Comment

on travel, coming home, & living fully alive.

I sat across the table from a friend, a condensation lined cold-brew coffee cradled in my hands. My eyes settled on the horizon in the background, squinting as the sparkle of the late spring sunlight danced off the water and through the windows. Without even noticing it, I found myself completely lost in the moment and the view, which must have been obvious to my friend, because after a minute or so of my contemplative silence, she jumped in with a “okay, dreamer, what are you thinking?”

I laughed. Mainly, because anyone who knows me well (or really, even just a little…) knows that I’m a dreamer and visionary almost to a fault, often lost in a world of possibility and ideas and long-distance planning, and fueled by the potential of what can be. But, as I sat in that well-loved coffeeshop across from that dear friend, it hit me that my thought wasn’t of being somewhere else or in anyway consumed with what was coming next. My thought was that in that moment there simply wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be. 

Just a few weeks before, I sat with a dear friend on a park bench in a quaint and historic British town on the outskirts of London, the last stop in a month of travel that took me from the dusty village roads and crowded urban streets of colourful India, the cobblestone streets of snowy Oslo, snowy alpine passes in Norway’s interior, and the sunny harbour of Bergen; to artsy Bristol, the bustling streets of London-town, and the history-rich architecture of Oxford. 

It was the kind of trip you plan and count-down to for months, an unusual combination of places, laced together because of the people in the places as much as  (if not more than) the places themselves - and the budget-saving opportunities of extending and expanding international layovers. 

And it was incredible.

One of the hardest questions to answer is the one you always encounter on the edge of a trip like this, when people eagerly ask, “How was it?” I never know how to answer that. It was an adventure. It was wonderful. It was tiring and life-giving all at the same time. Aside from a flight delay-turned expensive flight change between India and Norway and a terrible migraine in India, it’d be hard to have four-weeks better. The combined diversity of the places. The depth of the - very different - flavours. The slow mornings and full days and late nights with dear friends. The collapsing into bed at the end of every day, tired and overwhelmed with gratitude for all the ways God showed up and wondering how the next day could possibly match the day I just lived, but waking up and finding the next day to be a splendid gift of equal value and adventure all its own. 

I stood on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, with a hot South Asian breeze flowing through my hair and sand between my toes. I danced in the rain with young students at an English primary school in the mountains of Andhra-Pradesh, got to preach about the hope and power of the resurrection (translated two times) in a remote Indian village, found myself completely captivated by the passion and hospitality of the Indian people, ate curry for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and in countless moments of having my camera to my face and the back-and-forth-take-a-picture-show-them-their-picture-and-laugh-together, with stunning children with sparkle and spunk in their eyes, remembered all the reasons I love photography and travel and the diversity of the world’s people. 

I walked in Oslo while April snow fell from the sky, arm-in-arm with one of my dearest friends as we explored Norway’s parliament and the Nobel Peace Centre, breathed deeply of the northern air and was reminded why mountains and snow and clear northern skies are my absolute favourite, drove in the rolling Scandinavian countryside and collected stunning purple flowers from the forest floor, ate smoked salmon by the harbour in Bergen, bought extra strong black liquorice every single time I went to the grocery store, watched game six of the Norwegian hockey finals in a local pub, walked all over the city and up its hills to catch the sunset over Norway’s west coast, drank lots of strong coffee and spent hours talking and laughing and dreaming and listening to music. 

I explored the (greater London-area of the) UK by train: meeting up with friends from Vancouver in Bristol and London and local friends in Guildford. I read about Banksy at a bookstore in his hometown, ate authentic English breakfast on back-to-back mornings, embraced the buzz of London town with three days of perfect sunshine, ate perfectly spicy tacos and Mexican hot chocolate along the River Thames, did a walking tour of the city of London, and took off to Oxford for a day where we geeked out about the history and architecture and the extensive collection of international development/human rights textbooks in the bookstore, ate gelato at the meadows by Christ Church Cathedral, and had drinks at Lewis and Tolkien’s go-to pub. And, as the perfect end to the trip and the best way to prepare for the new season that awaited me at home: I spent a gloriously relaxed and unstructured week in Guildford with two of my closest friends, watched films, drank cocktails, spent lots of time in prayer together, talked about music and life and marriage and finding joy in the midst of suffering, and was so lavishly blessed by my friends’ generosity and culinary creativity with every meal. 

It was a gift, in ways I can’t quite describe. I think travel and adventure always is, in the way it inspires us to lean in and live more intentionally, more fully almost. How it wakes us up from some of the ways we can so easily just go through the motions in our own lives. How it it opens our eyes to see new things and to see familiar things in a new way. How it teaches us to be awed and inspired by the ordinary. How it reminds us about all the ways we learn and re-learn that we are not what we do. And shows us just how life-giving it is to give ourselves spaces to rest and reset and dream and pray and worship and just be. 

And then I came home. And I teared up when I walked off the plane and was greeted at YVR with the familiar “welcome to Vancouver” sign - three words that have proven more comforting every time that I see them than I before knew they could be. Reminding me that one of the very best parts of leaving is the way coming back reminds you that home is beautiful in a different way than anywhere else can be. And that as beautiful as it is to explore and adventure and see new things, there’s something particularly profound about the places we live our ordinary, everyday lives - the places we sleep and buy our groceries and cook our meals and build community and go for walks and meet with friends for lunch or drinks after work and dream and pray and worship and do laundry and hike and live the vast expanse of the both the mundane and extra-ordinary moments of the human experience. There’s something about the streets of our own neighbourhoods and our regular coffeeshops and favourite restaurants and routine running routes and the messiness and familiarity of our offices and places of work. Something about the beauty and brokenness of our own cities. 

Credit the generosity of jet-lag, for the first few days home, I woke up early (even earlier than my usual) and walked down to the ocean to walk or bike along my favourite stretch of the sea-wall and take in the sunset over the familiar Coastal Mountains-meets-Pacific Ocean horizon. I watched the sun rise over the buildings and streets of this sleeping city and I teared up and freaked out a bit with all the ways God has a knack for wowing us with how creative and stunning He is if we’re willing to open our eyes to see it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the quote (credited to St. Irenaeus) that says, “the glory of God is man fully alive.” Mulling over those words as I sat on the plane headed back west to BC, as I helped pack up the house where I grew up and the last place with memories of my Dad and cried on the trail where we'd mountain bike and beside the lake where I spent countless hours in high school, as I celebrate birthdays and engagements and weddings and babies with friends, as I wash the campfire-scented laundry from my camping trip with dear friends this past weekend, as I make tea and lounge around in my urban apartment, as I sit by the ocean and soak up this stunning early summer sun, as I pay bills and update my budget, as I walk to and from my downtown office and to meetings at coffeeshops, and as I lock myself in the library trying to find/force the focus I need to finish my thesis. 

And it's hitting me over and over that this ordinary, walking around life is the. most. incredible. gift. These tears. This pain. This beauty. This hurt. These dreams. This confusion. These responsibilities. These joys. This hope. This strength. This weakness. The full gamut of emotion and experience and wonder and frustration and faith and failure. All of it: the most. incredible. gift.

Because all of it is an invitation to know this God who hung the starts and yet cares about all the tiniest details of who we are. And invitation to enjoy Him forever. To live with no guilt in life and no fear in death. To rest in His unchanging character. To dive deep (and deeper still) into His heart. To taste and see that He’s good. To savour and celebrate all of the beauty and wonder and whimsy of a life fully embraced, not in the sense of selfish humanistic hedonism, but in the sense of living with open eyes, hearts ready to love boldly, feet ready to move, and arms ready to embrace all the beauty and challenges that life and breath have to offer us.

And maybe I’m starting to get it just a little bit more: the crazy gift of this ordinary, walking around life. These moments we mistakingly call “normal.” These spaces that become far-too-familiar. Maybe the most radical act of worship we can give is to truly engage and be here. right here. right now: with these faces, these streets, these views. these flavours. these sunsets & these sunrises.

Where being fully alive means a be-still-and-rest-because you-don’t-have-anything-to-prove and you-don’t-have-to-earn-love kind of living. A life that embraces the terrifying and yet freeing vulnerability of being willing to be seen and known and loved for who we truly are, not just the versions of us we try to perpetuate. The kind of living that tears down the insecurities and hesitations that hold us back from being the best versions of who we are.

A kind of living that is fully present and awake to our own hearts beating and breaking and the beating and breaking hearts all around us. A living that surrenders to the range of joy and laughter and pain and hope and sorrow and weeping that come with chasing dreams and stepping into difficult things and opening our hearts to give and receive love.

An all-in kind of living, where worship meets us in every moment, because we walk into every place knowing that Christ is in us and sustains us and leads us and is crazy in love with us and madly in love with every.single.person we ever lock eyes with. Where the simple things are the big things. And the “ordinary” things are the extraordinary things: A fully alive kind of living. 

A month away at the end of a really really hard season may have reminded me a bit more - in a thousand beautiful ways - of what that can look like, but this summertime sunshine dancing on these mountain peaks and city side-walks and these conversations with friends who are like family and all the ways that Jesus meets and wows us and sustains us and invites us to know Him deeper and more fully in the day-to-day is reminding that it's here too: right here. right now. 

And (right now) there's no where else I'd rather be. 

Comment

Comment

on mountains, natural spaces, & worship.

This past weekend, a group of my friends and I headed up to Elfin Lake Trailhead in Garibaldi Park for an overnight hiking trip. Garibaldi Park is one of those expanses of wilderness you catch glimpses of in travel magazines and dream about in moments of poignant mountain wanderlust. Nestled in the coastal mountains and just a few hours up the Sea-to-sky Highway from Vancouver, it’s the kind of place where BC Tourism commercials are filmed, because these views stand amongst the best in the world. The kind of place that makes me fall in love with life and adventure and my home all over again.

It’s a thin space: a space where the gap between heaven and earth doesn’t feel quite so distant. Where beauty nourishes you and gives you strength. Where the presence of God is almost palpable. Where you’re so in awe of the panorama stretching across the sky, that you can hardly think of anything else.

I’ll admit: mountains have a particular hold on my heart. There’s something about the stillness and beauty of the alpine air and the rugged peaks that makes both the best and the worst parts of life better – more beautiful almost. If mountains had eyes or if they could tell stories, they could testify to some of the most meaningful and impactful moments in my story. For some people, the ocean has the same effect: they come alive most in the space where the water and the horizon are hardly distinguishable, where their feet are buried in the sand, and sun dances off the waves and across their skin. For some, it’s rivers rushing white and trees climbing far above their heads.

Many of us have those spaces. The spaces we come back to in our minds and we long to escape to when we need to be reminded that life, though difficult and messy, is still breathtakingly beautiful and so full of wonder and possibility.

Read more at: http://www.stpetersfireside.org/2015/05/beyond-mountains/

Comment

Comment

all the single ladies.

Confession: I have a secret wedding/love-themed Pinterest board.

Well, at least it was a secret. There’s no wedding on the horizon. I’m not in a relationship. And, the thing is, I don’t even love weddings that much. I just really really love love. I love love stories and I love the way that two people can become each other’s “person” and become a team that makes both stronger and better somehow. I love how marriage reflects the heart of Jesus like few other things do.

And so, alongside the collection of beautiful places around the world that I want to visit and ideas for interior design that I love, I have slowly amassed a board full of candid wedding and engagement photography and flowers and stunning white dresses. And, unlike my mountain obsession and self-curated collection of photojournalism and fashion inspiration, I’ve kept it hidden.

Mostly because I was embarrassed to be the stereotypical single girl with a wedding Pinterest board. But, also, because it’s often hard for me to admit, both to myself and to others, how deeply I want to be loved and to love in that context. How much I desire to be married. And how confusing and heartbreaking the tension between hoping for something I don’t have and living in the reality of it not being part of my story has sometimes felt.

Read more at: http://www.stpetersfireside.org/2015/03/all-the-single-ladies/

Comment

Comment

on plans, surrender, & embracing a life of interruption(s).

A few weeks ago, I found a list I wrote when I was 16 of all the things I had hoped and planned to do and see by the time I turned 25. I nearly died laughing at how optimistic, ambitious, and entirely unrealistic (translation: idealistic) my 16-year-old self was.

I had plans. I had dreams. I had goals. Some were big dreams and some were more tangible ones. Some, I held to tightly and worked really hard to see happen. Many happened. Some never did. And a few nearly broke my heart in the way that they fell apart. 

Read more at: http://www.stpetersfireside.org/2015/03/dont-trust-your-plans/

Comment

Comment

on a new(ish) year, newness, & the horizon of the unknown.

Oy. February already, eh?

If this year was a new car, the new car smell would have already been well worn off by wet gumboots in the backseat, running shoes and used socks throw in the passenger side after a quick run by the ocean and a stack of to-go coffee-cups collected from drives in and out of the city and back and forth from the mountains. So, I can’t really call it new any more, can I? Well. I meant to sit down so many times over the past few weeks to pull together a recap of the year that was 2014. To write about the newness of and excitement for 2015. And yet, now a full month into this no-longer-new “new” year and I’m only now poking away on my laptop.

Yeah, seems about right.

2015 has already been rich and full and new in all the ways you hope a new year will be. It rolled out of the starting blocks with momentum and it hasn’t really slowed down since. Which I admittedly kind of love. 2014 was a roller-coaster, full of growth and joy and frustrations and hitting the wall and redirection. It was taking a step back and giving myself space to reevaluate and rest. It was hard. And it was good. And in so many ways, it was the end of a really hard chapter and the beginning of a new one: sunset and sunrise wrapped into one messy and beautiful package.

And now 2015. There’s a community of bloggers from around the globe that pick out a word at the beginning of every year that will be their word for the year to follow. Despite having the much loved routine of sitting down and dreaming/praying through each new year and being one of those people who love resolutions (all. year. round.), I’ve never been able to narrow a year down to a word. Until this year.

This year my one-word was easy: new.

After a few years that have been, well, really really hard, my heart ached for new. For a new song. For new perspective. New vision. For new direction. For renewal and restoration, but also for completely new and unexpected things. For the kind of adventures that only God could write. I dove into Ezekiel and Isaiah and the Psalms and wrote out every passage I could find that referenced new life sprouting in desert places, dry bones being given new life, and new songs being sung.

To be honest, I didn’t know if I was just so stubbornly determined for newness or if that was actually what God was speaking, but I’m laughing a bit about how much things already feel like they’ve changed since the calendar switched to a new year. Nothing monumental perhaps, but the subtle and profound rhythms of newness and new routines and embracing new adventures without much or any routine and new decisions to make and glimmers of new direction and new postal code(s).

Laughing in the way that you do when you know that God has set you up somehow and you never would have seen it coming if you tried. That in his gracious way, He peels back layers and reminds you of nearly forgotten dreams and invites you to take a deep look into His heart again and again and again. And to re-anchor yourself there: in His love. in His steadiness. in His peace. in the sweeping grandeur that is His plan to redeem and renew all things. The way that He reminds you - tangibly - that His dreams are better and His calling is perfect. That He is - always - our exceedingly great reward. That the right now part of your story is the only part that really matters and the only part that we’ll ever actually have. That the leading and provision of God aren’t some neat series of predictable events, but a series of running and falling and stopping and limping and failing and detours and switchbacks. And that He always does speak and lead - even if it’s just enough for the next shaky step - when we need to hear His voice.

Six months ago I thought I knew what my next steps were - or at least the direction that they were headed. I was finishing grad school, studying for the LSAT, researching law schools (and rather indicatively, only planned and wanted to apply to one: in Vancouver), and resigned to another chapter of being in school. And then I took the LSAT. And I hit the wall with burn-out. And I took a (forced) step back.

I started asking hard questions - about the things I really care about and the things God has put on my heart. About where I am right now, practically. I cried a lot of tears with Jesus because the unknown felt so frustrating and daunting and I felt really alone in making the big decisions. I didn’t know how to reconcile the stirrings in my heart with my current reality. Didn’t know what path to walk down or what direction to go.

It felt like my story was turning into a growing list of failed dreams and dreams surrendered and seemingly confused “direction”. I hated that. I still mostly hate that. And yet, I almost love it too. Because every surrendered dream so far, despite the pain and journey of letting go, has lead to something so much better than I thought. Something only God could grow or do. And because every moment when I feel stuck, I am dependent; every day when I don’t know where I’m headed, His strength has to be my vision; and every hour when I have no idea how He’s going to lead or provide, I have to lean fully on Him.

Someone asked me the other day what I plan to do after I finish grad school (or how I will pay for life or start to pay off my student loans) and I laughed. In a good way. I don’t know. I have some ideas. Some really incredible possibilities that I’m thinking about and praying through. And I’m really eager to see how it all unfolds. Yet, I don’t know “what I want to do with my life.” But I’m catching more and more glimpses of the person I want to be and the kind of life I want to live, regardless of whatever job I have. And more and more convinced that Mother Teresa’s words about our vocation (no matter what we do or pursue) being the love of Jesus are amongst some of the most accurate and comforting words ever recorded.

I wrapped up 2014 confident in very little except two things: Jesus and Vancouver. The former being my constant and steady reality and the only foundation and home that matters. And the latter my right now: the city that I’ve grown to love (and ache for) more than I knew I ever could; the city that has acted as the catalyst for the growing passion in me for multicultural urban centres and issues specific to those contexts; the city where I want to see God’s renewal and redemption play out for years to come.

I spent a lot of the first month of this new year writing and dreaming with Jesus, trying to honestly articulate the core of who He’s made me to be and getting swept in the joy that it is to know and be known by Him. Swept away in possibility and big-picture vision, yet rooted in the reality of the day-to-day and step-by-step. He graciously gave some direction and I’ve started taking some shaky steps in the direction I sense Him leading. And, yet I don’t know how He’s going to reconcile the passions that rage in this (restless and passionate) heart of mine. I don’t know where He’s going to lead or how this adventure will unfold.

But I’m starting to think that that’s the best part.

Starting to think that the horizon of the unknown is both exciting and terrifying in its width of possibility, but mostly exciting because it keeps life fresh and new and keeps us living in tents, ready to move (figuratively and literally) when the Spirit speaks and whispers that it’s time to move. Even it if it’s in a different direction than we ever thought we’d go, or maybe even tried to avoid going.

And, right now, even in the unknown: I have the adventure of today. The joy of finishing grad school (aka: writing this thesis!) and moving soon into a small, quirky, & old downtown apartment that is, in so many ways, an answer to years of prayers and dreams and impatience; currently living in a basement (in a house near the beach!) that has generously been given to me to stay in for 5-weeks and that was cleaned and painted by dear friends in order to make it comfortable and liveable for my current modern-day nomad lifestyle. Working a new job I didn’t expect to have right now, much less ever. Seeing God work in my church and plant vision for this coming year that make me so excited to see all that God has in store. Preparing for a month of traveling in April to places and people that I already love and new places I’ve been wanting and praying for opportunities to see for most of my life.

Unknown? Absolutely.

But. New. & full and good and an adventure lined with His goodness. I’m humbled and grateful.

2015, you’re looking simply dashing already.

 

Comment

Comment

on two years, the journey of suffering, & death defeated.

Today marks 2 years. 2 years since I walked out of that hospital room and collapsed in the ICU waiting area, numb and overwhelmed with the reality that he was gone. My Dad – once healthy and strong and so full of life – was gone.

The best news? Death doesn't win the day. Not then. Not now. Not ever.

"One of the most audacious things about the Christian faith is that when we put our full hope and complete trust in the life, death, resurrection and return of Jesus, we’re actually banking everything we believe and know on the unseen reality that death is not the end of the story.

We’re putting all of our hope in the reality that Jesus beat death. We’re staking a claim in the reality that what Christ has ultimately won for us in eternity by conquering death is actually way better than the cost of all of the struggles we face."

See more at: http://www.stpetersfireside.org/2015/01/death-defeated/

Comment

1 Comment

on burn-out, limping to the finish line, & learning to make my home in the unforced rhythms of grace.

This fall.

I hit the wall this semester. It’s hard to know what to write because it’s been a complicated and overwhelming and yet somehow really beneficial space. Bottom line is that my ongoing attempt to balance as many things as possible and to carry everything came crashing down. Enter a few months of acknowledging burn-out and slowly taking steps to combat it.

It’s been clumsy and messy. Moments of reprieve intermingled with hard-fought moments of focus and many other moments of resigning to the bone-tired exhaustion. I’ve felt weak and distracted and anxious. I’ve cried over my research and whilst driving and in grocery store parking lots because the notion of getting groceries felt like too much. [Insert wholehearted praise for the beauty of take-away sushi here.] Insomnia and I again became well acquainted. I almost quit my job. I nearly put school on hold and walked away for a bit.

There’s this really beautiful thing that happens when you realize you get to that place though: you have to make changes. No amount of self-motivated focus or vision or determination can sustain themselves indefinitely. You can’t hide forever behind your well-practiced “I can do this!” resolve. There’s a tipping point when the exhaustion wins out over any go.go.go. and do.do.do. mentalities and you just collapse.

In so many ways and in so many layers, I’m realizing more and more that this weakness is grace and this season is grace. Because God is here and he keeps pulling me close and reminding me of how desperately I need Him (every day and hour and moment) and how clearly and faithfully He’s never failed me.

And, really, that’s what life is, isn’t it? Fumbling and stumbling our way through beauty and struggle and growth and clinging tightly to grace. Life unfolds in the spaces of all the ups and downs and nuances of strength and emotion and beauty and pain and weakness and the whole gamut of those experiences show us that wisdom often isn’t found in trying to fix circumstances, but rather in learning to dance in the rain and celebrate the small things and make room for margin and rest. Wisdom is learning to cherish the weakness and hold tight to the Saviour who sustains us in the midst of it, and the ways He leads us and carries us when we make our homes in hope.

[I didn’t quit school. I cut back my hours at work (thanks to the graciousness of the team at my work) and I gave myself space to rest and to sleep a lot. I started drinking less coffee and more herbal tea and I went for more walks and discovered the beauty that is lavender essential oil. I’ve spent more time in prayer and and clung to worship with complete desperation. I made some other big and small decisions that will help shape both this season and the next few years. I’m surrounded by a core group of people who constantly humble me with their love and support and I’ve leaned hard on them. I feel like I’m limping to the end of the semester, but I’ll get there, one-shaky-step-at-a-time.]

I need to preach the Gospel to myself daily. I need the reality of my complete desperation to sink deep into my bones. And louder and deeper than any other message: I need to know that before I am anything else, I am loved.

I am loved.

Completely. Extravagantly. Without condition and for no reason except that my Father has rescued me and redeemed me and calls me His own. Right now. Right here. In the midst of this space and this hurt and these deep-rooted dreams and this exhaustion and this weakness. He knows my heart. He holds my heart. And He loves me.

Full stop. Drop the mic.

That’s it. I don’t have anything to prove. I don’t have to achieve or accomplish or make a tangible difference. I have the single task of seeking Him and glorying in His salvation and and fixing my eyes on Him and letting that love overflow in the way I go about loving others and doing the work I have before me. It’s like Henri Nouwen wrote, “I am convinced that I will only be able to truly love the world when I fully believe that I am loved far beyond its boundaries.”

I’m getting better at that. Clinging to love more and more. Limping and stumbling and crashing into that reality, but falling more and more in love with Jesus with the way He patiently catches me every.single.time. I’m slowly letting it wash over the ridiculous expectations I put on myself to accomplish and to carry things on my own and to contribute.

Because at the root of it, I ache and dream and work hard because I want to be a part of something that makes the world better somehow. To stand in the gap and against injustice. To illuminate beauty. To charge the darkness with light. I want the nations to proclaim His goodness. I want to see this city flood with light and I dream continually of the day it will shine even more with evidence of God’s work in this place. I want people in captivity to be set free. I want just laws to reign. I want relationships restored. I want refugees to be protected and welcomed and to find safe places to make their homes. I want the multi-cultural and multi-generational church to grow and to thrive and to pursue the upside-down Gospel in our post-Christian contexts with creativity and boldness. I want the Kingdom to reign with all of its life-altering beauty and steady power in all spheres and all places.

I want Zion. I want Him to tear open the skies and bring justice at last and restore everything that is broken and bring the perfect lasting peace that is impossible without Him.

And I feel it. The pressure and the burden. The ache and the longing. The tension between the person I am and the person I want to be. The gap between the here and the not yet. I love this city deeply and yet it breaks my heart. I’m pursuing all that I’m pursuing because I really do believe that it matters and can make a meaningful difference, but the work that it takes to get there is hard and difficult and often feels crippling.

At their best (in the proper context of fixing my eyes on Jesus first) these things act as motivation and vision that inspire me and keeps me going and keep me dreaming and leaning hard on Jesus. At their worst (when I try to carry the burden on my own), they cripple me and overwhelm me because I take on the worry and burden that was never mine to carry.

This season has exposed that I need to pick up the tent I’ve pitched in the latter and (re)make my home in the former. I need to realign the rhythms and boundaries of my schedule with Christ and a right theology of His love and redemptive power. I need to make rest a priority. I need to take a step back from my jam-packed schedule and well-intended, but over-committed balancing act and learn to live in the unforced rhythms of grace and the freedom of Christ in that space.

The world is not mine to save. And that’s really really good news. The pressure is off. There’s freedom here. Lives of meaning and impact require hard work and committed effort, yes, but they demand effort that is worked out over years and in sustainable rhythms, not in a unsustainable rotation of crash-and-burn. Perfection has never been something to aspire to nor something we are capable of attaining.

Wisdom would have been to build proactive rhythms of sustainable rest and not letting myself get to the point of burn-out in the first place. But, the thing about burn-out is that you tend to think it’s something that happens to other super-busy and over-committed people, but not you. I knew my schedule wasn’t sustainable, but I rationalized its intensity by saying it wasn’t for forever and I would recover and let myself rest later. Part of me just assumed this crazy rhythm was a necessary part of the student/grad school/mid-twenties experience. That I didn’t have an excuses to not be working as hard as was absolutely possible. That was foolishness. That was pride. That was a misunderstanding of what God calls us to do and to be. [Here’s to learning and growing through everything.]

The bottom line is this: I can do no good things apart from His presence in me. I can only love this city and my neighbourhood if that love comes as an overflow of Christ’s love in me. I can only think and engage in difficult questions well if that insight comes as an overflow of the Holy Spirit in me. I simply cannot run on empty.

There’s a song by Jon Thurlow (off his new “Walking Through the Night” EP) that I’ve been listening to over and over, called Never Dying Love. Part of the lyrics are: “I need something stronger than my resolve, something trials or floods cannot quench.” That’s exactly it. I need something deeper than passion, something stronger than resolve, something so absolutely beyond the limitations of human intellect and the failures of social systems. I need the transcendence that smashes through the hopelessness of the closed imminent frame. The enduring hope that illuminates the struggle and the waiting and the not yet.

I need the fiery seal of His love.

It’s sounds crazy, but this humbling and exhausting season that has continually exposed my weakness is captivating my heart with His love. In so many ways, that’s been the recurring theme over these past few years and in all the cracks and bruises within. It’s been crazy hard. In a steady and lingering pain and a darkness that almost feels like it may never fully lift. But, It’s been beautiful in a way I’ll never be able to convey or articulate. I’ve never been so captivated by my Jesus or by the way He pulls us close and sustains us and I just keep falling more in love with Him.

And that’s the mind-blowing and joy-lined space that makes this season such a gift too. Because in the tension, His strength is made perfect in my weakness. In my failings, He still speaks vision and plants big dreams and asks us to love extravagantly and hope steadily and trust unswervingly. He still asks us to pray with confidence and to boldly approach Him. He still asks us to live and to enter into the mess of humanity, but in such a way that we lean on Him and not our own strength.

He speaks life and sustains. And He writes His love on our hearts.

This fall has been clinging to the crazy and stunning promise of Isaiah 35:

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flowers. Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and colour. God’s resplendent glory, fully on display. God awesome, God majestic.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here, on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song. Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly.

They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion, unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness, as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.

Resplendent glory. Singing en route to Home in Zion. Healing. New life in barren places. Joy and gladness. Talk about a promise.

This burn-out has been and is grace. Grace to cling to and see a deeper glimpse of the God who is with us and the God on his way to put things right.

[Hallelujah, come Lord Jesus.]

1 Comment

Comment

on parliament, prayer, & the pursuit of justice.

Writing about one of my heroes, Mr. William Wilberforce.

"When we read about heroes of the faith, it is easy to see their accomplishments and to notice a linear progression of what was written about their life. So often this plays out like a highlight reel and fails to acknowledge that most – if not all – stories of meaningful faith unfold in the space of the ordinary. Lives of faith that left an impact are comprised of thousands of ordinary, and often difficult moments sustained by God that together pave the way for something worth remembering..."

Continue reading at: www.stpetersfireside.org/2014/10/parliament-prayer-pursuit-justice/

Comment

Comment

on the LSAT, ambition, & redefining success.

"Our society tells us that our value is often commensurate with what we can do. With what we accomplish. Our ambition-driven culture has little regard for stillness and great accolades for success, so we try to do much and to do much well. This world of high standards and high pressure is so familiar to so many of us. Stillness and surrender? Choosing grace over perfection? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Surely we have places to go and good things to do and money to make and people to help and degrees to acquire and promotions to earn…”

Read more at: http://www.stpetersfireside.org/2014/10/lsat-getting-ambition-straight/

Comment

Comment

on the passing of time & making something beautiful out of the brokenness.

The passing of time is a funny thing.

In so many ways comforting and in others like a treadmill that’s set at a pace a little too fast for comfort. The seasons come and go: the summer sun has set, the leaves have started to change, and soon fresh snow will cover the peaks in the distance.

The change is welcome. Necessary even. The first walk with crunchy leaves underfoot and the first day the snow falls from the sky like glitter are still two of my most favourite moments the year has to offer. I cherish the rhythms of the seasons and the way I still get all sorts of giddy and excited when I get to pull boots and toques from their summer storage. And how when spring and summer come again next year, I’ll be again savouring every glimpse of sunshine and warmth and longer nights. There’s an ebb and flow that reflects in the spaces and rhythms of our lives: a cycle that’s familiar and comforting somehow.

I promised myself last year that I’d always celebrate today - that I’d do something to mark this day just as I would have if he was here. I can’t call him. And I can’t skype. And I can’t mail him a silly card. And he was never one for days that focused their attention on him. But his life is something worth remembering. Something worth celebrating.

Someday. I’ll bake apple pie on this day and tell my kids funny stories about him and they may roll their eyes, but I’ll keep telling them nonetheless. I’ll point to pictures and tell them all that I can remember about this man who so tangibly shaped and influenced my life and I’ll cry because they’ll never know him and he’ll never read them stories and they’ll never know what it feels like to get a big strong hug from his tall, lanky frame or get to hear his laugh. I’ll watch Joe Sakic highlights and I’ll pick up one of the books that used to be on his shelf and I’ll flip through the pages and read all his notes and I’ll chuckle about how excited he always got about theology.

Today. I let myself sleep in and went for a walk in the rain and came home and and made a pot of tea (or 3) and put on the playlist I’ve listened to thousands of times in the space since he’s been gone. I pulled out pictures and I laughed and I cried and I wished that I could somehow transport myself back to countless campfire conversations or mountain hikes or nights watching hockey or kitchen table conversations where we’d dream and plan together and just hear his voice and his laugh and hear him call me Lider or hear him pray or make a corny joke. one.more.time.

This grieving thing, it’s a puzzling space. One moment overwhelmed with sadness. Another overcome with anger with how much I hate cancer and pain and loss. Some moments marked by intense gratitude and laughter. Others where life is so full and beautiful and I almost forget that he’s gone or that things are different now. And a lot of moments that mix and overlap across those spaces. Some days I can tell the story of how he died and it just blows me away with how near God was and how tangibly the grave holds no victory. Some days I can tell the stories of who he was and they’re not marked by pain or the loss, they’re just marked by how crazy thankful I am that he was ours for the time we had with him. And, sometimes I still cry myself to sleep and cling desperately to God’s promises to heal us and carry us and I wonder if this will ever not hurt.

He would have been 56 today. 56. A number that makes me cringe because everything about it feels too soon. too. freakin’. soon.

I’m keenly aware of how much this space has changed me and grown me and yet I also know how much I still hate it. It’s here where I’ve learned (a bit more at least) how to give myself grace for the process and for the pain and to let myself be weak. It’s here where God has expanded my understanding of compassion and opened my eyes to wounds in myself and in others I likely would have previously overlooked.

And yet I so often just wish all of it would just go away or that I could be stronger or that I could somehow turn off all these feelings. Brokenness and surrender are sexy catchphrases in the church, but in reality they’re pretty brutal.

Sometimes I wonder why we endeavour to step into brokenness at all.

Sometimes I want to embrace the survival mechanism of comfort and apathy and I want to close my eyes and my heart to the way that all of creation groans that things are broken and in desperate need of renewal and restoration and hope. I want to stop feeling so much. And I want to turn my brain off.

Build a life that seeks justice in places where it is lost? Creatively and proactively seek out ways to care for the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed? Share my life with honestly and vulnerability and generosity? Follow this Jesus who asks us to live according to this Kingdom that asks us to give up our lives? No thank you. Lest I just turn into a weepy mess over here and buckle under the pressure.

Because sometimes, I don’t think I can handle the weight of it.
Scratch that. I know I can’t handle the weight of it.

Cancer. War. Loss. Corruption. Sickness. Poverty. Brokenness. Hurt.

It’s too much. too. much.

And then I take a step back - eyes swollen with tears - from of the birthday that would have been today, from how much cancer has stolen from us (and from too many dear friends of mine for whom this is also reality) and how death leaves you feeling a bit helpless in its aftermath.

And I take a step away from the systemic brokenness I study about and care (perhaps too much) about and (perhaps foolishly or idealistically) have chosen to build a career around and the pressure to do or say something - anything - meaningful in that space.

I take a step back and remember the seasons.

I remember the way that the sun always sets against these gorgeous mountain peaks and rises again against the horizon of the stunning Pacific Ocean. The way that the rising sun whispers boldly of his faithfulness and the morning shines as a promise that his mercy never runs dry. The way that the crisp air makes you pause and breathe deeply in the same space that it makes you shiver and want to run inside to warmth. The way that you sometimes wonder if winter will ever end - but it always does. The way that you can’t imagine a life without someone and yet, as moments turn into days and days turn into weeks and weeks turn into years, you find yourself living one - and it’s still beautiful. still really really beautiful.

And in the space of the tears and the pain and the nearly crippling feelings of inadequacy and weakness, I hear the promise of the God who has never left us. The God who never will. The One who goes before us. The One who weaves redemption and healing and renewal in tiny and miraculous ways and who never asks us to carry the weight of that on our own shoulders, but just says, Come to me. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

The One who whispers that He is the one who will fight for us - we need only be still.

We need only be still.

Today: in the space of all my tears for what we’ve lost, I’m really really humbled by how far we’ve come. Of how I’ve so often just feel like a scared little girl nearly paralyzed with pain and fear, but a little girl with the best Father who keeps taking my hand and leading me forward with the encouragement of taking it just one step at a time and the promise that He’s not going anywhere in the process. A Father who has let me stop and let me rest and let me run and let me fall and let me cry and let me be angry and let me wrestle and who has carried me and never left me alone in any piece of it.

And how - somehow - in that space, despite all odds, we’ve covered a lot of ground.

I’m just really blown away with the Saviour who steps into the mess of our stories and the most painful parts of our lives and speaks of His sustaining presence and the enduring promise of hope. How I’m more in love with my Jesus than I have even been before, not because following him rescues us from the struggle, but because He walks with us through it. How He’s a God who can take all of our questions and our hurt and our anger.

He does heal and He does lead, but rarely do either look like the way we expect them to. He does sustain and He does speak. Hope does not disappoint and justice is attainable, but both most often unfold in the slow and subversive spaces of of quiet and faithful lives committed to both. Joy does resound louder and beauty does shine brighter - always.

This process of learning and walking in this space takes more bravery and courage than I expected. More bravery and courage than I thought I had. More bravery and courage than I do have on my own.

But, maybe that’s the whole point.

Because one shaky or strong step at a time, we cling to Jesus and we keep going. We keep dreaming. We keep choosing love. We keep giving ourselves grace to cry and to mourn. We throw our nets into the ocean even when we’ve been fishing all night and we’ve caught nothing. We keep building our homes in hope. We take risks and we fail.

And slowly - amidst the pain and the brokenness and the failures and the successes and the best moments and the worst moments and all the moments that overlap in between - we just might find that we’re building something beautiful here. Something that our hands couldn’t build on our own - something only He could build.

Comment

Comment

on almost running away, sweet summertime, & remembering why I started.

And so it begins. again.

I have the same reaction to being really happy and really overwhelmed. Both result in the same thought that seems to take over my heart and mind: I’m just going to run away to the mountains. Going to drive up to my beloved Coastal Mountains. Or over to Banff and Jasper. Or impulsively book a flight to Kathmandu (don’t worry, Mum. I promise I won’t actually fly to Nepal alone…yet.)

There’s something about the alpine air and the mountains peaks that makes both the best and the worst parts of life better – more beautiful almost. If God’s stillness and rest can be represented in any geographic setting, surely it’s found in water and peaks and pine trees. Surely the snow-capped masses of granite are a tangible representation of both His extravagant gentleness and His immense power. (A friend of mine once joked that mountains are my love language and I think it’s actually completely true.)
 
But, my mother wisely told me that one of the things I’ll need to pay attention to my whole life, knowing that my mountain default is a when and not an if kind of occurrence, is that when the “mountains are calling and I must go” itch hits, I need to be able to articulate when it’s wise and beautiful to go and the moments when wisdom and beauty means pushing through the things I’d foolishly or prematurely be running away from.
 
This morning I just wanted to run away to the mountains. To throw my camera and a sweatshirt in my bag, grab my running shoes and my hunter boots, and jump in my car and disappear for a while. And it took me an hour of tossing and turning in my bed at 4am and a 45-minute run with the sunrise – both laced with an ongoing dialogue with God, to figure out if the reason I so keenly wanted to get away was the good kind of running away or the not-so-favourable running away.
 
I tried to rationalise in favour of the first (Whistler anyone??), but I settled on the second.
 
I start school again today. It’s the last first day of my master’s degree, 8 months away from wrapping up this program that has come at such a formative and immensely difficult and yet incredible time in my story. And I was really hoping I’d be excited and ready to go and keen to transition to the autumn rhythms of heavy-reading and articulating academic positions and the late nights and early mornings of words and ideas and deadlines.
 
But I’ve found myself clinging to the last glimpses of summer like a little kid does to their favourite toy. With the same hesitation I used to have when my parents would call me inside after the sun had already gone down on perfect summer nights. I’m usually the girl who reads course descriptions and syllabi early and this year, I’ve put those tasks off until the very last minute. This year, I’m more in tune with the changes to the Canucks’ roster in the off-season than I am with my upcoming classes.
 
And in so many ways, I think that’s actually a good thing.

Because my heart needed this past summer.
 
I went into the summer hoping it would be a summer of balance – of rest and rejuvenation and preparation and that I’d walk into this fall ready to go. Ready to tackle the upcoming season of the LSAT and law school applications and finishing my MA (and only one day on campus which means more days in the city!) and transitioning from my full-time labour relations internship to a 20hr/week position with the same organization and amazing things happening at church and running races again.
 
But, if balance means 8-hours of sleep every night and a consistent schedule, this summer wasn’t that. (In fact, if balance means that, then I have even more work than I already know I do at learning to find a sustainable balance in my life. I’m working on that…)
 
This summer was running in my door from one good thing and on to the next. It was packed to the brim. Packed full of so many beautiful things. There may have been less sleeping and leisurely reading than I would have hoped, but there were Suits marathons with friends and laughter and goofiness and campfires and lots of soccer games and bike rides and finding gluten free beer that actually tastes like beer (this is a big deal, people) and finding the best recipe for fish tacos and happy tears at friend’s stunning weddings and early morning skype dates with friends across the globe and preaching and wine-tasting and road-trips and city sunsets. I wrote for the sake of writing and simply because I love it and I kept most of those word to myself and I picked up my camera enough (in no pressure contexts) to remember why the sound of a shutter is one of my favourite sounds.

There was a full-time internship that was (is) challenging and interesting and took up most of my time. There were coffee dates with friends and dancing in excitement of finding out about friends having babies and God continuing to grow our church and somewhere packed in the margins of that there was a good chunk of LSAT studying. There were late-night outdoor adventures and early morning rendezvous with Jesus ocean-side and time to sit and linger in the Gospels and encounter Saviour-man Jesus all over again and fall completely in love with Him again and again.

And those spaces have marked me and changed me in the kind of way only God can change us and speak new life into our dry bones when we start to feel like we might always be broken.
 
At the beginning of this year, I wrote down a prayer I thought was a crazy dream, because at the time it felt like the farthest thing from reality. I clung to the idea of laughter and joy in the midst of that painful place because I so desperately wanted to believe that it was coming, and was already there in glimpses and slivers even if I couldn’t always feel it.

But one of the stunning and mind-blowing things about hope is that it does shine in shadows. And joy does light up the mornings.
 
And so many of the things I hoped would come but that at times felt so far away, have started to come true in my heart and right in front of my eyes. Not necessarily in the clear answers of still-lingering questions and aches and waiting, but in the restoration of joy and the excitement-laced reminders that the reason we give all that we have to follow this God.

We follow Him because He is worthy of all we have and that even the hardest spaces and struggles do not diminish His splendour and worth and sufficiency and goodness. But, we also love Him and give Him our lives because He’s so absolutely just. really. freakin’. incredible and loves us with a love that we will never be able to articulate. And because in His presence there is the fullness of joy and that in His perfect love all fear is gone. And because all of the love we can give Him and every word we could ever speak or write about love will never come close to matching the depths of His love for us.
 
I almost forgot that second half for a bit there. Almost forgot the reasons that He completely captured my heart in the first place. All the reasons why He’s still my favourite thing/person to talk about. Almost forgot the adventure that is being loved by Him and following Him. Almost forgot that just as He’s the Father who carries me when my feet gave out and my eyes swelled with tears, He’s also the Father that wants to give good things to His children and cheer as I run and the Father who delights in my laughter and joy.
 
And I’ve never more fully understood or embraced the prayer that He restore unto me the joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me than I have begun to this summer.
 
When I sat beside a mountain lake on the morning of my 24th birthday this past July, I cried for how hard and long that night season felt, how tender and raw my heart still feels in the aftermath. I cried happy tears for how clearly faithful God has been and how continually gracious and gentle He’s been with my heart through it all. And I laughed because the thing I’ve heard him speak over and over and over throughout the hardest of moments is that the darkness will never consume the light, that hope is never lost and beauty is never silenced, and like the rising of the sun, so His promises are to us. And when I felt the most alone and broken and afraid to dream, I dug my heels in that space and made my home in those words and slowly and graciously - in so many spaces where I saw it coming and a lot where I didn’t, I found myself starting to feel alive and free and full of dreams again.
 
And now fall.
 
And I don’t feel ready at all. Not ready to face the schedule change and the necessity of focus. Overwhelmed by the idea of stepping back into the academic world that I have always had a love-hate relationship with. Scared to face the season of applications and exams because they may end in results different than those that I hope for and sometimes when I’m really honest with myself I like the safety of possibility rather than the challenge of reality.

I find myself wrestling through so many thoughts, amongst them the familiar desire to walk away from my studies and just go work with refugees in my own city or across the globe and the questions of why I need to be in school at all. Wrestling through the humbling reality that in a world of so many without access to primary education, why do I get the extravagant opportunity to cultivate my mind to this level? In a world of so much pragmatic need, what is the actual purpose and value of theoretical and philosophical examination?


 
It’s lunchtime now and I’m sitting at my table with a kale and blueberry smoothie, home after a morning at the office - where I kept praying while I was working that God would do something in me that would get me ready – eager even - to step back on campus in 2 hours because I still don’t really want to go. (And here I am poking at my computer, so that would indicate that the answer is still largely a not yet…)
 
My body is tired because I haven’t been sleeping well for the past few weeks and my is heart feels heavy with the realities of how messy life can be and how much I want to – but can’t - protect the people I love from that messiness. And, all of a sudden the tears slammed against me because I remembered that I would always talk to my Dad on the first day of school and we’d laugh about the ridiculousness of academia sometimes and then he’d remind me that it was still a worthwhile endeavour and that he was proud of me – and sometimes I forget that he’ll never be on the other side of the phone again.
 
But, even with all of that, and louder than all my persistent attempts to justify my escape to the mountains, I keep hearing God whisper: remember why you started.
 
Remember why I started.
 
Remember why I chose this and have persevered this far. Remember how He’s carried me and sustained me and remember that I’m not the same person I was when I started. Remember how much of a gift this space has been and how much God has grown my heart and my mind and shaped me in this season – inside and outside of the classroom. Remember that the long and boring days are worth it and that the pursuit of long and meaningful lives dedicated to loving mercy and pursuing justice look like a bunch of different things in a lot of different seasons. Remember that someday the value of this season will be even more evident. Remember that there are parts of this I really do love. Remember that this is a gift.
 
Maybe one of the best gifts God gave me this past summer was the tangible lesson that freedom comes when we stop trying so hard to have everything figured out. That in the stillness and the surrender and the packed full schedules and the long workdays and the nights of too little sleep – that leaning in to Him is the most important thing – and that can look like a lot of different things, but it always looks like freedom. And maybe this summer is a testament that I’m maybe – just a little bit – getting a bit better at doing that: of letting Him love me and fill me and then living from that place of freedom. I’m so grateful for that.
 
I’m hesitant to let go of this summer because it’s been so beautiful and I’m hesitant to begin the fall because I don’t feel ready. But, maybe this whole feeling ready thing is over rated, and the being prepared as my type-A personality would like to be prepared, is not the most important thing.

Maybe the not feeling ready means that He gets to shine even brighter in this next season, instead of me trying to start off by leaning on myself. Maybe the right here and right now - with all my seemingly contradictory impatience and hesitancy is the exact place He wants to keep growing me and showing Himself as both worthy of all I have to offer and absolutely incredible in His leading and His love.
 
Because I know that the uncertainty and fullness of this next season will not diminish the really beautiful work He’s been doing in me this summer and all the big and small ways that joy and laughter are being restored and all the ways that He’s been giving me a new song to sing and reviving dreams and planting new ones. This movement and growth doesn’t need to stop because the rhythm of my days changes.
 
So, here we go.

Ready or not: goodbye sweet sweet summer & hello beautiful fall.

Comment

Comment

on spring, easter, & remembering the broken places too.

I love spring.

And, I need spring. I need the new life and the flowers and the way the first warm days and the first days of wearing flip-flops again make me savour life a bit deeper. This year, for whatever reason, spring feels even more beautiful than I ever recall - maybe it’s the tulips or the cherry blossoms, maybe it’s the way the mountains have been so clear and the sky so often a piercing blue, or maybe it’s the fact that my heart and mind seem a bit more on the same page and ready to believe and embrace the newness, the beauty, the opportunity, and the excitement of spring this year.

I was talking with a friend about how I feel like I’m finally starting to feel a bit like me again - slowly (and in baby steps) but steadily - that all of the pain and struggle of the past few years are no longer what feels dominant in my story. That there’s a new song starting to be written in my heart. That life, right now, is a little less bitter and a little more sweet. It’s a humbling and beautiful thing and I’m crying a lot of happy tears lately because of just how faithful God has been to me and the glimpses of just how far we’ve come. I certainly don’t deserve how gentle and gracious He has been with my heart.

But there’s something in the newness and the new life that makes me take pause, too. I mentioned to her that, perhaps crazily, I was a little afraid about embracing the joy that’s sprouting and the start of new things because I didn’t want to forget how real and faithful and powerful God was in the midst of this chapter laced with struggle or how much those circumstances forced me to lean on Him so desperately. I want new life and celebration and happiness, but I don’t want to give up the nearness and desperation if it means forgetting all the ways God met me and grew me in this place. She suggested I write a letter to myself with some of the things I wanted to hold on to from this season (“and then post it on your blog because we all want to read it too…”). At first I thought it was a silly suggestion, but when I sat down to write, the words came like a tidal wave, accompanied with happy tears, because I’m realizing again and again how stunningly faithful my Jesus has been. This is the result.

……………

It’s springtime. lovely springtime.

The trees are nearly exploding with their baby pink blossoms and sunny days are again becoming the norm. Springtime is always met with excitement and joy, but there’s something so tangibly rich about this springtime, something so necessary, so lined with hope.

Summer is just around the corner, taunting you with the promise of summertime sunshine and country music blaring and t-shirts and tan-lines and soccer games and camping and hiking and rest. You’re almost there. Almost finished your second year of grad school. Only a few weeks away from starting the summer internship you still can’t believe you got.

There’s newness here. Possibility. For the first time in what feels like a really really long time, your heart is eager for what’s up ahead. You almost forgot what excitement and dreams felt like, but they’re still here. Alive in you, sprouting and growing with every passing day. They’ve never disappeared, but they did feel dormant, frozen almost, for a while, didn’t they?

This weekend is Easter.

Easter.

The day that shines with the most life-altering, restorative, worth-everything kind of beauty. The day that shows us – right now. & forever – that love always wins. That death can’t touch the promises of God. That humanity’s evil cannot thwart His goodness. And that hope is never lost.

It’s funny how quickly things change. Last year you sobbed in an elementary school gymnasium. Last year you clung to the promise and enduring hope of the resurrection with more white knuckled resolve than you ever knew you had in you, and found that, even in (especially in) the sadness, it’s still the most beautiful story we’ll ever know or tell.

I know, that in so many ways, you want to slam the door on the past few years and that you’ve fought hard to choose joy and cling to hope amidst what felt a bit like an never-ending downpour. I know that you want to take God’s faithfulness and run – full speed ahead – into a season of goodness and beauty and happiness. To take the lessons you’ve learned and the ways you’ve grown and to somehow move forward and never look back. because this season was a tough one. A really tough one. And even though you lived it and have tears upon tears to mark its place, you still hate to admit how tough it was.

But remember those moments too.

Remember that it was the moments of pain and the moments of joy – both of them. together – that have made you who you are. That made these years what they have been. That it was in the place of hurt where you saw clearly that God had never left you alone. That the shadow, more deeply than you could ever articulate, revealed God to be as deep and steadfast as you believed Him to be.

Remember the nights when tears were your closest friend, when everything felt like it was falling apart. Remember that it was here where you learned to make your home in hope. Where your roots went deeper in the promises that He’d never abandon you. Remember that He never did. Not once. Not ever.

Remember that hospital and the way you couldn’t find the words to express how desperately you wanted him to walk out. Remember how you felt like you couldn’t breathe, so you just held his hand and leaned in close. Remember how that room was a holy space and that in the worst moment to you, he got his greatest dream. Remember how it felt to let go and that you’d never be the same. Remember writing that eulogy and shakily speaking out his legacy while wearing that black dress. Remember how you could barely watch hockey without crying for the entire first year.

Remember when you clung to the promise that the weeping would come to an end. That joy would come again and tears would turn to dancing. Remember the days when that felt like a cruel joke that was so far away. And remember the days you saw it coming true – right in front of your eyes and in your own heart. When the tears, slowly, started to became happy tears. Where the sunlight came and lingered and your heart started to feel free. When your feet even started to dance.

Remember - always - that mountains and the ocean can remedy the worst of life’s problems. Remember the days you could feel your heart coming alive in this place. Remember how it felt when you realized you were home – in this province and this city - and finally and most importantly, in your own skin.

Remember the thin places - the roof in Cambodia, the prayer room in Switzerland, the cafe in London, that village road in France, and all you favourite spots here at home - where you could almost feel yourself changing and God’s gentle hands molding you. Remember that growth is necessary, rarely easy, and always for your benefit. Remember the days when the perfect song or the right set of words in a book was all you needed to be reminded of goodness, when you sat and lingered with a cup of tea for longer than was probably responsible, but the perfect amount of time needed.

Remember the nights when possibility kept you awake, when dreams themselves were enough to bring joy and excitement and anticipation - when you believed that there was nothing beyond your reach. Remember too the nights when possibility felt daunting, when you felt terrified, and where your dreams felt so big you felt foolish to dream them, even more foolish to occasionally vocalize them, and borderline insane to pursue them.

Remember the days you saw nothing but lack and limitation. Remember the sleepless nights and  the migraines and fevers and allergies and exhaustion. Remember the tests and the diagnoses and the lack of answers. Remember the tear-filled conversations with your mum when you didn’t know what to do or where to go from here. Remember the days when you didn’t know how you would pay the rent. Remember how much your student loans scare(d) you. But remember how He sustained you. Remember how you never went without anything that you needed, and were constantly given far more than was necessary.

Remember the days when you felt you were doing and pursuing something that mattered and remember the days when it felt meaningless and endless and overwhelming and that you’d never contribute anything of importance or value. Remember that the same stories and statistics that break your heart are the ones that move you to action and make you crash on God’s sufficiency. Remember how you spent years wondering how you’d combine all the things you cared about and how, in the right place and the right time, those steps became more clear.

Remember the days that you felt inadequate and crippled by doubt and lingering fears that you would never be enough, never do enough. But remember too the days you found passion and had clarity. The days you came alive with your work and in your studies. They days you felt like you were actually - finally - uncovering pieces of what you were meant to do. Who you were meant to be.

Remember the countless days you counted the cost, questioned all your motives and reevaluated all your ambitions. Remember all the days you chose to keep going. Remember why you started and remember how far you’ve come since. Remember the days you learned to put your feet behind what you wanted to believe even when you doubted it to be true.

Remember the stupid decisions you made just as you do the wise ones. Remember how hard you worked and remember the lazy and distracted days too. Remember the jobs you didn’t get and the applications that came back negative just as you remember the jobs you did get and the scholarships you did receive.

Remember the races you didn’t run and the games for which you stood on the side-line. Remember the days of optimism and the steps of searing pain. Remember the doctors offices and how, despite their consistency, your heart never got used to the disappointment that accompanied an unfavourable prognosis. Remember the days you thought you’d always be broken.

Remember the excitement of moving and having your own place. Remember how you leaned against your loveseat surrounded by boxes and art, pulled your blanket around yourself tight and cried, because sometimes you really liked being an adult, but sometimes you wish it didn’t involve so much independence and making big decisions alone and sometimes you just wanted to be a kid again and not have to worry about a thing.

Remember how you felt meeting your nephew for the first time. How that little life gave you more resolve to fight for a world full of beauty and justice. How you never knew you could love someone so deeply with one glance. Remember that his laugh and goofiness and childlike trust is wisdom and a constant invitation to do likewise. Remember the excitement you felt when you found out when close friends were pregnant or how nephew number two came exactly when you needed the reminder that new life sprouts in the valleys too.

Remember the days you celebrated with friends at weddings and how your heart felt like it might burst with joy for them. Remember all the times you danced so much you got blisters, but that every song was worth it. Remember how you learned that even when it isn’t your own, love stories are one of the most beautiful things the world will ever know. Remember too, how you felt like you couldn’t breathe watching that first father-daughter dance. Remember the tears you only ever let yourself cry behind the scenes. Remember how your car became a sacred space to drive and cry. Remember all the moments you felt so alone and so unworthy of love and the countless days you believed that would never change.

Remember the goodbyes. And the ache. Remember the hugs in parking lots and watching dear friends drive away. Remember the tear-stained airport farewells. But also remember the new friendships and the new community. Remember how you learned that your heart won’t ever reach capacity and you’ll find new people to love. Remember that vulnerability is always more beautiful and more powerful than trying to have it all together. Remember that choosing to love is always worth it and how you learned that opening up and letting people is always the best choice, despite the constant risk of goodbye.

Remember that it was here and in the spaces of disappointment where you learned the deepest lessons of grace. Remember that that place of being entirely desperate is nothing short of an immense gift because it makes you lean hard on the One you should always be leaning on. Remember that when nothing is assumed and nothing is taken for granted, He can shine the brightest.

Remember that, on your own, you have nothing worthwhile to offer. And remember that that’s a good thing. The best thing, actually.

Remember how you felt stuck.

Remember the waiting and the prayers and the doubt.

Remember the wrestling and the questions.

Remember this too, lovely.

As you move forward and chase goodness. As the sun shines brighter and the darkness increasingly starts to lift. As you begin to feel more and more like the you you want to be, and the you you know you are again. As life again becomes a little more sweet and a little less bitter.

And even if it doesn’t. Or if the rain again mixes with the sun, which it will. It always will. The world is broken and beautiful and to engage fully is to face the best and the worst that it has to offer. But go there anyway.

But go remembering the broken places too, because the broken places are grace.

Cherish the good things. Celebrate the victories. Keep a highlight reel of all of the best moments in your mind – the moments that remind you constantly of God’s goodness and faithfulness and of life’s vivid beauty. Look back on those days with gratitude, but look back at the broken places with gratitude too.

Be thankful for the broken places too.

Remember that our lives were never meant to be neat and tidy and safe.

Remember that the best pieces of art are ones that remind us that hope and despair are not mutually exclusive and that the best stories recognize the struggle and the challenge.

Remember that these memories, bitter and sweet, are the places where you grew up, where you wrestled with your own doubt, where you faced your own demons. These are the places you clung with white-knuckled desperation to Jesus, the spaces where you fell completely and irrevocably in love with Him.

Remember that yours, not then and not now, has never been a story market by broken dreams, disappointment, or a bruised heart, but rather is a story of His grace and power and gentleness paving the way for strength and beauty and resilience and growth.

Remember that you, yes you, are set-apart and cherished and carried and that His banner over you is love. Remember that you never have been and never will be alone in this life. Remember that detours are often the best adventures and that God truly does carry us in the most profound and entirely simple ways. Remember that even the ordinary is lined with immense beauty if you’re willing to look for it. Remember that the best friends are the ones who will let you ask the questions, let you acknowledge the hurt and the struggle, and the same ones who give you space and call out the beauty in you in the process.

Remember that beauty always wins, that love always resounds louder. Remember that dreaming is always a worthwhile and admirable endeavour. Remember that tears are not a sign of weakness, but of compassion and honesty and love. Remember that taking risks for the sake of love and stepping out in faith is always worth the moments when you wonder what the hell you’ve done or if it’s all worth it. Remember that sometimes the bravest thing you can do is run and sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to rest. Remember that memories will always be more valuable than money.

Remember that is was here where you learned to dance in the rain. Where you learned to sink your toes deep in the sand, to give yourself grace, and to buy yourself flowers.

Remember that you counted the cost and He’s always been more than worthy. He will always be more than worthy. Remember that no matter what lies ahead, you now know, more deeply than you often wish you did, that nothing can touch His enduring goodness.

That’s a gift. Don’t slam the door on that gift.

Hold on to it. Cherish it even. Remember the broken places, not as evidence of brokenness, but as evidence of His constant faithfulness to your weary and wandering heart. Because this is just the beginning and you’ll be learning and re-learning these things for the rest of you life.

And if you remember nothing else, remember that this was all Jesus. All grace. All learning and growing and trial and error and tears and laughter and His unrelenting goodness.

Remember the broken places too.

Comment

Comment

on celebration, one year, & the man who was my father.

I drove out to one of my favourite spots by the ocean this morning, catching glimpses of the foggy sunrise over the city and just sitting there, wrapped in a blanket and hugging the second travel mug of tea I had brought with me – one for the drive, one for this space. The funny thing is, my formula for the best days and the worst days is exactly the same. I celebrate by coming to the ocean and driving to the mountains. And on the worst days, the days when my heart needs to be reminded that His beauty resounds louder than any heartache, however loud it may feel, I come to the ocean and drive to the mountains.

This week represents a combination of both. (mountains and ocean. Celebration and hard days.) This week is the celebration of welcoming my new little nephew, John David (JD) Oegema, who surprised us all with his early (but healthy) entry on Sunday evening. And it’s also the one-year mark of my Dad’s death and the unforgettable memories of those last few days. 

January 22.

If I didn’t believe it before, I now do more than I thought possible: one day can mark our lives forever. The single space of 24-hours can act as a catalyst that impacts us so significantly that we’re never the same, even if we wanted to pretend we could be. The best days change us and the worst days change us - in the most beautiful and most heart-breaking sort of ways. And sometimes both at the same time.

January has slammed against me with emotional intensity I didn’t anticipate. Amidst all the hope for 2014 and promises of renewed joy, I realized this year will be the first year completely devoid of his voice and his laugh and his wisdom. This is the first calendar year of my life where I’ll never hear the words, “Lider, guess what? I love you a whole bunch” or get a big, dad-sized hug that had a way of making the whole world better and me more brave. I’ve never wanted to talk to him so badly as I have this month. About nothing. And about everything. But I can’t. All the “firsts” of holidays and special days without him, weren’t some cruel dress rehearsal, they are life now. This is our new “normal.”

On one hand, this day stole so much from us. This day reduced the once healthy body of my Dad to ashes in a small wooden box and one-dimensional pictures that will never fully convey the passion and wisdom and steadfastness that characterized his life. This day robbed me of a dance on my wedding day. This day robbed my kids of the joy of ever knowing him and my future husband of meeting the man who so significantly shaped the person I am. This day showed me, through the sobs of my stunningly strong mother when she had to say goodbye, that the “as long as we both shall live” part of wedding vows is actually far more painful than it is romantic.

But on the other hand, this day is also a celebration. This is a day of healing. For Dad, this is the day that marks the end of broken body and the beginning of shalom in its fullness and perfection.

This day stand as an example, not of God’s distance, but as a testimony of His goodness and sufficiency. This day is an entirely tangible reminder that, despite the sadness and the ache, death has no power.

This day invites me to come and rest again in the arms of a God who himself knows pain and loss – to come and weep with the God who weeps with us. This day reminds me that God didn’t become any bigger or more sufficient or more present in my life because of death and cancer or loss, these things simply illuminated the depths of the Saviour He has always been and will forever be. Cancer cannot thwart the promise of God. Death cannot silence the power of His gospel, nor can it diminish the goodness of His love for us.

People talk a lot about the first year. And I think for good reason. The first year is numbness and ache and reality crashing to the floor and desperately trying to pick up the pieces of this “new normal”. The first year is finding strength you didn’t know you had and crying more tears than you knew you could cry. The first year is disbelief and still thinking/wishing that they’d show up somehow or answer the other side of the phone. It’s the bittersweet first steps of looking forward and dreaming past this year, praying continually for the renewal of joy and newness of life in this part of your story.

But the first year - this past year - has so evidently revealed God to be the most steadfast anchor amidst the heartache, and the safest and most peaceful harbour. It has shown Him, again and again and again, to be the beacon of light in the storm guiding me – always – back home. Back to His heart. And back to His gospel that turns all things around and upside down and points – always – to enduring hope. 

January 22 changed a lot of things, but it didn’t touch the foundation.

This day represents a life so incredibly well lived. This day show us that despite the never wanting a life without him, we’re living it. And it’s still good. It’s hard. But, It’s still really beautiful.

And, louder than any pain in my heart, this day sings that Jesus is still worth everything. His love is bigger and deeper and wider than we can imagine. and His Kingdom unfolding, in the small and seemingly inconsequential space of our individual lives and resounding in all the earth like the most majestic song bellowing from the mountains and emerging in the margins - is absolutely the most beautiful and worthwhile thing to pursue.

I think my Dad caught that vision more/deeper than most people I know.

For whatever reason, lots of little girls seem to develop and live by the belief that their dad is a superhero of some kind. He’s strong and good and safe and He’ll take care of everything. For many, the illusion doesn’t last. For some, it’s shattered by heart-wrenching moments and resounding failures. I’ve sat and wept with friends over the ways their dads have failed them and the ways their fathers have hurt them – in both what was said and done and what was never done and left unsaid. For so many men and women alike, the idea of God as a Father is tainted and painful because their own fathers were so far from that place.

But some of us – the lucky ones – get a glimpse of God as a loving Father through the men who are our fathers. I’m humbled by the immense gift I got in my Dad. I feel like I won the lottery on the parenting front and even got the added bonus of being both the youngest and only girl. To stand and honestly say that my parents, collectively and separately, were/are two of my best friends and biggest inspirations, is a blessing I can’t even fully comprehend or adequately convey.

Because for me, no person taught me more about the love of our God who is a good Father than my Dad. To me, he never stopped being superman.

He wasn’t superman. I knew that. But yet, he kind of was. Not because he tried to have it all together or had any illusions of “saving the world”, but because he was the type of ordinary, everyday hero who laid any claim to a cape and independent ability before the cross. He lived his life largely devoid of titles or recognition, but so absolutely saturated in the gospel at work. He loved us well because he loved Jesus well.

He made me feel safe. And loved. No matter where I went or what I did, I knew he had my back. And that made everything better.

He was 6’3” of lanky athleticism, charisma and dry, self-deprecating humour. He had an insatiable sweet tooth, couldn’t talk without using hands and his always distinguishable Ottawa Valley accent and he couldn’t tell you he loved you without a goofy smile on his face. He was was steadfastness and consistency, Dutch work-ethic, immense generosity, and laid back charm.

I credit my dad with a lot of things: my (intense) love for sports, my ability to change a tire, build a fire, set up a tent, and how to balance a budget. His passion was theology, mine is politics and social justice, so we spent countless and seemingly endless hours caught up in conversation and debate between theory and practice. He reminded me constantly that we love God with our hearts and our minds and our feet - and none to the exclusion of another.

In so many ways we were two peas in a pod, and in other we couldn’t be/have been more different, but he always pointed me to Jesus. He taught me to think and gave me grace to wrestle. He’d help peel back the layers of complexity and anxiety that I’d assign to life and decisions until I remembered who I was, whose I was, and why I started. He was a weigh the pros and cons, and always look at the possible return on your investment, whether in time or money or emotions, kind-of-guy. He’d rarely tell me what to do, He’d just challenge me with hard questions and add perspectives I idealistically wanted to ignore, never to make me feel immature or foolish, but to teach me to make grounded and thoughtful decisions.

My dad believed in me. I often wondered what he saw in me that I couldn’t  see in myself, but I think God gave him special eyes to see both the person I really was and the person I could become. He loved me for both. He had a knack for tearing down all the lies I struggled to believe and He continually saw past my youthful zeal to the heartbeat behind it. We were both goal-oriented and high achievers, but I actually think he fully believed I could do anything I put my mind/heart to. The last thing he told me was that he had endless faith in God’s goodness to lead me and complete trust in my willingness to listen to His voice. I wish I could tell him a thousand times how much that meant to me and thank him until I ran out of breath for the ways his love and prayers inspired me. He told me my writing mattered. He told me to never stop running, even if it took years to fully recover from my injury, and he encouraged me to never stop taking pictures, for the simple reason that I love it. He told me to never stop dreaming and chasing the things on my heart. He reminded me constantly that I never had to settle – for anything or anyone less than what filled my heart with complete joy, even if (& especially if) it took a lot of hard work, long days, and unrelenting prayer to get there.  

My dad was my friend. I don’t know exactly when we hit that rhythm, but somewhere in the midst of soccer and basketball games, track meets, hours watching hockey and football, camping trips, and late night conversations (in retrospect, maybe his insomnia was God’s gift to me), he became one of my best friends. He’d rebound every shot when I wanted to practice free-throws, he’d play in net when I wanted to practice PKs, and he’d dream with me about breaking records and winning races. We’d mountain bike together and he’d always tease me that he could beat me on the uphill, only to always get frustrated by my flying past him on the downhill. Looking back, a lot of my absolute favourite memories involve camping trips, mountain ranges, and hiking with him. Between he and my Mom, I had no secrets, and they never betrayed that trust.

My dad taught me what love looks like with the way he loved my Mom. After (nearly) thirty years of marriage he still had a twitter-pated twinkle in his eye when he talked about her. He showed me that romance has little to do with big gestures, and everything to do with day-in-and-day-out sacrificial love. He showed me that sometimes love looks like financial provision, sometimes looks like taking on roles and responsibilities you never wanted or expected, and always looks like affirming the strengths and callings of the person you love. He showed me that hierarchy in marriage doesn’t exist if you believe in and honour each other as equals. And he taught me that when it shines the brightest, love looks like centering your lives on Jesus together.

Sometimes I’m surprised by how much He was still a part of my life, despite geographic distance. I haven’t consistently lived in the same city, time zone, or often even country, as my parents for nearly 6 years now, but prayer and love and simple words built on a firm foundation go much farther and deeper across distances than one could initially imagine were possible. Skype is a beauty. Phone calls can be one of life’s best gifts. E-mails make a difference. Time together, whether it’s a weekend or a week or a month, matters immensely. Every word and moment matters. Because I never knew how much of an absence one life could leave. Or how everything could change so dramatically with the removal of one piece.

There are so many memories. So many things that make me laugh. So many things that make my heart ache because they’re all in the past. So many tears for what will never be. But continually, throughout the space of this year, God has continually whispered his stunning grace over the sadness and reminded me that love is a good reason to cry.

Love is a good reason to cry.

Love – deep, deep love that testifies to the enduring grace of Jesus made manifest in imperfect human relationships – is a beautiful reason to cry. Love – that aches across loss and distance and separation from people who matter to us – is a beautiful reason to cry. Love – made manifest in a breathtaking, how-the-heck-did-I-get-so-lucky kind of gratitude – is a beautiful reason to cry.

To love deeply is to open yourself to the possibility of hurting deeply, but loving deeply is still the most worthwhile endevour.

If you had given him the choice, my Dad would have chosen to be labeled God’s fool. (Credit the lyrics of one of his favourite songs). He loved the craziness of the gospel. He loved that the wisdom of God was foolishness to the world. He loved that losing his life meant finding His life. He loved the scandal of grace. He excitedly and continually celebrated the paradox between the death we deserve and the grace we receive in Christ.

Today, as I sat listening to the waves slowly lapping against the rocks and pulled my blanket a bit tighter around my shoulder due to the cool January breeze coming off the water, I couldn’t help but think of the parable Jesus told in Matthew of the wise man who built his house on rock and the foolish man who chose the sand. For the wise man, circumstances changed nothing. His foundation was firm and secure and the storm would not silence His worship. In that way, my Dad was amongst the wisest in the world. He built his house so firmly and unwaveringly on the Rock.

In doing so, he gave me the best gift.

He wasn’t perfect, but he understood his failings so well that he embraced grace with full desperation. I think that’s part of what makes his story so beautiful. He was entirely ordinary. He was a “nobody.” He was trapped in a broken body and held back by the limitations of a disability that changed his life so profoundly he likely wouldn’t have recognized the way it would unfold had you told him ahead of time. And yet, he’d ask me to scrap everything about him and just talk about God, until the whole world would hear, not realizing that his own story and life spoke so loudly of the message he wanted to convey.

Because, more than anything else, my Dad really loved Jesus.

His centred his own heart and his own story on the unshakable refuge that is Christ. In his own ambition, he wrestled and he failed, but he found God faithful there. And he found such contagious and unshakable joy. He gloried in grace. He had no fear in death and no doubt in God’s sufficiency and sovereignty to lead and sustain our family – whether he was a part of it or not. He simply fixed his eyes on Jesus and built upon the foundation of God’s faithfulness across generations as much as he knew how to do. And he did it well.

He showed me that 54 years, if you live it well, is more than enough to leave a resounding legacy.

And so I tentatively approach this week and January 22nd - likely for a long time -  with both tears in my eyes and celebration in my heart. This day tangibly represents the both/and of beauty and pain. It situates itself firmly across the entire spectrum of celebration and mourning. And it absolutely represents the far-reaching and enduring hope of a God who loves us so unfathomably well - no matter what.

Because one day did change a lot of things, but it didn’t touch the foundation.

Comment

Comment

on 2014, renewed joy, & a blank canvas

I love resolutions. always. Probably because I love anything that involves planning and vision and the possibility that comes with deciding to do things differently: to live more intentionally, to savour life more deeply, to let go of bad habits and embrace new life-giving ones. I love how the simple change of the calendar on December 31st fills everyone with resolve and renewed hope for the year that lies ahead. And so, every year I try to carve out some time to look ahead. To write and look back and look forward and pray and dream and seek God’s heart for the 365-day space of the new year.

This year, all I keep hearing Him whisper is renewed joy.

[renewed] joy.

with hesitancy, I write it down. scribbling the words that my heart wants to embrace fully, but my mind meets with caution.

this past year was so much the opposite, my heart argues. don’t get your hopes up, my mind cautions. idealism leads to disappointment, logic tells me.

and yet.

[renewed] joy.

like the rising of the sun, so His promises are to you.

[renewed] joy.

He who promised is faithful.

[renewed] joy.

in the smallest of insignificant moments and the big life decisions. in the structure and the spontaneity. in the sameness and routine and the changes. in the schedules and the intensity. In the preparation and the waiting. In the celebration, dancing, and the tears.

[renewed] joy.

at its outset, 2014 is a skeleton of possibility and penciled plans and a whole lot of unknown. writing the LSAT. (possible) law school applications. grad school. (hopefully) maybe running a few half marathons.

[renewed] joy.

dear friends getting married. a new nephew. my brother paying for a ticket to visit him in San Fran over spring break. whitecaps season tickets. 

[renewed] joy.

with boldness I write dreams, some new, but many deep-rooted and so palpably close to my heart. my heart has known ache this past year, and it’s long familiar with longing. is it foolish to dream? is it crazy to expect God to show up in the spaces that are full of loneliness, hesitancy, and doubt?

maybe it is.

but count me forever among the crazy ones. count me among the tribe that looks into the darkness and proclaims light. count me among the ones who forever see hope in the shadows and redemption in the margins. count me among the ones who believe - even when it seems so far away to claim it - that hope (always) endures and joy (always) abounds.

joy. joy. joy.

I want to laugh this year - a lot. I want to sing along without reservation. to dance. to explore. to be still. to work hard, but not get caught up in the results. I want to savour life however it comes.

[renewed] joy.

my pens screams across the page. “what do you have in store this year, God?” I wonder. how are you going to continue to reveal your heart? and your plan? how are you going to surprise me? and remind me daily of your goodness?

[renewed] joy.

joy exists outside circumstances, though circumstances certainly threaten to silence it. last year was a fight for joy. joy took resolve and effort. but, is it possible that this year could hold the renewal of joy that abounds? joy that feels as second-nature as breath itself.

the bottom line is this: I don’t know. that’s the thing about a blank canvas and a new year. goals and dreams are theoretical. optimistic. and idealistic. reality rarely unfolds the way we imagine.

but that’s the beauty. and there my tired and tender heart clings to hope. God is a God of extravagance. He is a God of faithfulness I can’t comprehend. in Him joy is not only present, it abounds.

He’s weaving renewal and redemption here. even when I can’t see it and I don’t know how it will come. but He’s here. and He’s doing His thing.

joy. joy. joy.

even if this year blows up in my face. even if it’s a continuation of last year. I’m still clinging to and claiming joy. because when He whispers, I want to run toward His voice.

[renewed, enduring] joy.

Comment

Comment

on heart-wrenching pain, indescribable beauty, & the year that was [is] 2013.

I do this every year. Somewhere mid-December, I sit down and attempt to write a recap of the year, as if 365 days could ever be effectively condensed into one piece of writing. But this year, I’m staring at my screen, poking random thoughts that seem to have little cohesion. So much of this year is a blur, other parts so vivid I don’t think I’ll ever forget them.

I’ll admit, on one hand I want to slam the door on this year and never look back. I just want 2013 to be over. I’ve actually said that frequently in the past few months, and especially since my Grandpa passed away last week. And yet - on the other hand, I want to somehow sit down and try to wrap up this year neatly with festive ribbons and bows, validating the pain with lessons learned and in some entirely insufficient way give credence to the ways that Jesus has been nothing short of extravagantly faithful to me. Neither, to the exclusion of each other, do this year justice.

The honest “resolution” this year awards is that grief is a messy thing.

Life is a messy thing.

A messy, beautiful, glorious, and grace-lined thing where the sufficiency and goodness of Jesus always tip the scale towards an enduring hope that does not disappoint, no matter what happens. But it’s rarely safe or easy or neatly described. And it’s a process. Always a process.

Hope is real. Peace is tangible. & the goodness of Jesus endures.

In a linear progression, I can tell you what 2013 looked like. I can tell you that in bookends of the same year, we lost both my Dad and my grandpa. I can talk about trying to balance life and adult responsibilities with graduate studies and making decisions about the future. I can tell you about sitting in the physio’s office on two different occasions, with the same disappointing prognosis. Or the doctor’s office trying to pinpoint what’s causing lingering issues. I can tell you that I’m still single, I had the best summer job, I lived in the same country and province for the whole year and that I’ve recently made the (long-awaited) decision to pursue law school.

But a linear progression doesn’t do the year justice. A linear progression doesn’t do life justice and it never will. Because life is lived both in the progression of marked events and the subtleties of emotion and lessons-learned and tears cried and sunsets watched. It unfolds in the moments when we’re consciously paying attention to its unraveling and in a bunch of moments when we’re too busy living – truly living - to notice anything except what’s right in front of our eyes.

2013 was an ongoing contradiction. Between strength and resolve and weakness and continual grace-lined realizations that I’m hopeless on my own. Between solitude and community. Between immeasurable beauty and crushing pain. It was a year of longing and waiting and grieving and more numbness and ache than I knew I could feel. It was a year of being stripped and raw and tender. In a lot of ways, I felt like a piece of pottery being continually smashed and remolded, with glimpses of beauty and notable imperfections all at the hands of a loving and brilliant potter who promised continually, “I know. I know. I’ve got this one. Trust me.”

2013 was inherently flawed from the beginning, but it was also crazy beautiful in the kind of way where life-giving and hope-restoring beauty emerge behind the peeled and eroded layers of brokenness and surrender. It was a year where hope continually illuminated the toughest days.

It was a year where God was so tangibly near – not because He Himself was any nearer than He always was before, but perhaps because, this year a little bit more than before, I became desperate enough to acknowledge His nearness and let Him take a bigger place in my story that He always should have had. This was a year, where, in so many ways, it was just me and Jesus. A year where I learned that wrestling and tears are worship too. Where I tangibly experienced that He’s nearer and closer to those whose hearts are broken than you can even begin to comprehend until you walk in that place. I long romanticized that place – of Christ increasing and me decreasing, the place of sweet surrender. But notions of that place aside, sometimes the way we get there is hard - heartbreakingly hard.

I spent a lot of this year wondering if my heart would always hurt, if I’d always be alone, if life would always feel really hard, and if I’d ever find the old or real me again. I started believing that maybe this was my “new normal “and that this season was what the rest of my life would look like. I wrestled with the feeling that my family would always feel incomplete. And that the ease of laughter would long be distant.

But a funny thing happens when a lot of what we thought we had figured out is stripped away. The true foundation is revealed. Our true theology is exposed. And the unshaking, immovable rock that is Christ becomes that much more central to our stories and our hearts. In so many ways, He even rewrites and reestablishes the very way we conceptualize goodness and wholeness and our own ideas of who we are and how things should be.

Hope is real. Peace is tangible. & the goodness of Jesus endures.

I can’t even count how many days I would go out to my car while it was raining with a blanket and tea and just sit in my car listening to the rain and pray myself back to a place of trust. Or how many drives I took to the ocean or into the mountains or down Fraser Valley country roads, just me and Jesus, where I’d sob my way back to a place of believing that life was beautiful, Jesus was faithful, and that His love truly is better than life itself.

This was the year I fell in love with this place and this city and with Jesus thousands of times over and over and over again. This was the year where I held on to the moments of beauty as if they were the very air that I needed to breathe and the continual and tangible examples of Jesus’ goodness to my tired heart. Where glasses of wine overlooking the water in White Rock or the perfect Sunday afternoon for a bike ride around Stanley Park with a dear friend visiting from out of town shone with so much beauty that - for glorious moments of reprieve - I forgot the storm.

It was a year of craft beer tastings with my brother and game nights with friends. Of countless sunrises and afternoons in English Bay, trips to Kits Beach, and walks in Coal Harbour. Of Whitecaps games and impromptu trips to Whistler and singing “I Believe” by Nikki Yanofsky as loud and off key as possible. Of babies being born and weddings and engagements. Of deep conversations whilst driving and skype dates from around the world. Of country music blaring, stunning acoustic albums, and Justin Timberlake concerts. Of sunrises, sunsets, mountain views and snowy walks. Of lazy Saturdays and Canucks games streamed on my laptop. Of rainbows and rainstorms and cleat tan lines. Of camping trips and campfires and the indescribable beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

This was the year of sharing my home and my city with so many friends who came to visit. Of the smiles and laughter and unconditional love of little kids, playing a game that I deeply love, the redemption of sport in my story, and watching stunning little hearts encounter Jesus. Of prayers and worship and the Holy Spirit’s perfect timing in all things. Of endless cups of tea and strong brewed coffee and hours studying and researching things I truly care about. Of words that matter and images that speak loudly beyond the confines of a frame. Of newspapers and stacks of books. Of passions being revived and growing with intensity. Of decisions once laced with anxiety being replaced with excitement and peace. Of passports and plane rides and airports and road-trips.

Of a church family who generously gave me a chance to have Christmas with my family. Of friends who, without question, drove me to Seattle so I could catch a late flight out to say goodbye to my Dad and be with my family. Of the ways that that hospital room felt both like the worst place on earth and a stunning glimpse of heaven at the same time. Of singing the doxology right after Dad died and realizing those words had never been more true and attempting to write a Eulogy that did his life – and his Jesus – justice. Of professors that gave me grace, inspire me continually, and who have taught me to love the process of learning and questions as much as (if not more than) the results it/they bring(s).

Of a small church plant in the heart of the city that has captured and embodied so many prayers and dreams. Of university auditoriums and living rooms and warehouse spaces and elementary school gyms where church happens and worship changes you. Of ugly tears and shoulder-shaking sobs in the presence of friends where I felt safe and constantly loved. Of community who spoke life and love into my heart and fought with me against lies that threatened to silence me and hold me captive. Of the friends and family who believed in the depth and fullness of my story more than I ever could. Of Fort Langley river walks and Wendell’s latte’s. Of trips to Ontario, crisp fall days on Parliament Hill, Montreal café’s, my Opa’s wisdom and Grandpa’s prayers, the perfect day in Hamilton with my cousin, giggles and cuddles with my sweet nephew, and how my mum has increasingly become one of my best friends. Of roommate reunions in Arizona, visiting my alma mater and in the best possible way, realizing how much Jesus has done in my heart since I fist walked those sidewalks when I was eighteen.

Every event and place and person we encounter changes us if we let it.

This year changed me. It broke me.

And it grew me up. It broke my heart in the same space that it captured it completely.

2013 rewrote and reestablished the foundations that have been there all along, not because I’m strong and somehow figured these things out, but because Jesus revealed Himself again and again to be that incredibly good. If I know anything, it’s that I’m insufficient and broken, but He’s sufficient and beautiful.

More than anything this year, I fell in love with grace (perhaps more accurately crashed into it by circumstantial necessity) and, more so than ever before, I’m letting it wash over every centimetre of my heart and mind and story. I still have a long (long!) way to go, but grace is starting to feel like freedom. Grace is like a deep and never-ending love that is written in sweeping strokes and in the tiniest of margins and details over every effort and memory and ambition.

Throughout this year – a year that has so often felt like a long, dark night - people continually told me that joy comes in the morning. I believe that with all my heart. I believe that weeping turns to dancing and mourning turns to shouts of joy, but I don’t think it’s always quite as quick or straightforward as we’d like to think. God weaves redemption into the darkest of places and the most untouched of shadows, but it takes time we can’t grasp and it takes grace we can’t comprehend and it is accomplished more so in surrender rather than in determined strength, which goes against everything society tells us.

But it’s good. Oh, it’s good. Not in a sugary-energy-spike, sunny-afternoon, teenage-romance kind of goodness, but in an enduring, won-through-hardship-and-struggle, amidst-both-the-rain-and-the entirety-of-the-seasons, with-lasting-nourishment-and-commitment, kind of goodness.

And, maybe it’s less about joy that turns things around completely than it is about joy that learns to dance in the rain, laugh in the midst of tears, and savour the seemingly minor moments that sustain and restore hope while the storm is still raging. Maybe it’s less about running away from difficult circumstances than it is facing them with rawness and honesty and finding God faithful there. Even there. Especially there.

And maybe, sometimes, it is about sunshine coming after the rain. I like the idea of that a lot. God is a God of extravagance and abundant and fiercely generous love so it’s certainly in the domain of His character. But that kind of joy isn’t promised or guaranteed until Jesus comes back to restore all things to goodness and justice and peace. forever. So I’m not clinging to that. I’m clinging instead to the Jesus who meets me in the midst of it all - rain or shine.

I don’t know how God will continue to redeem this or bring healing to my heart and my family. I don’t know how this year will end, much less what He has in store for 2014. I don’t know exactly how He will bring justice and reconciliation and renewal to nations and cities and peoples.

But. I believe He will. And I believe He is.

2013 has no neat conclusion. I have no inspiring closing words. Tomorrow is another day of his faithfulness made manifest and 2014, however it comes, will be 365 more days of the same.

My family still has to face this coming Christmas without my Dad. I hate that someone else will have to read the Christmas story and that I won’t get to watch World Juniors with him. January looms with the first anniversary of the day that changed everything. I’m still not okay with his absence. And, I don’t think I ever will be.

Hope is real. Peace is tangible. & the goodness of Jesus endures.

2013 has no ribbons and bows or fancy paper to cover over its wounds. It’s been hard. The hardest year I’ve yet faced. But, I not slamming the door in bitterness and anger, nor am I writing pain over the entirety of these days and this space. I’m both more in love with Jesus than I’ve ever been and more aware of my own weaknesses, failings, and desperation for Him. And I hope I can say the same tomorrow. And every consecutive day after that.

He is Emmanuel. The God who dwells with us.

Hallelujah. Come Lord Jesus.

Comment

Comment

on fear, standing still, and (re)claiming bravery.

A few weeks ago, while deep in conversation, a dear friend told me, “When I think of you, I think of bravery. I think of someone who faces the unknown without fear or hesitation.”

It was taken aback. It certainly wasn’t out of character for this friend to speak encouragement into my life, but her description of me felt out sync with my own description of myself.

Me? Brave?

I certainly wanted to be.

And maybe I used to be.  

But now? Not now.

Truth be told, I felt the farthest thing from brave.

In that moment, all I could see were the parts of my story that felt broken and laced with disappointment. All I could see was the longer-and-harder-than-I-could-have-imagined process of grieving the loss of my Dad in January. I saw my inability to recover fully from a chronic running injury and all the times I had tried with optimism and failed. I saw my struggling to make ends meet financially and the burden of decisions that I didn’t want to face alone. I saw my exhaustion. And the ways that I felt like I was just scraping by in my schooling instead of thriving or contributing the quality of work I expected of myself.

I knew there were places in there that Jesus had stilled my previously restless heart in the best possible way. I knew there were places in the deepest aspects of those circumstances that had quieted my once full-speed ahead approach to life that had falsely crafted my identity almost entirely around what I could accomplish and do. I knew that the process of letting go and the giving into the unknown was part of the journey of growing in what it meant to crash more and more on Jesus. And I knew that somehow, all of the brokenness was actually really beautiful.

I knew that. And yet sometimes I felt as if I could barely recognize the version of me I was living in.

My once hope-filled casting vision-for-the-future had turned into a fight-for-joy-survival-mode. Running forward turned into standstill and inching forward. I felt like I was treading water and hoping for the day when I’d have open water again and be able to swim. I just wanted to get through the day and the week with my eyes on Jesus. I just wanted to survive the night season with my heart and faith intact.

So, when my friend told me I was brave, it took a long time for me to wrap my head around those words. I realized that I too long incorrectly thought of bravery as action. In my grieving, I chastised myself for my inability to take action and move forward. Circumstances threatened to convince me that rest and grieving and being still and saying “no” or “not yet” were the antithesis of bravery, instead of the truest and most raw place where bravery could be made manifest.

And, so I’m taking it back. I’m rethinking and reclaiming the idea of bravery.

Being brave doesn’t necessarily say, “I’ve got this” with bold self-determination. Being brave isn’t running forward with single-minded focus and blinders to all obstacles. Being brave isn’t masking hurt or messiness or places of pain in the pursuit of something “better.”

In fact, maybe the truest form of bravery is the exact opposite. Maybe the truest bravery is found in a willingness to admit that we need time and space to process and to rest and refocus. Or to actually take God seriously when He tells us to be still, to rest, and to wait on Him.

Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to simply show up and keep showing up in the midst of our everyday lives and all the joy-filled and heart-breaking twists and turns they award us. Maybe the bravest thing we can do is to admit, “I don’t know if I can do this, but I’m still going to try.” And if I don’t have the strength today, I will try again tomorrow.

And, sometimes bravery does emerge in action. It reveals itself in the progression from the contemplation stage to the action stage. It’s found in the whispers that you’re stronger than you think and capable of more than you currently imagine, so don’t be afraid to try. Sometimes bravery is choosing to walk towards something when the outcome is completely unknown (which, is always).

Being brave is always choosing to risk.  And it’s choosing to risk again and again and again.

Bravery is one of those pesky things that emerges in both doing and resting; in the staying-put and in the going-out; in the dreaming and planning and in the living-in-the-right-now; in the picking-up and the letting-go. It exists in the whole spectrum of life and thought and emotion. Sometimes to be brave is to dismantle the idol of productivity. And sometimes it’s to confront a stronghold of laziness or comfort or doubt. And often, it’s both things in the space of the same day. Because, in its truest sense, bravery seems to be far more about the posture of our hearts than the ambition of our minds or the movement of our feet.

Jesus never asks us to be successful (as culture/society would define such a concept). He asks that we be obedient – and that our obedience be fueled by our love for Him and flow out of an understanding of His love for us. He asks us to taste and see of His goodness. He asks us to be still and to rest in His sufficiency. He asks us to seek his face, savour his goodness, and to be His love to those around us.

And, the rest, it would seem, is up to us. We can dream boldly and live fully and work hard and study deeply and love extravagantly with freedom and boldness from that place, just so long as we constantly and continually examine the posture of our hearts throughout the process.

In the past year for me, bravery has made itself known in the surrender of dreams and the letting go of people I love. It’s emerged in in the rawness and growth (and far surpassing worth) of crashing on the unwavering goodness of Jesus in the midst of grief and pain and loss.  It’s been revealed in the showing up and the willingness to keep going and keep trying especially when I felt like I had nothing to offer. It’s been redefined to encompass the embrace of imperfection instead of just being the action-fueled response (and attempted validation) to my shortcomings.

And then, with His goodness and impeccable timing, God has been whispering that, even in this space and season, it’s time again to dream. He’s been whispering that it’s time again to risk and to take steps forward that are both scary and exciting. It's embracing the shaky optimism that, success uncertain, it’s still worth trying.

I have no idea what will happen, but that's part of the adventure. I know, in an entirely non-cliche and deeply tangible way that God goes before me and is always with me, so I have nothing to lose. So, even in the unknown, even in the fear and doubt, and even in the pain and loss, the process of growing and giving up control and clinging to Jesus itself is worth it.

I'm (re)claiming bravery. And (re)casting vision for the process of rawness and dreaming and hope. Want to join me?

[originally written for TWU Impact.]

Comment

Comment

on waiting, restlessness, & time to hit the books.

Sometimes school is one of my absolute favourite things. 

I love the space to think and wrestle and engage in the “marketplace of ideas”. I love how the world comes alive and becomes increasingly more complex the more and more I learn. I love being challenged and I love that I can never reach the end of learning about both the resounding beauty and systemic brokenness of peoples and culture and society and the God who meets us in the midst of the wrestle and seeking and growing. I love libraries and I love coffee shops and, I even love writing papers.

Most of the time.

Because, sometimes school is the absolute last place I want to be. The pressure of papers and research and formulating intelligent and well-processed ideas feels daunting. The stack of books on my desk stands not as an opportunity to learn or as welcoming pages of words and the exploration of the world and the people who live here, but as a constant reminder that I have an overwhelming amount of work to do and a constant insecurity that I will never know enough to have an authoritative or wise voice on anything. Deadlines loom and with them, too many nights of too much coffee and too little sleep.

I’m devoting incredible amounts of physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual energy into the pursuit of a well-rounded education. I’m wracking up student loans that scare me and sometimes all I feel I’m learning is that the world is an incredibly broken place and my increasingly full bookshelves and “area of expertise” only testifies to the depth and severity of that brokenness.

And consequently, so often, all I want to do is slam my books shut and quit school. Because sometimes the reality of the educational process seems so overwhelming and so incredibly distant from why I’m in school.

Because at the core of it, I just want my life to make a lasting difference. I just want my education to mean something to someone more than myself. I want to see change and I want to see justice won in places where it feels distant and lost. I want to see peace grow in the aftermath of war and I want to see governments and laws based on truth and righteousness govern our nation and the way we care for and engage with the nations at our doorstep.

And I’m incredibly impatient.

Because I just want to go now.

Two weeks ago, I seriously considered taking the semester off, billing a plane ticket to Lebanon on my VISA, and showing up at a UNHCR refugee camp ready to hand out water and food (and whatever else could be done to help) to the influx of Syrian refugees.

I just wanted to do something – anything – that would make a tangible difference. And felt like a bit of a hypocrite sitting in Starbucks studying about the development of human rights norms and laws, reading my daily copy of the Globe and Mail, and trying to take one step closer to a career that would maybe (idealistically?) allow me to make a difference.

Because more than 2.1 million people in Syria have been forced out of their country due to bloody civil war. Some have even gone so far as to call it “the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time”, and yet, my education has awarded me the comforting knowledge that those two million people are only a sliver of the 45.2 million (and growing) forcibly displaced people around the globe today.

45.2 million refugees. 27 million modern-day slaves. 345 million people without access to clean water. One in ten Canadians living below the poverty line. And I haven’t even said anything about political tensions or wars or diseases or the shortcomings of our educational systems.

The statistics are staggering. And entirely heart breaking.

And if I know anything about my generation is that we’re a generation that wants to do something. We want to step into those huge issues and make a tangible difference. We hunger for justice and we have direct access to the increasingly globalised world in a way that no generation prior has seen.

And, with great freedom comes great responsibility, right?

We feel the weight of the pressure. We’re inundated by documentaries and statistics and news stories from across the globe and from our own cities that pull at our hearts and invoke anger. Everything in us knows this is not how things should be. As followers of Jesus, we ache for the redemption and renewal of countless issues and of society as a whole. And yet, our current reality is books and papers and late-nights at the library and the stress of student loans. Most of us are working part-time to make ends meet because the benefit of this education comes at an incredibly high cost.

The discrepancy between what we want and what is current reality couldn’t feel more distant.

When I finished my undergrad, I was pretty burnt out and disillusioned by the education system and so tired of my head knowledge being just head knowledge. I had been presented with the opportunity to spend some time doing short-term missions overseas (in one of countless examples of what I now believe to be the goodness of God’s sovereignty in my story), and credit both a growing desire to make a difference (somehow) and growing restlessness with my current reality, I went.

I walked the dirt streets of Cambodia and saw and smelled the slums of Phnom Penh. I cried my way through the Khmer Rouge memorial and desperately prayed my way through red light districts in Thailand and Amsterdam. I stood on the streets of London and saw the paradoxical juxtaposition of urban poverty against the stunning architecture of the monarchy. I stood on a hill in the West Bank and wept over the brokenness of Palestine and the tensions in Israel.

I saw and experienced and felt more in that space than I knew was possible.  And with every face and story and issue I encountered, I learned how absolutely little I knew.

Yet, even with my limited education and lack of experience, I saw gaps in systems of governance and could clearly see (well-intended) social initiatives failing. I saw the blatant shortcomings of short-term investments. I learned about laws and loop-holes that left people trapped in systems of injustice and I heard the inspiring first hand accounts of countless men and women who have given their lives and careers and educations in the pursuit of justice and renewal and change in their villages and cities and nations.

And in that space, with every story, I knew I needed to come back to school. I knew I needed to go deeper and to wrestle my way through these systemic issues. Not because I thought I would find an easy answer or series of easier answers (it would appear that there are no such things), but because the importance of these issues mandated a response that was as wise and well educated as was possible.

And so, I chose this. Not because I’m particularly brilliant (I’m definitely not) or especially compassionate (I’m certainly not) or have a corner on the market of ideas (not even close). I chose this because every detour and chapter of my story and God’s faithfulness throughout it pointed me here. I chose this because He’s worth everything and this is only a tiny piece of what that might look like in my lifetime. I chose to engage in the issues that my heart aches for through the lens of academia and political studies and law even when the prospect of such scares me.

Sometimes I think it was/is a stellar decision.

And sometimes I think I was/am completely crazy.

Gary Haugen, the president and founder of International Justice Mission (IJM) has wisely said that the pursuit of justice is “long, labourious, and boring.” The pursuit of justice and righteousness and goodness in the world, in our cities, and in our neighbourhoods – no matter what sphere of society we stake a claim in – takes time. And requires a wisdom that is won through time and experience and education. We need the constant conviction that what we’re doing, even when we don’t see the results, is worth the time and money and effort. (Because, really, it’s far less about what we’re doing than about the God who is working in and through us in every season and place and moment.)

And so, I have to preach this to myself almost daily: this season matters. This place matters. These papers and these hard-fought lessons and this wrestling through tough ideas matters. And it matters for more than just to get us to an eventual end goal of a “career” or whatever we’re headed towards. It matters in and of itself – because it’s changing us and growing us and making us better people (and hopefully more like and more dependent upon Jesus) in the process.

Because the world doesn’t need young men and women who live by a knee-deep definition of passion. The world – and our country and the church – needs men and women who are humble and steadfast and who know that no one idea or initiative is the answer to the complexity of issues we face. We need well-trained and well-thought men and women captivated by the bigger picture of a God making all things right and good, who are willing to go deep and invest for the long-haul and to stick it out even when we feel like we aren’t getting anywhere.

And that takes time. It takes countless long and boring days and it takes constantly reminding ourselves that this opportunity to even have an education of this calibre and the realistic possibility of careers and lives that are laced with impact and influence puts us amongst the wealthiest and most fortunate in the world.

You want to change the world? I do too. And I think we will.

But if we want to do it right, we have to give this time. And right now, we have to hit the books.

[originally written for TWU Impact]

Comment