Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Catching Up, Or Checking In?

So many things have happened in the last year or so since I have blogged on here. But, I wanted to share with you what God is doing in our lives here in Calgary.

Two Sundays ago, I became a member of Trinity Baptist Church here in Calgary.

Last Sunday I was baptized!

Here is the short testimony I shared prior to being baptized.
'I became a Christian a few years ago, in my mid-twenties.

I had been toying with the idea of Christianity and what being a Christian meant for a long time before making the decision to follow Christ. Once I made the active choice to give my life to Christ, nothing has been the same since, thankfully!

Thankfully in Ponoka, my old church and my mentor, Lynda found me. She helped me along, encouraged me, loved on me and helped me to keep my eyes focused on Christ. There was also an army of other Christians who still walk closely with God and remain shining examples for me and many others.

I studied and prayed and stayed in that early stage for a while until I felt I needed more, so I asked God to allow me to go deeper with Him, in fact I asked him if I could go deeper than over my head, what an amazing and scary concept that was!

Well, over my head we went! He sent me to a YWAM discipleship training school in Winnipeg, and to
Uganda for two months of outreach. I’d like to say more but I am limited in my words, let’s just say that it was the worst, best, most enriching and fulfilling 7 months of my life, so full of challenge, love, and growth and lasting friends.

Returning home I felt lost, about where I should go and what I should do next. I put an application in for nursing school (leagues after the deadline passed), and actually got in! God was at work again!

During my final year of nursing school I had to decide where I wanted to go for my final placement. I don’t know about you, but who really knows that before even finishing? Anyways, at that time I wanted another BIG adventure like my time in Winnipeg and Uganda, so I thought, Hey! Calgary has some really big and amazing hospitals, I’ll go there! Little did I know God was prodding me here for a greater purpose.

I moved here in October of last year, and I was so lonely. I have had periods of loneliness before but this one was a particularly tough one. I started in a big hospital, in a field where I was, and am, particularly challenged, and living with a lovely and loving family who spoke only a little bit of English. I needed to rely on God heavily in this short low time.

On a whim, I signed up for online dating and had no luck with it, then on the last 2 days of my membership, this man emailed me looking to go for coffee. I really had no aspirations that it would work out, but I thought I may as well go seeing as I had nothing to lose.

That was the moment God brought me to meet my husband. It did take me a couple of dates to decide it was OK to like him and in fact, during our courtship I prayed that if Matt wasn’t going to be something special that God should take him away because I had felt so much heartbreak before.

Well, as you can see, God didn’t take him away, he truly is someone special, and being married to him has been the most extraordinary enterprise. I am overjoyed to have him here with me today standing beside me as my amazing, loving, and devoted husband.

With much prayer and thought I am pleased to become a member of this church body together with Matt.

We not only feel supported here, but challenged, loved, and pursued.

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”'

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Crying in a pew

First of all I want to wish all mothers out there a happy Mother's day!

Mothers have the hardest job on the entire planet. They are wonderful and amazing people, they sacrifice and give the best for their children.



I am not a mother. Not yet.


I was dating someone until recently and I had hoped that we were moving towards that eventual goal, of course not passing the road marker of marriage first. 

This morning on my way to church I realized that I really am not a mother. And that dream seems even further way now that Jason and I are no longer.

I was overcome with this sadness, a feeling of loss and longing and I cried.

Of course when I got to church they were also celebrating mothers and what they do for us in our lives. They were handing out carnations to the mothers in the congregation.

Directly in the pew across the church was his family, I was reminded of the recent loss again when the men were handing flowers to the women in Jason's family.

A man in my church who always goes out of his way to welcome me and say hello walked up to me and handed me a flower.

I shook my head to say no to him, seeing as I am not a mother and therefore I wasn't actually supposed to receive one. He said, "yes you will" with a smile.

I tried in vain to hold back the tears that were bursting at the surface, trying to push their way out, it was a hopeless idea.

Thankfully, just at that moment a woman sat beside me. She is a beautiful woman, her heart is so large and she is so loving she said, "this isn't a day for crying" and she pulled me into her arms and held me for a while.

She is a mother in the truest sense of the word, a mother to not only me at that moment, but she is the one who continually comes to me when I am sad or needing a hug in church. She isn't even a woman I know outside of the church building, but such a huge blessing to everyone there.

And then the sermon started.

It was about seeking God in times of trouble and turmoil (at least thats the part that spoke to me the most at that moment).

I was almost immediately uplifted, this time of feeling sorry for myself for having lost something was blocked out by the shining of God into my heart.

Right then it became clear that my foundation hasn't been built on that relationship, but on Christ. He has been building me up for years now for moments like this.

The trick is to seek Him when times get tough, because He is the only one who can fulfill what is missing in my life.

I don't have things missing in my life at all. I know that my longing and waiting is just going to make the payoff that much sweeter.

I love where God has me at this moment, showing me and shaping me into His image, prying away the layers that add bulk onto something that is already good.

Gosh.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Summer Adventures Part II

A few days later Amber and I decided to go to the art gallery, we hadn't been to the new building yet and we really wanted to check it out, look at art, look at arty people, chill out and hang out with a great friend. There were some fantastic galleries set up within the metal curvy building, Warner Bros., Canadiana, and then came the 3rd floor, the modern art gallery. I have been so blessed to walk through art galleries and museums around the world, mostly classic art, always breathtaking, but never had I been in an actual modern art gallery before. I understood some of it, I loved the autistic display of clocks in order, they were logical and orderly, and I got that, fascinating! We walked around browsing, laughing, and whispering about the strange and the quirky. There was around one corner a photocopy of a picture hanging on the wall, and underneath it there was a stack of about 5000 copies of the same picture. I casually picked it up and thought, these are surely for us patrons to take along with us, it wasn't until I was walking away that the truth came to me. It was part of the artwork you silly dolt! I was stealing it, but it was too late to put it back, I had just rolled it up, so I hastily jammed it into my purse and clutched my hands around the opening so that I wouldn't be discovered by a snippet of paper giving me away. I was MORTIFIED! I was an art thief, I was going to get caught, my life would be over at 30! I was wrong, and Amber had to keep reassuring me when I giggled that I wasn't the first person, or the last to do it. I am keeping that art, and making it my own, it shall be making its debut on my wall within the week, I just need to get a frame worthy of it now.
Oh the adventures go on and on!
There was a music festival that I went to, alone.... I was so nervous about going by myself, if anyone remembers me from when I was a young girl I was terribly shy, and I had a really hard time venturing out on my own, but God keeps showing me that it is alright to be alone.
As I gain more independence as a human being, I am getting more and more dependent on God, I would not be able to go places and see things alone of God was right there beside me showing me the way. GUH! SO GREAT!
More on the music festival in the next post!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Summer - Part 1

Adventures that can only happen in the summer time
I turned 30, yes it is true, the fact that Kim will ALWAYS be older than me helps me to sleep at night I think! I am just kidding, I am not only happy to be entering my 30s, but I am excited to see what is going to happen next. I don't know if it is because I have turned 30, but I seem to have a different perspective on a few things, or perhaps it is because I am enjoying where my life is and where it seems to be heading, but I wake up most days with a smile on my face, excited about the possible random adventures.
Everyday is an adventure, and I love getting to see and experience so many things. Today I saw a motorbike with a sidecar, kids in sumo suits in the park, and the oldest man in history with pants hiked as many inches as his age! And that was just on my supper break.
On my 30th birthday there was no exception, it was FILLED with adventure.I worked a day shift and was wished many happy well wishes from everyone there, hugs from Lorna, and Kelly remembering was so great, she took my breath away. When I was leaving work I was excited to go for supper at my favorite restaurant in Edmonton – the Sicilian Pasta Kitchen, it had been raining, my tires on my car are almost bald, I hit the ditch. No, let me correct that, I didn't hit the ditch so much as slid in, and as I was sliding slowly into the ditch I thought, “ok, I'm going in, lets see if I can just keep driving and make my way out again.” Well, I was hugely mistaken! I kept going for a while, probably 50 feet before my tires really started to bite deep grooves in the slick mud. I sunk down deep, right to the frame on the driver's side, stopping, and no amount of rocking would bring me back out, I crawled out the passenger side door after a long weepy phone call to my Mom, and another to AMA to get pulled out. There was success, and I was pulled out, after all that drama, I needed to use the washroom, but as I flushed the water away, it didn't go down like it usually would, it started bubbling up, at first only lapping the the rim, and then things took a huge turn for the worse, it flooded over and started filling the floor with water, I screamed, and then cried some more. Reality was sinking in, I had turned 30, there was no going back, I was no longer in my 20s, I had to grow up, and I mean really grow up, I just wasn't sure what that meant for me yet. I had almost decided to call the whole evening off, the dinner with my friends, but with some poking and prodding and encouragement from my Mom, I decided to get my butt moving and actually get ready to go. I am so glad that I did, because after a glorious meal with great friends, Amber, Jeremy, Darren and I went to the pub and witnessed a man eat the largest sandwich ever created by a human, instantly I was reminded of John Candy in The Great Outdoors and the 96 ounce steak, this was the start of the summer adventures!
A few days later Amber and I decided to go to the art gallery....
To Be Continued!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coffee Time

I was able to spend the evening with my dear friend Bethany.

I am pretty crazy about her, we both love music, art, photography, and Jesus. So, I love when we get the chance to hang out because we can talk about the most amazing things!

I am sorry my dear friends, but I am going to keep our conversation private, because I can.

I wanted to tell you about something that I saw while Bethany and I were in the coffee shop.

Earlier in the evening, people had been going in and out for the evening, mostly the younger crowd, seeking a hip coffee shop.

About half way through our very long coffee date, an older couple walked in; Nice looking, dressed like they are in the height of their retirement, happy and smiling.

Ten minutes later Beth and I heard this loud talking, we looked at each other questioningly, wondering what was up.

They were skyping! Using the free wireless available to patrons.

It was great, though not quiet, it was not obtrusive, and everyone else in the small building grew to a hush, not wanting to disturb their conversation.

I couldn't see them on their laptop, but Bethany watched the couple talking with their family from wherever they were.

Beth described them as leaning into the screen smiling broadly and beaming with joy. That is something amazing, and of course I wanted to catch a glimpse of them as well!

So I got up from my side of the table, and picked up our dirty dishes to move them to the bin, which was conveniently right beside where they were sitting.

I saw them, their faces shining from the blue of the computer and the joy within them.

I could hear upon my approach that they were talking to someone with a little voice, a grandchild maybe.

I smiled as I placed our dishes quietly into the bin and stood up. By the time I reached my full height again, the man of the couple was waving at me to come over.

I cocked my head to one side, in a way that said, what?
He said, yes please come here I want to show you.

I walked up and the sound from the speaker got louder and I could tell it was a little person indeed, and as I rounded the corner there he was!

Small, 3 years old and blonde as blonde could be.

I leaned over and watched him move and talk about spiderman to his "Gramma".

Grandpa said, "look! There is a lady here who wants to say hello"

I was unsure at first, but went along with it. He moved the camera so the little boy could see me and told him to wink at me. To which the little one obliged blinking forcefully both of his eyes at the same time.

I was instantly in love with his little face and voice as he said "guess what Gramma".

I thanked the family and walked away.

Bethany just smiled at me, knowing full well that I often find myself in the middle of someone else's family, and loving it.

I felt so honoured to be able to be a part of their lives for a moment. It was a moment the grandparents will never forget, even if the child does, and one I won't forget anytime soon either.

Love is a many splendored thing.

When the couple left they thanked me for coming to see him, and asked me so everyone could hear, just how beautiful he is.

I said yes, he truly is, and I thanked them both.

As they left Bethany and I discussed the love and joy and pride of that Grandpa, and we both thought whimsically how great it would be to have that when we are older.

We are both happy, so happy in where we reside right now, living in exactly the right place at the right time for us, but it was so great to see a happy future that is beaming down, shining a light for us both.

I love that I got to see a family so full of love, maybe someday I will get that too, but for now I am so overjoyed in getting to witness, and sometimes be a part of, a family.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Smile Train

Please note this has been slightly edited.

For those of you who have not heard about Smile Train, I wanted to pass this along.


This is an email sent by Brian Mullaney from Smile train. Take your time, read through the email and then watch the video he made.



It is truly Life Changing. Imagine if these stories were being told about Canadian kids? Imagine the public outcry that would happen? Why is it that these people are being forgotten? What are we scared of? What are we hding from by not being willing to open up and give our hearts?



here it is...


"Hi,



I just returned from an eye-opening trip to one of the poorest places on our planet.

We went to visit Dadaab, a sprawling refugee camp, on the Somalia – Kenya border.



It is a safe haven for all the people who have fled Somalia due to the violence, Islamic insurgents, famine, etc.



And it is one of the poorest, saddest, most horrific places I have ever seen.



The camp was built as a temporary solution in 1992 to house 90,000 refugees – 18 years later it holds 300,000 wretched souls of which 20% are under 5 years old. More than 5,000 new refugees show up every week begging for food and shelter. But there is no more room and no more food.



We met with Dr. Dan, our partner surgeon who is a true, modern-day Good Samaritan and bonafide Saint who has been saving children and adults here for the past 5 years. His commitment and passion – even after 5 very difficult years – were really inspiring. 



These 300,000 children and their parents in Dadaab are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.



On one side they face violence and death in Somalia.



El Shabab is the leading Islamic terror group in Somalia and we were told they make Al Qaeda look like a bunch of Boy Scouts. Recently they sent a suicide bomber into the middle of a Somalia medical school graduation ceremony killing all 20 new graduates and their families and professors. Somalia, the leading failed state in the world is quickly getting worse and today El Shabab controls two thirds of the country.



On the other side, is a very high barbed wire fence and the Kenyan army.



Somalians are not allowed into Kenya - or even outside the camp. We met a woman with 5 kids, no husband, and legs left lifeless by polio. We asked her questions and then when we finished she asked us one: “We have been here since 1992 – what can you do for us?” You can see her if you look at the photo of the ramshackle hut with a young boy in the doorway holding a baby. She is sitting on the ground next to the hut on the right.



Most of the photos are taken at the one of the 3 health clinics for 300,000 people.



We were surrounded by hundreds of children and adults with all kinds of problems from clefts to club foot to burns to gunshot wounds to hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus can be easily treated. It’s a problem where there is excessive fluid surrounding the brain and the head swells quite severely. Untreated it results in brain damage and then death. To reduce the swelling you have to drain the fluid which requires a special tube-like shunt that costs $20. They don’t have one. So all the children with this problem in this camp die. You’ll see them lying on the mats on the dirt. Because they don’t have a $20 tube.



We also saw a lot of children suffering with club foot. You’ll see a photo of a girl sitting on a bench with horribly twisted and deformed feet. She, and all the other children with club foot who are 12 years and under could have their legs and feet totally repaired with a miracle cure that doesn’t even require surgery, just castings, much like braces for the teeth. This “cure” costs just $80. But chances are slim that any of these children will ever receive it. $80 might as well be $800,000 in Dadaab.



As we moved around the clinic, Dr. Dan was besieged by parents begging for help for their children, waving pieces of paper in his face with his handwriting from a month ago, six months ago, a year ago, promising surgery. We didn’t need a translator to understand they were all begging for help for their children.



Poor Dr. Dan has one operating room and a waiting list of hundreds of children. Many of the children who are waiting will die before their number is called. Notice the ribs Dr. Dan is showing by pulling up the shirt of a baby with a bad cleft palate. The baby cannot feed normally because of his palate; without surgery he will die. We asked him if he will be able to operate on this child and he said he didn’t know. I think his answer is as diplomatic as our question was na├»ve.



They also took us to the “nutrition ward” where they try to save babies on the brink of starvation. As we went bed to bed, you will see the blank expressions on the faces of mothers whose babies are literally dying in their arms. The baby lying down without a mother is a 7-month-old little girl who weighs 7 pounds.



In America 7-month-old babies weigh 20 pounds. In America, childhood obesity is a major problem as is adult obesity. The #1 cause of death in America is coronary disease related to obesity. Americans are literally eating ourselves to death.



Last week First Lady Michelle Obama launched a campaign to fight childhood obesity in America. Having three young kids who eat way too much ice cream and junk food I understand how serious a problem this is. But I must admit, I was a little shocked to hear Mrs. Obama explain that America will spend $150 billion this year alone to combat obesity in America. (We will spend less than one tenth of that trying to save children and adults in developing countries from starving to death. Imagine how many lives would be saved if we swapped those two budgets and overweight Americans only received $15 billion in aid and starving children received $150 billion.)



The attached video is about 4 minutes long and it begins with a clinic we visited in Ethiopia in a place so poor, people are living on $40 a year.



People are so desperate for cleft surgery, many of them had traveled 200 to 300 kilometers to come to our clinic. I have never seen so many older folks with unrepaired clefts. I met a woman who has waited 63 years for her 45-minute cleft surgery.



You will see a 50-year-old farmer whose daughter we show the surgery of. He traveled for 5 days straight with his daughter to reach our clinic. I sat and talked with him while we operated on his daughter and he told me how he used to own livestock and land. But due to various famines over the years, they gradually had to sell off all the livestock to stay alive. And then the socialist government came and took most of their land. So now he is a poor sorghum farmer trying to keep his wife and 10 children alive. Someone asked how the current famine had affected his village and he said, “Look at my face.”



I asked him about how this surgery will change his daughter’s life and his face lit up. “Yes,” he said, “she can go to school now.” I asked him what he wanted her to be when she grew up. He answered me very slowly and deliberately, “I want her to be… in America.”



That was nice to hear from a 50-year-old Muslim man. “Look at you people,” he said. “You come all the way here, just to help me and my daughter, to help all these poor people….” He was shaking his head, smiling. I suggested maybe one day she would be in America and he would come visit her. He laughed and said, “No, it is too late for me. I am too old and I am too poor.”



Sorry I have rambled on as long as I have. Hope you watch the video. It’s nothing too fancy; pictures I took and then put together myself into a homemade video that will probably not win an Oscar. :)



Let me know what you think.



And of course, if you have any money left over from the holidays and want to make a donation - of any amount - that can help change the life of a kid who is living in Somalia or Haiti or Afghanistan or any of the 77 extremely poor and desperate countries where we work, we can always use your help. TO MAKE A DONATION CLICK HERE!



This year alone, about 160,000 new babies will be born with clefts in developing countries and most of them, because they are so poor, don’t have a prayer of ever being helped.



These kids need our help.



And we still need yours.



Thank you for reading this long rambling email.







Brian

P.S. If you are looking for a way to help Haiti with a charity you know and trust, we have bene working down there for 5+ years and have 3 partner hospitals and an orphanage that we are helping get through this nightmare. To make a donation that helps Haiti CLICK HERE."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sabotage

I know by looking at the title, it would be easy to think that this would be a post about some exciting espionage story involving spies and lots of running and car chases. Nope, sorry to disappoint, but this is about my own personal sabotage.


For some time now I have been feeling this growing hunger, and surging lack of enthusiasm in attending church. I like my church, I like the people in it, I like the pastor especially, but I am still feeling this sinking feeling when I go.

I feel lonely, I am often surrounded by people who I know and love, but I am still lonely. I know God is with me, that I cannot deny, but for me personally I haven't been meeting Him in my church.

Maybe I need to shop around for another church, maybe I need to get more involved in my own I do not know right now. What I do know is that it all started when I heard about the new kitchen being put into the basement. I didn't see the point, I saw a perfectly working stove, fridge and dishwasher and I didn't see the point in using up money for something that to me seemed a little bit of a waste.

I know, the people who labour in the kitchen during weddings or funerals may find it annoying or even a hassle, but it seems to me it is like adding a new stained glass window, very pretty, but in reality useless when it could have been spent elsewhere. Kind of how Shane Claiborne outlined his distaste in his book The Irresistible Revolution, here is a link to The Simple Way.

There is also a very large disconnect with our community, some people are working really hard at getting the youth involved, at spreading the good word, but others seem to be so stagnant.

This may be the way in ever church, but when I find it time to go to bed at night on Saturday nights, I feel this sense of dread and longing, longing for something more? Longing for something less, simple, more like how Jesus first did it, the way it is meant to be. Missional!

So, on Sunday mornings, I wake up to my alarm, and lay there and think about my choices. Go to church to hang out with the people I know and only see once in a while, which is a big draw, getting little out of the sermon, (not the fault of the pastor, maybe I am just shut off?) or to stay in bed and push the snooze button, ultimately sabotaging myself by sleeping too late.

Is it like ripping off a bandaid? Or like going to the gym at 6am? You just need to do it and it feels better.

What do I need to do? I know that I need to find new experiences, to seek out new life and new civilizations, (oh wait, that sounds oddly familiar!) to boldly go where no man has gone before, or gone before, but I have not.

Where can I find it? The missional community that I am desiring, the one where it is possible to openly ask questions, to have debates, to welcome that drunk man shoveling the sidewalk into church for a cup of coffee instead of sending him away in disgust.

I have seen that before, I have attended a church much like that, but it is a bit of a distance to go on Sundays, especially when I work. In Winnipeg I saw this. It was a home, a family, open to all, and at the base of seeking God and making Him known.

I need to stay here, I have made a commitment to school, and I am not turning away, I LOVE it. I am supposed to be here taking classes. I just need something more. You know?

This is a very personal entry and I welcoming challenges, comments, personal opinions, advice. All of it. I think bloggers blog because of those things, and more.