Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Working All Things for Good...

This is one of the most powerful videos and testimonies I have heard in a while. This is the lead signer of Tenth Avenue North (incredible band that I had the opportunity of working with/interviewing for work).
This is something I need to keep in mind for my own life. That God can take any situation, no matter how horrible, and use it for something so far above and beyond incredible that we cannot even imagine.

Thank you God.{EC74DF25-648C-436B-A1DC-9E502CB63025}&s=1#.UcuxdaV97-Y

Pursue Christ - Don't Chase After Boys

"So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, 
and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you" 
- 1 Peter 4:19 

"God will often use the things and people we love most in this world to break us the hardest. 
If He doesn’t have your full attention now, He will demand it from you later. 
Even at the expense of great pain and heartache, God is far more 
concerned about our holiness than our happiness." 

I recently read an article in RELEVANT magazine about "Making the Most of a Breakup" and I was finding truths shared there I had to write about... mostly to remind myself where I am and why. First and foremost, I should probably explain some simple truths about what led me, personally, to this point of stepping back from a relationship that meant a lot to me.

I met this incredible guy.
He's made me smile from the start.
I noticed him before we even started talking. He dresses really nice and has an incredible sense of humour which I tend to need in my life. He is driven and has a successful career. Oh and did I mention he is perfect heel height? (Lets be honest here, for a girl who is 5'10, you have to see some sort of God orchestrated moment when you meet an incredible single guy who is perfect heel height)

We began talking at church, and then in the parking lots, at volley ball, and we were texting each other every day and well, before the end of the week, we were dating...

I wouldn't say I really thought it was wrong. I mean a tiny bell went off in my head thinking everything was happening quick... but we were both ready for a relationship. We had a lot in common. We had both been praying for someone like this to come along. It seemed so perfect and so God-orchestrated and so....right. I made sure that God had everything to do with us meeting each other that the moment I saw him, and after me turning to my friend and asking her who the hot guest speaker at church was, I asked God to please not let any man come on my path unless it was his will. I made a promise that I would not go over there and talk to him... that I would continue to trust in God and refrain from pursuing any man like I had done in the past. My faith and trust in God had never been so strong. I had gone through a really bad season but had come out the other side with a stronger faith than ever. I was ready to accept any plan God had for me, even if it meant I had to let that cute guy at church go. But he came over to me. He walked across the church and shook my hand. 

My heart smiled at that point.

Only a week before this, I had a serious conversation with God about meeting that guy. You know, the one you dream about when you are little. The man who is supposed to sweep you off your feet, treat you like a princess and promise you that he will love you and care for you unconditionally for the rest of your lives. I think they call them husbands these days ;)
It was probably the very first serious conversation I had ever had with God where I was asking for something from the depths of my heart. I told God that I was ready. I was ready to meet this man and that my faith in God would not waiver. That because I know God would bring this man into my life, I could only see my relationship with God improving, getting better, my trust and faith growing even
more because we would do it right. This man of God and I would dedicate our time to God, we would honour God with our actions and God would work with us and teach us his perfect love so we can show each other. We would get it right.
Well, I met him a week after that conversation.

We did really good the first three months but after that..... boy did we fail.

It's like we were tripped once and just kept stumbling from that point on. There was no stability, there was no unconditional love, there was no understanding, there was miscommunication, there was stubbornness and just complete frustration with one another.

What was happening?

We were both just exhausted at the end and decided the best thing to do was to get together and make a decision. And for the first time (from what I can think of) since we met, I believe we both were on the same page with God's will. 
God really prepared both of our hearts to come to this conclusion that our biggest mistake in this relationship was not that we have different schedules, or that we don't go out on enough dates. Our biggest mistake was that we took the very foundation we were relying on for everything and completely removed it from under our feet. We acknowledged the foundation. We talked about the foundation. But we weren't being built on the foundation.

We took God out of the relationship. 
Looking back now, I can see the holes in my prayer life. I keep a prayer book and it was FILLED at the beginning... but near the end.... it's been empty. I took the very thing God provided to me, one of the biggest blessings he has ever provided and I took it as my own. I pointed out it's flaws, challenged it's limits, and tried to make it into what I wanted it to be.... what I expected it to be. I turned my back to God through this process, not allowing him to have any part in the moulding process. It was my way. It's always my way...

I didn't look at how God was looking at him.
I wasn't encouraging him. I wasn't loving him. I wasn't speaking faith over his life. I would become exhausted complaining in my head how he didn't take the reigns of our spiritual walk together but it was never his fault.

I realize now that the best gift I could ever offer my significant other is a pure and dedicated heart for Christ. Because when i am seeking God with everything in my soul, I am working on being a better person. I am learning how to Love as God does. I am seeking patience, kindness, selflessness, gentleness and all things biblically speaking on love. I am living in joy and I am relying on my God for my direction, for my acceptance, and for my value in life.

How could I be so blind...

I was seeking after this idea of a comfortable life without seeking after the will of God.
I am so thankful that he pushed on both of our hearts to stop where we were.
My faith (even in just this past week) has regained it's strength. I feel closer to God now than I have in a long time and things are just more clear. I'm hearing his direction. Im feeling his comfort. and I'm seeking him every moment I've got.

Im working on being a better daughter to my King. 

I came to realize a few things about my faith through that process:
1. God is a jealous God and WILL do anything and use anything to help his children regain focus back onto him even if it hurts. (thank you God for this)
2. He is faithful. And even if I don't see it now, even if I don't understand, from my past I can say with confidence that he can use anything for good.

My God can move mountains.
My God can turn any situation around.
My God is the God of miracles and healing and he's the one who spoke the world into motion.
Not one hair will fall from my head unless it is my Father's will.
And I will Trust in him through the storms and through the sunshine
because he is faithful..... even when I fail.

The truth is.... My God is good. My God is faithful. And I am still learning to wake up every day and say out loud "I Trust You Father". I know his plan has always been better than mine. I see the incredible blessings he's provided in my life that I am not one bit worthy of. He takes care of me. He shows me incredible love through other people. He embraces every bit of dirt I offer to him and welcomes me as one of his own. No love any man on this earth could ever offer me would ever measure up to the unconditional love of my saviour. If it took a break up for me to remember this.... then I will praise you in this storm Lord. 

So going back to the article I mentioned above, Joe Terrell (the author) says the following:
"Even though I claimed to be Christian and was involved in multiple ministry organizations, for over three years my life had revolved around my relationship with my girlfriend. Pouring a majority of my passion, time, creativity and money into our relationship, I had elevated it above my relationship with God. It had become my idol, and I based my identity around the affections of another person. I was pursuing what Tim Keller refers to in his book Counterfeit Gods as “apocalyptic romance.”
Now although I cannot say that my experience was that of an overwhelming obsession with my person, I still managed to put the dream of a perfect relationship above God.... and when my person didn't "measure up" to my standards, I would get upset, frustrated, and feel as if that "dream" of my would never happen. I think everyone pictures their wedding day and who will be standing at the end of that aisle. I guess I was just thinking too much about the idea of what my life will look like in the future, and spending too much energy and thought into trying to make it "look good" than actually working on the relationship. Than actually appreciating the man God put in front of me.
This mistake was in turn, putting a dream or idea or a "want" above my relationships with God.

I need to get to a point where I am so faithful to God, I am so trusting in him, I am understanding his character and following Jesus that my heart will be content with what he has for my life. Even if it means I have to wait 10 more years to see that "dream" happen.

I don't want anyone without God's permission.

And so.... I'll wait.... with the bible in my hands, a smile in my heart, and a spirit of thankfulness because I know I am still beyond blessed in this life and my God owes me nothing.
xoxo s.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A More Simple Way of Living

I am in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. 

This is the second time I am travelling, not like a vacationer or tourist, but living like a local. The first time I lived in Manhattan, New York City (in which I will write about later).  But for now, Brazil!

It's my first time in South America and already I am seeing life lived here is very different. I'm here visiting family and have come to a couple conclusions about Brazil's way of life that I need to adopt into my own.

S p a c e.

Well, there's not much of it here.
When I first arrived in the city, all I could see was colourful concrete buildings, rocky uneven pavement, and traffic....lots of traffic. So much traffic that when we would come to a stop, there were people on the side of the road selling food, water, art, and car chargers. The only ones who were exempt from the jams were crazy people on motor bikes. They would commonly drive in between the cars to get to the front, pulling back mirrors so they don't hit them. The way they weaved in and out of traffic was getting me nervous and yet I was suddenly happy I wasn't subjected to that mode of transportation from the airport AND relieved I didn't have to drive at all during my time spent here in Brazil.

The houses are all so close to one another that I can literally open my window and talk to my neighbour right across the way (and believe me, that happened. His name is Carlos and a close family friend to my sister-in-law).

My bedroom cannot be more than 8x6 feet yet I manage to fit in perfectly. The window is so big that sunlight just pours in and there is so much cupboard space that everything has it's place. Back home, Im starting to realize that we have a lot of space. Maybe too much? Let me explain.

(View from the balcony at the house I am staying at)

At home, we all want more space. Bigger houses, our own office at work, and we are constantly plugged in (ipod/laptop/ipad/iphone,etc) in our own head space, away from everyone else. It's not an 'abnormal' thing, it's just how our culture is. We are very individualistic in our living. In comparison to our over indulged lifestyles, here they have less yet they have more.

In Brazil, the lack of "space" creates community. I'm finding more and more that everyone around here is so loving. When someone comes to the house to visit, they go to everyone in the house, greets them with a hug and a kiss on the right cheek, even if they are strangers! (like myself). I like this. We try to overload ourselves with money, space, technology, power and never seem to get anywhere. We miss the mark. I feel here they have a better grasp of what is important.

Family. Love. Community. Celebration. Music. Dance.

They don't seem to be saturated with the same kind of ideals as we are.

Every meal that is made is SO GOOOD (always served with rice and beans, no complaints here!) and everyone comes to the table to eat. Family. That was a rare thing in my life. We never had routine with meals and when we did sit down as a family it was either rushed or someone was missing from the table. I want to make an effort to have more meals like this. Sitting down. Conversation. Passing food between one another. love. community. family.