Thursday, 8 September 2011

Confessions of a 20-Something – I have a “testimony”

Photo Credit: Stuart Bury:

Today I am taking part in a blog series hosted by Ally Spotts, called Confessions of a 20-something Christian. I loved reading the various blogs and everyone's confessions today and thought I'd share mine. This is my journey, it's unique to me but perhaps you can relate. Also it's long...sorry.

 I remember going to revival meetings and Sunday evening services and sometimes Wednesday evening services. The kind of services where people got healed and saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Depending on what the cool church kids where into that night I'd either be right up ons all that or sitting in the back laughing over “Angel's prostate fall” in the hymnal. I know, high brow humour. 

Anyway, a big part of those services, particularly if there was a guest speaker, was the testimony time. Many times we'd have a guest speaker, some evangelist who had a touring ministry. Typically this evangelist/speaker would give his testimony and then an alter call. It was the testimony that was always so exciting to me as a kid. The evangelist would be some former Hell's Angel, who had killed three people, shot another five, was addicted to crack cocaine, and a boozer, with tattoo's and holes where earring used to be. Then by the glory of God they got turned around and they gave up all that junk and started preaching the word of God. Their stories were so amazing!

 I used to think it would be so cool to have a story like that...without having to actually do all that.

When I was in grade ten I was part of a little missionary group. It was about twenty students plus youth leaders who got together to go on a week long trip to the U S of A to do skits and share the gospel at various church youth groups and such. One of our tasks before going was to write out and memorize our testimony and then share it with our home church. I remember being at the front of the church sharing, saying that I thought that I was lucky because I didn't have a “testimony” like we were all used to hearing. I was a good girl, with good grades, who hung out with other good girls and boys. Peer pressure wasn't a problem because all my friends where christians. Sex wasn't a problem because usually you have to be asked out on a date before that happens. Drugs or booze? Shocking! I was perfect, (if you don't count fighting with your sisters...which I didn't.)

Fast-forward 10ish years later...

Remember Blast From The Past? Remember that little malt shop that some lady builds over the family's fallout shelter. As the years pass you see that little malt shop go from cute little perfect place to a hippy bar/diner, to scary biker bar, and finally just an empty building graffitied and rundown.

Well let's just say I had a few phases myself. A unchristian boyfriend in my senior year of high school, a drink here and there first year university, and so on and so on. (I'm not going to go into detail because I've done some things I'm ashamed of. If you ask me I won't lie, but I'm not going to broadcast all my failures because that's not the point.)

I still went to church every Sunday and said all the right things. People still thought I was living a charmed life. I'm sure there were cracks in the mask I was wearing but people are really good at ignoring them when you tell them you're fine and besides, people are really mostly only concerned with themselves. No judgement, that's just humanity.

During that time I bought into all the lies. “It's cool” “Everyone our age does this” “It's normal” “You're fine” At least those are the things I told myself when I went out to party. I wasn't even trying to be rebellious. I had a happy childhood, good parents and I was a likeable kid. Who knows why I got into that kind of lifestyle. Probably mostly the product of the people I hung around with. I was influenced more than I was influencing. Maybe a lack of good friends with good influences that actually related to me and my interests. Likely both in some ways.

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) says,

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Thank God my parents prayed for me and taught me about Jesus. Thank God that even hungover and tired, something inside me pushed me to church every Sunday. Thank God that I moved to Toronto, to PARTAY and came home a woman fiercely devoted to her God.

Dear God, I have a testimony...

I'm happy to report that I haven't killed anyone, or even shot at anyone (paintball not included), I've never been addicted to hard drugs or even 'mild' drugs. Black outs were kept to a minimum and my virginity remains intact. However, I had to become completely empty and hopeless and admittedly more than a little depressed (just like that bar in Blast...) When I got there God was waiting.

It's hard to write about these grandma reads this.

I never really wanted a “testimony” but I've got one.

Thank God for grace.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Lesson 6: Enjoy the journey

This has been one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn and relearn and relearn my whole life. I've always been the kind of person who wants the destination. I was totally the kid asking “Are we there yet?” and trying to figure out how many Sesame Streets till we got there. For reals now, if you're going on a trip you are wanting to go SOMEWHERE! Unless you go on one of those movie road trips, but even then they montage most of the boring stuff anyway.

BUT I know it my head that the real life lessons come during the journey. The heart transforms on the journey. Relationships develop during the journey. Your life changes on the journey.

Because I've been a highly destination focused person for most of my twenty-something years I know I've missed out on some really beautiful moments in my journey. Guess how I spent most of two months in Africa on a missions trip? Thinking about what I would tell everyone when I got home. For serious guys, half way across the world and my head was in a cold church in Canada. I can't tell you the names of the kids I worked with. How sad is that?

We do that in relationships a lot too. We meet someone and suddenly they are our best friends and we hang out with no one but them. (Camp friendships anyone?) Or in dating relationships, we're the worst! Meet a guy, shake his hand, and in the morning make him breakfast. When you really take the time to get to know someone you can take a really exciting journey. Maybe it has a specific well defined definition (eg. Marriage) or maybe it will run it's course. Just think of all the things you can learn from another person before any of that happens!

Family is a great journey because typically you are stuck with them for at least the first 17-18 years of your life. You get to learn from parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins your whole life. That's pretty exciting to me! (Plus I have totally cool parents and grandparents.)

Everyday and every moment is another little bit of your journey. Don't rush it. You're gonna die eventually. Until then, what can you learn? What can you see? Who can you get to know? And relax, you'll get there when you get there.

The Apple Orchard <<I just read this and though YES! EXACTLY!!! 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Lesson 5: Take time for the important moments

I'm a simple gal. (no, not “simple” I didn't ride the short bus to school) I'm a gal who enjoys the simple pleasures in life. I prefer looking for the little things in each day, savouring them and enjoying them for the simple pleasures they are. I've had a lot of time this summer during the day in which to learn to enjoy simple things because I've purposefully not gotten a full time job or booked myself up with activities.

So I've decided to list my 5 current favourite simple pleasures.

  1. YouTube – You might think that this is just what lazy people do on their computers when they have nothing better to do. Fair enough. I happen to love youtube and the crazy videos that people put on it. My perpetual fave...
    1. Schmoyoho – anything they do is gold to me.
    2. The Muppets – again, gold, every little bit of it.
    3. The Lonely Island – not for children or the ultra sensitive.
    4. Little House On The Prairie – I've got episode one to start you off, you're welcome.
    5. WatchListenTell – amazing indy music played outside in London for the hipster in us all.
  2. Early to bed Early to rise – A friend the other day mentioned that she started going to bed early and getting up early when she spent a week at the cabin. I discovered this early in the summer as well. There is so much day when you get up early. The cool warmth of the early sun with a cup of coffee and a book out on the porch. My heart opens up just thinking about those summer days.
  3. Baking/gardening – Something about putting on an apron and getting a little floury/being barefoot in the muddy earth. It's gritty, it's real, and there is nothing like cooking up fresh garden veggies or pulling a hot banana loaf from the oven. Maybe I should have been born a Hutterite...or in the days of Little House On The Prairie.
  4. Conversations – Like real conversations. I love scheduling a lunch or coffee when I've got all the time in the world for that one person I'm meeting. No rushing off to the next thing. I can really listen to them and connect to their heart. I imagine a little magic going between us and it gives life to each person. Well at least I feel like I've gotten life energy from them and hopefully I've given them some too.
  5. Time for God – For reals. It can be hard to develop a habit of just talking to God and letting him talk to you. Remember number 2? I'd often sit outside first thing the AM and read my bible and then journal and talk to God for awhile after that. My faith has been challenged and my relationship with God is closer than it's ever been in my whole life. For serious. And out of that comes better relationships with my parents, sisters, friends. What could be better?
So there you go, my 5 favourite things. You might right me off as a weirdo hippy dippy hipster freak...I'm okay with that. I hope I at least encouraged you to laugh, listen, feel in each moment because that's really all we have in this life. Just a series of moments you either remember or you don't. I want to remember my moments and taking the time to live them makes them more memorable.

Until our next moment together,

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Lesson 4: Grace - what it is and how badly I need it!

I've been thinking a lot about grace lately. defines it in several ways...

Grace: 1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion or action
  1. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment
  2. favour or goodwill
  3. a manifestation of favour especially by a superior, synonym: forgiveness
  4. mercy; clemency; pardon

I have to admit when I was a kid I honestly thought that when we sang about God's grace I was thinking about how God must have done ballet or walked with books on his head like a girl at a finishing school. How that related to me, I wasn't so sure.

I like to think I'm a little wiser and knowledgeable than I was when I was 6 (again, not always so sure of that either). I understand that God's grace is more like the 3rd, 4th, and 5th definitions.

Now my struggle is not in receiving grace when I've been bad. I've done some pretty bad things, and I know I'm forgiven. I have felt that feeling of God taking that sin and taking it as far as the “east is from the west.” That burden being lifted is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world and I'm so glad he grants that clemency to everyone. I want everyone to know what that is like!

My struggle is the fact that I need his grace everyday, all the time, constantly, like forever and ever... know what i'm sayin'?

I read too much and have so many ideas to reconcile. The one idea that I've been thinking a lot about lately is the idea that my security must come from God and not from man. It would seem that all that I've been learning and reading about God lately seem to point to that idea. So I've made that my prayer, that I would find my purpose, identity, strength and security in Jesus and not in this world or people. 
AND THIS is where I need grace. Hoooo boy do I need grace and grace and more grace!

Every moment, of every day.

I know in my head that I am secure in Jesus.

Try telling my heart that.

My heart wants to be fully alive in Jesus, but she is so easily swayed by any little thing. Something makes her happy, she's ready to jump ship and follow. She gets sad and she wonders where God is. In fact, sometimes it's easier to feel secure in Jesus when I'm sad because he's there to comfort. When I'm happy he wonders why I'm so easily satisfied by things other than him.

I'm not saying that God doesn't want me to be happy. On the contrary, to know God is to know joy! It's my heart departing from God that is my issue.

And so I need grace. And this is why it's a struggle. Boy is it hard, but it's also the best. When I feel sad or hurt I know I can go to Jesus and he'll wipe my tears and hold me close and heal those hurts. When I'm happy I'm learning to go to God with that too and he'll hold it and be happy with me and I can ask for his grace when I lean on other things instead of him. I'm not talking about works or anything I can do because I know I will constantly fail. One of the hardest things is remember that and accepting his grace each time after time after time after time.

The joys of being human, am I right?  

I'm still working through things, but may I suggest reading Jon Acuff's lastest on SCL 

This guys kinda got me started this morning...enjoy!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Godly Women not "Bella's" be Crazy

You may have guessed that I changed one of the words in title from it's usual "B" word.
I'll admit that even as a female I've used that phrase in describing my own gender. Sometimes it just seemed like the only explanation for what is a unique female phenomena. As a daughter of the King who is constantly being changed from "glory to glory" I had to wonder if there wasn't more for me and sisters, or were we doomed to think "crazy" was normal?

Well, I've been reading a blog series that has really helped make it clear for me.
See it here.

So here's what I'm learning.
(I'm still processing so read this with grace)

All daughters of Eve, (in other words, all women) are fallen. We're all failures, we've all sinned, we have and will continue to make mistakes. We are, however, created bearing the image of God.  We can and often are highly emotional. These are given by God to us so that we can show his glory. So is it normal to ecstatically happy one moment and fly off the handle the next?

I'd say no! Not if we have been redeemed. God has given us commands such as "...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." and "guard your heart,"

I know, easier said than done. (thank goodness for grace) 

I want to go backward a little, okay, all the way back to the fall of Adam and Eve. Eve's curse, I think, is significant. 

To the woman he said,
   “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
   with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
   and he will rule over you.”
Genesis 3:16

I already said that I believe that our wide range of emotions are God given to show his glory, but imagine them in light of this curse. Eve's desire will be for her husband, for a fallen man who will fail her. He's gonna fail her over and over again. How can she not go a little crazy? No one would blame her. 

The beautiful thing is, is that Jesus came to save her. Jesus died to break that curse! (*sigh* it's like a fairytale, curse breaking, damsel saving) So now, if we accept that Jesus did that for us we can put our hope and desire in him. He won't fail us! Instead of our identity being Mrs. 'so and so', mother of 'son', daughter of 'man' we can find our identity and validation in Jesus. 

Under Jesus, I believe that I can experience new emotions such as
-holy anger at injustices in this world
-the sadness that comes from a heart filled with compassion for those in need
-a happiness that only can come from the joy of the Lord
-and many more. 

These emotions come from a security in my identity in Christ. Never doubting who we are in Christ means being able to sing "It is well with my soul" and have it be true at all times. With Jesus I now have the strength to take every thought captive and to guard my heart against things that would cause it to be tainted by evil. I can repent and start new every time an emotion and subsequent thought that would be sinful comes in. I'm still so in need of God's grace and we always will be if we're going to fight being "crazy." I can't believe how quickly a feeling can creep in and make my whole being feel terrible, a flash of anger, a slash of hurt. I'm not perfect and won't be until I'm called to heaven in the mean time I will trust God and pray for redemption for my emotions.  I hope we, women will be challenged to think better of God and his ability to transform every aspect of our lives including the parts we thought were "normal"

Lesson 3

Friday, 19 August 2011

Lesson 2 - Paper is Better Than Plastic

I've recently taken up a new hobby. It's so much fun. I write letters to people and they write back. I'm talking for reals paper notes, put into an envelope, stamped and sent through the increasingly unreliable Canada Post.

You may ask why I write letters that take two weeks to get to their destination when email is so much quicker. I have several good reasons that I would like to outline here.

Reason Number ONE: EVERYONE loves to get mail. I'm not talking junk mail or flyers (although I do enjoy a good flyer myself.) When your grandma sends you a card with 5 bucks in it for your birthday you can't tell me that you don't get a little excited. To see your name handwritten on that envelope you know its something more than just another bill or credit card application. It's one of life's little thrills!

Reason Numero dos: How many emails have you saved for years for the sentiment that they keep? How many cards/letters did your grandparents save? Maybe in the future our children will save love IM's in their hope hard drives. I personally love the thought of saving a letter and digging it out to reread the words and re-feel the emotions that they stir. I have so many lovely letters and cards of encouragement that I've received over the years. One day I'll add the love letters of a great romance to that sacred pile.

Le Reason troisieme: To write a letter is a sacrificial act. You must change the way you think because the way we dash off emails these days will not suffice for a well written letter. You must write legibly so your reader can read it and, of course, with typing these days the art of cursive writing has really gone the way of the dinosaur. And finally you must spend actual money to buy a stamp. Not an easy feat in this day where speed and efficiency are valued higher than personal contact.

And lastly...

Are you ready for this?




.........Anticipation........ It's so exciting! Remember that feeling I mentioned earlier of when you receive a letter in the mail? How about sending one and knowing that the person on the other end will be just as excited to receive yours! Then you get to wait on tenterhooks till you get a letter back. Thrilling!

So, am I leading a mass boycott on email and suggesting that everyone flood their local post office with letters on a daily basis? No, I'm merely suggesting that a handwritten note dropped in the mail now and then could really uplift someone and maybe be a good exercise for you too. You'll have beautiful love notes to share with your children and grandchildren in the future. You might encourage some wonderful correspondence.

If you want a pen pal, email me and we'll hook it up! I'm an excellent pen pal. I love to receive love notes and letters via mail so share the love!

Sincerely yours,

Saturday, 13 August 2011


I had the pleasure of being unemployed for about three and a half weeks this summer. It wasn't lazy unemployment. I moved from Toronto back to my hometown of Winnipeg. I reviewed Fringe Festival shows for Ignite 107 which was a blast! Then I took a couple of days vacation before embarking on the dreaded job hunt. I printed 50 resumes with the intent of pounding the pavement for as long as it took to find a job that would be the right fit for me and my school schedule. As providence would have it I got a job at the first place I applied on the spot! Wahoo, no more traipsing about the city. (and a lot of high quality scrap paper.)

And so I've recently begun working as a server at Canadian Chain Restaurant (name changed to protect blogger). CCR is your standard corporate restaurant with a nice long menu to memorize, drink specials every day and a ton of staff. Also there is a nice looooong training period. At the risk of sounding super arrogant (which I'm not, I swear) I'm a pretty good server and a quick learner. I did NOT want to go through all the crazy stupid training stuff they were going to make me go through. I just wanted to get out onto the floor with a bunch of tables and start rollin' in the cash.

Maybe it's because I've been praying for patience a lot lately because my first couple of shifts certainly seemed like tests. Not only had I been off my feet in a real way for almost a month so my dogs were barkin' but I also had to put up with know-it-all 19 year-olds training me. I know, I'm a martyr.

Shift three comes along and lo and behold they are letting me have TWO whole tables to myself to serve and take care of for the night. Easy peasy. I get their drinks and take their orders and promptly punch them in...COMPLETELY INCORRECTLY! Miss High And Mighty (me) screws up within seconds of getting a little responsibility. I'm grateful they didn't know my attitude because my manager was gracious and so was the table.

I learned an important lesson that day. I learned that training has a purpose and to try and jump ahead or think that you know better gets you into trouble. A scuba diver with no training quickly becomes a scuba sinker. If you don't train and are not in shape to climb a mountain you could die on the way up and never get the beautiful view from the top.

SO Lesson #1: Don't skip over the lessons you learn in your life because you are going to need that knowledge later.