Sunday, June 30, 2013

Two Fingers - An Update of Sorts


Today I am grateful. I am grateful for today. 
For continued strength that has carried me through this day. This day of beauty, warmth, love and wonder. This day that has held possibility and joy. This day where previous limits have been lifted. Where experiences that I haven't been able to fully enjoy and love have been done. 





Today I went back to Village Church for the first time in many months. The church where I am a member and have been so challenged and through the challenging, have grown immensely in my faith. 
I can relate that growth to my faith from the challenge I have been facing these past almost eight months now too. Today while reading Philip Yancey, I came across this:
 "spiritual nourishment is best experienced in the wilderness"
I have been reading his book called Where is God when it hurts? and am already being touched, challenged and so affirmed in this period where it does hurt.  (I will talk more about this in a post to come). 



But thanks be to God it doesn't hurt quite as much. Acupuncture is doing me wonders. Health coaching is helping me cope and move toward greater healing. Doctors have been encouraging as both my integrative health doctor and internal specialist were so happy with my progress this past week. My integrative health doctor told me to believe him when he says I don't have chronic fatigue syndrome because it has no cure and I am getting better. And my specialist said that soon he thinks we will be able to talk about relapse prevention instead of symptom management (which included added Gabapentin to my list of drugs and increasing some sleeping medications). 
My crashes (post exertional malaise - a key symptom of CFS/ME) is getter less and less. No longer does a car ride wipe me out of the rest of the day and I managed to go to my baby sister's grad banquet and though it was exhausting it was so worth it and by the next evening I had more energy than I have had in a long time. 





I was reminiscing with one of my best friends about high school days. We even took out my high school year books. We were talking away with my baby sister and all of a sudden it was nine o'clock. We talked for hours and I wasn't even in bed resting my head. Sitting for hours around the table is something I haven't been able to do in the longest time. It was so encouraging. And so normal!!! 
As I am writing this post, I am sitting at a park overlooking the sun setting into the ocean below. One of my favourite things in the whole world. 





And it was even better than I could have dreamed it to be.  I was even excited about getting my first mosquito bite.  And you know why?  Because it means I am living.  I am doing more.  Doing what I love.  And getting out of bed. 

When you have no experience of pain, it is rather hard to experience joy- George Wald


On the way home a song by Jake Bugg was playing (yes, I can enjoy listening to music again!) and the part of the chorus says, 
I got out, I got out, I'm alive and I'm here to staySo I hold two fingers up to yesterday

And though I don't condone the rest of the song, I felt these words resonate with my life.  
So here is to hoping and praying that I can metaphorically hold up two fingers and say peace to what the last while has held. 



"Hold two fingers up to yesterday. But also take it slow.  Being joyful for all that I have. "

Friday, June 28, 2013

In Between

It is Friday again so that means linking back up with Lisa Jo and the wonderful Five Minute Friday community she hosts.  
Writing for 5 minutes.  Unedited.  Raw.  Real.


Won't you hold my hand and join me?

Here we go...
In Between


The In Between.  I relate to this.  Waiting.  No longer where I was.  But yet not where I will be.

When something you had is taken from you, you can either sit and long to be back there or try and find the journey to receiving back what was lost.  
But in doing so, you end up somewhere new.  Always.

Because of the journey.  Because of the experience of seeking.  Of waiting.  Of being in between.

I know that in my life, I am in a definite time of in between.  
And you know?  As hard as it is, as hard as it can be... I wouldn't trade anything for what I have learned in this time of waiting.  Waiting on health.  Waiting on answers.  Waiting on God.

It has felt like a long journey in the desert.  I was somewhere that I thought was good, but it turns out, it wasn't where I was meant to be.  My direction has changed.  My eyes have been opened.  My heart has been torn.  Torn and rubbed with the sand of the desert.  Hurt and made raw.
But because of that, I can feel better than before.

And in the pain, the wondering, and the real, I find hope.  I see the light that this too shall pass.
I won't be in the desert forever.  But right now I am. 

So what am I going to do with it?
 
What will you do with it?


I pray we can embrace it.  Learn from it.  And seek Him - the True North - to bring us through.

Most of what matters in life doesn't come through big moments. Change happens gradually, over time. And the vehicle for our transformation is an unexpected one. We learn our greatest lessons from delays, setbacks, and inconveniences — through waiting.
At a time when our culture is calling us to hack our way into greater productivity and efficiency, what we may need to do is the opposite. To slow down. As we do, we may learn that it's not the experiences of a lifetime, but the life in the experiences, that determines who are and what we will become.

THE IN-BETWEEN is a call to embrace the importance that waiting plays in our lives, a reminder to be present and acknowledge the lessons life is trying to teach us in the slower moments.

Welcome to the wait. 
- Jeff Goins

If you liked what you just read by Jeff Goins, consider pre-ordering his book called THE IN-BETWEEN and by doing so get a bunch of free stuff from him!  Check it out here!


And if you missed last week's Five Minute Friday, hop on over to Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Who Says?

Who says?
Who says I cannot get my hair done? 
Who says I cannot paint my nails, wear red lipstick or dress up just because?

I don't know if anyone would tell me I couldn't. 
Anyone except me that is. 

Because I am sick...  
That is what the voice in my head keeps whispering.
... Because I am sick, I cannot.

Why should I put energy into doing any of these things? How could I?
I am tired. I am sitting at home and no one is going to see me. I don't feel lively or energetic.  I don't feel beautiful. I don't have any one to impress. 
And then would people question even more if I was truly sick?

These toxic thought circle around my mind.  Becoming more and more engrained. 


I have to look sick.  Fill the part of being sick for that is what I am.  


Slowly, without me even realizing, being sick has become far too much of my identity.  I live and breathe sick.  I cannot remember what it feels like not to be sick (as I mentioned in my last post Daughter). 

But why should I focus on being sick?  Why does being sick all of a sudden equal me?

It's not like it has changed who I am?  Yes it is my reality but it isn't me.  And the more I make it me... The harder it will be to heal. 
And the harder to heal, the more sick I become. 
I think that's what I was going through when I realized I was actually depressed.  
Once I stopped denying this was my reality, it became so much of me. I couldn't see the light anymore. I couldn't dream about what is to come. 
I was stuck.  Stuck in both my body and my mind. 

So with antidepressants doing their job, added awareness on my part, and with effort to get out of that rut I was stuck in, I am slowly transforming.  Transforming my thoughts and taking back my identity. 

It's like the muck I was in is drying up.  The sun has come out and the windflowers are beginning to bloom. 
The more I focus in the beauty around, the more I change. 

Beauty is all around.  Beauty is transforming me.


I am seeking joy.   Looking for the gift of everyday.  Believing that in weakness, His strength truly shines.  He makes me shine.  And I can be His precious princess who is beautiful. 


I am beginning to ask myself new questions.  New questions helping form this transformation.


Instead of asking myself about my pain,  I am asking myself how am I feeling great today?  Taking the focus that became so narrow from the negative to a broader reality. A reality where there really is so much positive. 

Where there are new and good things.  Things that bring me joy.  That give me strength. That heal. 

So again I ask, who says?  Because I am choosing to no longer be the voice that says I cannot be happy because I am sick.

So being sick no longer means I shouldn't do any of these things for myself.  That I shouldn't smile and have fun. That I shouldn't do something girly. 

Practicing gratitude has been a huge thing in changing my day.  I am keeping a gratitude journal and now in my day I seek out things that bring me joy and get excited to write about them. 

My cheerleader, already made friend, and health coach said, "Who says you cannot have the most fun of your life right how?" 
And she has been giving me tools to help me heal and transform.  Tools like the gratitude journal!

Gratitude is something God has been teaching me a lot about.  Over Christmas this past year, a couple months into being sick, I began to read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. (If you have not read it, I highly recommend it!  It changed and is still changing my life.  Also it is on sale for only $9.99 at DaySpring.com.  Click here to get it!)


The truths of her book are seeds that have begun to sprout into the wild flowers of my life. 

It has opened my eyes to see the sacred in every day and with the help of my health coach getting me to restart my gratitude journal, my world is changing before me. 

The tagline for her book is a dare to live fully right where you are. And that is what I am embracing.  Because who says I cannot live fully where I am now.  

No one.  Because I can!

So now begin and end my day saying I am thankful.  And that starts becoming my breathe through out the day.





Today, I am thankful.
I am thankful for today

And you know what?  That beautiful print right there?  I entered a blog giveaway from Surviving our Blessings, and I won that!  And Abbey at Surviving our Blessings told me some of her story and I know that Gid brought us together for more than me winning her draw for her apparently famous cookies and this print, but He brought us together to give encouragement, joy, and comfort.  And the blessing of this beautiful reminder that I will be able to look at all the time.  
And remember this lesson that has changed my life. And is changing Abbey's too.  This is what she writes about her blog:


Gratitude, like faith, is a practice, so I'm practicing. There's always a reason to celebrate, always something for which we can be thankful, even if it is hard to see sometimes. This blog is about practicing gratitude...about finding reasons to be grateful in the midst of the mundane, daily events that make up our lives. ... Even ordinary days are gifts.

Oh, and I also did something girly. Something for me.  
I got my hair done. And you know, I feel beautiful!

  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Daughter

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well." And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, "Who touched me?" " And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." (Mark 5:25-34 ESV, emphasis mine)
I love this story. It is so raw.  Her suffering is tangible while her faith is ethereal.  Beautiful, raw, and real. 
I relate a lot to this story also.  And I don't want to put myself in her position or even begin to claim that I know suffering as she does but I can relate a lot and find peace and hope in this story.   In this story about a woman who is dying of a disease that brings disgrace and shame.  About a woman who is nameless, one in the crowd, hidden - but becomes found and gets named Daughter.  

This Daughter of the King had been suffering for 12 years.  12 years of abandonment, fear, closeness to death, and hopelessness.   We are told she went to many doctors, tried many remedies, and spent all she had.  She became desperate.  Where she had placed her hope in, ended up being dry.  Taking rather than giving.  Leaving her worse off than when it all began. For 12 years... Her hope for healing was in the remedies and not the Healer.  Her hope was in what could be seen, what was tested and true, what could be bought and not in Him. 

I don't believe this retelling of the Daughter's story is to warn us about medicine or devalue the healing it can bring about.  I strongly believe that God can work through medicine to provide miracles.  That He does that all the time but we often take the glory for ourselves... Hope in what we can do for ourselves and not what He has provided... But that is a different story. 

Like this Daughter, I have tried remedy after remedy.  Had opinion after opinion.  And haven't been cured.  My journey has been less than a year, but it feels like almost all I have known.  I cannot remember what it feels like to have strength and vitality flowing through my blood but I know that it will feel glorious when that time comes.  And His Daughter, she felt that.  She went from utter weakness to full strength - immediately.  All it took was for her to reach out to Him for the healing to come. 

She trusted that if she all but reached out to Him, she would be made whole.  She believed what she had heard about Him and took a step of huge faith. 

And in doing so, she proclaimed Him as her refuge and hope.  And you know what, it didn't matter that He was her last hope.  That she had tried everything else she could do before coming to Him.  He still became her sure refuge, hope, and peace.  

And He called out to her.
He sought after her, looked for her in the crowd, and tenderly asked, "Who touched me?"   
He doesn't ask angrily or condemn her for not asking Him.  He speaks to her with encouragement. He commends her.   For she had faith. 

But she comes to Him with fear and trembling.  She falls before Him.  Humbles herself before Her King for she knew what He, and He alone did for her.  And she tells Him everything.  Tells Him things that shouldn't be mentioned in public, if at all. And let alone to the King of kings.   
Tells Him of all her suffering and that she believed if she could just touch Him that He could heal her.  And He listened to her.  To everything she had gone through.  Everything she had dealt with and called her Daughter.  Not before but after all of this. 
Giving her reason to leave in peace and healing - not just physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And she can leave having every reason to be triumphant because of what He did for her.  

And you know, even though I have reached out to Him, cried out to Him for healing, and I haven't felt immediately well, this story still comforts.  For I know I serve a God who cares, who listens to the girl in the crowd, who seeks the girl who is suffering, and can heal her and make her whole. 

And really, He already has.  He has already come and given me the greatest healing.  He has taken me out of death and brought me to life.  He reaches down and wants to pull us all into life with Him.  To make us whole and to make us His precious Daughter. 

So because of that I can hope.  I can hope in Him that one day I will be whole again.  That I can have peace because He reaches out and holds me.  Even if the healing doesn't come. 



~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~



One Girl started this new link up called Chasing History.  It is about looking at stories of women in the Bible and connecting with them.  Seeing how they relate to us today.  So here is the first story I looked at.  Check out Chasing History for more!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Smile

"What's happened to you?"
The question I dread.  And it was asked by a total stranger.  Well I think she is friends of a family friend but I don't think I have ever met her, let alone seen her before. 
What's happened to me?  Has something happened to me?  Does my physical ability define who I am?  I know I am taking this question to places she never intended but it sure makes me think and wonder what has, if something has indeed, happened to me, and if that implies something is wrong with me...?
"I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," I replied but quickly added sarcastically, "it's been fun" because I was worried what her reaction would be towards CFS/ME.  Had ever heard of it? (Click here to read more about it if you haven't heard much about it).  Did she believe it was nothing and that I needed to push myself to walk  instead of letting my dad push me in my wheelchair (which by the way is new and wonderful! A dear family friend brought it over for me. It is much more comfy and stylish with its turquoise frame than my 'granny chair', as he affectionally called it, that we got at Canadian Tire for 50% off)?
I was worried she might scoff at me or just look at me weird. 
Why did I say "it's been fun", however sarcastically, because it definitely hasn't. And why should I care what a lady who was riding her horse down our road thought about me and my diagnosis?!
But for some reason I did care.  I didn't want to feel devalued or that I was less of a person. Weaker or a hypochondriac. 
Thankfully, she corrected me and said, "I bet it's not fun.  One of my friend's had that a while ago."
Confirmation. It was okay for me to be in my chair.  I was okay. 
And to that I replied, "Ya, it really hasn't been fun. I've had it for 7 months."
And we chatted briefly before my dad and I continued on our 'walk'. 




My dad convinced me to get out and go for a 'walk' to test out the new chair and I am glad I went.  Even though it was interesting and hard to see how forward some people are and what my own reactions are, I am glad I got out. 

It is a gorgeous day. Sunny but thankfully not too hot.  I managed not to overheat too much and the fresh warm summer air, gorgeous soft scent of clovers in blossom, the sighting of some wildlife and simply a new view, was a welcomed and wonderful change.  

Although the view from my window is beautiful and always changing, it was amazing to be apart of the life that occurs beyond my window.  To engage with what is around me and enjoy life anew.  Everything was beautiful to me.  Even the cracked pavement and empty greenhouse.  It was taking everything in as if I was in a new place.  I was looking with awe and wonder at the things that surround me.  The things that I normally I wouldn't have paid attention too.  
We saw a heron in a tree, a new family of baby ducks, the fast growing family of geese, wild flowers blossoming away, and looked around at our garden.  It was wonderful.  It was almost perfect. 




But I still wonder why I was scared and taken back by that lady's comment.  Just because I was in a wheelchair, there had to be something wrong with me. 
Yet at least she talked to me.  Some people ignore me all together when I am in a wheelchair, speaking abov me to whomever is pushing me.  It is shocking to me.  Appallingly sad and wrong. But I know I've done that before too.  Or just avoided the situation altogether.  Not knowing what I should say in worry of offending or something, so I would avoid. 
Avoidance isn't the better option.  It doesn't fix anything or make anyone feel better about them selves.  It doesn't make the situation go away.  
So please, try not to avoid.  But also think before you speak.  Ask how people are doing rather than what is wrong with them.  Or even just smile.



Even if you are just smiling because I look funny wearing two pairs of glasses or at my beloved pug on my lap (who happens to have three legs which also doesn't make anything wrong with him), a smile is still a smile and is worth a lot. 






PS. I came across this website called Story Cartel where you can get free ebooks in exchange for your honest review of them!  And since my brain fog is slowly lifting more and reading no longer takes quite as much energy nor produces an overwhelmed feeling causing me to stop, this has been a wonderful find.  Check it out!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Every Friday women link up at Lisa-Jo's blog and write for five minutes.  Five minutes only about a word prompt given by Lisa-Jo.  It is left unedited and raw.  Thanks for joining me in my Five Minute Friday!  I encourage you to give it a try also.  Whether you blog or not!  Write it in a journal, the comments of my blog, or go over to Lisa-Jo's!  
If you missed my previous Five Minute Friday blogs, you can check out Falling and Listen.


Here we go: 
Rhythm


I'm struggling to find my rhythm.  Any sort of rhythm. 
My days aren't predictable despite the fact that I almost do the same things every day. 
I feel different.  I hurt different. I see things differently. 

I got a cold and have now had any sort of try at finding a rhythm taken away, as the little energy I had is now almost all gone. 
So I sit here and rest.  Rest and wait.  Wait to be able to join the dance.  Join the song.  Join the rhythm of life. 
And I hear these words, oh so tender, Join me. Join the unforced rhythms with me. The unforced rhythms of grace. 

I realize I couldn't find a rhythm for I was trying to dance to ones I could no longer dance with. Sing with ones I could no longer hear. 
But when I stop trying to find my rhythm and instead rest in His - it changes. 
I can relax.  Stop trying. And learn to dance the most beautiful slow dance to a glorious song in the arms of my Lord. 
I can hold onto Him and live. Live the rhythm of life - life to the full.
“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Today

Today I am grateful.  I am grateful for today. For today is all we have. It is all we will ever have.
There are no guarantees.  No assurances of a tomorrow.
So why do I worry and become anxious about tomorrow?
Why do I try and stop my dreaming because there is possibility i may never live out that dream?
Why am I so scared of failing that I let anxiety about the future dictate today?
When today is what we have.
Today is here.
Not tomorrow's worries or excitements.
Today's worries and excitements are here now.
So choose now.  Choose now to be open.  Choose now to be in the now.
Not stuck in the past or stuck in your dreamland future.
Choose now. Choose today.
Because today is what we have.  
 
So choose it.  Choose it and love it. Love today for today.  Not for what yesterday's past or tomorrow's future may be.  Love today. Choose to love it. Choose love now. Choose today now. Choose to be grateful that today you could love, be loved, and find more love. For today I am grateful. I am grateful that I have today and can love today for today.  Not for yesterday's regrets or tomorrow's worries. But for today. For what I can do today. I can love today. I choose to love today. 

These words were swirling around my head all day yesterday. But I couldn't seem to write them down. I think fear was stopping me. Fear in believing these words. 

But as I lay down to sleep last night I could no longer keep them in my head but needed to write them so they could take a place in my heart.  
The words came effortlessly.  My heart knew them but needed my mind to say them. 
My heart can say these words now but it needs practice.  Time to memorize them. Time to engrave them on itself. 

Recently someone new has entered into this journey.  Someone who knows what it is like and who has made it to the other side.  Someone to talk to and work through the fears.  Even realize the fears so that I can then try and work through them. 

In talking with her, she noticed I fixate a lot on the future - and the fear of it.  The fear of its unknown.  The worry of being let down again when my dreams cannot be lived out but are forced to remain dreams. 
Because of that fear, I sometimes try and stop myself from dreaming.  From setting goals for the future.  To protect myself.  To keep myself safe.  
But in doing so I haven't focused on the dreams of today.  The things I love today.  The things I can do today.  But rather have stayed in this fear of what the future may hold. 
But this fear is irrational.  For God goes before me and is here with me now.  He gives me courage and reason to let go of fear. 
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)




I find myself hoping in the future. Hoping for the future. And not hoping in Him.  
Being anxious of what my life will be, instead of rejoicing in what it is.  Hoping for joy, instead of seeking joy today.  Being grateful for the work He will do in my life, instead of being grateful for the work He is doing.  Delighting in Him now and resting in His goodness now.  Resting in His goodness in this time of suffering, not despite it. 

So today I choose to be thankful.  I choose to live in His love, joy, and hope.  I choose to live today and cast my anxieties and worries on Him who cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). 


Photo credit

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Dad

I really wanted to get this post out yesterday with it being Father's Day and all but that just did not end up happening.  Sorry Dad!
But you know, I am okay with that and I hope you are too!

Yesterday was a good but exhausting day.  I think most people, especially those with Chronic Fatigue, would agree that the 'special' days are more tiring.  More to do, more people, more food, more things.
Those kind of days give me a bit of anxiety.  I worry about if I will be able to do the things planned (ie. eat lunch on the patio with the extended family).  I even worry about trying to be more like me.  Or at least the me that used to be.
But regardless of the worry and anxiety that inevitably comes with 'bigger' days, I was so glad to be able to honor my dad yesterday.  And go to church with him after so many weeks without being able to go.  I think God gave me an extra dose of strength that morning so I could go with him.  It was special.  Especially because a couple weeks before he shared my story in front of the church along with the song worn.  My song and story (you can read more about it and listen to this song on my post Worn).  Everyone was so caring and said how amazingly he did.   How much he loved me and cared for me.  It was a huge comfort and I am glad I was able to spend Father's Day with him in that way. 

He has been a rock for me during this testing time.  A shoulder to cry on.  A ear that is always willing to listen - even when I don't seem to make sense or ask questions that don't really matter.  An arm always ready to embrace.
He pushes and challenges me but also accepts me.  He longs to see me better but he doesn't pretend that I am better or that I should try and be better. 
He is funny and weird, which makes me laugh. 
I always ask him to give me foot massages as my feet are cold and I know that his warm touch, even if it isn't the best massage, will warm my feet and my heart.
He can be opinionated and isn't afraid to speak his mind but you know that he will always be honest with you.  Whether it is about the vitamins that he thinks are useless or the fact that he loves you.  You know he means it - always.



He is my hero.
My friend.
My joker.
My support.
My father.




He is a world changer.
An adventure seeker.
Risk taker.
And God lover.
And has taught me to be the same. 

He has put the standard high for the kind of husband, father, and friend I hope to marry one day.  For he is generous, loving, funny, trust worthy, accepting, understanding, passionate, and not okay with just being but rather seeks to live to the fullest.



I am proud to say he is my dad for so many reasons.
I respect who he is and what he has done.
He thinks of others before himself.
He does things that he knows will uplift my spirit and always makes me feel loved. No matter what I can do or cannot do.  No matter what, he loves me.  And because of that I am blessed. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Listen

Last Saturday I wrote my first 'Five Minute Friday'.  I didn't really follow the rules, as I was anxious about having a time limit of only five minutes to write.  With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I experience brain fog, hand cramping, headaches, and anxiety.  Thankfully not all the time, but the lovely combination of those symptoms (and others - click here to read more about my symptoms in a previous post).
Yet despite this, I decided to join a community of bloggers that write every week from a prompt on Lisa-Jo's blog. Lisa-Jo writes a prompt word on her blog and then whoever wants to can join in and write for five minutes about whatever that word prompts them to write about.  Here's the catch - you cannot go back and edit or change it. So what is written is often raw, honest, and moving. It isn't over thought but rather it is written from the heart.
So bear with me, as I work through this weeks prompt 'Listen' and please forgive me if I am unable to follow the 'rules' exactly pertaining to time.  Thank you for your graciousness and for taking the time to read this post, to listen to another part of my story.




Here we go...


Through this time of confusion, struggle, and searching for some sort of treatment, I have learned to listen.  To listen to doctors, to listen to my friends, to listen to my family, to listen to myself - my heart, my mind, and most importantly my body.  But even more importantly than just listening to my body through this time, I am learning to listen to God and that He listens to me.

He hears my cry.  He hears my questions.  He hears me at all times.
And He answers at all times.

He doesn't always answer how I would like and at times He seems deafeningly silent.
But I often realize, in those times of silence, I am asking for a specific answer and refuse to hear anything else.  Or even worse, I am not listening for His still voice.



Listening requires stopping.  And stopping is hard.
It is hard for a lot of reasons but I know that when I stop, when I am still, the Lord is never far.


Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah (Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me! (Psalms 66:19, 20 ESV)

The Psalms talk a lot about Our God who hears us and this has been such a comfort for me.  My friend Kristen wrote a post, He Hears, about this too, which was very timely and reassuring.


And stop!  (I did it! I wrote in 5 minutes. Good bye anxiety and please don't come back because I can do this!)




If you missed my first 'Five Minute Friday' post, Falling, you can read it here.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Graduation and Dreaming


I want to challenge you all to remember your time here and the things we have been taught, value the time spent here and use all the things you have learnt to remind and help you in the future.  On the grad retreat, when we were river rafting, I did something really out of my character, I jumped off the boat into the river, and I don’t regret it for one moment.  So I want to encourage all of you guys to do something out of the ordinary, something none of us would expect you to do.  Do something that the world does not think you can do.  Do something you want to do and not what everyone else says you should do.  Do something that will impact the world.  “Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don’t try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go.  Don’t assume that you know it all.  Run to God!  Run from evil!” (Proverbs 3:5-7) Congratulations Grads of ’09!  We did it!!!!

Four years ago, that is how I ended my valedictorian speech to the graduating class of '09.  My baby sister is graduating today and has thus caused me to walk down memory lane.  To think of old friends, crazy retreats, and encouraging teachers.  To think of all the excitement and hope we had for our futures.  What was to come after graduating and entering into the 'real world'!



Looking back over what I said, I wonder if I would've changed what I said, if I had the chance to do it again. I don't think I realized how many crazy, fantastic, devastating, and joy filled moments life would hold since that day. That never would we all be together again.  Never would I have the chance to say something to all my friends and their family members. And no one probably never remembers what I said but I still wonder, what would I say differently?  If I had the chance today, what would I say?
Since that day life has changed drastically for many of the people in my little class of 42.  Further schooling and careers have come, marriages have happened, life has been born, and a life has been taken.  
The little blurbs they read describing each of us and our ambitions as we crossed that stage may not even be close to who we are and what we are doing today.  But those were our dreams.  That was who we were. 
I pray that since then we have all become more mature and better people. That we are living out the challenge to do something that we want to do - to do something that will impact that world. 

I hope we are living out our dreams - whether they are new found dreams or ones we have been dreaming for a long time.  I hope we are somehow impacting our world for the better. 
And I hope and pray that my baby sister and her friends have been empowered and equipped to do the same. 


And you know, looking back on it, I don't think I would say much different.  Sure we may be in totally different places than we imagined at the time, but our call to follow God and seek Him in all that we do remains the same.  The challenge to make an impact in our world and live out our dreams still stands.  
And however different  our dreams may be now, I challenge us all to really think about what we dream about and to take the steps of faith necessary to be able to live them out!









Congrats to the class of' '13!
{updated with photos from last night!}




Monday, June 10, 2013

Spirit Lead Me



Spirit lead me where my trust is without bordersLet me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour
- Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong

Where feet may fail.  Where my feet fail. 
Where my feet fail and yet where my faith grows. 

These last seven months have been deep waters.  
Oceans deep. Where waters roar. 
The water all around me seems to be rising - rising to waves that no one would be able to escape.  Seas so rough that even the most skilled sailor would not be able to navigate them. 
Yet somehow, in this raging ocean, peace and comfort come. 
I am not tossed overboard to drown but made firm through a love that never waivers.  A God who never fails.  My Saviour who holds me tight while the boat rocks fiercely.  The true life vests that enwraps me - holds my head above water.  Above water no. matter. what.
No. matter. what. 
Even when doubt creeps in.  When I wonder if that anchor can truly hold out in these seas.  When I wonder if I will make it.  If I will ever see land again.  If the waters can be made still.  Yet praise God that His faithfulness does not depend on how great my faith is.  He is faithful no. matter. what. 
He holds true to all His promises. 
He is mine and I am His.  His daughter.  His daughter no. matter. what. 



Just before leaving California this morning, the sun came out.  The sun came out brighter than it had all week.  A true gift indeed from the Father.  
A glimpse of true beauty.  A glimpse of the still sea.  The sea where the sun always shines.  Where I am in the presence of my Saviour. 
Where I feel true joy with the sun wrapping its warmth around my weak body. Where I smell the sea breeze.  Where I see the dolphins surfing along the faithful waves with graceful agility.  Where I look up and see the pelicans flying.  Flying home together.  



And now we fly home together but that wonderful morning where I felt His presence, saw His face, and heard His comforting song through the ever constant waves stays with me.  
We fly now.  We fly I can can continue my prayer from this morning of Spirit lead me.  Spirit lead me to walk along the water.  The waters you ordain, wherever they may be, whatever they may be like, and whenever you may call.  Lead me.  Lead me along the water.  Where my feet may fail but your guiding arm of supportive will never fail. 



So now as we continue to fly among the clouds, I have my head in the clouds.  Like the mountain poking through, I dream thousands of feet in the air.  I dream of where He may lead and what it may look like if I follow along the waters. 



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