12.05.2013

Football & Jesus



I met Mark. Then I fell in love with Mark. Mark loves football and after some convincing and sitting in front of the TV learning the game I love football too. A lot. A lot more than any girl I've met  (because I live in Canada) and I am now passionate about football. Especially the Seahawks which are my favourite team.



So basically, I've fallen in "love" with American football (make sure you note the emphasis on American, not Canadian). Not only is it extremely physically demanding but I have appreciated the mental aspect as well. Knowing exactly where you have to be on each play, knowing what route to run, studying the opposition to know their weakness and creating plays to capitalize on it- all of this excites me. I love watching the coaches and listening to the pep talks on the side of the field. 

So where does Jesus come into all of this? 

I've said this many times before on foreverhisblog but it's worth repeating. God is not distant. He isn't hanging out in heaven completely uninvolved in our lives. He's here, right here and I believe God speaks into our current situation. He speaks in a language and shows up in a way you and I will understand. Because of my passion for football, Jesus got a message clear to me by using football as his metaphor.

God asked me to view my life with Him through a football team. You have the starters that everyone knows who have a lot of pressure but a lot of reward because they are on the field, actually playing. Then you have the back-ups who are on the team and practice with the team but don't play. Then you have spectators who know a lot and have a lot of head knowledge about football but aren't athletic enough and would never get a chance to actually play football at the National level. 

In my mini football example, you have Christ's followers who are on the field. They are playing the game and sweating, feeling the pressure, getting hit but they are playing. They are the ones on the field who are doing the work, and winning the games.
Then you have the "church goers" who participate in what Christ is doing when it's convenient for them. They made the team and are on the team but are relaxed and often ask "what's in it for me." They stand on the sidelines and watch Christians go and make disciples but often never do it themselves.
Last, you have the huge section of spectators who watch the game. They have their own opinions and aren't afraid to share them, they look at the game from a birds eye view and critique everything and anything, sometimes cheering the players on, sometimes calling them the worst players ever. They aren't football players (Christians) but they sure have something to say about them.

I so desperately want to be the one playing. I want to be a follower of Christ who is all in. I want to be on the front lines for Christ, sometimes tired getting hit and pushed down but knowing that at any moment I can "score a touchdown" and bring so much glory and honour to God. I know I am far from perfect but when God and I were talking metaphorically about football it made so much sense to me. God doesn't want me on the sidelines, He wants all his followers on the field, making disciples and worshipping Him.

Whether you hate football or not, take some time to think about where you stand with Christ? Are you on the front lines for Christ, on the team but standing on the sidelines or never made that commitment to be on Christ's team with your opinions about Christians?

I pray that I would be on the front lines for Jesus- that I will be willing to go anywhere He calls me. This football metaphor has made so much sense to me and I am so thankful Jesus speaks in a way I understand. I pray He speaks to you today in a way you will get it too!

Happy December:)

Maddie


11.11.2013

November already?

As I get older (I'm not that old) time seems to go by faster and faster. Although it seems like forever until Mark and I will get hitched in less then 7 weeks everything about these past few months has gone by so fast. I was trying to reflect on everything that happened in October and it all just seems like a blur! Where did this semester go anyways? In three weeks I will be done classes forever (let's hope!) and be looking for a full time job!

Then on December 17 my dearly loved host parents fly in from South Africa and my sister and brother in law come up from Virginia on the 21st! Christmas and a wedding then honeymooning in Domincan Republic and before I blink again I will be writing blog posts in our new apartment in downtown Elmira.

Breathe. haha.

Lots of assignments and exams are in the way of all this happiness and fun but as I type this the word that plays through my mind every day is blessed.

I am so blessed. Blessed to be receiving an education…pray I pass! and blessed to be living in a country where I can write on a blog that I love Jesus and every good thing and good blessing comes from Him alone.

In church yesterday my pastor preached about so many Christians who are in jail, being tortured and risking their lives for the gospel. I couldn't even relate to what my fellow brothers and sisters are currently facing. My heart was heavy as I thought about families being torn apart and humans being tortured because they believe in Jesus.

It was a good reminder about how seriously I take my faith. Would I still be open about God's love and forgiveness if I knew I could die for my faith in Jesus?

It also reminded me that I need to be more open about my love for Jesus and more bold to preach his name. He is the only one that saves and I was reminded that I need to do a better job of being Jesus in the way I act around others and what I say.

I am so blessed to live in a country where I can practice Christianity and talk about God. I am blessed but also given responsibility to preach and share the good news.

Despite how fast time flies by my priorities need to stay in check. I am to be a light in this dark world and I want my life to glorify God in everything I do.

Is this a busy season in your life? How are your priorities and focus staying on Christ?

9.24.2013

Today is enough.

Life is busy.

I keep telling myself: "Maddie, in December you will have a home, a husband, a degree, a once in a lifetime vacation and the chance to see my South Africa parents."

I am so excited for December to happen (not the exams!) but today is September 24 and I need to constantly remind myself that it is not December. That God has something for me today. Even though I am busy with school and countless other things I must remember to be present. To need God today, in this moment and not focus on the "whats to come."

It's exciting to look forward to December, I know there is nothing wrong in that but I need to keep my focus on Christ, the author and perfecter of my faith.

I am learning to need God each day more than I did before. I am asking him to show me that His word is my daily bread which I need to get through each day. I've been reading Galatians this past week and just love Galatians 5:16: "But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." This common sometimes over quoted scripture has struck me once more in a fresh way. How many mornings have I missed giving my day over the Lord? How many times during my day have I been so focused on the future that I forget to walk in the Spirit? 

I want to be used by Jesus today. I want to see, learn and experience all the awesome and difficult lessons He has for me today as I learn what it means to walk in the Spirit. I want to be present today. Today is enough.

What are you focused on this week? Maybe it it something that happened in the past that you have been dwelling on or you're like me- focusing on the future of unknowns.

I pray you will have a renewed focus to walk in the Spirit and need God today. He has something for you!

Love
Maddie

9.16.2013

The bible is not the same as my textbook


It's always this time of year.

I attend university and receive my syllabus for all my classes. Because I am an organized freak I immediately write all my major tests and assignments down on not one but two calendars and then proceed to make weekly lists writing down all the readings etc that needs to get done. Many mornings I also create a daily schedule to make sure I stay on task with everything.

This term is my last term (fingers crossed everything works out) of university and I want to do really well. I have two textbooks for each class (approx.) that must get read. 

In this time of the year I struggle with throwing my bible into my pile of textbooks and only reading my bible in the time slot I've allowed that day and reading it with a perspective of a textbook. When I fall into this mentality the bible can sometimes become dull to me- and I loose that belief that it is my daily bread and my lifeline. 

Often, when I make time to read the bible I am thinking about all the other "required readings" I need to do for school and I can't fully read the word like I want to - like I intend too. It's such a struggle but one that I know I need to continue to wrestle with because my spiritual food for the day is way more important than actual food or getting a good grade in a class.

I worked at a camp this summer and we tried to teach the teens that you can't look at the bible as a textbook but as a love letter. As something that God wants you to understand to build your foundation on and not something I can check off my list of things to in my day.

I'm praying for a new discipline to read the bible not because I have to but because I want too. I love the bible and love reading it however this time of the year can get tough.

What distracts you from reading the bible? Have you ever looked at it like a textbook or just made it a thing to check off your list?

xo
Maddie

9.06.2013

My envious heart


"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behaviour his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, fully of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."- James 2:13-18

It was the best weekend of my life. Everyone was sending so much love my way and I got to stare down at my left hand and marvel at my beautiful ring. I was getting married to the man well beyond my dreams and I couldn't be happier.

Slowly my joy started fading as I witnessed week after week, couple after couple getting engaged. My joyful heart started to sow a seed of bitterness. 

I started to compare.

Was my ring prettier? Why are "they" taking away my joy of getting engaged? Why is EVERYONE (literally I know 15 couples) getting engaged/married in 2013?

This seed of bitterness started to blossom and I didn't even know.

As months passed girls started to become better than me, I started to view my grades as a competition and my thankful heart turned into an envious one.

& it was such a slow fade.

At the start of the summer I was comparing myself to everyone and everything. Pinterest, facebook and instagram all became unhealthy addictions because I was constantly trying to measure up to something. I was trying to be better.

It started with little comments but after a while I knew my heart wasn't in the right place. Rather I was never satisfied, inwardly always complaining and never giving thanks to my Jesus who provides all things. He provides everything I need.

One evening after recognizing the damage I was doing to my soul and God's Kingdom I started to think about the path I was on.

There is always going to be someone prettier

Someone will always have a better engagement story and a more gorgeous wedding

Someone will always have a better house

better kids

better ministry

So what am I doing comparing? It's useless and a never ending downward destructive spiral. 

James 2:13-18 (also written above) states it perfectly

"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behaviour his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, fully of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

I love how scripture is relevant. I love how bluntly and harshly it applies to my selfish heart. I love how this scripture not only corrects but encourages me to strive for Godly wisdom.

I was extremely bitter and jealous and what was I doing- lying about it.

I was keeping it all in thinking it wouldn't spill out- Hah! It did the opposite. My wisdom was becoming earthly, natural and demonic. My envious heart was creating disorder in everything.

Falling on my face, realizing how much damage my envious heart was creating I begged God to forgive me (knowing He always will) and work with me on being thankful.

I want a thankful heart

I want wisdom from above that produces what James 2 says it will

It's a process but one I'm taking. I've started to make my life "less public." I've been praying about ways to do this to continue to create a thankful heart knowing now how much of a struggle it is.

I heard an amazing sermon that hit me so hard. The pastor said "stop waiting for what you want and start working with what you have."

This is where I'm at right now. I am so blessed. God has given me so much and I know He has given me these things to glorify His name. I want to start working with what God has given me and stop waiting for what I want- because as I've learnt- its a vicious downhill cycle that is never ending.

Have you experienced this envious heart? Is James 2 any encouragement to you? Would love to hear from you and any ideas of practising a lifestyle of thankfulness in a world of wants, wants wants. 

xx
Maddie




9.02.2013

21

So today I turned 21. 



Where has time gone? 

Had such a chill birthday working all day and spending the evening with my family and Mark's family. It was so nice to be surrounded by people who truly love me and would do anything for me and for that reason alone I am so blessed. 

I get to do a lot of things when I'm 21 years old. For starters I get a husband, I move out to my own place, I get a degree and I get to start the working world. I love change and I am excited to see where God wants me. There is a lot of unknowns- where the heck am I going to work? How are we going to pay the bills every month etc- but there is also so much beauty in unknowns and that is what I'm choosing to focus on. 

I will be at a place in my life where the next chapter is not written- it's a blank page. What a beautiful place that is for the Lord to totally write my story. Unknowns restrict me from doing and gives me the opportunity to let God tell my story. As scary as it is I want to have the faith to know that He will place me right where He wants me and that is always enough. This fall season there will be lots of "knowns" but I want God to still write this year. I want each day to glorify Him and I want every action to reflect His name and His name alone. O how I screw that up all the time but God has been teaching me I need to act that He is enough and not just say it or type it on a blog (even when my heart is in the right place). Envy usually gets in the way of showing God He is enough in my life but I'll expand on that in another blog. 

I want this year to scream God. That's it. That's the reason I'm on this earth. There are too many hurting people who need to know there is a God who loves them for me to focus on my plans. This next season is going to be chaos but I know that my day isn't worth doing if God isn't the center. 

I can't wait to blog when I'm 22 and look back at this year and see all the incredible and difficult lessons  God has taught me and journeyed with me on. Reflecting tonight, God has done so much in my heart this past year & I want to go deeper this year. I want the Lord to lead me to waters where I've never been and I know He will.

I am so blessed to be 21 and so excited to this next year! 

Here's to the unknowns and knowing we serve an all knowing God.

xx
Maddie

8.29.2013

Fall Update!


I’ve been itching to blog for the past ten weeks. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been itching to write. Write everything down. When I was young I learnt that I processed life by writing. My mom told me not to write everything down incase someone would read it- not that a nine year old had anything important to say but I couldn’t stop. Writing helps me think. It helps me make sense of stuff. When I write my sin hits me in my face and my attitude usually changes. Writing brings me clarity. It makes me thankful. This summer I’ve written, but not a lot.


I know I’m not a very gifted writer (have you noticed how many spelling and grammatical errors are on this blog??) – but my eyes were opened in high school about how many “fake” people there are. People who put on an act/face/role you name it- it frustrated me that people couldn’t be real with each other anymore and I wanted that to change. I knew the Lord asked for honesty- He sees everything anyways so why would I dare try to fake anything for the Lord? I started a blog to keep track of my thoughts while in Africa but through writing I became less fake.

My hope and prayer of this blog isn’t to be grammatical or get a lot of pageviews every time I post- my prayer is that through this blog you will see Jesus. You will see how He loves you so deeply.

I decided I would keep writing this fall, for myself, because I love to write. I will post weekly with every intention of writing more. I will write what God is teaching me, what others have been teaching me and I hope to get more guest bloggers to write what God is teaching them. I hope this can be a space for you to come to be inspired.

I am going to be real and honest. I find it incredibly refreshing when I meet people who are real and I long to be real in an extremely fake world. Thank you for continuing to read this blog despite my “leave of blogging” during the summer. It means a lot to me! I’ll make sure to reflect in a blog about my summer at camp. God taught me so much but for now I will tell you to check back soon for a blog post.

Hope you’re having an amazing day.


6.30.2013

Processing. what's next

My life is insane.

Yet I believe I am right where I'm suppose to be. 

I don't know "why" but when does the Lord fully tell us his complex amazing plans?

I am in the middle of planning a wedding, taking 3 classes at the University of Waterloo and working as a server. Along with seeing friends, my fiancé and family my days are extremely full.

A couple of weeks ago I was approached with the opportunity of serving at Conestoga Bible Camp this summer. If you read my above sentence my life doesn't really allow time for this- but I am so thankful that God has my life all in the palm of his hands and He can see it all. There has been miracles (yes they do happen still!!!) after miracles seeing the Lord move in my life to allow me to counsel this summer.

So yes, I am now living up at camp this summer while finishing classes and working as a server 3 days a week. So yes, I am working seven days a week!

Overwhelmed is the best way to describe what I'm feeling until I went up to camp this past week for training. The bible talks about peace beyond all understanding- a peace that can only come through God and not from this world. If you've read any of my blogs while I lived in Africa for a year you would know that I constantly felt this super natural peace from God. I haven't felt this peace since Africa (about a year ago) and being up at camp last week God gave me such a peace. I know this is His will and I am so excited to see how He is going to change me this summer.

That doesn't mean that the overwhelming feeling goes away all the time but I have a peace that makes me feel so secure in not knowing what  God is doing - but learning to trust that His will is better than my wildest dreams.

So this blog will probably take a mini vacation with the summer depending when I can post the blog. The "Get Real" Series that is happening every Monday is also going to take a break during the summer as I don't have a lot of time or internet access.
The Pastoral Team this summer! 
Please Pray.

Pray for me. I need it so bad! So so so bad. I realize I am nothing without Christ and realize that I don't have anything to offer these counsellors unless I am connected to Christ. I want to do everything through His Spirit- everything. So please pray for me!  (I know I will screw up lots still but my heart remains the same)

Prayer Works. 

I can see it each and every day. Pray for energy as I'll be driving back and forth from camp to university and pray that I would love like Jesus. I just wanna love like He does!

Love all your support!

A girl trying to find her place in this world,
Maddie





6.24.2013

Dry Seasons- Meet Kaitie


I want to escape from here.

I want an adventure. I want exotic places and foreign languages. I want to travel place to place, living on the good company of others. Staying up late listening to stories, sharing meals with strangers, experiencing life!

I can’t do routine. I get bored and grow impatient. It’s so hard for me to stick to one thing until it’s complete. I’m that person who always has 5 books on the go but never finishes any of them. I like learning lessons as quickly as possible so I can check them off my list and move on to the next one.

I feel like I’m constantly in a state of waiting, waiting for school to end, waiting for the right guy to come along, waiting for God to direct my career path. I’m sick of preparing myself for these unknowns, how long do I have to be patient for Gods timing? Most days it doesn’t feel like He hears me or cares about using this small life.

I wonder if this is how Joseph felt all those years ago, sold into slavery at age 17 by his jealous brothers, only to be unjustly sentenced to years in an Egyptian prison (Genesis 39). Interpreting dreams in the quiet of the night, darkness his constant companion. I imagine him crying out to God in his loneliness, “Have you forgotten about me? You gave me this gift, why don’t you let me use it? I’ve been faithful to you, keeping your commands, so why does it feel like you are punishing me!”

We know from the Bible that God was with Joseph the whole time. That he loved him deeply and had an incredible plan for his life. 

These dry years were crucial in shaping Josephs character into one of a Godly leader

Time in the “wilderness” is a constant theme throughout the Bible, from the Israelites to Elijah to John the Baptist and Jesus. 

God brings all those he loves through the “wilderness."

Why? 

These desert experiences strip us of worldly comforts, sometimes even human support; we are forced to fully depend on God. Our faith and love for him grows as we see his providence unfold before our eyes. Our perspective switches from confidence in our own abilities to confidence in God’s abilities. Humility, thankfulness and a thirst for living water is all that survives here.

And so I am learning that these dry, lonely times of waiting can actually be my most intimate and joyful times with my King!

If you are going through a dry season, look up these other desert stories and be refreshed by how our Lord sustains us once again! Draw near to Him, He is waiting for you.

Israelites – Exodus 16
David – Psalm 13, 4, 16
Elijah – 1 Kings 17
Jesus – Mark 8:1-21

Love,
Kaitie 


An entry for the "Get Real Series" happening every Monday on the ForeverHis blog                                                      

6.17.2013

Meet Danni- On what happened when she didn't "confine" God!

1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”


When Mads asked me to write a post for her I honestly thought "it'll be easy to write things about what God’s been up to in my life" but here I sit dumb found for words on the topic I should know most about....ME? You ask?

Full Name: Danielle Botha
Age: 25
I am one of five children to the worlds most amazing parents.
I have a relationship with my saviour Jesus! 
I'm 1 of 4 leaders who head up a homegroup of 40 young ladies at the YWCA on Monday nights, LOVE those women thoroughly!
I have a degree in and currently practice as an accountant for a firm in pmb (South Africa) where my boss is a pastor and often teaches me so much about being honourable and honest in business in times where corruption is so easy to become a part of.


All in all I love Jesus, people, numbers, sport, serving and ministering.


One of the latest convictions Gods placed on my heart recently has been that of using whatever it is He’s blessed me with to glorify Him! 


Once I got saved 6.5 years ago now I had a good few years where I got extremely involved in the local church here in PMB. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved that time and learnt so much and still actively serve there but I had limited God to the four walls of the church and kind of just forgot about the world out there.


About a year ago however my family decided to take up cycling and I went along to one of their races on a Sunday morning. My first thought being “sheesh I’ll never do this because it would mean me missing way too many church services in a year.” (Yes I was being naïve and judgemental and God was about to teach me a lesson).


At this race I spotted a shirt which read in bold across the front and back: “Cranked for Christ” immediately I felt God say Danni people can bring me glory in every single thing they lay their hand to if they are willing. As I looked around at the people that day I noticed how easily these people all became friends, how sport has this way of connecting people, where you hardly know somebody to basically having them be your best buddy after one extreme downhill/mud puddle together.


I wouldn’t say I immediately rushed out and bought a bike but slowly and surely I found myself taking part in these mtb and multi sport events and eventually God blessed me with an awesome bike and even a close friend who shared my passions in terms of God and cycling miss Kimberly Aldworth.


We have since then done many races and recently left our homegroup at the local church and in faith joined another one which is called “coffee with jesus” the leaders here have taken us under their wing and even stretched us to share too. 


More than that though this place has been easier to invite our fellow (often way fitter) athletes to, as we meet in a cycling store, also I’ve now purchased my own “Cranked for Christ” shirt which I wear proudly in faith hoping it will either spark conversation or challenge another believer like it did for me. 


This last race that we took part in God laid it heavy on my heart to gather the other believers I know and to pray together before we set out, we prayed not only for our bodies and bikes but also for our hearts to be mindful and sensitive to the people around us who don’t know Jesus yet.


It set the tone for the day and as we rode that day I honestly felt God smiling over us. I know God has a lot more to teach me and He probably has way bigger plans for all this than my own mind can sometimes fathom and that’s great, I’ll keep taking it one step at a time trusting Him to come through and be glorified in it all!


It has blown my mind to see how God has used something as simple as a bicycle and a willing 25 year old girls heart to advance His kingdom.


If I can leave you with anything it would be this, don’t confine God to the four walls of your church. 


Your passions are God given and can be used to glorify Him and God wants you to enjoy life whilst you glorify Him, after all what is more magnetic than a person in love with God and living their life to the full. i.e. John 10:10 “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”


Love,
Danni


Editors Note: Danni is my angel. While I was lonely and depressed in South Africa she loved me like Jesus and served me despite not knowing me at all and knowing I would leave again in a year. I am so thankful for the  many months I got to spend with her as we grew together in our faith!

A post from the Get Real Series happening every Monday on the ForeverHis blog!

6.10.2013

Kaitlin on God's deep love for us- Part 2

Editors Note: I am beyond thankful to know Kaitlin and call her one of my best friends! She is one of those woman that I just love hanging out with because she is just so close to Christ and it's so evident. I  know you will be encouraged by her writing about the veil and God's deep unending consuming love for you! Here is Part 2 on the Lets Get Real Series!

I love scripture.

I love the way it comes alive when I read it and the way it speaks into specific areas of my life at what seems like just the right time. As I was pondering what to write for a blog post I remembered a few verses God has been pointing out to me lately…

In the Old Testament, God instructs His people with the building plans for the Tabernacle. Basically God designs it with an entry for ceremonial washing and then with areas for giving sacrifices. Two of those places were call the Holy Place and the Most Hold Place (which was within it). The Most Holy Place was only entered once per year by the High Priest, who would have a cord tied around his ankle, incase he died in the presence of God, so others could pull him out. The Most Holy Place was basically a BIG deal because it represented the purest presence of God within the Tabernacle and was treated with the utmost respect by God’s people.

“For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple and scarlet thread…This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.” Exodus 26: 31, 33

What struck me about these verses were the colours used for the curtain… Why so specific? In the Bible, blue has been known to represent the Holy Spirit, purple often represents the royalty of kings – specifically God the Father, the King of Heaven, and red represents the blood of sacrifice often equated with Jesus. What a sweet thing to literally “tie in” to the structure of the Tabernacle and the Most Holy Place – reminding the people of his eternal presence!!

This curtain makes another important appearance in the scriptures during the crucifixion of Jesus.

“Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” Mark 15:37 – 38

After hearing the crucifixion story hundreds of times I have never really paid much attention to this part, probably because it didn’t make sense to me and didn’t seem very significant. Wait a second… this curtain tore in two ON ITS OWN?? WHY?

“And so dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10: 19 - 23

It was torn so we could walk in.

What an incredible picture of his love! He not only came to die to forgive us, he destroyed the barrier between us so we can enter freely and be welcomed with joy. We aren’t just allowed to come before him we’re invited!

This is not a fearful, feeble, wondering-if-we-will-be-struck-dead kind of meeting. This is a meeting where our hearts entwine with a compassionate father, talking as friends and sharing truthfully. I don’t even now how to express how excited this makes me! But it doesn’t end there…

“Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us.” Hebrews 6:18 – 20

No longer do I have to wonder if I will be “good enough” to make it to heaven. Instead I am privileged to live in the reality that Jesus is hope NOW. He is my security for someday in heaven but more than that he is my trustworthy anchor today, for all the things I wonder and worry about, every trial and excitement.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.” Romans 5:1 – 5

“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.” 1 Peter 2:5

What a crazy, awe-inspiring, faithful God we serve! One who choses people like me, broken, messed up, someone with unsteady faith at times, to enter his holiness and give us grace. Knowing his holiness and our sinfulness, just looking at us is incredible enough, but he choses to use us to build his kingdom. Each of us is a living stone in his global church, building a kingdom for his glory with the little that we each have to offer.

In the past, I have often struggled with feelings of belonging. I’ve felt before like I just don’t seem to click with the people around me and the enemy often plants thoughts in my head that only make those feelings worse. In this time of uncertainty, these verses have continued to remind me of how deep God’s love for me reaches, how it wraps its self around me and invites me into a warm embrace. I don’t have to wonder if I belong, his invitation is clear, steadfast and relentless.

This reality leaves me with nothing else to say but thank you.

Love
Kaitlin

Part 1- Kaitlin on "His faithfulness in my uncertainty"



I want to be real about not having it all together.

It’s hard for me to admit a lot of the time, but it’s true, I often feel like I am stumbling through life unsure of my next step and trying to do what is “best”.

I fail a lot. I find forgiving myself difficult at times and taking the next step of faith isconstantly a struggle.

On a hot morning in March 2010, I set out on a little walk at the base of the Drakensberg Mountains in rural South Africa. I had just finished a 3-day hike with a group of friends. We each set out to spend some time with the Lord to reflect upon our journey thus far. Feeling tired, I headed for the creek. I love water and nature and I love how God speaks to me through its symbolism and seems to revive my spirit that way.

I had decided to go away from home after graduating high school to get some perspective, to see the world, allow my views to be challenged and see issues in the world “with skin on”.  I had full intensions of returning home and choosing a prestigious university to attend and get a degree to make my parents happy. Now that the program was drawing to a close I had this uneasy feeling that God had different plans. I told God he could send me anywhere he wanted to. In my mind I thought that would probably mean somewhere in Africa. I could see God telling me to live in some remote village with no running water and a woven matt for a bed. But knowing me, he thought that would be too easy.  I really hate cold weather and the Lord decided that I should go to the coldest place on earth.

To an inner city community in Winnipeg where drug deals happen in the church parking lot and girls are forced into prostitution at an average age of 12. This is a place within Canada with the resemblance of third world conditions.  

I was afraid

afraid of not knowing exactly what it would be like, afraid of what my parents and friends would think, afraid of not knowing how I would afford it, afraid of all the unknowns.

I began jumping from rock to rock up the stream speaking my thoughts. I felt the sun on my back and turned around expecting to see an amazing view of the valley, instead there was a huge rock blocking my view.

“I want to see the view Lord.”

“Climb onto the rock.”

As I walked around either side I quickly realized that thick brush stood between me and the way up. I stood there contemplating – there could be any number of poisonous snakes in that brush and with no one around, it could be game over for me pretty quickly if I met one.I heard the Lord speak gently to my spirit.

“Trust me”

Why is God always right?? He says one thing and it makes me realize how stupid my fears are and yet they still linger there, ready to consume me at any time it seems.

Hesitantly I walked through the brush, praying and holding my breath as I made my way up onto the rock. Let me tell you, that view was worth it, the most breathtaking view I have every seen! The entire African valley bathed in morning sunlight, it was difficult to take it all in… And as I sat in awe, the lesson became clear.

“You will never get to experience the view unless you trust me and go through the unknowns first.”

This became a theme for me over the next few years as I lived in Winnipeg and later returned home. It seems like every new unknown circumstance God seems to push my faith a little further. Each time I feel like I just can’t hold on anymore and want to make an easy decision to easy the discomfort of not knowing how my life will unfold.

Last spring, with one week of school left and no summer plans I struggled to know what I was supposed to do. For the past month I had felt that I was not supposed to apply for a summer job. This decision seemed ridiculously foolish to me and even more so to my parents.  My faith was majorly stretched, as 2 amazing volunteer opportunities and a job literally fell in my lap in the last week of school.

Again this past winter as I planned to complete my co-op job in Barrie, I had no place to live until a week before the job started.

Each time I feel like the decision the Lord wants me to make is contrary to common sense and logical thought and each time he comes through more than I could have ever expected. That brings me to my current state. I was supposed to be returning to classes this summer and though I have known this for over a year, I have never felt peace about it. He directed me again to make a decision contrary to what seemed “right” and definitely not the path of least resistance. I have since switched out of my courses (and I will now be taking others in the fall) and began volunteering, in good faith that God would provide for my financial needs for school.

Again he has shown me that his ways are way higher than my ways, using me in places I could not have imagined and providing for me not only financially, but spiritually and emotionally as well.

Unknowns seem to follow me everywhere. Each new season brings me to the edge of a time constraint, each time pushing the boundary just a little bit further.

Through it all I have learned that I no longer have to try to make the “best” decisionbut instead need to listen to the Lord.

Each time He has taught me to trust him: his heart, his timing and trust that his plan is not only good, but it is the best thing for me. 

Love a sister in the faith,

Kaitlin


Check back later today for Part 2:)

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