Wednesday, December 28, 2005

She's still got it!

I have been having a great time with my family. Lots of laughs, and good memories made: evenings sitting up talking with mom, dad and Melanie. Watching "Joan of Arcadia" episodes with Mel. My dad asking me what I am going to put on my "blob" (Dad- it's b-l-o-G). Sitting around reading. Eating too much.

I went to Walmart with some others, and the following exchange occurred between one of my shopping companions, and a man we crossed paths with:

"Doris! Is that you? How are you?"

"Hello ____, I'm well, how are you?"

"Can't complain... wow- Doris you look so good!" he said with an appreciative look.

"Well, I just turned ___ years old." She said, deflecting his obvious admiration.

"Oh Doris, you don't look like you've aged a day..." He paused and as he looked at her, I think I saw a glimmer of moisture in his eyes. "Doris, you're really looking great... it's so good to see you."

Finally, seeing that it was awkward not to introduce me and my sister, she did, but he quickly turned back to her. After more comments on how great she looked, and somewhat emotional reassurances of how glad he was to see her, he went on his way.

I waited until he was well out of earshot to start teasing Doris-my grandmother about the man who was hitting on her right in front of her grandchildren. She's still got it I guess. :) Not everything gets passed down. :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Big Fat French Family

My family makes me laugh. When a bunch of us are together, it is so busy, bustling, loud, and food is everywhere. It really does make me think of that movie...

A few snapshots: I got picked up at the airport and whisked away to supper at a new fastfood joint my mom had scoped out. My uncle had brought a young friend of his, and I had to laugh at the predicament of a poor unsuspecting visitor to our family- as he was pressed to eat more food than he could possibly eat. Everyone passed food around and shared this and that, talking louder and louder in conversations that criss-crossed the table in complicated ways.

We were on our way to see the Chronicles of Narnia. My sister bought some candy to smuggle into the theatre, and among the wealth of sweets she had were some of those fake teeth and gums thingies. The kids were having fun putting them in their mouths and smiling like they were real teeth. My 9-year-old cousin wanted to join the fun, and with his little Acadian accent (no pronouncing of "th's") he innocently said, "mom, can I have a teet'?" I busted my gut laughing right at the table, but no one else caught it until I told them after.

After eating we packed up and headed to the theatre, candy stashed in pockets and purses. I have fond memories of my pre-teen shame when going to a movie with a bunch of aunts who had decided that the movie-going experience wouldn't be complete without popcorn. So they popped some corn and brought it with them. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that I remember going through the movie ticket line-up with my aunt, who's purse was literally steaming! Good times.

Tonight we had a gathering at my aunt & uncle's. It was a fun time, as usual, with lots of laughs, hugs, and of course, too much food. I told them my comparison of our family to the Greek one in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." We had a good laugh, and then they began to argue over which aunt it would be who would tell tales of the surgery on the growth on her neck that had yielded bits of hair, teeth and bone. They settled on one, and my mom told her: "you'd be the one with the growth- with the hair and the teet'!" Hehe... we are geeks, it's true... but it's fun.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Getting ready for Christmas

Well, the Christmas season is always a busy one. I have to say though, that I am enjoying it. I don't enjoy looking for parking at the mall, or getting lost in it (as I do every time! you'd think I'd learn...) but overall, it has been good.

I'm not a big gift person, but I have enjoyed getting gifts for my family, baking cookies for friends, and sending my christmas cards. I think what I have enjoyed about it all is that it has reminded me of how many amazing people have become part of my life. I don't really care if I get any more gifts, it's not really point. Of course you know that, no need for a sermon from me on the subject. :)

This past weekend I got to see a friend test for her advanced blue belt in Tae Kwon Do (go Lisa!), celebrate another friend's passing into the third decade (happy birthday to someone. :) ), and enjoyed a chinese-canadian Christmas feast (thanks Wayne and Irene!) The rest of the week is going to be busy, as I try to tie up loose ends here at the office in preparation for a 2 week holiday in New Brunswick.

*Home* on Thursday- I can't wait!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Addendum to "Asking Questions"

I realize my last post could be a bit scary for some people to read. I can remember a time when those thoughts would have scared me. I wouldn't have wanted to let myself think down those lines, let alone encourage others to. It could lead to dangerous places...

I write it now, because there is freedom to be found as well.

As I sat talking to this friend, I couldn't help noting the peace that I felt. I felt sadness for him, yes, but not in a condescending, "how could you possibly think that?" kind of way. I felt sadness for him because I understand the difficulty of that question, and others, but know that it doesn't have to end up that way.

I am not afraid of hearing people's questions about faith and christianity. I have to smile inside sometimes when someone brings out their "trump card" thinking that they will shatter the foundations of my faith. In so many different situations, times and places I have heard those questions. I don't mean to be condescending as if I have God and the universe figured out completely. Of course I don't. But I smile because I myself have asked those questions. I have asked them from some deep and tremendously painful valleys. My faith has only grown from those experiences.

I was thinking this morning about something my friend Beth Shannon said to me years ago. We were talking about proofs that God exists. She told me that the only proof that no one can refute is a transformed life.

In the end, late at night when those questions come, I believe in God not simply because of intellectual answers I have heard; I believe in Him because I cannot deny the way that He has changed my life.

He has changed my life not just in the sense that I used to do bad things and now I do good things. Goodness, if that was the extent- Lord, take me now! I could accomplish that with self will-power. No, I mean He has completely transformed my life. He brought me- to use an often-used cliche- from darkness into light. He has delivered me from depression, self-pity into freedom and peace. In the midst of incredible pain in the loss of my sister- God met me there, and gave me His peace, strength and joy- yes, joy!

Obviously I haven't arrived. But I am NOT what I once was. I've tried plenty to change myself to be the person I want to be, but those attempts have never worked. No amount of positive thinking could do the work in me that I have seen God do. Of course my words are just words, and you don't have the view that I do. I suspect though, that many of you have stories a lot like mine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Asking questions

I caught up recently with an old friend. We sat and talked over lunch at an eclectic all-day breakfast place. It was interesting to see the different paths we've chosen, and where they've taken us.

After an awkward pause in the conversation when our food came, he told me to go ahead and pray, that he would explain later. After some more conversation I asked him about it.

He told me about how at Bible college, when I knew him, he had been searching for deeper meaning. I guess at that point he considered himself a believer. When he left, he began to ask questions about his faith, God, the Bible. It came down to one serious question.

"You'll think it's dumb," he said. He told me he couldn't get past the fact that God could send people to hell. So, the sum of it is that he decided this thing called 'faith' or more specifically 'christianity' was not for him.

I told him it wasn't dumb. I said that it is a serious question that one has to ask. I didn't try to answer the question either, because I knew that wasn't why he was telling me.

I told him that I went through a time where I had to realize that it's ok to ask questions. I think sometimes we in the church are afraid to ask questions about things we really struggle with. Is it because we are worried we won't like the answers? I need to be free to bring my honest questions to God.

I told him, "I've asked a lot of those questions myself; I've just come to different conclusions. I don't necessarily have neat, packaged answers for every one, but I've faced them, and my faith is so much stronger because of it. If God is real, He can handle my questions."

I talked too much, as usual. I just can't "catch up" with someone and not talk about God. All that has happened in the past 5 years- losing my sister, how I ended up where I am- none of it can be told without the overarching narrative of God's work in my life. If someone wants to know me, I can't pretend I'm not what I am.

I looked at him across the table and asked, "Was it a relief for you, to let go of christianity and religion?"

"No," he responded without hesitation, "It wasn't even a relief when I first made the decision."

"How do you feel about it now?"

With sadness in his eyes he said, "Lost. I feel lost."

The conversation continued for some time, and I couldn't help feeling sad for him. He is lost in a sea of faces, making his own way in the universe. The lostness isn't moving him to find his security in God, because he doesn't believe there is security to be found.

I wish I could convince him, just as I wish words could express to others what God has done for me. In the end, I can only release him to God in prayer, and trust that the Spirit will continue His work in his life.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I am selfish

After clearing off an accumulated 10 feet of snow off my car in the office parking lot, I drove to Scott & Courtney's. I have been babysitting Stephen for the evening. The poor little guy is sick, and fell asleep in my arms, which was kind of nice. It reminds me of the desire that I do have for children. But it's scary too. I have been thinking about that lately- not that I am ANYWHERE close to it.

I am afforded many luxuries as a single person. I can do whatever I want, when I want. If I make a bad personal decision, I face the consequences. Sometimes I feel the burden of responsibility, but I do enjoy my freedom.

A friend said to me recently, "Jen, be careful that you don't become too independent."

It caught me off guard, and has stuck with me. I thought I was supposed to be independent? I am... to a certain extent... but I think I carry it too far sometimes. *See kerfuffle I caused on November 16th.*

I am afraid of becoming one of those older single people who is set in her ways, and used to getting her own way.

There is something about getting married and having children that matures people. I think (as an ignorant observer) that when you move from being single to getting married, you have to confront a lot of the selfishness that you may not have even known was there, as you consider another person. It is sandpaper, part of the sanctification process. Then parenting takes it even deeper.

I guess the reason I am rambling on here is that I have realized that I am just plain selfish, and that there are no circumstances in my life forcing me not to be, in the way that my married peers are. I could just shrug it off, and enjoy my freedom... but I'm not satisfied to just give my selfishness free reign, until I someday inflict it on the poor unsuspecting chap who ends up with me. Heavens! (oh goodness, I sound like an old lady)

I don't have any answers... just the realization that there is this whole area that I want to open up to God to dig and change me. Anyone have advice?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

the world doesn't need more of me

The following is a quote that I copied from Donnie's (my boss') hand-written notes. I hope I got it right. It is by Eugene Peterson, I am not sure when and where he wrote it, but it struck me deeply enough that I wanted to share it with you:

"We do not progress in the Christian life by becoming more competent, more knowledgeable, more virtuous, or more energetic.
We do not advance in the Christian life by acquiring expertise...
I want to simplify your lives.
When others are telling you to read more, I want to tell you to read less;
when others are telling you to do more, I want to tell you to do less.
The world does not need more of you; it needs more of God.
Your friends don't need more of you; they need more of God.
And you don't need more of you; you need more of God."

**Thanks to James for getting the reference: the above quote is from Eugene Peterson's book, Subversive Spirituality.**

Monday, November 21, 2005

Deven & Heather

An exciting thing happened this weekend! My little brother got engaged! I knew it was coming this weekend, but I was still excited. I am so glad that it is finally official, and I am so pleased that Heather MacRaild is going to be joining the MacDonald clan. I love Heather, she is a special girl, and Deven is a lucky man. Congratulations you two, I love you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Found a wormhole!

I lost my voice this morning, and found it a little later on. I still sound kind of like a scratchy-voiced man though. I am kind of grumpy today too. I'll blame it on my cold, hehe. You who read this are lucky that you are not with me in person. :)

I had a good weekend though. I went to a concert on Saturday and then on Sunday travelled to Cambridge so I could share at New Harvest Fellowship in the morning service. The only problems were these: my muffler fell off my car enroute to the church, so in my church clothes I had to maneuover my way partially under the car to undo the part that was still attached. And, I was still a bit deaf from the concert, and with my voice being considerably lower than usual, when I spoke to people at church I couldn't hear myself... I hope I wasn't yelling :)

Sunday afternoon I had a great time hanging out with dear friends: Zane & Marcia, Matt & Lisa, Amy. We re-established the geekiness (and closet geekiness) of the gang (the post title is taken from that discussion). I refuse to confirm or deny my own geekiness. And even after gruelling interrogation, there are some secrets that I will take to my grave (Zane!!!)

More highlights: I got to play Barbies with Victoria (she's getting so big!) and Joshie gave me a hug! Watched a chick-flick with Marcia (just like old times) that made me cry, and finally triggered a good cry session. I spent Monday afternoon on the couch talking with Lisa- time well spent!

I also spent time with Steve & Amanda, and Steve once again fixed my car. I swear I wouldn't have a car if it weren't for those two! (Thank you guys!!) Some of the repairs took longer than expected so I stayed an extra day and came back to London Tuesday instead of Monday. Unbeknownst to me, it caused a bit of a kerfuffle... I just decided to stay, without telling anyone back home, and my mom had been trying to reach me and a few others were worried about my whereabouts and trying to track me down. Of course I am safe and sound... but next time I will be a little more responsible... yikes!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Beauty hurts

I have been meditating on beauty. I read this in a book recently:

"He remembered as though it were but a few days ago that winter night, himself too young even to know the meaning of beauty, when he had looked up at a delicate tracery of bare branches against the icy glittering stars: suddenly something that was, all at once, pain and longing and adoring had welled up in him, almost choking him. He had wanted to tell someone, but he had no words, inarticulate in the pain and glory. It was long afterwards that he realised that it had been his first aesthetic experience. That nameless something that had stopped his heart was Beauty. Even now, for him, 'bare branches against the stars' was a synonym for beauty."
(from A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken)

When I read it- I sat up straight, and said to myself, "that's it!" I've had that feeling before, but could never find words to describe it. I've felt it this Fall when I have driven through countrysides in southern Ontario, and seen the trees changing colours- almost too awesome to behold. I've felt it when looking at the flowers given to me for my birthday. There is a longing there, to fully behold it, but part of me realizes that it is too much for me. Before I can fully appreciate them, the leaves will fall from the trees, and the flowers will wilt and die. There is something about beauty that is higher than my understanding.

I think there is something that hints of God in all of this.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

sure about this?

My mom asked me last night if I'm sure I want to share this much on my blog, since some of it is kind of personal. I told her I was sure. If my blog is my opportunity to share some of my journey with other people, then I want to share my real journey... not the polished and cleaned up version. Later on in the same conversation, she commented that from her observations, the people who live the most open lives are the happiest, because they don't live in fear of what others think.

I hope my sharing doesn't make you feel uncomfortable. But I guess it's your choice if you want to read it in the first place. :)

I know it is scary to see someone else go down into the depths, I think we secretly fear that they won't make it, or that God won't be enough. I've learned that when I let God take me into the depths, He brings His love there. I've learned that when I experience the depths, I can also experience heights that I would never before have imagined.

I wrote this yesterday to a friend:

A couple of years ago God challenged me with a quote from C.S. Lewis (my paraphrase, from memory) "The only place outside of heaven where one can be perfectly safe from all of the trials and perturbations of love... is hell." He challenged me not to shut down my heart, but to let it feel, to let it love, even though it could be ripped apart. The funny thing is that when I let my walls down, I learned I was right, being vulnerable let me get hurt. I have been hurt a hundred times more since that time, than I ever had before. I have also experienced more joy and wonder than I could ever have imagined. I choose a life of heights and depths, rather than the safer, middle way.

For those of you who are still worried about me: there is joy in my heart that I cannot contain.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Exquisite pain, precious peace

"I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed."
(Ps 34:4,5)

The LORD has delivered me from all my fears, though not in a package I would have chosen. In circumstances too personal to share on a blog, He has allowed my heart to be broken. But in the midst of exquisite pain, I experience a peace and joy that is nothing short of beautiful. He has not only met me here, He lead me here. Why exactly, I don't know... but I see a few threads of the tapestry weaving together to form something more precious than I've ever imagined.
I see Him, and it takes my breath away. I hunger for Him, and see that I am complete in Christ.
I love you LORD!

Monday, November 07, 2005


I'm a mess. I was journalling this morning, and I told God that if I looked like how I feel, I'd be lying limp like a rag doll with my face in the dirt.

Then He brought to mind Psalm 34:4,5:
"I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed."

Wipe that dirt off, and look to Him. ...their faces will never be ashamed

I used to pride myself on my vulnerability and transparency. Lately God has been showing me how I am still in kindergarten in this area. He's shown me that I can't go any further until I agree to let myself be weak.

He's shown me that I want to be strong, not because I want others to see His strength, but because I want them to be impressed with my faith. Wow. I had to repent of that. Thank You Father for your forgiveness! He showed me that I want to have it all together, because I am still believing the original lie: "I should be as god"- therefore weakness is shameful.

I'm a mess right now because He has shown me areas I need to let myself be weak in- and it is terrifying! I'm a mess, because it hurts so much when He digs like this. Though I agree to His work with my will, my feelings betray me at every turn.

... He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears...

Crowded to Christ

A friend showed me the quote below and it struck me. It made me think not just of the circumstances that bring us to Christ in the first place, but of the circumstances that He brings in our life after we've already received Him. It brought to mind the many difficult and painful things that drive us deeper into Him, as He shapes us into His image.

From L.E. Maxwell's book Crowded to Christ:

"I am one of the Jews who escaped from Germany," says Abraham Poljak. "I thank God for all the strokes with which I was driven from darkness to light. It is better that we arrive beaten and bleeding at the glorious goal than that we decay happily and contented in darkness. As long as things were all right with us, we did not know anything of God, and the salvation of our souls and the world beyond. Hitler's arrows and our misery have lead us to the uttermost heart. We have lost our earthly home but found the heavenly one. We have lost our economic support, but won the friendship of the ravens of Elijah. On the bitter ways of emigration we have found Jesus, the Riches of all worlds."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The whole pie

I was definitely spoiled on my birthday.

I was surprised to be so spoiled this birthday. I haven't had a really good birthday for years. I had anticipated being pretty lonely, with most friends being away, and family even further. But God showed me His love through many precious people.

In terms of gifts, I got flowers, chocolates, a ring, and taken to a fancy restaurant. I'm not even a gift person, so it was all unexpected, and that much more meaningful I guess. I think it's funny because those are the traditional "date" things and none of them were that way.

It makes me think of a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago. In Sunday School we had been discussing whether or not God was enough even if for some reason we were stripped of all our fellowship with others. One person said, "are you telling me, that if we are all by ourselves, with God, we have the whole pie??" In response to the skeptic, he said that even then we have the whole pie. It's just in more slices when God's love comes through people.

So anyway, what I'm saying is, I'm single, and I often wish I wasn't... but even though I don't have what many other people my age do, in that sense, God is not holding out on me! He'll often love me through people He has brought into my life: sometimes unexpectedly like this spoiling, sometimes just through the ups and downs of precious friendships. Sometimes I am all alone, and incredibly lonely- but even there, He is not holding out on me because He offers me Himself!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Blessings of friendship

Here I am with my friend Sarah Illsley. We have been
friends since the first grade when she rescued me from
my cousin's bullying. She came to Ontario recently and
visited me for a few days. Here we are at Niagara Falls.

Here we are at age 9? I guess we got into my mom's
makeup :)

Amanda Chapman came to Niagara Falls with us

That week my sister also came to visit me. Here we
are at the Curry Garden, enjoying yummy Indian food
and Mango Lassees.

At Swiss Chalet with my sister and friends:

Melissa, Marty and Johnny

And here is the birthday cake that I made for myself.
Ok, I'm not really as pathetic as I sound, I had to make
it for the cake decorating class- honest!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Happy Birthday to me :)

Well I have been spoiled today, I must say.
The day before I hit the quarter century mark. I came late to work because of some errands I had to do, and found flowers on my desk! My friend Mel arranged for them before she left on a recruitment trip out West.
I love flowers! I buy them for myself sometimes.
Then, a few minutes ago, a delivery van came to our office and brought me more flowers, from the man in my life. They came with this note:
"Remember Jen,
The man who sends you these flowers loves you very much.
Love, Dad"

Here I am with the flowers in my office. I'm all smiles.
I guess it would have been too much if I bought myself flowers for my birthday AND made my own birthday cake.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cake decorator extraordinaire... almost

There are lots of things I am interested in that I've just never had (or taken) time to do. I've decided to just go for it and do some of them, whether or not I can see any immediate practical value. The first thing is taking a cake-decorating class at Michaels with a friend, Beth.
This is my first cake. Hehe, I know it is hideous, look at all that pink! But I'm having fun!
Don't worry, I'll keep practicing. :)

Monday, October 17, 2005

My mother- my best friend

I've been realizing how little I communicate how much I value the people in my life. I think about it all the time, but forget that what I think is not immediately apparent to those around me.

I had a good, though quick talk with my mom today, and it was another reminder of how blessed I am to have the mom that I do. She is amazing. I think I could actually say that she is my best friend. Her unconditional love has been one thing that God has used to show me His love for me. Her voice in my life has been an anchor. The example of the pure love she has for God inspires me to know Him more. I count on her prayers.

She is an amazing woman, even though she doesn't always see it herself. She'd never call herself an intellectual but I love the way that I give her books like "Shattered Dreams" and "The Pressure's Off" by Larry Crabb, and "Grace Walk" by Steve McVey, and she soaks it up. I see how she takes hold of the profound truths she reads, and lets God shape and reshape her perspectives and opinions. She has wisdom like no one I know, and yet a willingness to look from a different perspective, and to learn and grow.

I could write a book on the virtues of my mother, but I'll keep it to this: all my life she has supported and encouraged my dreams and desires, with her words and with her prayers. I know she believes in me and expects God to do great things through me. I say, that I don't care if God does great outward things in my life, that's up to Him. But if God will make me a woman after His own heart, like my mom, I will be thankful and the world will be blessed.

Love you mom!

She won't like the wind-swept picture, but I have an alarmingly small collection of pictures of her... I guess she's just going to have to send the pictures that I've been asking for. :)

Friday, October 14, 2005

My incredible sister

The best part of my week was that I got a letter from my sister Melanie. One year younger than me, we've always been close, but we've always had "issues" too.

Two more different people you've never met... people never believe we're sisters, until they see us bickering. Of course, we have convinced a few people that we are twins...

I got a great letter from Mel this week that means a lot to me. I love my sister so much that it hurts. She's an incredible girl, and I am so excited to see God at work in her life. We've got so much history together, and we have experienced so much together that I wouldn't be who I am without her. My life would have been a lot more boring! She knows all my most embarassing secrets (though she doesn't usually keep them secret!) and I know hers. And the pictures...hehe... I have the most embarassing pictures of her... and I'd show you... except I'm in them too... and that's just not going to happen. :)

Twins :)

Us in Hong Kong

Us in Jordan.

(ok, with the last two I was just having fun in Photoshop... but someday, we'll travel together!)

Friday, October 07, 2005

So many missed opportunities

A few weeks ago I wrote about my realization that I've never really seen people. I've seen them, but I haven't seen them. My eyes are starting to be opened to behold the unique beauty and glory of God that He reveals in each person.

But my old habits die hard. I reflect on the various interactions I've had with people of late and realize that there are so many missed opportunities.

There are so many times that I interact with people, talk with them, listen to them- but fail to really engage. I enjoy myself rather than enjoying them.

I get so excited about what I'm learning, and what I want to say that I fail to just sit and behold the marvelous creature before me. I see them, but I don't see them. I listen but I don't listen. I fail to "practice their presence" so to speak.

I'm missing out, but I need to get past my own self-absorption to really engage with other people in ways that I rarely do. I think the goodness of God is evidenced in the fact that I actually still have friends!

:) *Smiling, but not joking* :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Avoiding eye-contact with God

That's what I feel like I've been doing for the past few weeks. All too aware of the ways that I am not measuring up, I put Him off because I feel unworthy of His presence. The subconscious line of thought is that once I just clean myself up a little better I can approach Him.

So silly. Really. Of course I can't measure up. As long as I try, or delude myself into thinking I can, I embrace my selfish pride. I fail often. Let's get that out of the way now, so I can just accept the freely given grace, and the truth that I am forgiven!

Makes me think of a quote that stood out for me in Brother Lawrence's "Practicing the Presence of God":

"When an occasion of practicing some virtue was offered, he addressed himself to God saying, 'Lord, I cannot do this unless Thou enablest me'. Then he received strength more than sufficient. When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, 'I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my failing and mend what is amiss.' Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it."

and this one:
"He said he was very aware of his faults, but not discouraged by them. He confessed them to God and made no excuses. Then, he peaceably resumed his usual practice of love and adoration."

LORD Jesus, I thank You that I cannot earn your love, OR Your acceptance!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A theology of suffering

It's been a crazy week. I think I worked, or was at work-related functions for about 80 hours this week. Don't get me wrong, I loved (almost) every second of it, though I'm a bit tired... We had orientation, with 4 candidates, our international director visiting, and a board meeting and barbeque yesterday. Well I didn't actually go to the board meeting, thankfully. :)

A highlight of my week though was this:

On Thursday afternoon with orientation officially over, I had a great discussion with Mel (friend and co-worker), Donnie (Canadian director and my boss) and our international director John Fletcher. We have these defining discussions with Donnie all the time, and it is one of the best things about working here. These talks, as we dig into our relationships with God, what He's teaching us, and how that works into how He has called us to serve. We've all been learning such similar lessons, about how our identity is found not in what we DO for God (as if He would be lost without us) but in WHO we are in relationship with Him. What we do has to flow out of that relationship, or else it's all self effort that will blow away in the wind.

Anyway, on Thursday, as we sat and talked, John Fletcher brought up the concern that we need to have a theology of suffering.... instead of a theology of success.

The theology of success is what we are comfortable with, and what we've come to expect when it comes to ministry. Find out what works and market it. Come do this _____ ministry with us because it is exciting, dangerous, needed, fun, _____ etc. The reality of ministry is that it inevitably involves suffering. If our faith doesn't have room for this... we'll either learn it as we suffer, or we'll crash and burn.

But suffering, brokenness and pain are not our enemies. Shattered dreams are most often the things that bring us to God, and refine us. In the loss of the things that we desire, we find that our greater desire and need is for Him.

(good references: Henry Nouwen, "The Wounded Healer""and Larry Crabb, "Shattered Dreams")

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fun on the weekend

On Saturday I went to Toronto for the day to pick up one of our visiting workers. Marie was one of the women I was able to visit with in Thailand, and she is staying with me in London for the week. We are so glad to have her here during our COP (Candidate Orientation Program) as she shares with us. On Saturday we went to Chinatown, to Kensington Market, and got a bit of shopping in at a new store in the Eaton Centre. When I was in Bangkok with her, we had a system worked out as we shopped at a market on a free day. She would do the bartering because she would get a better deal because of her Asian face. Then I would find us a place to sit, or to eat, because I would get better treatment as a white foreigner. Warped I know, but we made it work for us, and decided to laugh about it.

Then on the way home from Toronto I stopped in Cambridge and stayed over with Steve & Amanda and the next morning Amanda and I went to Fergus for Matthew Garrett's baby dedication.

It was a great weekend, spent with people I love. Living so far away from family, I am SO grateful for friends like Steve & Amanda and Kim & Pat... they ARE family!

Friday, September 23, 2005

A sore back, two paper-cuts and one vicious fight with a paper shredder

You just knew it was this glamorous didn't you?

I spent the day hunkering down on the floor of my office which has officially been pronounced a disaster area (to the delight of certain co-workers, jealous of how organized I was bragging about being :) ). My mind is numb now after reorganizing and purging all 35 of our missionaries' files. I've got the battle wounds to prove it.

I was pretty excited yesterday to receive our new Edge (short-term) brochures, which are the first full-colour brochures I've designed. And the other day we received our mini-displays, which are the first displays I've designed. Because I am so proud of myself, I took a picture of some of them to show you.

Yesterday was much more fun, because I got to play with Stephen, while his parents (Scott & Courtney who work with me at PIONEERS) worked on stuff after hours. That is, until he bumped his head on my desk and I handed him back over to mom.

Ok, just wanted to give you a peek inside my exciting week :)

Oh yeah- the fight between me and the paper shredder? I won of course.
And I'll be good as new in a few days. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"I run to Thee"

A praise song written for the PIONEERS retreat I went to in Cyprus, written by one of our missionaries in Central Asia.

I run to Thee with longing heart
My childlike steps to waiting arms
To know You as the highest prize
I cast aside these worldly charms
To hear Your voice, to share Your life
To see You in Your majesty

And drawing near I find my rest, and hide myself in Thee
And drawing near I find my rest, and hide myself in Thee

I run to Thee all burdened down
With cares of life and load of sin,
Your invitation beckons me
To steal away and enter in
My will release, my heart exchange
Your life for mine, the mystery

And drawing near I find my rest, and hide myself in Thee
And drawing near I find my rest, and hide myself in Thee

I run to Thee with battle wounds,
A heavy heart, and throbbing pain
For You, the source of healing streams,
Can only make me whole again
And hope is mine when weakened, I
In Your strength face the enemy

And drawing near I find my rest, and hide myself in Thee
And drawing near I find my rest, and hide myself in Thee

I run to Thee with arms outstretched,
My crowns from life I cannot hold
But cast them down at love-scarred feet
And enter into joy untold
Your nail-pierced hands and radiant face
Now I, in wondrous glory see

And drawing near I find my rest, and hide myself in Thee
And drawing near I find my rest, and hide myself in Thee

Friday, September 16, 2005

I found it!

During Christmas break in 2001, I brought my decrepit laptop home with me, and my 13 year-old sister Ashley borrowed it one day and made me this simple picture and message, and saved it as my wallpaper. As most of you know, she died in February of 2002 so it suddenly meant a lot to me. Then my computer died, and I thought I lost the file.
Today as I was going through old, old files I found it!
Just a simple picture that means an awful lot to me. :)
Thank You God!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I heard a good sermon this past week at North Park. It was about forgiveness. It got me thinking. I never realized I had trouble forgiving until the past few years. This was the quote that helped it finally "click" for me:
In His death Christ has paid for all sin- not only mine, but also that of the whole world- and that includes the sin that committed against me by my neighbour. The Gospel gives me a solid foundation not only for receiving forgiveness, but also for giving it. We can now forgive, knowing that our sense of justice has not been muzzled, but rather vindicated in the finished work of Christ.

Forgiveness is the choice to agree with God concerning what is due the one who has sinned against me. In the finished work of Christ I hear God say, 'It has been paid for.' To refuse to forgive is to choose to disagree with God, saying that the cross was not enough to deal with all sin.

Recently I took the picture below, and on it, put the names of all of the people in my life I could think of who had hurt or wounded me in some way. All of the people who have either caused me pain, or sinned against me, or both. Then I crossed each name out, and put "PAID FOR, DEALT WITH, FORGIVEN" across it. Every sin has been paid for, and every pain carried by Jesus at the cross. As I recognize that truth, real healing and forgiveness is unavoidable. I'd share my worship art with you, but why bring up all the names and old hurts? They all were dealt with at the cross. Thank You Jesus!

As I went through it all, one thing became painfully clear: I can make a long list of wounds, minor and major, but as I think about all of the people I have met in my life, I realize that I have hurt, and treated people worse than I have been treated. I don't have anything to say about it, as I am still reeling from the realization. It probably shouldn't be such a surprise.

LORD thank you that you are changing me!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Christ's love spilling out

It is so wonderful to watch God at work, and even more wonderful when He allows us to be a part of it.

This morning our team spent in prayer: prayer of thanksgiving, praise, confession, and petition. We prayed for ourselves, each other, and for the numerous people we have been given the privelege of serving. We prayed for those preparing to live overseas, and those already there living as salt and light in the darkest places of the world.

I also heard some great stories of how God is at work, and what struck me this morning was this: the stories we are hearing about lives being touched by God's Love and Truth are stories where it is clearly God at work. The most amazing stories are not the ones where ambitious servants started programs, or developed winning strategies (though there are places for those things). The stories that I am hearing are about how ordinary people, who have chosen to live in dark places, let the Light of God shine through them naturally.

Like the girl **Samantha living in East Asia among a Buddhist people. She wanted to find a way to share some Truth with friends who had gathered together to work on a research project. Before she even had a chance, as they discussed funeral rites, one of the girls began to share how she has seen that Christians are not afraid of death like her people are. The Hope, Light, Truth and Love of Christ are shared first, without words.

Less and less am I concerned about strategies and methods. More and more I am consumed with a desire to KNOW God. More and more I realize that Christ IS my life. As I am overwhelmed with His love, I can't help but love Him, and I can't hold back the love I have for others. I want it to flow out naturally, like breathing. I want people to know me, and as a result, hunger and thirst after the only One who can satisfy.

** name changed

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Pictures from my July trip to New Brunswick

In July I had the opportunity to go home to New Brunswick for a week to see my family. It was such a needed break, and a huge blessing to be able to make the unexpected trip. Thank you LORD! I also had the opportunity to travel to White Head Island to share at the church there, and to fellowship with some great people. Here are some of my pictures from the trip. Enjoy!
(click on the picture if you want to see it larger than shown here)

Notice almost every picture here has the ocean in it. Guess what I miss the most when I am living far inland in Ontario? (Aside from my great family of course)

At my aunt & uncle's lot

another view from their beach

from the beach in front of our family's cottage

On Dorchester Island

Dorchester Island again
(that's Dorchester NEW BRUNSWICK- not Dorchester Ontario) :)

I don't have pictures of all of them- I have a huge family... but here are a few

Me with mom and dad on Dorchester Island

aunt Marcia, aunt Alva, aunt Simonne, and mom
(4 of the 12 siblings)

aunt Marcia and my cousin Rebecca

my cousin Christy
(we share the same birthday, but not the same year, in case you were wondering)

aunt Carolyn and uncle Gary

My two grandmothers: memere and nan
(A true Canadian- I'm Acadian and British (with some Scottish) and proud of it!)

My parents and I travelled to White Head Island so that I could share at the church there. The island is beautiful, and the people warm and hospitable. It was too short of a trip, so I guess I'll just have to go back to visit again sometime.

Here waiting for the first ferry

On the ferry

A view of part of Grand Manan Island from the ferry as it passed by. I kick myself for not taking more pictures when I actually got to White Head, but I was too nervous about speaking at the church to remember!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Like a child again

I feel like I am a little child again. When I was a child my favourite thing to do was explore. My sense of wonder was alive and well. This sense of adventure lead me to explore the woods and fields around my house, climb trees, and catch every frog, toad and other creature I could find. I explored the beaches, examining everything I saw, from jelly fish to fossils. I can remember looking with reverence at what I now take for granted.

Lately, I have noticed a renewed sense of wonder and awe... and I feel like I have new eyes to see what was always there. But this time, what I see and enjoy, is not the world that I can see and touch.

I'm talking about people. Complex, imperfect, walking wounded, but incredibly beautiful. I wish I could really describe what I am beginning to see.

I think I can trace it to the on-going revelation of God's love for me. The more He reveals it to me, the more I can't help loving Him, and I can't hold back my love for people.

I don't even know if they know it yet. But I see them differently. I've always known my biggest struggle is with being critical and judgmental. I've acknowledged it was wrong, and tried hard to change it. I've tried to "be loving." At best, there were superficial fixes that often failed. But now, I can see how God has been at work, and how He is breaking down strongholds.

I want to see with His eyes... with His love. I can't manufacture it on my own. I am getting tiny glimpses of how He sees people, and when God looks at people there are no losers, no failures, no freaks and no bores. I hunger for more of this- God have Your way!

Like a child I see and marvel. I see good, and rejoice. I see bad, and know that is not all there is. I see a broken person and I see hope. I see God at work, transforming a life, and I am fascinated. I am faced with the intricacy of a personality, and I gaze with reverence at how God has uniquely formed each person.

I have been moved watching the sun set over a pure, peaceful landscape, and inspired by the power of the ocean's crashing waves. Neither one compares with the beauty of any human being.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Some favourite quotes... Malcolm Smith

Just wanted to share some good quotes taken from the website of my favourite Bible teacher, Malcolm Smith (

On forgiveness:
"In His death Christ has paid for all sin- not only mine, but also that of the whole world- and that includes the sin that was committed against me by my neighbor. The Gospel gives me a solid foundation not only for receiving forgiveness, but also for giving it. We can now forgive, knowing that our sense of justice has not been muzzled, but rather vindicated in the finished work of Christ.
"Forgiveness is the choice to agree with God concerning what is due the one who has sinned against me. In the finished work of Christ I hear God say, 'It has been paid for.' To refuse to forgive is to choose to disagree with God, saying that the cross was not enough to deal with all sin."

From God to us:
"My child I am with you; I am not merely alongside you; I am with you and united to you at the core of your being. You will never call upon Me and find that I have left you. I am with you always and answer your faintest cry. Though the darkness menace you, you are bound to Me forever. When you neither see nor hear or feel Me, know My child that I am with you and will never forsake you.I have set my love upon you from before time because of who I am; if I ceased to love you I would cease to be. Do not let your heart be tormented with the fear that you will do something to cause Me to leave you or stand aloof treating you with indifference. You do not control My being with you by your behavior. You can neither summon Me nor dismiss Me by your works. I am free in my love and beyond manipulation by My children. My presence with you is not a deserved reward for your good behavior but is continually poured upon you out from the sheer delight of My love for you. My child I am not merely alongside you; I am with you and united to you at the core of your being. You are bound to Me forever. Let My word be engraved upon your heart and rest."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

PIONEERS Team Retreat in Muskoka

I have the best co-workers in the world. Last week we went to Muskoka to a cottage for a prayer and planning retreat. It was a great time to spend together in such a beautiful place. We spent the mornings in meetings, going over what has happened in the last year, and looking forward into the next year, seeking to see how God is leading our next steps. I found it quite amazing to see how far we have come, when looking back. We are in a pretty exciting place of growth, and look forward to seeing how God will work as we move ahead.

One thing became clear- we just have to thank and praise God for the work He is doing to draw people to Himself. We are privileged to have a part in seeing people leave their comfort zones and live as salt and light in the darkest places of the world.

Here is a picture that we took at the retreat, so you can see the great folks I work with.

Monday, August 22, 2005

In a sea of uncertainty... and thankful

Everything in my life is uncertain.

If I had been able to have my way in the past few years, this would not be the situation of my life, and these would not be my circumstances. Finding myself here now though, there is no other place I'd rather be.

It is difficult though. I find myself out in the wilderness, with no one, and nothing, that is steady, constant and certain.

At Christmas, while with my family, it hit me hard that NB is no longer my home. I will always be welcome there- will love and be loved- but I don't belong. 2000 km away, I live with various roommates over time (last count 24 in all) and am blessed by each of them. But we each move on into different phases of life. Nothing steady.

For years I held onto "my plans" with a fiery passion. If the people in my life were not constant, at least I had my plans and ambitions to hold onto. Now, all I know is that nothing is certain. Right now, God gives me just enough light to be able to take the next step, not to see into the far-reaching horizon.

This is when I can struggle most with being single: when I can envy my friends who have someone to help them when the car breaks down, to help make financial decisions, and who for better or for worse will be a companion at their side.

But praise God for bringing me here. In this uncertainty, I can only rest where true certainty is found. Drawn away from the safety and security of life in dependence on anyone or anything else, I am forced to find in Him, everything I need.

This is a season of my journey for which I am enormously grateful. I have asked many of you to pray for the refining of my faith, that it would go through the fire and come out purified into something beautiful. I have to admit I winced as I wrote that in my last prayer letter. But greater than the fear of pain in what the answer might mean, I hunger for the fulfillment of its purpose. This is my journey, and I don't want to move up from here unless God is in it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Introduction to my blog

Hi there...

This is my blog... my first attempt at such a thing... we'll see how it goes...

Since so many of the precious people in my life live so far away from me, and since I am always struggling to keep in touch with you all, I thought this might be a good way to keep you updated on my life, and all God is doing and teaching me. I'm also excited to be able to share pictures with you.

Feel free to comment on here, or drop me an email. I'd love to hear from you!

Your sister and friend,


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