Wednesday, 19 March 2014

finding rest.

I am tired. How about now? Yep, still tired.

Last night I stayed up until 5AM doing research for my term paper for one of my classes. Isn't it funny how after you're done the research you feel like you're done the paper? But I actually have nothing written down right now, so if I were to hand that in- um, well, I can't really hand it in. There's nothing, haha. Gotta get writing.

But isn't this how most of us feel sometimes? We just keep going and going and going, yet it feels like nothing is getting done. We're tired. And boy am I tiiiired.

I need to learn to find rest.

A friend recently shared this article on rest. The message that stuck out to me the most is that Man is not sovereign, only God is.

So here's to finding rest and trusting in an almighty God.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

a messy canvas.

I think we all fear our flaws. But how crippling is your fear?

I often worry about being a perfect example for others, and therefore strive for perfection in everything I do. And that is where I fall short. I don't allow myself to make mistakes, so I either spend too much time perfecting something, or I give up and pretend it never existed in the first place.

Take this blog, for example. I wouldn't write if I didn't have a perfect post. I even get caught up with perfection when writing in my own personal journal. If my handwriting isn't perfect, if it doesn't look artistic, then why write at all? This is a silly question, because I write to reflect, not to show off my calligraphy or penmanship.

But it's okay to not be perfect. In fact, it's better to know that we aren't perfect. Christ alone is perfect. We should be okay with knowing that we are imperfect, and instead be made perfect by Christ. He gave us everything so that God would see us as perfect. He alone is enough.

Don't let your flaws cripple you. Let yourself be a work in progress, a messy canvas.

Monday, 10 March 2014

the danger in hobbies.

Someone recently asked me what my hobbies were. It's funny how such a simple question can stick with you for so long, and cause you to ponder your life so thoroughly. To be honest, I don't know what my hobbies are.

I used to love telling others, "I am a blogger, a writer, an avid social media user, a baker, a cook, a crafter.." A whole host of things that I thoroughly enjoyed. If it isn't evident from my lack of recent posts, most of these have kind of... derailed. I didn't know what to blog about, so I stopped. This is because I didn't know what to write about. I no longer knew what to do to relax, and rest. I didn't know what I did to unwind.

It's very confusing when you lose track of your hobbies. I think hobbies can be a very healthy thing, but they can be dangerous when they become an obsession. I think this might be why God took them away from me. I was finding too much of my identity in these things.

I needed to take time away to think about how the things I do can point back to Christ. How can the things that I do help me find rest, and to see God's handiwork in my life?

I can't promise that I will be back and blogging with great vigour. But since this happened, I know that I have definitely felt a rush of things come to mind that I want to blog about. I want to write again! I want to draw again! I want to craft again! I want to cook again! And I really hope that in doing all these things, I don't lose sight of Christ.

My hope for this blog has always been to share my life with others. To share my life, my faith, my experiences, and to hopefully encourage. I know this, but I need to always remember this.

So hopefully in putting my trust in God, in finding my identity in Christ, I can find joy in my hobbies again.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

finding my way back to Him

To my brothers and sisters in Christ,

I want to share with you a bit about what I've been learning in the past little while. I hope this post can be an encouragement to you. I don't know if anyone reads my blog anymore since I rarely post as of lately.. but I really wanted to share this.

I always need to remind myself again and again of my dependence on God. The hymn Before the Throne of God Above really encourages me, especially these lyrics:
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Okay and basically the rest of the song too, haha. I have been listening to the song on repeat lately, reminding myself to run to God and to bow before Him. I did not want to, and just did not feel like it. Anytime I opened my bible I just felt like I was reading words. It just felt… blah. However, I was reminded recently to do three very important things, always.
  1. Preach the gospel to ourselves always (yourself personally, and to other believers as well);
  2. to remain steadfast in prayer; and
  3. to wait patiently on the Lord.
Feeling super inadequate, I spent some time in prayer, pleading with God. I’ve also been reading a bunch of the psalms, so I just wanted to share these verses with you, Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV):
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.
So no matter where you are, and what you are feeling, I hope these words can encourage you.

In my denial of my need for God, I am sinning. I am slowly coming to realize, again, that we as human beings kind of suck. We are weak, we fail, and we are super sinful. BUT there is hope in Jesus! God is good, and He is perfect and unfailing. He stands firm and is our rock and salvation. No matter how inadequate we might be feeling about any situation, don’t forget that though we are imperfect, we have a perfect God to look to.

God is good. He gave Jesus on the cross for us, saving us from eternal condemnation. We are His. We are broken, but we are His.

With love,
from a sister who is venturing to find her way to a burning desire to be like Christ,

Sunday, 15 December 2013

free time!

Wow! Free time! Now that I'm done this semester of school, I can finally do things that I enjoy rather than holing myself up.. whew. On a side note, my computer died (thankfully, after I finished all my essential work for the semester, so I'm surprisingly not as stressed out about it as I could be). I'm not sure what happened right now. I'll bring it into the Apple Store when I get home for the holidays, I suppose. But for now, I'm just borrowing Jethro's computer. Useful!

Anyway! Since I'm done my school work, and I don't have constant access to a computer, it's a great reason to work on Christmas cards and to make delicious desserts. My two favourites! I haven't posted about crafts or food in a long time, only because I find myself not doing them much anymore. Sniffle. But alas, here are some of the cards I've made this year! I quite enjoy their simplicity :)

My favourite holiday song this season (a Pentatonix version, whaat?)

My favourite holiday song from last year

I'm really enjoying this scribble theme I've been using all year!

Can't go wrong with cursive writing!

Rejoice!! Such a joyous season to rejoice in the Lord!

And these aren't cards, but I've been making lots of Oreo truffles (cream cheese truffles), and my housemates absolutely adore them. They are so simple and so delicious! Glad to help out with the studying snacks in any way I can!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

on being 'enough'.

Something that I often struggle with is being enough and feeling loved.

As a Christian, something we should all do more often is remind ourselves again and again of the gospel and of our own salvation. If I go back to where I was before I knew God and remind myself of how God found me and what convicted me, and how He reached me.. I remember feeling alone, lost, worthless, aimless, etc. God showed me and promised me a life with Him knowing that he cares for me, that He loves me, that He gave his one and only son for me. I have to constantly remind myself that I am loved. That God loves me no matter what. I can’t screw up so badly that he will turn away from me. As big as the sin is in my life, God / still / loves / me. He won’t love me one day, and not love me another day. His love is perfect. God is love. His love is great, and I need it. I need to know that He loves me. Some days I just want to be hugged and held. And when I can’t, I get really emotional and needy. It is a big struggle to remind myself that though God won’t give me a physical hug, his Spirit dwells in me. Christ died for me. Is that not enough??
..though God won’t give me a physical hug, his Spirit dwells in me.
I have always tried to fit in. I want to fit in so badly, and in the process I end up losing sight of myself and of God. If I please people more than myself (and unfortunately, pleasing people feels much more immediate than pleasing God), I can earn their love. Ouch, I find that really hard to type. Earning their love. God’s love came free to me!!! What are you doing, Stephanie?!?!? Sometimes I want God to be a teddy bear who will comfort me all the time. But his love is better than that. He isn't simply a source of comfort, but a source of fuel.

And so, I pray that God alone will satisfy me. To know that I am enough for God and that he loves unconditionally.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

how do you overcome writer's block? write.

I always get caught in this spiral of not knowing what to write: I have nothing to write that is interesting, nor important, nor valuable; it serves no purpose, I'm not good enough, or whatever other excuses I can make up for myself. Writer's block- it's the absolute worst. I still have nothing to write, so I'm writing about writer's block. Makes sense, right?

I feel like this is reminder to myself that I need to get back on my feet and write again. For me, the creative process comes in journalling, in drawing and in mindmapping. I miss it, I definitely do! So while I have nothing exciting nor insightful to share today, I am here to say hello. Hello! And so for the sake of updating my blog, and for the sake of getting back on my feet and writing again, I am going to update y'all.

It is now November, and well into the school year. A major major change in my life is that I found out this summer that I am graduating this year! I was originally going to take an extra year because I switched into my program a year late, but I am somehow able to take my 3rd and 4th year credits at the same time. Praise God! But at the same time, it brings lots of new challenges that I was not prepared for (but when is anyone ever prepared?). So, I am now exploring the world of post-graduation. Will I pursue more education? If so, what? Next year, or after getting work experience? Will I go into the work world next year? Basically: What will I do, and where will I go? I have definitely found myself in a sea of applications and am praying for guidance as to where I should be.

Woop woop! I don't really know if I have anything else to update y'all on. I'm doing swell, other than the usual stresses of a university student (TIME. WHAT IS TIME.), I moved (again) this year aaaaaaaaaaand yes.

Hello friends! I will try to come back and write more often. I miss this, and I will try my best to not let writer's block get the best of me. I want to share my world with you, and I do have a few ideas for some potential posts. So, see you soon! I hope :)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

what are you crying over?

Yes. I am writing about crying. This is kind of a weird topic for a post, but it’s in response to these two posts from Trevin Wax: I Weep for Miley and Further Thoughts.

Someone asked him if he was actually weeping, and he said yes, he did actually weep. So that got me thinking about what I weep for. You know that expression “there’s no use crying over spilt milk”? Am I crying over spilt milk? What am I crying over?

I used to cry all the time.. #girlproblems. You could set me off with anything emotionally charged. Honestly, you still can, though I cry a lot less than I used to. A secret pastime of mine is watching sappy movies and crying my way through them. And now you know!

The last time I cried was when I visited Jethro to celebrate my birthday with him and he gave me a necklace for my birthday. Now, it isn’t the necklace that made me cry, but what he said. He told me that the cross on the necklace should serve as a reminder to always look to Jesus on the cross. Our relationship is and will continue to have its challenges but the cross is a continual reminder for us. A reminder of who we are as Christians and that it is God at the centre of our relationship. This made me cry because I was simultaneously looking forward to the necklace (which I “didn’t know about” but secretly or not-so-secretly did know about) while also not wanting to get a present for the sake of presents (they really are silly). But this bold reminder was what I needed. Jesus gave me everything when He died on the cross - that's the best present ever!

The last time I broke down sobbing was a weekend last spring where nothing was going right- er, I mean, nothing was going my way. You know those “WHY MEE???” moments? That’s what I was going through. But that weekend also came at such an opportune time. Our fellowship was running what we call an Iron Chef night where we cook food to feed each other and our friends, and we put on skits that illustrate the Gospel. And the next day, a bunch of my friends were getting baptized at church and they shared their testimonies of where they’ve been and how God has come into their lives. All the while, I was having the worst few weeks, and throwing myself a huge pity party. The reminder of the Gospel was so loud and clear that weekend. I broke down and let the tears stream down my face. It was a reminder to not get caught up in my own life and to be constantly preaching the Gospel to myself!

So yes, my tears are what we like to call Jesus tears. I wouldn’t say my tears are only Jesus tears now - I’ll probably still cry if I watch a sappy movie. But for the most part, I cry when I am moved. And I am most moved by my Saviour. I cannot stress how amazing it is that Jesus took on my sin and became my sacrificial lamb, dying on that cross so I could live an eternal life with God. Jesus’ death and resurrection move me in a way that nothing else can.

Friday, 30 August 2013

red cross, quebec and the cross.

So I don't know if this bothers me, or if I just find it very curious.

Most countries have a red cross society and some countries have red crescent societies. I had no idea until I went to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) HQ in Geneva. Lots of Muslim countries have adopted the red crescent because they believe that the red cross is promoting Christianity and wanted their own symbol (though it isn't really? I don't think the red cross is or ever was a faith-based organization). And now the ICRC they have introduced a religiously neutral symbol - the red crystal (though personally crystals remind me of gypsies and fortune tellers.. tarot and other crazy things, but whatever hahaha).

And in Quebec they are trying to ban all religious symbols in public service. I don't know if this was a weird backwards attack on burkas by banning all symbols or if they are just really anti-religion and want to affirm that you shouldn't impose your beliefs on others.. either way, it was unsettling, though the motion hasn't pass yet. I also find it interesting because all I ever learned in elementary/middle/high school history is that Quebec was historically a largely Catholic province. Not sure what other people learn in history, but I was in french immersion.. we learned a lot about Nouvelle-France, haha.

Quebec worries me. When I think of evangelism and think of people who don't know Jesus, my mind automatically goes to India and I think of the injustices of the caste system. I don't know if it's because I've read a lot about India and heard a lot of missionaries talk about India, or what. But then I realize that it's both worldwide and locally that people don't know Jesus. Churches in Quebec are being transformed into community centres because nobody wants to go to church anymore. That makes me cry. I want to plant myself in these other communities. And obviously I do know that there are people who don't know Christ all over.. I see it in my own family. But as Matt Chandler so eloquently puts it, I need to be where I am and take it seriously if my heart really does ache for those who don't know Christ.

Anyway. I wonder what the cross really means to me. It's gotta be more than a symbol or a piece of jewelry that I wear. I can't just carry my bible around for show. If they took away the symbols of my faith, what would I have? Well, I would still have the cross. I would still have Jesus. I would still have my faith. This song, one of my faves.

All this makes me think of China and their thriving but dangerous underground churches and the like. So yes, it bothers me a lot that people will fight any kind of religious expression, but I know that God works regardless.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. -Hebrews 10:23

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

finding myself, by losing myself.

I just finished reading Radical, by David Platt. Have you read it? I would definitely recommend it. It's a good read no matter where you stand with Christ. The book is a call to live in radical abandonment to Jesus.

I am so often distracted by the things of this life, as we often are.. As I write this on my MacBook Pro, in the beautiful countryside in England. I am spoiled, in so many ways. Can I give up my comforts and my personal goals all for Jesus? It's a question I will continue to ask myself everyday. I say that I live for Christ, but do I really? I don't think I do. But I want to, and I want to learn how to.

Having studied at the Castle this past term, I have been thrown into a new environment where you meet new people all the time and a few common questions people ask include, "What are you studying? What do you hope to do in the future?". Throughout my time at the castle I have had a strong pull to become an occupational therapist- oh wait, a nurse- just kidding, health policy and law! I am being pulled every which way, and I don't know what I will do in the future.

I used to want to be a pharmacist. I wanted to be a pharmacist because science was all I knew. Science is all I had ever studied. I also knew that I liked helping people, so I wanted to go into healthcare. But I didn't want to be a doctor. I wanted to be a pharmacist because it is good pay right out of school. I wanted to be a pharmacist because it sounds cool to be a "drug dealer". All sorts of silly reasons, but mostly because I wanted to work in healthcare and a pharmacist's job is important because medicine runs our world. We live in an era of scientific and medical expertise, where pharmaceutical companies hold so much power (a little too much if you ask me). Why am I telling you this? Because I gave up on this goal. I switched programs from science into health (it's an arts program where I study), and haven't a clue what I will do with it. I am still interested in the health of people, but ever since becoming a Christian I am more and more interested in their spiritual health as well as their physical and social health.

I don't know yet how to reconcile my interests into a future career. I don't know what I will do. But I know that I now want to build my life in a way where I am not doing it for me, not for the money, not for the fame, but for Jesus. Where will God lead me to best serve Him? Can I give up my comforts and my desires to live a life of obedience? A life of radical abandonment?

I want to read the bible more. I want to pray more. I want to know Jesus more. I want to have the faith and the courage to live a life of obedience to Christ. I want to lose my pride and lose my selfish desires. I want to lose myself so I can find myself in Christ.