Sunday, August 30, 2009

One Fresh Cookie - Thawing to God's Voice




So this morning I went to church. Sounds pretty usual, but I was feeling rather cranky and not at all wanting to go.

Lynda guilted me into going, and I am still rather tired, and still a little irritable, I did get something out of the message, just as she had predicted.

Almost the first thing I did this morning was check my computer, to see if anything had happened in the last 6 hours since I had fallen asleep, and I discovered my friend Chris had written an awesome blog post about being the cat. Its an awesome read (short simple and to the point) and it helps to set the scene for my next observation.

So there I was sitting in church listening, focusing on what was being said and how it was impacting my heart, and the part the struck me the most was how the kid's object lesson was about cookies. One cookie was fresh and just out of the oven, one cookie was frozen, and one was burnt.

The fresh one, is when we are ready willing and able to listen to God's word like in

Matthew 4:18-22, As Jesus was walking beside the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon and Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "for I will make fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, He saw two brothers. James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them,
and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

How often is is we are the fresh baked cookie, fresh and new and ready?

And how often are we the frozen cookie, that just needs a little time
to be ready? I know I am often the frozen cookie, waiting to see how things are going to pan out and working out the details before I feel like I can step into something.

And goodness gracious, how often do I act as the burnt cookie, not really good for much, and dull to hearing God, His voice and His plan for me.

I am so happy though to announce that even if someone has been drawn into the burnt cookie category, there is always more time, more chances, and more opportunity to shake off that burnt exterior and become the freshly baked cookie again.

Isaiah 1:18
"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

I walked away from church feeling
excited that I get to try my hand everyday at being obedient, ready to act, and being fresh everyday of every moment, and sad that I have spent so much time as a frozen cookie, and dreading that I have been the burnt cookie at all in my life. Or the timid wild cat.

I'm getting so excited about school coming up, but I am also nervous about it. I feel this need to sort out the next 5 years of my life, when all I really need to do is focus on next week, next month maybe, and about working hard. I so very badly want to be the fresh baked cookie for school!

I will keep you all posted as to how school is going, I start Sept. 8th! Please don't hesitate to ask, or to pray for me, or better yet with me!


Love,

Crystal - one fresh cookie!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dolls

I wanted to post some pics of a couple of dolls I made, for 2 very good friends of mine who are having to patiently wait for their child to come from Ethiopia, as an encouragement. I hand stitched and painted these, I got the general pattern from Inside a Black Apple .
And I had seen my sister in law, Coralee, make a doll for my niece's friend Emma .

Today I found out that the dolls were delivered safely, and that Jamie and Kim love them! Yay!

Oh yes, and be sure to check out the links to everyone's blogs!





Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Speaking in Church

I had the chance of speaking in church recently, and I thought I would share my speech with you. I have been nervous to put it up here, it makes me feel somewhat vulnerable to have more people than my small church family know my thoughts and feelings... But here goes!

Thank you everyone for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today. For those of you who don’t know, I have been a member of the Trinity Lutheran church congregation for a couple of years now. And last october, I was blessed to be able to go to Winnipeg and then Uganda while taking a Discipleship Training School through Youth With A Mission. They describe it as 12 weeks of intensive training in a classroom setting, and a 2 month outreach. Truly, it was those things, but then also very much more for me, and my fellow team members, which was made up of 3 other young women, and two young men.

During each week of lecture phase, we had the privilege of learning from different speakers who taught us a wide variety of topics. Every week my life changed, sometimes, it felt like every minute my life was vastly different . We heard lectures on Community, Global missions, prayer and worship, evangelism, conversations about Jesus, and Justice to list a few.

The focus of the school WAS Justice, and at it's heart was Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God.” The school was a time to look into how God loves Justice, and how we as christians need to take an active role in our world because it has been commanded of us.

- My eyes and heart were opened more than I thought could be possible, and it made me yearn for God to show me more into what is needed and to show me my role within it. Did you know that human trafficking (or slavery) is the 3rd largest criminal enterprise today? And, that On average 2 children per minute are bought and sold for sexual exploitation? That equals to about 27 million people enslaved globally today. And did you also know that 30, 000 children die each day due to global poverty? It made me wonder what I was doing as a Christian, and what my role is. In matthew 22:37-39 it says “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment, And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” All of this seemed so overhwelming to me at first, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with all of the things I was learning, with all of the things I was seeing, and most importantly where I fit in. 2 recurring themes kept coming up for me and continues to keep coming up, the first of which is to DO SOMETHING. Anything. A cup of coffee, or the change in my pocket, to share the gospel with someone, or to sit in a chair and listen to one of the inner city kids we worked with, tell a story of how she witnessed her Mom get raped in front of her. He other theme comes from Mother Theresa, We are not called to do great things but little things with great love”. I got to sit with that little girl and make crafts with her, giving her a break from thinking about life, and giving her Mom a much needed break from a child who has seen too much in her 9 years, and acts out in school causing her to be expelled from most elementaries in inner city Winnipeg.

- Being in the inner city of Winnipeg showed me the need for community, the need to act, and to look at people with much more love and compassion than I thought I could. During one week in Winnipeg, I got to spend some time being “homeless”, I panhandled, i went and spent the day on the streets, giving my lunch and my time away to people who needed it, I worked in soup kitchens and handed roses out to prostitutes late one night to show them how beautiful God thinks they are, and how beautiful we thought they were as well. One corner is called desperation corner, and it's where the women and men go to sell themselves for the cheapest price. We set out to give one girl a rose and she was frightened, and screamed at us, calling us terrible names (not a usual reaction let me tell you) she was scared, scared because there were 3 of us, scared because we had Jesus walking with us, scared because we were a deterrant to her Johns.... And through it all, I don’t remember the prostitute I spoke to briefly but i remember her, and all I could think after seeing her out there was how much God loves her, and how much God loves the John that picked her up a minute after we walked away...

- It showed me how much we are to be connected to those around us, and how socially connected Jesus was to those around him

- Thanks to everyone here for all of their prayers and support I was able to go on outreach to Uganda Africa .

- Uganda was a challenging time for me, and for my team.

- In Uganda we were priviliged to work in a variety of ministries, (Women at risk - prostitutes who wanted to get off the streets)(Mother and Child health – midwifery, pregnancy and baby immunization clinic)(Amacet childrens home for children who are either infected or affected by HIV/AiDS)..(We lived in a small village and worked in people’s fields , we pumped water at a well for the local women)(we worked in a medical clinic)(and spring of hope a YWAM team devoted to helping children whith disabilities gain some normalcy) We also go to do a hospital tour in Soroti. While working in Amacet children’s home god gave me the opportunity to learn and discover more and more about my own heart, He was slowly etching away old parts of me, and although raw he was slowly revealing the true person He created. All of the babies there have had their lives touched by HIV/AIDS.

- While working my shifts at amacet, I got to meet a tiny baby. His name was Basil. Baby Basilwas around 2 months old, and he had been born at least 2 months premature. His Mommy had died during childbirth and it was unknown whether or not she had HiV/AIDS. So it was not known if baby basil suffered from the virus, and because the babies are so small and anti retroviral drugs are hard on a body, the babies usually don’t get tested until a little older. Baby Basil was very tiny when he was born, like so many other children that come to call amacet home, he weighed only 2 and a half pounds. He was so tiny that he wasn’t able to feed from a bottle, he was tube fed up until shortly before we arrived in uganda. `He was getting really strong, eating from a bottle and interacting with us. I loved to hold his tiny body in my arms, and everyday that I held him humbled me, and showed me just how much love i was capable of and it helped me to see a small amount of how much god loves me, and each and every one of us. Basil was an awesome little testimament to God’s grace and his love. Baby Basil had grown to a more healthy weight of 5 pounds when his health took a turn for the worse, he passed away quickly for reasons we’ll never know, but his little life made a huge impact on me, he humbled me, and i hope he will always remain with me my whole life.

- The love God feels for us is equal with all of us, he loves the little inner city girl, the prostitute and John, and tiny baby basil , all the same. It is our calling as His, to continue to do justice love mercy and walk humbly .

- Thank you again for your time.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

recent cinematic experiences.

I just wanted to write a short blog about the movies that I've seen recently that have impacted me in some way, good or bad.

First, before I even left Winnipeg, I got to see One Week starring Joshua Jackson as a man who discovers he is terminally ill and decides to run away and take an adventure driving across Canada on a motorbike. This movie was one of the most human and real movies I have seen in such a long time. The acting was great, and the storyline was actually plausible. I can tell you that I am the first person who wants to run away to foreign lands when things get sticky. His story and human interactions were how a person would react, and even his narrative is very honest. I would definitely recommend this one.

Next, I went home to visit my family this last week, and I took my Dad on a date! We had a really good time, he spole alot about what was going on with the farm, and I got to be his girl for the evening. We went to see District 9. This movie, wow, I was fired up when I got home to the fram, just thinking about it. Not only was it a social statement on what could happen in the world if aliens came to earth, but it is exactly the story of countless thousands right now in the world who are displaced, opressed, and treated with disdain. Not only is this occuring in the Congo, with countless women being brutalized sexually everyday, to refugees who have had to live in camps for 20 years because their homes have been taken or destroyed, but it is here, when we see someone native and assume that they are going to steal our wallets! Grrr! I hope that many people see past the special effects of the movie into the heart and cry like I did at the injustices in the story. One last thing, I also really loved that the characters were not ALL good, or ALL bad. They were flawed and broken just like all of us, redeeming and atrocious at different points.

And, last night I went to see Funny People starring Adam Sandler. This movie was good, I liked it for sure, I liked the idea of a person who glimpses something and it changes their world around them. I loved the comedy that was in the movie, some was a little harder to swallow than others, mostly because it could border on crude. I liked the way that it wasn't a typical A.S. movie, and that there were some real human emotions in the movie. I liked the atypical plot twists (well at least according to North American standards) and the way that you felt like life is actually like that for some.

Anyways I suppose that I am a person who likes real stories, with real feelings and real emotions. I like to see some movies to escape, yes, but my heart resides first within humanity.

Friday, August 21, 2009

often blog


I have a very good friend that I trust more than most people on this here earth, and he has been the most helpful person with my blogging experience thus far.
Jamie!
You have been so helpful, and the advice you give is priceless, plus it means we get to chat often and I dig chatting with you my brother!
Anyways, one thing Jamie told me is to blog often, and so this is my often blog!
Poor Lazy Jane, thats how I feel too!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bathroom Renovations!


As some of you know I have the honour of living with a wonderful warm giving woman named Lynda.

Lynda has been such a great support to me the last few years, even before I moved in, before I became a Christian, she was there for me. She was one of the first people I met when I first moved to Ponoka, and has turned out to be one of my best allies!

Recently Lynda took a much needed holiday to Halifax, for some time off, and to meet some family that she had never gotten the chance to meet before this trip.

I had a flash of inspiration as she was packing up to leave, this would be my chance at taking the cruddy old wallpaper off of the bathroom walls and freshening it up with a coat of paint! I thought PERFECT! A nice surprise, and it will look better!

I started innocently enough by ripping some of the wallpaper trim that was haphazardly stuck around the tub (probably in the 1970's judging by the colour and style!) then I realized that it was going to take more than just pulling to get the rest of the paper off. I researched the best way to take wallpaper off of the walls, and found not only "easy" but inexpensive too! A little perforating tool that you basically roll around on the walls, and then you use a spray wallpaper remover! Hooray! Easy! I was so excited!

video
It took me 3 days to take it all down because I had to work as well. I thought Bam, I'll get this all finished, and then I can prime it and paint it! Boy, mistaken yet again, who would have know one person could be so wrong in so little time when I had scarcely been wrong before!

I made a ghastly discovery of a large patch of mold nestled unobserved between the side of the tub and the toilet. At first glance, the discovery wasn't too bad, I thought oh whoa I can handle it! Its only a small part of the drywall, easy peasy to cut out and patch.

As I cut out the offending bit of drywall, I noticed the tub surround was pulling away from the wall... In fact the tub surround was pulling the DRYWALL away! EEPS! At that moment I knew I was in deeper than I had first thought. I thought long and hard about it (probably a whole 30 seconds) and decided come heck or high water I had to fix whatever was going on behind that surround. So I started the daunting task of pulling the tub surround off and seeing what exactly was lurking out of my sight!


All this time, I kept thinking oh boy, I can do this and I can do that, I can put wainscotting put a pedestal sink in, a new vanity, oh boy I had some grand ideas floating around. With the ever progressing list of work that needed to be done, I decided to tone down my vision and make the list of a more manageable length, somewhere around the 5 page mark.

I ripped the entire tub surround off the wall, finding a moderate amount of black mold hidden nicely at the tub line and it was creeping its way further and further up the drywall.

It took me a couple of days to cut all of the bad drywall out, and to clean up the mold, and re-plastic the one wall that is an exterior wall. All this time, I was trying to multitask and get other projects within the bathroom done as well. I bought a new sink and tap, I wanted to paint the vanity, and I bought a new over the john cabinet that I wanted to paint the same colour as the vanity.

I worked diligently for the 2 weeks while Lynda was away, and worked my job, and had some social time in the mix with my friend Amber, and it came down to the last weekend. My birthday weekend, July 19th, and Lynda was supposed to come home on the Monday or the Tuesday. I was working day shifts, and Amber was over helping me the entire time, trying to get it all done before she came home. On the Sunday, my b day, my friend Stewart came to put the drywall up for me in a mad rush, and Amber and I put the new sink in, finished painting the cabinet and after a solid 14 hours of work that day for me, we went to the pub to grab a bite to eat and a couple of beers. mmmm
We had a great time, sitting there in our paint covered clothes, quietly chuckling at the antics of the regulars at the pub. We took a 2 hour break, and decided to walk home to get back at our work.
As we rounded the corner for the back alley, I saw it, her car, she was HOME! What was this!? I wasn't finished! I ran to the house and there was Lynda on the couch, sitting a little like she'd never left, watching tv and dozing off. I walked in the house a little in a panic, and hoped that she wasn't mad at me for tearing the bathroom apart, and a little upset that I didn't get to finish and have the big reveal at the end! She casually said "well hello" as I stood there with my arms hanging at my sides in a stance of defeat. I opened my mouth to speak and she starting telling me how much she missed me, and calmly asked me what was going on with the bathroom. I hurriedly explained my goals of finishing before she got home.
Her reaction was fantastic, she was overjoyed that I was redoing the bathroom for her, and she said she couldn't wait to see what it would end up looking like.
It took a little longer yet to finish, again with working, and of course less pressure of a timeline. But I got it all completed! Lynda says she is so happy that the bathroom looks so great, and I really like it too.
I could not have finished all that work, first and foremost if God hadn't been there pushing and helping me, and giving me the money to be able to do it.
Next is Amber, who encouraged me, and was cramped up in the bathroom with me, sanding, painting, or whatever needed to be done, sweating, and sharing laughs and many beers! lol


Stewart who came and helped with the drywall, even if I had to convince him it was a good idea!


Mr. Jorgenson, who came over to tell me exactly how much drywall to cut out, and how to go about fixing it all. (He is the premier home builder in Ponoka, and he is fantastic, if I could afford a new house, it would be him putting it up - he is also a great man of God and a great example to how men should live their lives.)
Judy S for bringing a pipe wrench and laying on the floor to help tighten the sink drain up for me.
Anyone else who gave me words of encouragement, and of course Lynda, who after coming home from her vacation to a messy house, and unable to use her bathroom, but instead of complaining, she was encouraging me telling me she loved it all very much.
Thanks all for "listening" about the bathroom renos!





Monday, August 3, 2009

Old Friends and New Beginnings

This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to spend some time with an old friend, actually 2 old friends, one was planned and the other was a very fortunate happenstance.

I had been planning to spend the day with Jolene, my beloved friend of 17 years. A little about our story. Jolene and I have been friends since the first day of grade 7, truly it was the first day we met. Our friendship has ebbed and flowed, I think like most friendships have a tendency of doing, and we have just finished a dry spell of our friendship and it has awoken into a whole new type of friendship.

When I was younger, I can be honest, I had some self esteem issues. I was constantly worried what people thought of me, wondering if I was pretty enough, smart enough, dumb enough, sexy enough, in fashion enough, whatever the thing was at the time that I was concerned about.

Poor Jolene never even knew that most of what she did I used as a gauge as to how my life could be, or should be. I was constantly seeking her approval and comparing myself to what she was doing with herself. During junior high my family moved away from Edmonton and into small town Alberta, and I was completely uprooted from my friends. I can only say in passing now that it was very hard for me, harder than I realized at the time to be separated from everyone I had grown accustomed to and whom I had obviously let myself become governed by. My time away from Jolene eventually branched to a couple of years where she and I didn't speak, and my life was on a totally different plane than than hers, we drifted.

A few years later we were reunited and our differences really showed, she was an honours student, and on the fast track to university, and I was a high school drop out on the way towards a sad and twisted marriage that ended badly (another blog post for another time).

Our worlds were far from each other, and again I compared myself to her, little realizing that she was having the same struggles as me and having just as hard of a time figuring out how to deal with all the lemons that were handed to us.

After Jolene was done university, and my short lived marriage was over, Jolene snagged a job in Mexico, I was sad she was leaving, but again I had no idea that my life was to take some time healing and growing. She lived there for 5 years, learned an incredible amount about herself, and blossomed into a beautiful woman, The same thing was going on here in Canada for me. I was making all new friends, discovering who I was, making a place for myself, and especially, I was learning about God and making room for Him in my life.

While I sometimes still get caught up in the latest things and the newest fashions, I am slowly learning to wait on God and see what He wants. This has definitely been a challenge for me, but its coming along slowly.

Time moves on, people change and grow and our relationship is a completely different one than it was before. I am very intent on who I talk to, who I associate with and I like holding my own opinions about things, which I feel is a normal human trait. Its great to spend time with her now, I feel like myself and I feel like i can be myself, I don't need to be constantly pleasing to her, or to be seeking her approval, I feel now that if she differs in opinion with me about something, well she can either listen or move on. I love it! I can see how much God has changed me over all these years, before i started listening to Him even. AMAZING GRACE!

Jolene and I had a great day together on Saturday we hung out, spoke about things, didn't talk, ate tons of great food (Jolene is an awesome cook!) and eventually we ended up going out for dinner at probably my new favorite restaurant Pad Thai (http://www.padthai-restaurant.com/). And then we went walking down Whyte ave, which is an adventure all on its own! I remembered as I was walking past bar after pub after night club, that I had found a friend with whom I had gotten back in touch with on facebook quite some time ago, and who works at a bar down there. I was so happy that when I told Jolene I wanted to look around to see if he was working, she was totally up for it! We went to the bar he works at, they said he would be hanging out at a little bar down the street and if I asked the door men they would be able to tell me if he was there. We walked down the street, chatting and
looking around, and TA DA! There was Darren right in front of us! He was so happy to see me, and to meet Jolene! I got the chance to sit and talk with Darren, to catch up and see where our lives had taken us in the last few years (Darren and I were real pals back in high school and you know how life goes life changes, people move on) It was amazing to talk and relax and hang out with 2 old friends who didn’t know each other. It was like old meeting new, meeting old.

I was again reminded of Gods ability to take old things, and make them new again, He has taken bits of me and made them sparkling new and fresh, and I have seen Him at work within the people around me as well.

So I lift up my glass (filled with water right now) and raise it in salute of works that are done, works that are ongoing, and works that have yet to start!