Thoughts on life

Been a while since I’ve blogged.  Things have been kind of crazy since the day camp that I ran ended.  Upon going back to school, I knew that something in me had changed, I don’t feel very happy anymore.  It’s kinda funny but I miss being in charge of 40 children and 10 volunteers, all the kids coming to me about the simplest little problems, all the yelling, crying, laughing, singing, etc.  I miss it all…  It’s not the fact that I was in charge of everything and everything went the way that I said it would that I miss that experience so much, it was all the bonding that took place with the children and the volunteers, it was the fact that I accomplished something that I never thought I could before.  Ever since the summer, I’ve been thinking about ways that I can get back to a place like that.  It’s hard because even though it seems like school is the only answer to get me back to something that will give me back to this feeling faster, it also feels like school is the thing that is burning me out and making me feel unhappy.  In this time it’s also been hard trusting in God’s timing for different things.  However, I cannot deny that I’ve crossed paths with people who are meant to be in my life to help me through this time.  I’ve made friends who accept me as part of their group and look out for me just because a friend introduced me to them.  Also there are other people who would be there for me anytime to the best of their abilities.  Even though I have a hard time feeling happy right now, I definitely feel cared for and I know that God is looking out for me.

One example that is extremely fresh in my mind because it just happened two days ago.  Two days ago I got into my first major car accident as a driver.  I’m not going to go into details about how it happened, but it was out of my control.  As soon as it happened, there just happened to be an ambulance there and the paramedics came and took over the situation and made sure everything was OK with me and the other driver.  They blocked off oncoming traffic so that we could pull our cars off the busy main road onto a side road before they left.  After exchanging contact and insurance information, the other person drove off, but I couldn’t because of the condition of my car.  My phone was on the fritz and I saw a light on in a house nearby, so I rang their doorbell to ask to borrow a phone.  They had a camera and a microphone and after about two minutes of conversation explaining who I was and what I needed help with, the family opened their door and lent me their phone.  At first when I called my dad, he told me to catch a bus home, so I called a friend who I just met this term if he could pick me up and he readily agreed without hesitation.  As it turned out my dad wanted to swing by to look at my car anyways so my friend didn’t have to come, but to know that he was that willing to help me made me feel cared for.  Everything that happened that night couldn’t have been a coincidence!!  What are the chances that two paramedics in an ambulance would be right behind me when I would need them the most.  There was only one house with their lights on that I could see and the family readily opened their door to a complete stranger to let me use their phone, and my friend being available and willing o pick me up (even though in the end it was not necessary).  Oh and the reason why my dad was able to drive out to where I was was because it just so happened that my mom was not using their car and she is usually out with the car on Tuesday nights.  Just try to tell me that all of this was a huge coincidence!!

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The Secret Life of ME!!

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Been a while since I wrote my last blog.  Amidst final exams (which finished a week and a half ago) this is how my head feels hahaha…

 

Anyways today I want to talk about a movie that I watched the other day with my family.  This movie has some great imagery for our relationship with God.  After watching it, it became one of my all-time favourites.  The movie is titled “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, directed and starring Ben Stiller, this movie is loosely based off of a short story written in 1939 by James Thurber.

In this movie, Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a negative assets manager (the person that manages photo negatives and prepares it for printing) for the ‘LIFE’ Magazine.  He lives a pretty ordinary and boring life; he doesn’t travel much, has no love life and daydreams about a more exciting life to make up for it.  ‘LIFE’ gets bought out by a larger company and Walter Mitty is assigned to process the final magazine cover of ‘LIFE’.  The photographer who took the picture (Played by Sean Penn) sends Walter Mitty the negative roll along with a birthday and ‘thank you’ gift (a wallet) for the sixteen years of service that Walter Mitty had done for him.  The problem was that the picture that was to be the magazine cover was missing and no one knew what it looked like except for the photographer (who travels around a lot and does not have any direct way of communicating with him).  From this point on, the movie is about how Walter Mitty travels around the world following clue after clue to find the photographer to ask about the missing photograph.  In the end he does find the photographer and the photographer told him that the picture was in the wallet, so he actually did have it the whole time.  All Walter Mitty had to say was, “you’re crazy!!” (in reference to putting the photo for the front cover in some obscure location like a wallet).  Now here’s the thing, throughout his journey, Walter Mitty gets fed up with the things that were happening in his life and decided to throw the wallet away.

This got me thinking, does God give us gifts to thank us for all the hard work that we do for him?  YES he does… This can be found in the parable of the Talents Jesus tells us in this parable that we all have talents and that we are to use them all.  Those that use their talents will gain more, and those that don’t lose EVERYTHING that they have.  So how many talents/gifts do I have that I don’t know I have?  How many talents/gifts have I thrown away in frustration because I didn’t know that I had it all along?  But here’s the great thing, there’s redemption.

As it turns out, in the movie, Walter Mitty’s mother sees him throw away his wallet and she retrieves it and gives it back to him when he said he needed one.  This reminds me of when I think to myself that I don’t have the skill to do something anymore so I stop doing it, but then later on I find out that I never lost it.

Anyways, just a thought that I had, I hope you can relate to this.  Again I highly recommend watching “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” I hope I didn’t spoil too much for you.

Time of reflection

Time of reflection

I don’t know if I’ll get another opportunity before Good Friday and Easter to blog about this topic, so I’ll do it now. I love this little comic and I think we can all relate to this in some sort of way. Yes, Christmas is a time of rejoicing and it is so great to see Baby Jesus lying in a manger. But the Jesus on the cross is also a beautiful sight. Not in the physical sense, but in what it represents. If Jesus did not die, then he could not be resurrected and then our sins wouldn’t be taken upon him and gotten rid of.

Just a quick thought that I had.

Post Secondary life

So this is a poem that I wrote for all post secondary students out there who are currently in the midst of final projects, assignments and exams.

 

Some people see post secondary life as a party

Day in day out, drinks all around, totally NOT reality

This is not some T.V. show, or Hollywood movie

Everybody has to work hard whether they be jocks, musicians or geeks

Pardon me if those terms seem to you offensive

But what I’m trying to say is we are all the same, please don’t be defensive

The party life can be fun for some, but it is overglorified

Many of us are stuck studying, sitting in chairs like we’ve been petrified

In this time of high mental stress, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to fade

Do you see my eye bags? they’re not from going on vacation and having my flight delayed

This is the time where people of faith seem to lose it, and those without (through silent prayers) seem to gain

Our “summer break” is so close yet so far away, excuse the cliché, but exam period is a pain

But through it all, this is the story of life

Not some movie plotline where there is no strife

We live, grow up and press on with duty

Because we don’t want to fail here and end our life in futility

 

I don’t want to sound like a downer, but this time has definitely been a hard time for me academically.  Even so I will move forward and take whatever comes my way.  I hope to encourage all of you feeling the same way with this song.  WHAT we are going through now doesn’t define who we are, HOW we go through it does.

Infatuation

I haven’t written a blog in a while, so I clicked the “inspire me” button and this was what came up.

“Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?”

One word, five syllables, I’m not to sure why it happens or what it truly means, this word, “infatuation”

According to Google: “an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone or something.” that is the definition

Guys, do you ever get that feeling for a girl?  Kinda like the “flutterbys” (I mean “butterflies”) in your belly

Please excuse me when I’m dyslexic, fact is that right now my insides feel like jelly

I have absolutely no control over how I feel

It feels like a dream, but I know that for sure it’s real

 

Based on that poem, I’m sure most of you have figured out that my strongest memory of nervousness was about a girl that I really liked.  I won’t go into detail about how we met, but one important fact was that at that time I had only known her for eight months.  At first I didn’t think of her in any way except as a friend, but overtime, my view of her changed because I was going through a tough time and she was always there ready to comfort and encourage me.  We started talking a lot and it turned out that we are very similar to each other.  The way we both don’t like to feel like a burden to other people by telling about our problems, the way we both are studying in the same faculty, the way we both love to work with children and youth.  I didn’t even realize that I was getting the feeling of infatuation for her until she went on vacation for a couple of weeks and I realized that I really missed her.

When the next semester started, we studied together in some of our free time and I was so content just sitting in the same room as her and working on my work and asking her every so often if she needed help with her studying.  One day I decided that I was going to tell her after one of our study sessions.  It was the most nerve racking experience ever.  I felt like my heart was going to jump into my throat, and all I could hear was the pounding of my heartbeat.  I chickened out and didn’t tell her at that moment, I even walked her to class and I just couldn’t say it.  That afternoon I went to the basketball court to vent my frustration and to meet up with a very good friend.  I told him that I just couldn’t understand how I could be so confident in myself while I have a ball in my hand and in the middle of a match, yet I can’t say one little thing to a girl.

Anyways, I told her eventually and the rest is history.  We are still good friends, but that’s not what’s important.  The important thing is that I had to go through that moment where I was not confident in myself.  Was the nervous feeling justified?  Yes… How did I respond to the situation?  Well I followed what the scriptures say about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

The father is waiting (time to come HOME!!)

Alright!! Here we go with blog post number three about my youth retreat experiences…  The topic I want to talk about today is one that really hits home for me, so let’s get started…

God Is Waiting On You-2

I’m sure that many of us have heard Jesus’ story called the Parable of the Prodigal Son at least once.  If not here’s the gist of the story.  A father has two sons and the youngest asks the father for his inheritance while the father is still alive and well.  The father gives the inheritance and the son goes off and squanders it.  Upon losing everything, he gets a job feeding pigs and is starved.  He realizes that his father’s servants lived a better life than he was so he sets off to go home to apologize and ask his father for a place in his home as a servant.  The father sees his son (implies that he has been waiting for the son to return) coming home and runs out to him, embraces him and reinstates him back into the family.

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Now there are many things about this story that were highly controversial for that time (which makes me appreciate the father’s gestures even more), but today I just want to focus on the aspect of the father waiting (I’ll save the other aspects for another day).

I usually associate myself with the son and I see God as the father.  The interesting thing is that this story was told on Saturday afternoon as one of the talks being delivered, and then I experienced not once, but four incidents where I had to wait on the youth (of which I will tell you the two that really stood out to me).  Not to say that I am comparing myself with God; but after these experiences I thought more about what God was possibly feeling towards all of us (except probably to a much, much greater extent).

The first incident I want to talk about is this.  So, on Saturday night, there was an outdoor game that involved running around in the dark and finding things.  To make things worse, it was raining hard.  The youth were split into 4 teams and they had to collect balloons (which counted for certain points depending on the colour).  Since I didn’t want to run in the rain in the dark, I chose to be one of the leaders that hid and handed out balloons when the youth found us.  My station was located on a playground.  Let me tell you, hiding in the rain in the dark on a creepy playground is NOT fun (my pants were soaked and it wasn’t from peeing in them hahaha).  The whole time I was sitting in the quietness, all alone, waiting for some youth to find me.  By the end of the game, I still had balloons that were uncollected (all the other leaders managed to give all of theirs away except for me and one other).  Talking with some of the other leaders that night, it was quite evident that all of us had one thing in common that we wanted to happen… We all wanted to be found (for the benefit of the youth and for our own benefit).

This got me thinking, are we making God wait for us?  Is he sitting in dark as WE run around searching for him (sometimes in the completely wrong places).  There was also another thought.  When I have an encounter with God, he usually has something to give me (just like I had balloons to give to the youth).  Is God trying to tell me that he has already given me a balloon, but there are more left to give?  Am I missing out on something?  I just want you to think about this for a bit…

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Alright, now for the second incident that happened to me.  So Saturday night was Daylight Savings and so we would “lose an hour of sleep”.  Even so, some of us planned to meet at the gym at 6 the next morning to play some basketball.  Two of the youth in my cabin asked me to wake them up when the time came.  Being the initiator, I made sure that I was up the earliest (I actually ‘slept in’ 15 minutes and felt really bad about it).  I shook the two youth to wake them up, their reactions were priceless… They kept on sleeping like little babies (Cue the “AWWWWWWWWWWWW”…)  After a bit, I decided to head out to the gym because I didn’t want people from other cabins to think that I was ditching them by not going.  As you probably could’ve guessed, I was the ONLY one there.  I decided to just shoot around by myself for an hour (because maybe they didn’t change their clocks an hour ahead), but still no one came.  That’s when I decided to go back to my cabin.  Upon return, some of the youth were up, including one of the two that I tried to wake up.  He felt really bad about not waking up and I could tell he really wanted to go play, so I offered to go play again.  This time when I tried waking the other youth up, he woke up (apparently tickling his soles was what I should have done the whole time…).  So the three of us made our way to the gym and played for about an hour.

What spoke to me about this was that God will also “wake up” at the time that we agree to and he will wait for us to come out the the meeting place.  When he gets tired of waiting he goes back to where we are.  When we finally wake up, he offers to go out again to where we were supposed to meet him to begin with.  He will always, Always, ALWAYS give us more opportunities to spend time with him, even when we fail to do it sometimes.  God is like the father in the parable, waiting patiently for us.  When we finally wake up from our stupor and go find him, he RUNS out to meet us and throws his arms around us.

I pray that this encourages you today.

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REALLY Holding onto God

Blog post number two of what I learned on my weekend away at a youth retreat.  So my last post was about turning your life around to find God, and this one will talk about Holding onto him.  I mean REALLY hold onto him.  I hope this will speak to those who are feeling like God is allowing things to happen to you that you feel like you are not ready for.  Maybe you are mad at God for this (hopefully not).  I’m not saying that what I write in this blog will be exactly the answer why, but I pray that if will open up your perspective to think more broadly in terms of why God COULD be putting you through these situations.

Two things happened on Saturday that really stood out to me as good imagery for holding onto God.

The first was this.  So there are two leaders from our youthgroup that are siblings.  The brother was sitting in a chair waiting for Saturday morning worship to start and he was talking to people around him and tipping the chair in front of him back and forth.  His sister come by and is about to sit down when he tips the chair and accidentally hits her in the knee.  She pretended to be really hurt and offended and he tried to lighten the mood by apologizing and asking her to forgive him and saying that he needed a hug from her to prove that she really forgave him.  She decided to play “hard-to-get” and refused him the hug (GASP!!).  As she sat down on her chair, her brother went up to her to give her a hug and she kinda halfheartedly put her arms around him.  He said, “That’s not a REAL hug!! Do it properly!!” and you won’t believe what he did next…  He tipped her chair backwards while she was sitting on it (he was still holding her at this point) and her reaction was to grab onto him tightly.  Then he set the chair back to normal and said, “you REALLY hugged me that time!!”  (Oh how I love these two siblings, they really know how to brighten me day!!)

You may be thinking what does this have to do with God giving people situations that they are not ready to handle.  Well, think about it… In this story, did the girl expect her brother to tip the chair when he was hugging her?  I don’t think so.  Imagine that you are that girl and God is the brother in the story.  Something happens to you and you are hurt and so God says, “Give me a hug… A REAL hug…”  You choose to oblige only when he initiates the hug by putting his arms around you.  Even then you only put your arms around him softly, barely qualifying your choice of action as an embrace.  So God tips you back quickly but slightly and unexpectedly, while holding onto you tightly.  How do you react, do you return the embrace and hold him tighter?  Do you panic, freeze and blame him afterwards and never want him to get close anymore?  What do you do?  You see, the thing I love about this story was that the brother had the whole thing planned out and was in complete control of the situation, just like God.  The rest of the story was up to the sister to decide.  So what do you do?

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The second story I want to tell you is this.  So at the lodge that we were retreating at, there was a ropes/obstacle course.  Our youth leaders were in charge of running this event during free time.  Now on this particular day, it was raining hard.  The whole time we were out there we only had three participants show up.  We kinda got bored (OK not kinda, we DID get bored…) so we decided to try some of the obstacles.  The one that we were particularly proud of accomplishing was climbing a 12 foot tall wall as a team.  The way this works is we had to get someone over the top (without help from the top) and then everybody else would be pushed up from the bottom and helped by the person that already made it to the top.  Once at the top, we were not allowed to go back down to push the last person from the bottom (though spotters were allowed to support him/her when he/she jumped to try and grab the people at the tops hands, they were not allowed to push him/her and hold that person until they had a firm grip with the people up top).  Therefore it is up to the last person to work with the people at the top to make it over.

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Similar to the first story, imagine that you are that last person to get over the wall and God is the people at the top of the wall and people that support you in life are the spotters.  God is reaching down the wall to you and it is up to you to jump and grab hold of his outstretched hands.  Once you grab hold you cannot let go or else you will fall, but if you fall you have at least two choices, get back up to try again, or stay lying down on the wet ground (as far from God’s reaching hand as you can be).  Other people may support you in life (like the spotters at the wall), but they cannot push you up and hold you there.  YOU need to hold on and work with God to pull yourself over that wall (or whatever situation you need to get over).  It doesn’t work if you only let the people up top pull you over without using your own effort to get over (in fact that might hurt you more than falling).

I think that when these situations happen to you, it’s because God wants to test you to see if you trust him (if so how much and to what extent).  Also God knows that you won’t have to go through the situations alone, and he wants you to realize this fact.  Of course there could be many more reasons why, but these are the two that really stood out to me this last weekend.

So what do you choose?  Will you hold tightly onto God when something you are unprepared for happens?  Or will you let him do all the holding and just pray that you make it through?  Do you choose to work with God to get over that wall with the support of others?  Or do you choose to again let him do all the work and just pray that he manages to pull you over the wall?