To do so, I’m powering through the Old Testament. It has been pretty cool reading through the old stories and seeing how they all fit together. I have been reading in Jeremiah and it was, to be honest, starting to get a little tiring reading about how the people refused to listen to God, and then what God said would happen happened. Only to be followed by them doing the same thing, yet again. Why were they doing this over and over again? Then I flipped to 2 Chronicles 6.

This passage takes place after Solomon has built the temple David commissioned him to do. They have finished construction and Solomon is consecrating it to the LORD, and, of course, Solomon says a super long prayer. In this prayer he first recognizes God for everything He is, but then he starts talking about the people of Israel. He basically talks about everything they have been doing in Jeremiah. If bad things happen to them because they sinned, abandoned God, or other people choose to come up and attack them, Solomon asks God to turn and listen to them (and deliver them!) when they turn back, worship, and pray to Him.

Solomon in all his wisdom could see that the people would mess up “for there is no one who does not sin” (verse 36); but he could also understand that God would turn back to deliver His people when they called upon Him.

So what does this have to do with everything being for God’s glory? IT is that in everything that happens, whether it is people suffering through famine, war, pestilence, etc. or people turning to God and worshiping Him and coming to Him in prayer God is glorified. In not blessing those who turn from Him, he proves his righteousness in that He is not constrained by human nature. In ‘turning’ from those who disobey Him, he proves that his word is true. In listening to those who truly call out to him He proves that He keeps his promises.

In light of all this, how can we even think of trying to plan things our way or get God to go along with what we’re doing? How can we be upset with things in our life going in a way we hadn’t planned? The simple answer is we can’t. We can only realize that in everything that happens God is glorified – and we can strive to give Him the glory He is due in the way we act, the words we say, the things we do.

So here’s my final thought for you (and me): Am I looking for God in my life without turning to him with my whole heart, or am I actually focusing on getting the most out of the relationship for just myself?

Christy