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:)

6.06.2013

Late Night Thoughts


I love people. A lot.

In my dream world I would want to sit down with every human being- all seven+ billion of them and hear their stories. I long to hear where they came from, their deepest fears and what their dreams are. But most importantly in my dream world I just want to listen to all seven billion people share their story. I want to soak it all in. I want to cry with them, laugh with them and be a listening ear that they may not have had recently.

I love people so much & yet I'm constantly ashamed of how often I pass people by because I am so busy with my own life. I am managing my time a lot better this semester juggling classes, planning a wedding and working but my heart still aches to be with more people.

I adore my friends and am so thankful for their blessing in my life but my heart aches for the people who we as a society on average choose to walk pass.

I want to sit with the prostitute, the drug addict, the woman who has been abused, the homeless person with no teeth, the lady at the grocery store that everyone seems to be annoyed with and the child that constantly gets bullied. I want to hear their stories, I want to listen to them. I want to be their friend so so bad!!

Why?

Cause Jesus loves them with the
exact
same love as the people we chose to "accept" in society

& I so desperately want to learn to them love them like Jesus does.

Tonight, in my late night thoughts I am thinking of all my friends who I've met over the years who I love so deeply and who society has forgotten. From my homeless friends in South Africa to the girl struggling with an eating disorder that no one knows about. I'm praying that they've found Jesus's love and praying that they saw Jesus's love shining through me- cause that's all I want.  Not for them to see me, but for them to see Jesus!

I'm also praying for more opportunities to sit and chat with anyone and everyone as we encourage each other to press on in this crazy and messed up world. Life can be busy but I want my life to matter. I want my life to have purpose, & I love finding purpose in listening to others share their heart. I know its little but like Mother Teresa said "do small things with great love"

Love a girl who would love to sit down with you and hear your story 
Maddie

6.03.2013

Giving it all to him


I struggled with many things through out high school while trying to fit in with everyone’s expectations including partying, drinking, and bouncing in and out of unhealthy non-Christian relationships. As I moved into university I was devastated after a bad break up and searching in all the wrong places for love. But I’m not going to talk about how God was working back when I was in high school, but rather what God has been doing and revealing to me just recently in my life.

Worry and stress is a constant battle for me. I’m Type A to the max! I’ve always had a one-year plan, a five-year plan, and a ten-year plan for my life. This was always fine until things would happen in my life that were not a part of my plan I set for myself. Rather than turning to God to try and fix things, I would worry and stress and try to put everything back together on my own. It’s crazy though, that as soon as I fix my eyes on the Lord (what really matters!), He would put everything into place. God knows everything that is going to happen – He has a WAY better one-year plan, five-year plan, and ten-year plan for my life than I could ever come up with! Especially being in school, God has shown me that He wants to take even the tiniest things that are worrying me.

He wants me to give Him my stress about my 3 exams in one week, my essay I haven’t started, my anxiety about my presentation, my uncertainty about a summer job, my worry about money, etc. – He wants all of it. So this has been the verse I turn to almost every day to remind myself of where my focus should be.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34

One other thing that God has been teaching me over the past couple months is to not get wrapped up in my shame. Satan is constantly trying to keep people from God. So as soon as you are actively pursuing Christ and trying to grow closer to Him, Satan is right on your back trying to pull you down. Just a few months ago I started being a youth leader at Elmira Pentecostal Assembly. The more I started helping out, the more I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be in this leadership position. But now I know that was 100 percent Satan. I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day about this and she said that she was struggling with the exact same thing, but that she has “learned that God does not expect perfection but an increasingly obedient heart.” Those words really stuck out to me! 

I want to be obedient to God and follow Him and grow closer to Him! We can’t let the devil trap us in those places of doubt and insecurity, and keep us from doing God’s will. For me, I’ve learned I don’t have to be perfect to be a youth leader or teach people about God! If that was the case, no one could hold those positions. Instead, I’ve learned to confess my sins and imperfections, accept God’s grace, and continue to serve Him!

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:15-16

Love a sister in the faith 
Steph


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