Fifty-Five. Hiatus.

So apparently it’s been over two years since I last posted something. How shameful. I’m sorry.

I suppose it sometimes takes losing something to realize how much you value it.

I love writing and I have missed it. I have been writing more recently, but I’ve been keeping my thoughts to myself in my journal. I’d like to get back to our coffee dates so I can share the things I’m learning and experiencing.

So what’s been going on the last two years…?

Good question.

Not a whole lot.

After I graduated from Carleton (which was more than two years ago, I know), I found full-time work fairly quickly, I stayed with that company for a little over ten months. I had been applying to other jobs while I was working there but nothing stuck. Then I applied to the City and after I was laid off from my job due to the company losing a major contract, I started working full-time again about three months later.

After one year in my administrative assistant position, I applied for a caseworker position, and here I am now!

That was a super brief overview 😛

In terms of romantic relationships – still nothing to report there. Kind of sad… but I’m actually fine with it. I’m awesome even on my own, and most guys are just too dumb to see it and realize they want this to be a part of their lives as well 😉

I haven’t had much chance to travel recently, unfortunately. The downside of having a full-time job… is working full time and not having vacation. But now that I’ve completed a full year with the City, I do have vacation time so I have some fun trips planned for this year.

I’ll be going to California in May for a friend’s wedding! I’m very excited, because I absolutely LOVE weddings and this one should be something special and beautiful! I’m so happy for my friend and her family ❤

Then I’ll be going to Israel for two weeks in October with my friend. We’ll visit some of my family but it’ll be her first time there so I’ll show her some of the coolest spots for history, faith, photography, food, etc… Not that I’m an expert or anything, I’ve just been there four times before. Don’t get me wrong, I love it every time, but I’m not as excited by all the new sights anymore. It should be a lot of fun to be with someone experiencing the amazing Holy Land for the first time though, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Other future plans include the potential of a podcast! My friend and I will chat about various, specific topics. Hopefully we can actually do it and that’ll be something else for everyone to enjoy.

And personally, well, that’s where the most growth has happened in the last two years – I had to be doing something somewhere!

In a nutshell, I had a new struggle with mental health. I was forced to learn some hard life lessons, and face some uncomfortable truths.

To elaborate somewhat, basically, I’ve dealt with tough bouts of anxiety before but they were usually mild, short-lived, and well-managed. As the years went on, things got a little worse to the point of having debilitating panic attacks a couple times. Then, starting in October, there were incidents at work coupled with complicating factors in other areas of my life which built up to a mental breakdown last month.

Life can be so painful.

You need strong, supportive people in your corner.

At some points, I felt I didn’t have that.

Thankfully, I’m in a much better place now, though it took some work.

I had to accept that I needed help. I told my family, I went to my doctor, I was seeing a counselor…

I had to admit the things that were truly bothering me, such as lack of control, feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and isolation, feelings of failure, feelings of guilt, etc…

I had to find new ways to cope with everything that was swirling around in my mind preventing me from sleeping and causing the cycle to continue getting worse.

So now I journal more, I’m more honest with myself and others, I redirect my thoughts to be more positive.

And I’ve definitely grown closer with the Lord.

I’ve had to lean on Him so much more in the last few months than I have in a while. I’m reading my Bible more, I’m praying more, and I’m trying to listen more. I’m trying hard to hear when He’s correcting me.

That’s hard. Humbling yourself sucks.

But it’s also so good.

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about this too much more now – maybe we can grab a real coffee sometime and I’ll give you some more details about this part of my life.

For now, I will thank those of you who have been patient with me for sticking around and waiting for something new. Feel free to share, or don’t, but I hope to start writing again so I don’t think the next post will have to wait another two years.

I want to write books, so I have to get back into the habit of writing!

Haha.

Well, goodbye for now readers.

God loves you.

Be blessed.

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Fifty-Four. Blessed.

I have my share of complaints about the world. I think we all do, and I think that’s ok.

But I also think it’s worth acknowledging problems and moving on from there instead of dwelling on negative thoughts.

Easier said than done.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

What an important reminder, but it can be a major challenge some days.

Many people know I started a new job recently. I have a lot of complaints now–about my schedule (I’m out of the house for 10 hours!), about people who can be difficult to work with, about not getting paid enough, about being tired all the time–and sometimes it might seem that I don’t like my job or that I’m not happy with where I am in life.

That’s simply not true.

It’s not the ideal job, I’ll admit. I’m not doing what I love. But there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for.

The very fact of being employed is something worth celebrating. My coworkers are lovely people who laugh and share and make my day brighter. I even have the opportunity to be creative and play with graphics for social media! (I’ll be posting my creations on a separate page.)

I complained that the cost of my bus pass went up but thank God I’m employed and can still afford it, and it has allowed me to ride previously express routes so it can sometimes be a little easier to get to work. (*It still takes a long time and I was perfectly satisfied with paying less than express pass people and only using the 95… but that sentiment didn’t fit the tone of this post.)

I complain ceaselessly about winter, and while I still can’t find anything good to focus on about this awful season (the snow stops being pretty when it’s on the ground), I can be extremely thankful that my parents are as wonderful and generous as they are. I’m so blessed by them, especially this season because I hate spending money on myself, even for things that are necessary, but they love me and want to make sure I’m dressed appropriately for the harsh weather we experience daily. My coat was old and ugly, didn’t fit my arms, the hood didn’t cover my head properly and the pocket was ripping, so my mom bought me a gorgeous new coat for an obscene price (although apparently good coats can actually cost more than $200 so maybe I should be thankful mine was less!). My winter boots are falling apart so I’ve been wearing fall boots and while I can layer socks to keep my feet warm, I can’t keep them from getting soaked. So my dad took me to buy new winter boots, again pricey, but now I’m comfortable, warm, dry and I can be thankful for all of that.

Constantly reminding ourselves of all the bad things we experience might feel therapeutic in the moment, we might feel a righteous anger and therefore justified in our complaints – and likely, they are completely valid issues that should be addressed – but I’d like to challenge myself to spend more time and energy being thankful for the good things.

Complaining usually won’t solve the problem anyway (although sometimes if you talk to the right person, they might be able to change something for you), but it will bring your mood down and it can rob you of joy.

At least it has for me before.

Listen, winter is terrible, but it does end eventually. And perhaps all it’s good for is helping us appreciate the other seasons more. But can you imagine spending 6 months making yourself miserable by thinking only about how awful this season is? Is that going to make it any less disgusting? Is that going to speed up time so it passes more quickly? (*Winter is officially only three months long according to the calendar, but it definitely lasts longer in practice… but not always 6 months… sometimes it’s even more!)

I’m thankful we have the freedom to complain, but I’m even more thankful for the endless blessings I experience daily and for the opportunities God gives us to rejoice and praise Him.

Be blessed and know you are loved.

Fifty-Three. Reality.

Time to get back in the game.

I haven’t written in far too long. At first, I was super busy, but then “not writing” became a habit. A bad habit.

Now I feel like it’s time to get back to my own reality – one which includes more writing.

Since I’ve graduated university, I’ve been thinking about the future, and what I’d like to do for work, or even just in general with my life.

I keep coming back to the same conclusions, I want a family, and I want to write.

Neither of those come easily though, so in the meantime, I have to find another job.

But I also have to write!

I have so many ideas for books (I even have an idea to open a publishing company!) but the reason so many people say “author is just another word for unemployed” is because writing with a purpose actually does take a lot of time, effort and dedication, and often there really isn’t room for much else.

People who live full lives tend to have a lot of responsibilities and therefore not a whole lot of time, but if you’re using your time well and enjoying the moments you can, at the end of the day, when you’re winding down, you can feel good about what you’ve accomplished – even if it wasn’t 100% of your to-do list.

There are also different seasons in life when your load will likely change.

The important thing is to take stock of the things you have to do, want to do, and can actually do. And if there’s something you want to do but it doesn’t necessarily fit into your current available time, you might have to make some decisions about what to cut out. If I want to write, I might have to pencil in an hour block of time where I can concentrate on that.

None of that was news.

It was just something on my heart as I’m in this season of transition.

The most important thing I’m working on right now is trust.

Trusting God to provide everything I need in this uncertain time of my life. I may not have an actual job right now, but I need to actively look for work, and I need to devote time and effort to the projects I’ve accepted to take on. I also have to maintain good habits of reading the Bible and praying daily.

I need to trust in God’s timing, provision and direction. I’m thankful to know that He is faithful.

Honestly, He does listen to prayer and He does answer, and it’s been wonderful to see it happen again and again in my own life. In particular, three days ago, I had a rough day, I was feeling very discouraged but I kept praying about it, and the very next day felt so much better. All of a sudden, I was seeing things more positively, I had a lighter heart, I was more focused and I just felt an inexplicable peace.

Anyway, this was just a short note to update my friends and family, to help ease me back into writing and to see if anyone’s still reading my thoughts.

I hope God blesses each and every one of you, and I want to encourage you to pray through whatever issues you’re facing.

No matter what season you’re in, no matter what responsibilities you bear, the King of the Universe, the Creator, our Lord and Savior, desperately wants you to run into His arms to seek comfort and peace and strength in Him. He is listening, He does care.

Fifty-two. Growth.

Nothing earth-shattering today friends…

…just truth that has been hitting me over and over again.

It’s been two weeks into the new year and so far, I’ve been doing well with my daily bible readings — thanks, YouVersion 😉 — and my little daily devotional reading. It’s been such a blessing to actually take time to read God’s Word every day.

I remember when I tried to do this before, and it was a chore. I was doing it by myself, I felt like it was just something that had to be done, it took up too much time…

Now, it’s actually such a joy.

My perspective has completely changed about daily Bible reading.

I’ve been really convicted to work on personal growth right now. And I’ve been praying about joy.

Joy isn’t the same as happiness, it’s not a temporary feeling but a state of being, and it’s something I desperately wanted to feel when connecting with God through reading His Word by myself.

For people who know me, you know I love to be with others so I get intense joy from corporate worship and fellowship and studying together, but I was struggling with trying to read and study and my own.

Right now though, it’s actually something I look forward to every day! I am absolutely loving it. I do feel joy when I’m meeting with God in this way!

The scriptures are so rich and every time you read a verse, God can reveal something new and mind-blowing to you (even if other people aren’t quite as impressed) and it’s exciting!

Sometimes I’ll read something I’ve read a hundred times before but something new will stand out to me, or will confuse me, and I’ll go look it up to see what others have said. Like the story of Noah’s nakedness when he curses Canaan, because of what his own son, Ham, had done. (Genesis 9:20-27)

It’s helpful, too, to have external encouragement from friends 🙂

Also, I picked up a book this week that I have not been able to put down (perhaps to the detriment of my school studies…)

It’s called Loveology, it’s by John Mark Comer and it’s great!

Seriously, pick up a copy (I’m borrowing mine from the OPL). [Also, a bit of self-promotion here, I’ve been so impressed by this book, I’ve instagrammed a few pages (among other great photos!) and you should check me out 😉 ]

Anyway, it’s a book about God, Love, Marriage, Sex, etc… and everything that goes along with that including waiting, and singleness.

Without going into all the convicting things in the book, the idea that struck me was how much time we spend on listing the qualities we expect out of a potential spouse, but we tend not to think too much about becoming that kind of person ourselves.

That’s why I’m so excited to devote more time and energy and effort into growing in my own relationship with the Lord.

Hopefully I’ll become a better person.

Anyway, this was another short one, just to encourage you to invest in your relationship with Christ.

Love you! God bless!

Fifty-one. January 1, 2016: How do you spend your time?

Hello friends,

I haven’t forgotten about my little corner of the internet, I just haven’t been writing much lately.

But I want to get back into it.

I also want to dedicate more time to Bible study and personal growth.

I don’t want to call it a New Year’s resolution, but firsts of Januaries seem to be good times to start new healthy habits.

Devotional Books

These are some of the books I have that are supposed to help people develop daily habits of reading and applying God’s Word.

So I’m going to try it again.

But this time I’m working with my best friend 🙂

Anyway, so today we started with the women’s friendship devotional (the first book in the picture) and the quote they used is really lovely

Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible. – Corrie ten Boom

The devotional thought they shared was about building faith and being in a relationship with Christ. They also mentioned the many women in the Bible who were a “cloud of witnesses who went before us.”

Besides this devotional, I recently got a smartphone and downloaded the YouVersion Bible app. They offered a daily Bible reading plan for a year, so I started that today as well, and shared my thoughts with my friend. The first chapter was Psalm 1 which is only 6 verses long, but verse 3 really struck a chord.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season; his leaf shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. – Psalm 1:3 (KJV)

We’ve both read this passage before but this morning (afternoon) what stood out to us was that he would “bring forth fruit in his season” – as in, not ALL THE TIME.

This got us talking about being “too busy” and often adding more busy-ness into our lives just for the sake of appearing active. But in all our running around, we don’t devote time to reading and meditating on the Word. We’re always ready to do more fun stuff but when it comes time to do something vital to our spiritual health, we’re more loathe to do it… the world doesn’t reward it and excuses are easy to make up on the spot!

So we were really convicted that we need to learn to slow down sometimes and to read the Bible for the sake of reading His Word and connecting with our heavenly Father – not for show or to seem more spiritual, but because we genuinely want to grow in our faith and relationship with the Creator. There was so much more we discussed as well, but I’ll leave it at that.

So, while I can’t promise I’ll write every day, I do hope to share some short thoughts more often that will come from my daily readings, either from the devotional book, or from the Bible-in-a-year plan.

What will you strive to do in this new year?

Thanks for reading friends!

God bless you.

PS: This was such a short post compared to my previous ones! Happy New Year!

Delicious drink makes excellent gift (or treat)

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My Sahlab order :)

My Sahlab order 🙂

Check them out, help out a good cause and enjoy some delicious Sahlab! It tastes like a warm hug 😉

Fifty. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

Today is my last day of freedom (for a while anyway) and this one is hitting harder than all the ones before because I’m coming out of a fantastic summer. That’s why I was thinking about Ecclesiastes today.

I’m passing from one season to another (both literally and figuratively) and it’s scary.

But I want to take some time to praise God for the amazing experiences I had this summer.

First, anyone who knows me knows I love the summer because I’m out of school so I’m less stressed, I get to work and I love my job, and I get to travel and see my family. This summer delivered on all counts!

Mom, Dad, uncle Dima, aunt Julia, cousin Jessica and Elizabeth (in the front)

Mom, Dad, uncle Dima, aunt Julia, Jessica and Elizabeth (in the front)

In June, my parents and I went to Pennsylvania. We were staying around the Pocono Mountains and Shawnee Valley area. My aunt, uncle and two cousins from New Jersey came to see us (and we went on a hiking trail), and we took a few side trips too. We went to Philadelphia (we’ve been before, but it was still cool) and an awesome sculpture park.

Jessica, and Alex with Liza on his shoulders :)

Jessica, and Alex with Liza on his shoulders 🙂

At the end of our trip we went to see their new house in New Jersey and my brother even joined us 🙂

At the end of June and into the beginning of July, we had our annual cottage week with our family friends. This year we were at Charleston lake.  Two of my best friends joined us for a few days, and my brother came by too.

The couples: Khaviches, Urievs, Ghazals - all relaxing by the lake

The couples: Khaviches, Urievs, Ghazals – all relaxing by the lake

I actually stayed in Ottawa for pretty much all of July but I got to spend lots of time with the best people. Two of my best friends were in Ottawa, and one of my other best friends came to spend a weekend with us. We shared a lot of laughs and became inseparable!

In August we went to Las Vegas and I got to celebrate my 22nd birthday there. People are often shocked to hear about my family going to Vegas so often because it’s known as Sin City but there’s plenty you can do there without getting into any trouble too. Like meeting up with family friends, seeing fantastic shows, eating amazing food and marvelling at the gorgeous (and extravagant) hotels!

This is indoors!

This is indoors!

Also indoors

An indoor waterfall

An indoor waterfall

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Seeing Terry Fator (AGT)!

Souvenir pictures from Pampas

Souvenir pictures from Pampas

I’m really grateful my parents value travelling. We’re able to see the world, experience culture and adventure, create memories and spend quality time together. Life won’t always be like this, so I’m happy for the time we have.

As soon as we got back from Las Vegas, Lindsey and I joined Justine at her family’s cottage on Belmont Lake, in Havelock, ON. The girls surprised me for my birthday with delicious cupcakes by the fire.

11866385_995967960455017_345829462079769578_nWe slept under the stars (literally took our sleeping bags and slept outside on the deck), went to Toronto to see a Blue Jay’s game (Lindsey’s and my first baseball game ever!) and laughed way too much. I always have such a good time with these women. 11850618_10155996787990714_37859395553056815_o
3296Romans

Our next trip was a combination trip, but my brother came with us for the whole thing! We drove to Washington, D.C. at night-time (easier for my dad, who’s used to working at night) but stopped in New Jersey to leave my dog with our family. My grandparents from Israel came to visit for a few weeks and were staying with my aunt and uncle. After a quick rest there, we drove on to the capital of the U.S.

My brother and I took a few tours together and went to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum (that has been on my bucket list for a very long time!) before joining my parents for the rest of our touring time. We went to an incredible spy museum, saw and heard so much, walked way too much and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

With my brother and my mom in front of the White House

With my brother and my mom in front of the White House

After three and a half days in D.C. (we were actually staying in Alexandria, VA though) we joined the rest of our family for a reunion in Naples, NY. We had a great time relaxing at the cottage there, swimming in the pool, hiking along a river (and trying not to die as we jumped from slippery rock to slippery rock across fast-moving water!) and just generally enjoying some time to catch up with relatives from around the world.

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I’m so thankful for the time I got to spend with family and friends, the new places I got to see, the experiences I was able to have, and all the laughs and fun memories that will last forever. I’m so thankful for such a full and wonderful summer, for health and joy and peace, for the beauty of life.

And I need to hold onto these happy times as I’m heading into a scary time.

I’ve been taking swimming lessons this summer and tonight is my last one – so I’ll be tested to see if I’ve learned enough. I guess that’s not particularly scary. It’s actually been fun, even if a little embarrassing. But any kind of test is stressful.

Tomorrow though, I have my first day of classes in my last year of school. I’m looking at my schedule and some of my classes fill me with fear and dread. I feel like I’m doing this alone because my best friends aren’t at school with me.

I have to focus on the blessings in my life though, and praise God through all the storms I’ll face over the next eight months. I’m going in as a different person than I was last time around and I know I’ll come out changed again.

Whatever is coming, I’m glad I have the Lord guiding me through and the support of family and friends around me (even if they’re not going through it with me right now).

I hope that whatever kind of summer you’ve had, whatever is about to come around for you, any new jobs, locations, or a new stage in life, or maybe you feel stuck, remember that there is a time for everything.

I’ve just come out of a season of fun and freedom, of friends and family and I’m heading into a season of hard work and stress but through it all, I will praise the Lord! I hope.

God Bless!

(PS, check back, album links will be coming… hopefully. And yes, Ireland is still in the works.)

Forty-Nine. I’m not dead!

As I often must, I’ll start with an apology. It has been over two months since my last post. I knew November would be hectic and I knew I’d likely not post anything, but I had so many ideas for December…

Anyway, that’s in the past, I got busy, I’m sorry.

So what have I been up to? Well school mostly.

I had a tough semester, and I felt very busy throughout the entire 3 1/2 months.

But I finished surprisingly well.

I know it was God blessing me far beyond what I deserve because I know what I was like on those final assignments and my exam… I was there, but only as a shell. I did work hard, but I was so tired, conventional thinking would suggest that I shouldn’t have been able to perform.

I also know I wasn’t alone in that boat though. Many, if not all, students feel completely exhausted by the end of a semester. They’ve come to the end of their abilities. I’m so thankful I didn’t have to rely solely on my own abilities.

When I’m in a tough spot with school work, I always pray that God would give me peace. I ask that He would help me remember the things I already know. I ask for favor with whoever will be marking my work as well. But mostly I thank Him that no matter the outcome, I am loved, I am valued and that I’m not defined by academic success – it doesn’t change who I am.

But not all students turn to God in those times.

I would encourage everyone to do that, not just students but anyone going through any kind of trial.

Anyway.

Back in August I decided to pay more attention to my daily walk with God. I realized that at 21 I’m responsible for my own choices, my own actions and I would be held accountable for my own relationship with my Creator. I couldn’t ignore Him but expect to grow and learn and change…

As often happens with resolutions, I was strong for awhile, but eventually I stopped being so intentional.

For two months I read and wrote nearly every day but I don’t have many reflections in my notebook from October. I still read, but not as often and not carefully.

Then I decided to follow along with Calvary – the new church I started attending in September – reading one chapter of the Bible every day, starting in Genesis and going right through. I started in Joshua.

I have definitely noticed an incredible increase in the ways in which God blesses every area of my life.

I can only attribute this to intentionally pursuing a deeper relationship with Him.

Since then, I’ve also added another part to my daily devotions. “Coffee with God,” a daily devotional by Sarah Arthur, has been a great way to start my time with the Lord by giving me something to think about. She writes her thoughts on something and I can respond in my own journal.

I’ve really loved spending more intentional time with God.

In other news, Church on Wednesday, a new initiative that started in September at the University of Ottawa was hugely successful, and this semester they’ve started Church on Thursday as well, at Algonquin College. I’m very excited about both of these chances to meet with other believers and to worship the Lord in public ways on post-secondary campuses where perhaps God hasn’t been welcome.

Basically, my life looks like classes Mon-Wed, and going to church four evenings a week, Wed-Sat.

I love it!

One time, back in either first or second year, I was challenged to think about how I spend my time. There are only so many hours in a week (168, thanks Google!) and some things are unavoidable. People need to sleep (I’m told there’s a hoped-for six hour minimum) people need to eat… and people need to be people (ie, bathroom times and other hygienic things, time to just be, time to move (and other transportation/commuting), time to think, etc). For students there’s also a minimum of in-class hours and of course time for homework, studying, or in the case of journalism students, running around the city interviewing people! (The alternative would be people who work instead of go to school.) Then there are also other commitments or volunteering things people might be involved in and of course hobbies… etc.

With so many demands on our time, it can be hard to see how God fits in. That’s why many people are content with going to church once a week and they feel good about their block of time so that God makes an appearance for like three hours during their week.

The challenge to me was, if we say we love God so much, if we say we shouldn’t compartmentalized Him and put Him in a “church-only” box, but that He should be present in every part of our lives, if we say we owe Him everything… then why does He only get three of our 168 per week? Now some people do a little better and will hopefully find one hour each day to spend time alone with God (although that was sorely lacking in our little experimental survey of the students at the table).

I realized that I didn’t want that life.

Knowing that God desires to spend time with me, I really wanted to get to know Him more, to let Him into more of my life.

That’s why I’m trying to get involved. That’s why I’m trying to be intentional.

It’s not easy.

It’s not something I can do on my own.

And I’m not perfect, so it’s not something I can promise to achieve 100% all the time.

But thankfully there is grace in Him.

There is forgiveness in Him.

There is LOVE.

All I can say is that I’ve been so blessed. I’m discovering things in the Bible I thought I knew but hadn’t read in so long, or, in some cases, hadn’t read at all myself. I certainly feel like I’ve grown and leaned and changed for the better.

I often talk about part of my transformation occurring in throughout first and second year of university, but does God ever stop working on us? Has He ever completed His work on someone and left them to wander the earth as seemingly perfect creatures? I don’t think so! When He’s done working in us, He calls us home!

So while I’m still here, every day of my life is a living testimony of His goodness, of His love, of His healing, of His transformation, of His restoration… He is constantly at work.

But He can’t work if you won’t let Him in.

He can’t work if you reject Him and push Him away or enclose Him in a box.

You need to open yourself up to Him in all areas. You need to let Him have your time and your heart. He needs you to want Him, so that He can meet you and begin to better you.

I don’t know if that can help anyone… I mean, who am I to share this kind of stuff?

All I can do is share my story, my experience… All I can do is encourage each person to make good choices. God is always the right choice, the best choice.

That’s all for now friends. Hopefully it won’t be another two months before my next post.

God bless!

Forty-Eight. Recovery.

I had a goal to write two posts per month. I like fulfilling my promises.

Well, October has been intense.

I’ve had so many assignments, and an increase in my own activities that it’s been hard to keep up. I slept a lot less, I was home a lot less, I lost track of time, but I had a lot of fun too!

I started going to a new church about two months ago and I decided quite quickly that I like it. The people are great, it’s nice to be with more young adults and there are lots of kids!!

That’s probably my favorite thing about this new church, that I’m able to serve God by doing what I love and what I was called to do.

Last week was my first time helping out. It was hectic because it was an”extended service” so we had more kids than usual, for longer than anyone’s used to. There were a lot of new faces, including me as a new teacher/helper. It wasn’t perfectly smooth, but everyone survived and we all had a good time.

My TV class has also been keeping me very busy. My partner and I have to co-ordinate with each other and whoever we’re filming to get enough material for our pieces. It’s been fun, but also stressful.

My other classes are labor intensive too. I’m in a fascinating literature course, but I have to read tough books in French pretty quickly. And do the essays. My political science course is really reading-focused, as well as having essays to write and a group presentation to plan. And my other journalism course started out as one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever had to deal with.

It might not sound so bad – we all had to write a 500-600 word story every two weeks for a community newspaper – but with the number of people working within our particular constraints, it was a lot harder than anyone expected! There was a collective sigh of relief when that weight came off our shoulders. [The semester was split into two parts, and for us, the practical aspect came first, so we’re now in the ethical part of the course.]

I’ve tried to spend some quality time with friends too, and of course some down time to remember to relax every once in awhile. I went to a butterfly exhibit on campus with two girlfriends and I have been spending an awful lot of time at Shawarma Palace with all the new friends I’ve made in the last two months (at least 50 new people) as well as a few house parties.

Between life, those classes, the new church, Church on Wednesday (a new gathering that started in September to have a church service and fellowship time mid-week) and social stuff, I’ve also gotten more involved in some activism for causes I believe in.

I care a lot about life.

Everyone knows I love children, but I’m also passionate about saving the unborn. So this month I participated in a beautiful display on Parliament Hill to plant 100,000 pink and blue flags. The lawns looked gorgeous, but it was also a very sad display because each flag represented and aborted child. It gave me a lot of hope too though because there were so many young people there!

Flag Display, Parliament Hill. Photo from ARPACanada, via Facebook

Flag Display, Parliament Hill.
Photo from ARPACanada, via Facebook

 

Tomorrow I’ll be participating in a campaign called “40 Days for Life” by praying silently outside an abortion clinic.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading on pornography, another cause I care about.

I’ve started a special initiative, for myself but anyone can join me, about bus prayer. I waste a lot of time riding the bus everywhere (I’ve been finding myself downtown way more than I’d like to) and some people talk kind of loudly about various things in their lives. Whether they’re chatting to neighbors or on the phone, you don’t have to be listening intently to hear about their struggles.

I don’t know anyone names and I don’t bother them but I make a mental note to pray for them when God opens my eyes, ears and heart to understand their brokenness and pain. One woman, I call her the purple-haired girl, was telling her friend about a trusted friend who raped her at a party and how seeing him still made her uncomfortable and brought back painful memories. Other girls were talking about a secret abortion clinic operating in what looks like a Curves gym/store.

So I pray for these people.

In all of that busyness I do get tired but I try to focus on bringing glory to God in all that I do.

Sometimes though, it can be hard to recover. Either by going from an extremely relaxed atmosphere to a fully packed one, or vice versa.

I feel that that has happened to me.

Last year, while I was in Belgium, the school system was very different and I didn’t have assignments or readings throughout the year. So it was very relaxed. I also didn’t volunteer and had far fewer responsibilities.

This year, starting in September, I was thrown into a very stressful and busy school year as well as getting myself involved in all kinds of things.

Neither extreme is really good, and both have positives and negatives to them.

But the recovery is tough.

there are all kinds of recoveries we might have to go through in life. After a surgery or illness there’s a recovery period. After travelling there’s a different kind of recovery period. Sometimes it’s easy, like switching time zones, for me. But sometimes it can be incredibly difficult, and even disheartening.

After medical issues, the best tool for recovery is usually time. [I hear laughter helps too.]

But sometimes you don’t have time to make an adjustment when your life takes a dramatic turn and changes quickly from one pace to another.

You hit the ground running and you have to catch up with yourself but you can feel your feet flying out from under you!

Throughout any period though, one thing remains constant.

God.

He loves you.

No matter what you’re going through, whether you’re busy or completely relaxed, whether you’re feeling 100% healthy or even if you know you’re dying, He is there, He loves you and He is the only One you can count on.

I needed to call on Him for strength and stamina, for focus, for time-management, for confidence, and for grace if/when I might fail.

You can too.

Whatever you  might be recovering from, whatever you might be going through, don’t do it alone.

I hope this can be as encouraging to someone as it was and is for me.

God bless!

Forty-Seven. Simplicity and Steadfastness.

Recently, life has been very busy. A lot of assignments have been due, a lot of events have been going on and I don’t feel like my life is simple anymore.

I’m always juggling things, I’m sacrificing one thing (like sleep) for other things (like writing essays), and all the different choices are tough too.

Life is complicated.

But I suppose that’s how it should be.

When life is complicated, we appreciate the simple things so much more.

Recently I’ve been having a few conversations with different people about writing. Not only do I write essays for school – I am studying journalism and literature after all – but I also love to write, as evidenced by this blog, and I appreciate language, I love sophisticated vocabulary and complex (but properly used!) grammar is exciting.

But not every sentence has to have 53 ideas crammed into and not every word needs to be the most obscure thesaurus entry for what you’re actually trying to say.

In fact, when you’re writing for others especially, your sentences should only have one idea in them and you need to use the best word to accurately describe what you’re trying to explain.

Make sure you understand your own thought.

Make sure you’re being clear and straightforward.

“Simple” is not a bad word.

There seems to be a stigma against using simple words and writing simple sentences. I don’t know why people think that as university students they have to prove how much better they are than high school students, for example. You should always be getting smarter, yes, and you should be growing your vocabulary and your techniques as you learn. But if you can’t fit all 87 words into a sentence that makes sense, don’t!

Just break it up.

If people can’t understand what you’re trying to say, they won’t be seeing your fancy words, they will think you’re trying to cover something up. Either you don’t really know what you’re talking about, and you’re just as confused as they are, or else you think you’re too good to explain things to the likes of them.

I had a teacher once who knew their subject. They REALLY knew it. But they forgot that the students they were teaching weren’t at the same level. They went too quickly, used unfamiliar words and concepts and seemed unsympathetic to people who couldn’t keep up. It’s hard to understand new things sometimes. Experts need to remember that they didn’t always know everything.

I had another teacher who also knew their subject better than anyone would ever need to know anything. But they were so good building up the students. they gave the basics first and made sure everyone got those concepts before moving on and building in the next part. They did what teachers are supposed to do, teach.

I think we need to do that same when we’re writing or speaking. The point of communication is to communicate, but that’s a two-way street. Someone puts out an idea and someone takes in that idea. If person A meant to say “apple” but person B understood “orange,” there was a breakdown in communication. It could be person B’s fault, but if you are person A, make sure you tried to convey your idea is the best way possible.

One of my journalism professors this semester has two rules for us in our writing.

1. NEVER use the word “very.” He wasn’t very tired, he was exhausted.

2. Don’t use the word “and” to make your sentence longer and more complex. (I’m kind of bad at this one.)

I wish we could all remember that.

I wish “simple” didn’t have the negative connotation is being “stupid.” Simple is not stupid. Simple is effective. Simple is kind. Simple is beautiful.

When I started writing this post, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to talk about, but something else came up too.

Going back to “when life is complicated, we appreciate simple things,” we also appreciate steadfast things. (In case “steadfast” is a new word for you, it means, “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering” but I do touch on what I mean in the next sentence.)

 

We appreciate the things that don’t change, we appreciate the things we can trust, we appreciate the things that shine like bursts of light when we feel depressed, powerless, lost, alone, or in the dark.

When life is complicated, we can always lean on God, and while He’s not simple, He has taught us to accept a few simple truths.

1. He loves us. We don’t have to understand why, but we do have to understand that it’s unconditional.

2. He is always there for us. This one is hard for our minds to understand sometimes, but when we pray, we’re not talking to a wall or the ceiling, God is listening and He does answer. Believe that He hears you, don’t be afraid to cry out to Him.

3. He is unchanging. His love for us does not change, He does not abandon or forsake us, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

All of those concepts can be complicated when you try to unpack and understand how and why they are, but the truths there are gifts to us, and we can simply believe. There’s no test for us that asks, “Why does God love you?” or “When does God change?”

I’ve been really stressed out recently because I’ve had a lot of schoolwork to do. On Wednesdays, when my classes are over, my work isn’t, but I enjoy going to “Church on Wednesday” to meet with friends, to worship God and to get into His Word.

A few weeks ago one friend asked how my week went, and I said I was stressed and tired. He asked me two things, “Did anyone die?”

“No.”

“Is Jesus still on the throne?”

“Yes.”

“Then everything’s fine.”

He was right. In the midst of my stress, I could still look to God for strength, for peace, for comfort. He is everything.

Whatever you’re going through, remember that He is King of all.

Remember that He loves you.

Remember that He is unchanging.

Go to Him, cry to Him, lean on Him.

Anyway, that’s what has been on my heart and I wanted to share that with you, to hopefully encourage you to look at your life.

Where are you trying to complicate things?

Have you been forgetting that God loves you?

Well He does, more than I do.

God Bless,

-Rita