Sit Down, Take a Load off and Make a Sandwich with Me

Things only seem to get increasingly difficult, and this week promises to be the hardest yet, but I am holding on to the fact that God is still here. "And when all else fades, You remain." A lot is fading; tomorrow morning I get to drive one of those fading pieces to Pearson. But. Even if I were the only one left, there's still One who would be by my side. And that is enough to pull me through.


This Place Be Happenin'

Today is about realizing it's not about me.

Today was recognizing that I really am able to hear God's voice, through confirmation times two, even though I've been scared for so long that I don't.

Today is still being on track with my daily Bible reading. It's been 27 days.

Today was sadness and holding back and holding in, but not allowing my heart to harden with it.

Today I got so excited about something that I couldn't hold back the hugest smile.

I can't count on tomorrow, but today He was inscribed on the palm of my hand, too.


I'm all Out of Love, What Am I without You?

I'm not angry. I'm not bitter. I'm trapped.
If I go home: disobedience, failure.
If I stay: I fall apart.

I'm being left without a buffer.
Left without a confidante.
Left with more responsibility and less help.

I was right.
Today was a war zone.
It's not supposed to be, but that is what it has become.

And tonight...tonight I need to work through all of, of THIS, so that tomorrow I can smile and say the things I need to say and put on a brave face that says yesicanfacethisgivemeanychallengeandi'llrisetoit even though my Self keeps crying out to me youneedtoslowitdowntakeabreathsitdownforasecondandtakecareofyourselforyouwon'tmakeit.

I want want want so badly to go home.


Doom Is Imminent

Things are laughable. I just...laugh, all the time. Maybe it's being over-tired, or maybe I have simply been desensitized to things that aren't funny at all.

Tomorrow the four horsemen ride in...or something like that. I feel ill-prepared. Like the fifth lazy virgin. I wonder how many apocalyptic, end of the world, biblical analogies I can inappropriately insert in this blog. Slightly blowing the situation out of proportion? Posssssibly. Crazy scared of what tomorrow will hold? Definitely.

I'm terrified. And I feel very much alone. I know God's here and He'll help me through. I just need a good hug every once in awhile, you know? Maybe I just need to go home.


Don't Stop, Never Give Up

This last while has been hard in the extreme. But I've been learning a lot about myself and God and relating to people.

Today I had the honour of preaching at a small Filipino church which is mostly made up of youth. And, as usual, less than an hour before the service God had put something pressing on my heart and the whole thing was being re-written. The half-hour car ride from our first church was spent madly flipping through the Bible and making hurried notes. I don't know how it was received as no one really said anything afterwards, but I wasn't trying to get a good reception; the whole point was to bring them out of their comfort zones. Besides, how comfy can one be with hell and judgement and numerous "repent!"s being thrown around?

This week will be a turning point. I can feel it in the air. And I don't mean the worse than ever humidity. These changes have to be for the best; I don't know if things could really get any worse now. Please pray.


When Triumph Is still on its Way

I am failing. I don't know when it started or what I did or if I could have even prevented it had I seen it coming. Total exhaustion is imminent. Yesterday I broke and it was not pretty. The last two days feel like months. We were talking earlier about how we're less than two weeks away from celebrating our passing of the half-way mark; now I wonder if I won't be back in B.C. by then. I don't know why I came and I don't know why I'm still here. I need prayer so bad it's ridiculous. Please pray for wisdom and strength and integrity and boundless energy. I am afraid that this might be the time that breaks up me and my affair with ministry for good.

If it were up to me, I'd be done.

But this is my prayer in the battle, when triumph is still on its way: I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ so firm on His promise I'll stand, and I will bring praise.


Now that I'm Sitting Here Thinking It Through

I told someone the other day that the reason I don't blog every day while I'm here is because someone would think I have multiple personalities; my mood seems to change so drastically and so often that it may scare the faint of heart.

But today I have to, even if it's frightening. There is so much going on in my head and if I don't let it out soon I'll shut down.

Again and again it seems to be reaffirmed: "You're not wanted here. Take your gifts and shove 'em." Or something like that.

Everything is up in the air again, and I'm emotionally spent. Today is the day that the earth literally stood still; I've been up nearly 18 hours but it feels like 80. Today is day 19 and my emotional well-being has just about had it.

All day my constant prayer has been "Why God?! You sent me here and must have a purpose somewhere in the midst of all this, but it's invisible. Show me!!!! God! Reveal it! Help me because I physically do not have the strength to ______ anymore." At some points the blanks were simple like "not fall asleep at the park while watching children" or complex like "get up off the shower floor before the water turns me to mush or they break down the door because they think I'm dead."

And tomorrow scares me. This is usually the kind of dread only reserved for...I'm trying to figure out exactly what it is. Oh. The kind of dread only reserved for when I know something is about to end. I don't know what this means.


Maybe We're Better Off this Way, We're Better Off this Way

I feel like this should be one of my classic "Re:" blogs, as I have a strong feeling I had to write one like this just last year and could probably have written a dozen in the meantime.
Seventeen days ago I left for Toronto and welcomed it; the opportunity to finally change things was exactly what I needed. I have done devotions every day and worked out almost as often. I have also been working on healing my heart and allowing God to change the ugly things inside of me. As with most people I know, I am not always the person I want to be nor do I always act in accordance with the moral regulations I try my best to stand by. I am not perfect.
So. I am allowing God to change my heart and actively working at forgiving myself and others...only to find that others are not as forgiving. Rumours are going around and, as usual, no one likes to check facts. Yes some of it is probably true and I am not proud of everything I've done, but as already stated I am not perfect. I wish I could take a lot of things back but I cannot. However, I know a lot of it is not even true. And that is hard to swallow.
But...in the spirit of trying to change, in the active progression of becoming sane instead of exploding in anger, I'm just going to stop there. I get so frustrated when I am not being allowed to change. I could completely change everything about me and it wouldn't matter...but, that's okay. It has to be. I'm changing for me and changing for God. There's nothing else I can do.
Home doesn't feel like a safe place to run back to anymore.


I will Go, Lord, Send Me

Last night it finally happened. After exactly two weeks in Toronto and swallowing how hard some things have been hitting me, I couldn't hold the tears back anymore. And, as predicted, once they started it was a torrent. I know that I will survive the next seven weeks; I know that how ministry goes here will not be allowed to make or break my future; but, somehow, I cannot seem to tell my heart that.
I came here, called. I was sent, I went. Sometimes I feel as though my gifts are just sitting in front of me rotting, waiting for someone to pick them up and use them. Instead I do a lot of stuff that is still awesome and is obviously not a waste, but is not helping me stretch. I want to grow.
Maybe part of my problem is that I still have not dealt with the back home stuff yet. It is hard to conceive that when I return I will have no home church, no ministry, and no job. I also do not have a clear-cut living situation or any idea how to deal with fixing the broken things scattered through my life.
I do not know what to do.


And When All Else Fades, You Remain

I've reached a point where I cannot do anything aside from God. When I try, I am completely aware of it and immediately convicted. My heart is changing so rapidly that sometimes I have to stop myself and realize just how different I am from only a few weeks ago. My thought processes flow differently, the pattern of my heart beats to a different rhythm, and slowly the sting of hurt is being polysporined out of me. Every moment of the day is ministry or preparation for ministry or God-time or soul-searching time. Every once in awhile we watch a movie or talk about something else, but those are becoming few and far between. And I'm learning self-care.

As we earnestly seek Him, He further reveals Himself and His desires, and is faithful in answering our prayers. I'm still exhausted and need tons of prayer, but God is holding me through.


I Am Hanging on Every Single Word You're Saying

Read 2 Chronicles 16:9. Right now. I was given that verse nearly a year ago, and it spoke afresh today. God has good things to say. So read it.
Then consider this thought. Everything God says is good. The implications for us as sinful people may not be good from our perspective, but they are ultimately good. Even words of severe judgement deserve our respect and awe at their goodness.
Sometimes I wonder if people read my blog. I'm more honest on it than I am with most people I know. Sometimes I wonder if people who used to read it in the past still do sometimes, just to check in. Or maybe I just like that kind of wishful thinking.
So if you happen to be reading this spur of the moment or because you just wandered in, send me a comment. Anonymously is perfect...just to let me know I'm not entirely alone with my thoughts. And no comments will give me my answer too.
I'm so thankful I have God right now. "I'm falling even more in love with You / letting go of all I've held on to / I'm standing here until You make me move / I'm hanging by a moment here with You." Lifehouse is helping me remember just how much I love Him.
Oh, and the internship is going. Kids camps have started! Gosh I love kids.


And We Know It's Never Simple, Never Easy, Never a Clean Break

Today is a day of extreme discouragement. I didn't realize that that was the word, pressing on my chest until I can hardly breathe, until I was texting someone and it just came out. I am discouraged.

I am closer to God than I have been in months. I am serving Him again and doing my best to swallow my pride and be humble. The people who work with me would probably be amazed to know that I don't even say half the things on my mind. I am trying my darnedest to be positive and smile, laugh and nod at the correct times, but I can feel the knife blade beneath my feet beginning to slip. At some point some one will say some thing and I will lose my hold and just cry. And I won't be able to stop.

I don't want to complain or be dishonouring to those who are in authority over me. I want to have a heart after what theirs' beat for, and to support them in all their endeavours. But I'm wearing thin already. And my church, my home church for the next few months...I don't feel like they want me. Maybe they were expecting someone older or...or... well to be honest, I think they wanted a guy. I have all the experience in the world that I could ever need to do everything they ask of me and more at this church (except for my lacking in the Portuguese department), but they don't...something. Trust? Want? I don't know.

And that's just work. If all I did in my whole life was work, this would be cake. My mind and heart do so much more than work, and they just ache all over. God is in the center and all around everything I do; nothing is being held back from His scrutiny (as far as I know). But I still hurt. I am still not whole.

I don't know how to make it another 53 days.


If You Just Realize What I Just Realized

Today has been a day of introspective thought. Many things in, several things out, and most of it just circling around and around inside.

I'm getting back into a good place. Finally. But I'm still in want of some things. I still miss others. This is prep time; this is the period before things in which things still happen, but I am left waiting on the other things which may never happen.

I want to be content. I also want so much more than where I'm at right now.

I cannot find the words. The answer I need is still in someone else whose ears no longer accept questions or otherwise. And my future is all wrapped up in unknown. C.S. Lewis told me that the future is the furthest thing from heaven. I need to live now if I ever hope to get to a new now.


Your Love Is Extravagant

Today is one of those rare days that I truly feel at peace. My word for it is usually "zen" (despite the negative religious conotations) because when I say zen, I feel zen. You feel me? ...But either way you slice it, it's still peace.
It's that kind of day that comes along once, twice, three times a year - or maybe I'm just the only one who suffers from a complex that leaves me needing to be in control and unwilling to hand things off to God, despite His obviously superior skills - and just catches me by surprise.
I love surprises! But, as anyone who knows me well knows, I am extremely hard to surprise. I always wreck the surprise for myself (maybe my brain has too many synapses...or is that even possible?) because I analyze the frankincense out of every situation. I cannot just be.
But today. Oh, today. I just...was. And God surprised me. I found myself in the bathroom after a long day of work and sadness at Germany's unexpected surrender just when they were getting good at taking over (my gosh, it's a pattern!) and treadmilling to get a truffle and I was sweaty and humid and just getting out of the shower when it hit me: I am going to be okay. If I never get married and never have kids (that one came out slow and hurt a little) and never start another church...it'll be okay. I will probably cry and complain at some point, but at this moment I know it'll be alright.
"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:25,26).
Bam! Heaven isn't worth getting to if my goal isn't Him; at the end of it all, my portion of the inheritance is only Him. "And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth;" that one hits hard. To desire nothing but Him...it sounds impossible, but I get it. Not the logical me, but the soul me. Deep down I think I might be beginning to understand.


And I See You Standing There Wanting More from Me, and All I Can Do is Try

Hello, 5th day in Toronto. My, how tired you're looking already! Not getting enough sleep? Oh...working too hard, then? Hmm...then what could it be?

I'm tired. All. The. Time. It seems like every day a little more fight goes out of me and I placate myself by telling myself it's the "Christian" thing to do; church struggles usually end when the contenders forget who their General is, or one of them forgets he is a warrior at all.

I have such huge dreams for the next eight weeks! I cannot contain my enthusiasm to start things and evangelize and change lives so that I leave this place better for my being here. But...maybe my hopes are too high. Maybe I'm too white or western or unreligiousized by Bible College to truly appreciate their way of doing church. I have no problem with pews or hymns or dressing up to honour God or having services in their native tongue; however, I start to feel the below-the-surface burn when a church wants to grow but won't evangelize, wants more youth but won't relate to them, or wants a big scale revival service to start up their "life-support church" all over again instead of doing the work themselves. I am trying my very hardest not to judge, and I want to be as humble and respectful as I can. I just...I see the potential! I see the beautiful hearts in these people and the good things they desire. I want to want what they want...but I can't. I am passionate about raising up a new generation of believers who are brilliantly in love with God and who take their faith into their own hands. I cannot be okay with teenagers who believe in God because their parents do, or Christians who never pick up their Bibles or churches that are only inwardly focused. We are all the body. We are not in competition with one another. No one denomination is the be all and end all, nor does any one have perfect theology or complete knowledge of God. Maybe my problem is that I care too much.

Lately I seem to be only interested in reading from authors who wrote mainly in the '40s. C.S. Lewis is a constant book-marker, and Sunday I went with Jasmine to Chapters and bought a few books by Ray Bradbury. Oh boy, can that man ever write! One of the books is a collection of 100 of his short stories, and every single one I have read so far (5) is brilliant. I read them while I'm on the treadmill because it's motivation: if I want to read anything except the Bible, I better get exercising! It's a story called "Season of Disbelief," and follows the bitter thoughts of a seventy-two-year-old woman who cannot convince three ten-year-olds that she was once their age. She first tries telling them stories about her childhood and young adult years, but they accuse her of fibbing. She then digs through some old trunks and brings out several prized possessions from when she was young, but they steal those things away because they believe she stole them from another child. Standing in her house amongst her things, Mrs. Bentley is suddenly overcome by a memory of her late husband:

"It won't work," Mr. Bentley continued, sipping his tea. No matter how hard you try to be what you once were you can only be what you are here and now. ...You can't really prove you were ever young. Pictures? No, they lie. You're not the picture."

I like to keep things for the sake of nostalgia. That way, every once in awhile when I chance upon the item, I'll be reminded and can be transported back to who I was in that moment.

This story rocked me. God has already been working on my heart, helping me let go of the material so I can live in the spiritual. This helped. A lot. When it's hard, when I'd rather pretend to be who I used to be instead of making myself who I want to be in this moment, I'll hold on to this.

A final thought. A friend and I discussed awhile ago the want to be a certain way by a certain time to impress certain people. For example, I want my hair to be long again sooooooooo bad by September so that it'll look awesome for the start of school. These aesthetic longings only serve to make me reach for something unattainable, or else something that won't really change me or the way people look at me but will only serve to boost my ego. However. I have come to realize that the only change that matters is a heart change; people who don't like me now won't like me any more just because my hair is longer. People who hate the person I've been, including myself, won't suddenly hate me less for being less thin, more tanned, or anything else I could find on myself that needs "improving." I have to soak my heart in God for anything to mean anything. "And they became as detestable as that which they loved" (Hosea 9:10b). What I love I will become. What I have loved I have become. I'm choosing to love God again, and I'm really hoping that through it I'll begin to be a little bit more like Him, too.


The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn Is Just to Love and Be Loved in Return

So when I titled this blog I wasn't actually thinking of Ewan McGregor but, let's face it, appreciating his devastating good looks is never a bad thing.

Three days ago I arrived in Toronto (Mississauga to be more precise), and am in the process of discovering exactly what my internship is going to look like. I don't know exactly what I expected when I signed up for this in the Spring, but my current situation is definitely not it. I'm living in the basement of a wonderful woman named Sonia, along with Jasmine my fabulous cruise director, as well as another soon-to-join-us intern and the certainty of many passing-throughers who will decorate our sofas and line the edges of our blessedly cool hardwood floors. I spent my entire first day preparing crafts for the six kids camps we'll be running/prepping for over the course of the summer; thankfully I love crafts or it would have been a mega chore.

And, today, I got to meet my new home church. Igreja do Evanglho Quadrangular de Toronto is where I will do the majority of my sweating, serving, struggling, crying and, hopefully, growing over the next two months. I think the name means something like Evangelical Foursquare Church of Toronto, but that's just a wild guess...as is most of my interaction with this Portuguese church. As you may have noticed, even their website is completely in Portuguese, as is their entire service. Surprise! Oh, and I am also the happy collector of one youth. Yes, that's right, one. Either God is trying to teach me a massive lesson on the importance of "the one" and to shift my focus away from numbers, or He's giving me the chance to grow something incredible from nothing.

I'm still in the mode that says "IcandothisbecauseI'mheretoserveandGodwillhelpmeandHe'ssogoodAmen!" ...but I seriously doubt that can last long. I've been steeping myself in the Word at every possible moment, but I know that eventually exhaustion from 10-12 hour days will kick in and it will take extra effort to hold on to the goodness of God when all I see is pressure and struggle. But, for as long as this joy lasts, I am going to hold onto it with all my might and ask God to strengthen me when I am at my weakest.

If this internship doesn't make me breathe each sticky, humid breath for Him, I don't know what will.


The Roadtrip Saga: From Silence to Solace (Day 3)

My final morning of roadtripping found me too hot and too early. Knowing this part of the I-5 even with my eyes closed, I had plenty of time to think and really take stock of my current situation. Burnt out, exhausted and emotionally spent I had set out on my journey, yet now only two days later I could feel my spirit lifting. The pain and hurt and disappointment weren’t gone, but the aching emptiness was slowly being picked apart until it became ineffectual.

Nearly two years ago, the August before I began Bible college, I was in the best place I had ever been in spiritually. My faith was rock solid and I knew who I was in Christ. But it wasn’t enough; I had to go deeper. I told God both the scariest and most daring thing possible: I gave Him permission to turn my world upside down, to bring me to a place where He was central...even if it meant breaking me. And He did.

I have come to a place of near indifference. I know it all in my head, but my heart is cold. I take back what I said; He didn’t have to break me because I broke myself. And then life happened and more life and more than any life should ever see. And I have been left with a cold indifference that supposedly saves me from any more pain. But here I am. Core. There is nothing deeper. And I want Him. I want Him so bad somewhere deep down, but I am SO afraid that He’ll just continue to let me break.

And then.

For no reason at all I began singing “How He Loves Us.” I have sung that song possibly one hundred times, and suddenly I was crying uncontrollably and everything was rushing at me from a new perspective.

He is jealous for me!

afflictions eclipsed by Glory

just how beautiful You are! (california mountains at sunset kind of beautiful)

Your affection is for me

He is my prize (at the end of everything, He is what I get. amazing)

there is grace in His eyes, and it draws me to redemption

I don’t have time to maintain these regrets! (regretting takes precious time that I don’t have. seriously, Leanne, get it together!)

Life doesn’t make any more sense and I’m left with more questions than I started with, but I can take it smiling. Smiling! Brilliant.

And then I was almost taken out by a FedEx truck trying to avoid a swerving school bus.

And just outside Portland I saw my first B.C. plate since early day one, on an old blue Dodge truck. It feels like home.

Home felt like a good place to go. Talking to people...maybe not so bad.

I probably didn’t capture it very well, but this trip changed a lot of things for me. I may still be broken, like that piano. But God can still use me for beautiful music; He just needs to tune me. And I’m still in a pretty dark place, but God’s here in it. And the darkness is as light to Him.