Why'd You have to Go and Make Things So Complicated?

One of my favourite times of year is the last two weeks of August. The sun's still hot but I can feel fall creeping in. The call of school is imminent, but the ache of summer just stretches on and on. And I get to work at the PNE. I make crepes anywhere from nine to twelve hours a day for as many days as my body can take and save up some last minute money for car / school / stuff I can't avoid. It takes a toll on me physically, but emotionally it's calming; I get in my zone and things fall into place.

My universe just shifted again. I am trying desperately to find a center of gravity, something sane to hold on to, but I am coming up empty-handed.I know that God is showing me something through this whole process, but I don't think I've fully taken in what it is yet.

When the PNE ends and normal life has to begin again, I don't know what I will have left.

I feel homesick. For what? Couldn't tell you.


Home is Where Every Part of Me Is

I'm home. Oh glorious home.

Things are different. Strange, but I didn't realize my hair had grown until I saw it here. Cameron felt different. End of summer smell has settled. My brother even looks taller.

Things are the same. My parents' house smells the same. The grass feels the same underfoot. My cat loves me the same. There's calm and sanity here.

The next two weeks I'll be working like crazy and trying to hang out with as many people as possible, but it doesn't feel hectic; this is my comfort zone. But I'm worried about my state of mind and heart at the end of the two weeks. I think that the non-existence of the church will hit me fresh, and I need to be prepared for my own reaction.

Home has been where my heart has been for the last seven weeks, and I'm finally here in the flesh too. I don't want to get comfortable, th0ugh; I will not be comfortable. I will be dynamic. I will continue to be dynamic for Him.


It's All in the Growing Up

Two weeks ago when we had the missions teams from the States here visiting, on my night to have the Performing Arts team at my church I had the opportunity to share a portion of my testimony. I did not go into great detail, but was able to give a general sense of the person I have been over the past year and the places God has brought me into and through (and the places I plunged myself into). It was so awesome for God to be able to take my broken experiences and turn them around for His glory. I never saw that one coming.

For over a year now, I have been struggling with depression. It started manageable, fightable, but soon became too deep for me to handle alone. By the time my second year of Bible College started, I was a mess. I had to give up a lot of ministry I was a part of, and not let myself do the usual and load myself up with more than I could handle. Even with these steps, it only got worse and worse. And with my changing countenance came a new attitude, a selfish pity-me take on the world. If I was miserable, then I deserved to be able to do anything in my power to feel better. I had the right to it.

I made a lot of mistakes because of that attitude. Maybe mistakes isn't the right word. I chose a lot of things that I previously would have been horrified by, all in the name of treating myself. I hurt a lot of people and I hurt myself. I thought I was getting better when school ended, but when the temptation to be who I'd been during that time came back, I failed the test. I gave in with a vengeance and justified myself. Unfortunately, however, my justification means nothing in God's sight. He had to work in me, because only His change would leave a lasting impression on my heart.

I told God and told myself that if I were to ever change, Toronto would be the place. There would be none of the usual distractions and I would be able to commit to changing. Mercifully, He took me up on it. The grace He has extended blows my mind. It has only been seven weeks since I left, but He took my already shattered and mangled heart in His hands and shaped it back into something that can again bring Him glory. Everything looks different. Everything feels different. I am different.

Unfortunately, although my sins are gone and I can approach Him with confidence and knowledge that He sees me perfect, I still have consequences to deal with. Things I thought were buried with my letting go and transformation have again come to the surface and I need to face them head-on. There is no hiding, because genuine repentance brings sin to the light so it can be dealt with. So instead of being frustrated that it is here again, I will look on this as the confirmation that these past sins are being dealt with once and for all so I can truly move on with my life and walk the way He desires for me to.

In John 3 Jesus talks about how those who love their evil ways prefer the dark so that they will not be exposed. I am done with darkness. I have chosen to walk in the light, as I have now chosen to walk in integrity and have nothing to hide. And should I stumble again (as I no doubt will), I will stay standing in the light so that I can face the consequences and be forgiven again.

God, hold me accountable. Don't let me go back to that place, no matter how bad things may get. I trust that You are who You are, no matter where I am. I trust You.


I Don't Know What to Be without You Around

Tomorrow is packing and cleaning and packing and organizing and unpacking things I still need and re-packing in their place. Tomorrow is doing whatever the heck I want: sleeping when I want, eating what I want, shutting myself away from who I want. I need me time. I miss me time. Coming home exhausted at the end of a long, stressful day and falling asleep doing devotions is by no means me time.

Tomorrow is hours closer to tomorrow's tomorrow. Tuesday is final packing and weighing and sleeping in and quick good-byes and even a silly good-bye and a flight home and lots of hugs and Starbucks and my car and a bed that feels like I belong in it. Tuesday is forgetting for a minute that I ever left the land of sea and stars and ocean and real air and real water.

Today was good-byes and t-shirts and promises and frustrations and stress and McDonald's and Die Hard and making way too many moves and exhaustion and, ultimately, relief. Today was the final day of expectations.


In the End, It all Comes down to...Numbers?

As I've probably mentioned in previous blogs, I used to have serious anger issues in high school. I literally could not control my rage at times. It's taken a huge softening of my heart to get me to here, a place where I might get frustrated or hurt or passionate about disrespect to another, but it takes a heck of a lot to get me angry...especially on my own behalf.
Today, I found myself angry. Still hurt, still questioning why God brought me here...and, finally, angry. It has slowly been washed away throughout the day, but I was amazed both to find myself that angry and that it took so long to become so. There are certain things I will not stand for, that my heart and integrity will not let pass before me without inflicting (what I hope is) righteous anger.
But. Still. I'm asking God to take it away. I will not leave here bitter; I will not leave here angry. That is not who I am, and that is certainly not who He has called me to be.
Only 62 hours to go.
Only 62 hours to go.
Only 61 hours to go.


Wham, Bam, Thank You Toronto!

Tomorrow is the last day of VBS day camps, and then I'm done. Finished. I fly out on Tuesday, exactly two weeks earlier than first anticipated, but I think I've taken all that I can from my personal glean tree at the moment.
I had the privilege of meeting some incredible people, and also getting close with some who I never would have thought to before. It might sound strange, but the thing I'll miss the most from here are the people I get to take back home with me.
My greatest desire right now, as I look at my last few days here, is to finish well. Yesterday morning while I was getting ready to leave to pick up the guys, part of a quote popped into my head from Lord of the Rings (shut up, okay?!), and so I looked the whole thing up and it was perfect:
Look at my men! Their courage hangs by a thread. If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance!
We didn't know it a week ago, but for all but one this is our end. And I want to make it a darn good one. I am exhausted and sick and ready to go home. But if this is to be my end here, I want it to be so good that it is worthy to be remembered in a good way...even if just by us.


Three Down, Three to Go

This week has been...
This week has been unimaginably difficult.

I handle stress well; in fact, I usually thrive on it. I procrastinate in order to write better papers, I always ask myself what the worst possible outcome could be and dwell on it so that no matter what happens I won't be shocked, and I purposely allot less shower time than I need so that I won't take my time. Maybe I should rephrase: I handle healthy stress well.

This week the teams from the States came. We had people in from Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Four days before they arrived, I was informed that the leader of one team had backed out and I was the new It person. It wasn't a big deal...it only meant living with my team in a very old, very hot and (until we interns cleaned it) very dirty church in the middle of a very seedy part of town, and planning and then vision-casting my ideas to my team on how we would run a children's night, a youth night, and a performing arts night in a church I had never been in before. And I had four days to make it happen.

I was incredibly blessed in that Mark was also running his own team, so we were able to work together and alleviate some of the stress. I was also blessed to find that I was given an amazing group of young women from Iowa to work with, as well as one of the girl's dads, Tom. Our nights were stretching and, in some cases, beyond the stress level they should have been, but overall we had amazing ministry events. On our last night of three we had the Louder than Words performing arts team come and dance, sing and share testimonies with us. What a blessing! I was also able to share a bit of my testimony and speak a salvation message; it wasn't a salvation message in the traditional sense, as everyone there was from the teams or the church, but rather a message on the continuing works and joys and hardships of salvation. I've begun to realize that it is these times spent on stage sharing and teaching and preaching that I feel the most alive.

That night and the following day, I was also able to just chill with a friend from Bible college. He was such a huge encouragement and he made me long for school like I haven't in a long time. I also had the opportunity to have a final hangout with another intern before she left for home.

Then on the Saturday we had our big event of the summer, the Youth Explosion. All the youth from the GTA Foursquare churches came together, and it was an amazing time of worship, fellowship and sharing. We were honoured to have as our guest speaker and worship leader Garry Keane. He's a good man with a good heart, and it was a pleasure getting to know him. Overall the night was a huge success (and Mark and I have chosen to focus on the success story above anything else haha).

Ah, and then the kicker to a crazy week. On the Saturday night at about 10pm, I was told that one of the pastors was sick, so I would be preaching at her church in the morning. Don't get me wrong! I love any opportunity to speak, but this was slightly on the short notice side of things. But it ended up going fairly well and, being the ridiculously awesome supportive people that they are, Tyler and Mark came with me for encouragement (and because Tyler will use any excuse to pick up an instrument and play with other passionate worship-y type people).

So. That was my week. Long, difficult, little breathing space and almost no sleep, but we're through. Less than four weeks left.

And tonight we celebrated with steak!