Monday, December 11, 2017

Nicole’s Story

Nicole was ready to end her life when God changed everything with a simple phone call. Now she is able to make a difference in others’ lives by serving on the very team that made a difference in hers. See how Nicole’s purpose isn’t limited by her location.

Making Sense of God

Skepticism is healthy if it leads us to question the received pieties of our age. But our modern culture has elevated skepticism to such an ultimate value that belief in anything seems faintly absurd. Yet human beings cannot live without meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice, and hope—and these things all require a faith dimension.

In an earlier book, The New York Times bestseller The Reason for God, Dr. Timothy Keller made a case for Christianity. In his new book, Dr. Keller starts further back, addressing those who strongly doubt that any version of religion or faith makes sense or has anything of value to offer the contemporary world.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Love incarnate, love divine
Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done.

When Christmas is Hard and Discouraging

The Holiday Season brings a lot of joy for some people and a lot of difficulties for others. If you're feeling down and discouraged about something going on in your life, this vlog is for you.

What If Your Problem is The Solution?

We all face difficulties, but what if God has a plan for your problems? See why your struggle may just be a solution.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Why Read the Bible?

Is our relationship with God dependent on reading the Bible? Hip-Hop artist Odd Thomas discusses the pivotal role the Bible plays in actually knowing God. Odd Thomas talks about how it was after he started reading the Bible that he finally understood how much God loves him and that his life has a purpose.

Spirit of The Living God

When you come in the room
When you do what only you can do
It changes us, it changes
What we see and what we seek
You're changing everything

When you move, you move all our fears
When you move, you move us to tears
God, when you fall, we fall on our knees
When you fall, we fall at your feet

When you speak and when you move
When you do what only you can do
It changes us, it changes
What we see and what we seek

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Weekend

A moment of stillness. One of my favorite relaxing things to do during this season is enjoy a big cup of coffee and read some new magazines in our family room.

I also enjoy looking at our pink Christmas flower, it lights up my world!

My weekend diet included a couple of bags of popcorn. White chocolate & peppermint flavored kettle corn and two episodes of Big Little Lies made my Saturday evening relaxing and enjoyable.

Saturday morning was all about fun and games at our house. Who's hiding behind the couch? Hubby has energy for some Hide and seek right away in the morning, I'm impressed!

On Saturday afternoon we needed to run some errands in downtown Toronto.

Running errands always becomes more fun when you add some toffee hot chocolate.

As we were driving past the CN Tower I thought of all the sweet memories I have from this tower. We celebrated Mom&Dad's 30th wedding anniversary in the CN Tower restaurant and my husband proposed to me in this tower. Seven years ago Toronto was a brand new city to me, today this city is filled with happy memories. God is so good to me!

When your purpose looks different than you expected

Katie Davis Majors had a clear plan for her future, she dreamed of having a few children and living in a nice house with a white picket fence in the suburbs. God's plan for Katie's life looked very different than she had expected. Katie went on a mission trip to Uganda during her last year in high school and fell in love with the warm and friendly Ugandan people. Katie eventually decided to move to Jinja, Uganda for one year to volunteer as a kindergarten teacher in an orphanage.

It's now ten years later and Katie still lives in Jinja, Uganda with her son, her adopted daughters and her husband Benji. Today she runs Amazima ministries that helps the poor in Jinja in many different ways. In the video Katie tells her story about how life turned out very differently than she had expected. She shares how surprised she was to meet a guy who wanted to date her although she was a single mom of many children. Katie also shares how she overcame the loss and grief that she has experienced during the past few years.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dream Again

I know the plans that I have for you
A hope and a future, a future.

It’s the heart that matters

“It’s the heart that matters”, that’s something we say to young children when other kids bully them and call them ugly. This might not always be true in the society we live in, our culture values a wrinkle-free face, a toned body and expensive clothes very highly. The good news is that when it comes to God the heart is all the He is focused on. I can inject botox, wear what Vogue magazine tells me to wear and be beautiful on the outside, but none of that will impress God. I can even give a lot of money to charity every year and none of that will impress God either, unless my heart is in the right place. Many people give to charity, not because they care about the poor, but because they understand that having a generous image is great for your career and status in our society. I can easily fool people by having a caring and generous image, but I can’t fool God. Elisabeth George writes about Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the book “Walking With The Women Of The Bible”:

“Although she was probably young and, from all appearances, poor, Mary had something priceless on the inside: She loved God deeply, obediently and passionately.
With God, it’s always the heart that matters. When He shines His holy light into your heart, what does He discover? Do you nurture a deep, obedient, passionate love for God?”

I would say that my heart has been filled with a deep and passionate love for God over the past few years, but when it comes to obedience … not so much. I like to be the boss, I hate being told what to do. This is what my relationship with God has looked like over the past few years: God tells me “Go”, I choose to stay. I choose comfort and ease over obedience to God. Other times God tells me “stay” and I choose to go. I get tired of waiting and decide to go ahead with whatever I want to do although God has not told me to go.

Obedience is clearly one of the things God is teaching me this year. I’ve spent a lot of years doing my own thing with little success and I’m so ready to finally do things God’s way now. As usual, I needed to do things my own way first and see that my way never leads to anything good, before I was willing to do things God’s way. What can I say, I guess I have a stubborn and bossy personality? Those who know me well know exactly what I’m talking about.

God is calling me to face two of my biggest fears this year and one of them is giving up control. It’s embarrassing to write that sentence because I’m aware that for so many people this is not hard at all, but it’s very difficult for me. I don’t just like to be the boss, I need to be the boss to feel safe and secure in life. Controlling things is my response to dealing with the fear of an unknown future. The ironic thing is that the more I try to plan and control everything in life the more stuck and fearful I become. Letting go and learning to follow God, rather than always having a plan to follow, is the only way to live free. We’re getting there, one step at a time.

A little over a month ago I decided to finally make the jump, to throw out control and start following. I was terrified. When I don't have a detailed plan for my future I get fearful. Today I have peace, complete peace. I feel free and excited about the future, although I have no idea what the future holds. A couple of times every week fear comes to visit me again, fear seems to have the most power late at night when you can't sleep. When I lay awake in the dark and start to think about my unknown future it freaks me out. Instead of trying to come up with some plan/solution in the dark my new strategy is to just decide to stop "the train of thoughts". I've learned that reality seems so much more scary late at night and the best thing I can do is to not think more about it and just go to sleep. 

I don't need a plan for my future because God's got a perfect plan for my life. The only thing I need is to just folllow God and I will be fine, as a matter of fact I will be great! The next morning when I wake up I have no fear at all about the future. Everything seems more scary late at night.

During the day fear attacks in a different way. I start to question everything I'm doing and feel like it's crazy to face the future without a plan. What helps me find peace during the day is checking my notes in my journal. Last year I started writing down all my prayers to God in a journal and I also write down the answers I get. Every time when fear attacks my mind I start to doubt that God really meant what he said. What if I heard wrong? What if I misunderstood what he wants me to do? What if? What if?

Every time I check my prayer journal as a strategy to fight off fear I receive God's peace. My prayers and God's crystal clear answers are all there and when I read them again I'm reminded of what I'm called to do. God speaks, but if I let fear and doubt drown out God's loving voice I will become lost and confused. God doesn't change His mind, but I will constantly change my mind if I listen to all the voices out there equally much. Fear, doubt, people's opinions and expectations on me, my own negative thoughts etc. are all voices that I can choose to silence, I don't have to listen to them all day long. It's super important for me to start every new day with 30-60 minutes of Quiet Time with God. When I skip my time with God in the morning I end up being more affected by the voices of doubt, fear and other people's opinions. It's like Mark Batterson says in his book "Whisper-How to Hear the Voice of God":

"God often speaks loudest
 when we're quietest."

Monday, November 27, 2017

You & Me Forever

Purpose and the mission that God has for each person's life on Earth is one thing that I'm very excited about. Every single person on Earth was created for a specific purpose, none of us are a mistake.

God put a calling on Steven&Holly's life to start a brand new church, today that small church has grown from only a couple of hundred people to 25 000. Steven&Holly were called to start Elevation Church. God has a unique plan for each one of our lives but what all our callings have in common is that they tend to be a lot greater than we can handle, envision or even imagine. We often have no idea what God is doing in our lives at the beginning, but if we choose to trust him, follow him and obey His calling on our lives it always leads to something extraordinary and beautiful.

The You&Me Forever-film features three couples who were called by God to three entirely different missions in life. God has a plan for each individual's life and God also has a unique plan for each married couple. It's no coincidence that you married your husband. The person we marry is a huge part of God's calling on our lives. Every time God calls a person to marriage it's because he knows that the specific purpose that he has for that person requires a partner.

Finding Contentment

Youtuber Leah's Essence shares a great video about contentment on her channel. The funny thing about contentment is that it works very differently than we assume. Most people assume that the way to a happy life is to make sure all your dreams come true, but reality looks quite different than that. If I dream of getting healthy, traveling the world, getting married, buying a house and having two kids I will soon realize that none of those things will make me happy long-term. There is definitely a high that comes from seeing a dream come true, but that high doesn't last very long. Very soon we have to start chasing some new dream again to experience that same high.

Contentment is not found when all your dreams come true, contentment is only found in a close relationship with God. These past five years have been the happiest years of my life, every week I thank God for the amazing blessings I get to experience on a weekly basis. I have a close and personal relationship with God that keeps growing more intimate every year. I have amazing people in my life who I love and who love me.

Many of my biggest dreams have come true in my life while others are not even close to coming true yet. Today I don't chase my dreams because I believe they will make me happy, today my dreams are all about fulfilling my life's mission and purpose. The last five years have been the happiest in my life but they have not been the easiest years in my life. It's not an easy or comfortable life that leads to happiness, it's knowing God and knowing my purpose that fills every new day with incredible joy, excitement, wonder and gratitude.

I can honestly say that if I died tomorrow I would have lived a completely full life. There are zero things on my bucket list right now that I feel that I must experience before I die. I have already reached the goal of this life; to love God and love other people fully. Every new day I get from now on is just an extra blessing. I have absolutely no fear of death at all. I have fears to fight in my life, but fear of death is not one of them. I look forward to the future and enjoy coming up with new dreams to work towards, but there is absolutely nothing more that I need in my life to be happy. Happiness is here, I have arrived.

The funny thing is that all the chasing after happiness never led me anywhere good. Lasting happiness is not found in a romantic relationship, another trip, a new car, a big house, the dream job etc. Happiness that lasts is found in knowing the One true God who created you, and becoming fully aware of why you are here on Earth today.

The Weekend

I have lived in North America for ten years but I have never gone shopping on Black Friday. This year I ended up doing some shopping on Black Friday even if I wasn't planning on it. I only bought one thing. When I noticed that the stuffed animals size XXXL were on 50% sale I decided to buy a teddy bear.

On Saturday I wasn't feeling well so I spent most of the day relaxing, then in the evening I started feeling better so we went out to buy some more Christmas ornaments. We have now decorated the tree in white, gold, silver and pink, it's a very girly Christmas tree this year but my husband still approved it. :)

I also bought a new wreath for the front door this year, I love it! Our home has now been completely transformed into a winter wonderland full of the Christmas spirit. I'm ready for December now!

On Sunday morning I had to take a picture in church because I was so proud of myself for being at church 30 minutes early for once in my life. We went in early to have a little Christmas photo shoot at church.

This week we are having a Christmas party at our Women Connect gathering at church. "Bring a snack and wear a Christmas sweater" they said. My "Christmas sweater" is either a plain white sweater or a black one, you can't find much else in in my closet at the moment. Maybe I should have done some more shopping on Black Friday after all? Oh well, my all-black outfit is going to have to do, even if it's a Christmas party. Red and green are clearly not my favorite colors. :)

Contentment in a Driven World

In a culture that emphasizes achievement and success, seeking the approval of others can be an endless and exhausting pursuit. Erin Fonner reflects on how true contentment and fulfillment come from being connected to the source of life.

The Behaviour of Belonging

We waste away when we wander, homelessness is not part of God's plan for our lives. In today's podcast from Life Church in Bradford, England Charlotte Gambill looks at the behaviour of belonging. Belonging calls for unpacking, contributing, protecting, providing and dwelling.

When you belong it changes your attitude, actions and speech. You move from guest to host, from visitor to owner, from critic to contributor.
Enjoy today's podcast!

Yoga, Meditation, Reiki & Mediums

Jessica grew up in a Christian family but left Christianity behind in college. When Jessica's friend died in a traffic accident she felt the need to find answers about the afterlife. Jessica sought help from a medium who told her that she could help Jessica communicate with her dead friend. The feeling of love that Jessica experienced when interacting with the spirit guides made her believe that this must be God's presence. Jessica decided to pursue spirituality fully and started teaching yoga, reiki and practicing meditation. Many years later Jessica chose to leave spirituality behind, at that time she ended up having a spiritual encounter that terrified her.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Overcoming Depression and Low Self Esteem

Are you struggling with overcoming depression or low self-esteem? This one is for you!

Greatness of Your Glory

On mountains high and valleys low
When suffering’s all Your servants know
We’ll share the everlasting hope
His name is Jesus

While joy and mourning have their place
And nothing here is put to waste
Death will die and love remains
His name is Jesus

Your kingdom coming closer and closer
Glory to Glory brighter and brighter
Heaven is singing louder and louder 

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Worth of a Soul

Hannah Clarkson from Huddersfield, England, Rahil Patel from London, England and Ross Mcintyre from Livingston, Scotland share their stories about how they went from pain to purpose in life. 

God hides you FOR the right one!

That's so true! Thank you Allyson Rowe! What can so easily happen when we have been single for many years is that we start believing that we aren't good enough for real love. We choose to believe that nobody could love us for who we really are, so we either settle or try to be someone we are not.

I'm grateful that God made many men break up with me over the years, so that I could eventually meet the One that God had created for me. When other men rejected me it wasn't because I was unlovable, other people's rejection was God's protection in my life. God was saving me and keeping me until the day when I would finally get to meet my husband. Today I'm so glad that I never settled for anything less than real unconditional love. 

The Confidence We Have

Maybe you've wondered at one point or another how you can know if God will answer your prayer? What if he doesn't hear me? How do I know if what I'm praying for is his will? Manouchka Charles from Vous Church in Miami, Florida leads us to understand exactly how we can have a firm confidence in approaching God.

Motherhood, Pain and Perfection

DawnCheré Wilkerson sits down with Julia Veach to talk about motherhood, pain, and perfection.

The First Snow

This morning I was surprised to wake up to a snowy landscape here in Toronto. The first snow of the season is always a joyful surprise. I wouldn't want to live somewhere where there is no snow, the snow is what makes winter fun and beautiful!

The "Today's Outfit"-picture from Sunday. You know you are having a slow Sunday when you spend most of the day dressed in your pyjama pants. We focused on decorating the house for Christmas on Sunday. The tree is up now and this week I plan to decorate it, I just have to shop a few more Christmas ornaments first.

On Sunday evening I ordered a white chocolate mocha and then we took a stroll in the neighborhood, admiring the fun and beautiful Christmas lights that people are starting to put up. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

When our dreams, passions & purposes collide

Three years ago, my husband and I took a course at church that can help you figure out your purpose in life. I was a bit nervous about getting the results. What if our missions in life look completely different and don’t collide at all? When my husband and I met and got married we were both “baby Christians”. We believed in God, but we didn’t know him very well. We weren’t exactly living life with God and for God. We had no idea what we were created for. We chose each other simply because we liked each other, not necessarily because our passions and purposes in life were the same.

I’ve heard many couples who got divorced say something like this: “We just realized that we want entirely different things in life, so we couldn’t continue to be married.” It’s always very sad when a couple who has built a life together and had children conclude that they want to separate. Imagine how much pain that could be avoided if each couple found out that they want different things in life prior to getting married and having kids. What often happens when a couple wants different things in life is that one person gives up their own dreams and passions to fit their spouse’s life better. This strategy will only work for awhile, in the beginning when our romantic feelings are strong we don’t mind giving up our dreams for our spouse. Ten years later when we have been married for a long time we will start to resent the fact that we had to give up our own dreams when we got married.

I'm sorry, I can't stay awake any longer. I'm falling asleep.

When my husband and I got our results from the course about finding our purpose I was both relieved and excited. Our passions and purposes in life collide beautifully. We were told that it’s helpful to narrow down our passions in life to 1-2 different people groups that we are passionate about serving for the rest of our lives.

My two people groups were:
1.) Serving Young Women through the Women’s Ministry and Care ministry at Church.
2.) Serving kids in poverty

My husband’s two people groups were:
1.)  Serving Young men/adolescents through mentorship
2.)  Serving people in poverty (the homeless and others)

It was so funny to see the results that we came to on our own. We were clearly made for each other. The thing is, marriage is about so much more than enjoying the love, sex and romance that marriage involves. God created each one of us for a specific purpose, a mission to accomplish in this life. The point of romance isn’t to meet “the one” and then focus on ourselves for the rest of our lives. We were all meant to do something with our lives, to serve other people. The more obvious part of the purpose for each married couple is to have children and raise them up to become healthy and responsible adults one day, but that’s not all. Yes, having children is a huge part of our purpose for most married people, but we are also called to love people outside of our own family. Marriage is all about the mission that God has put on our lives. My husband is someone who God sent to help me accomplish the calling that He put on my life even before I was born. It’s not a coincidence that I have some specific strengths, gifts, skills and life experiences that other people don’t have. It’s all meant to help me accomplish my mission in life, to live out my purpose.

Not all people will be called to marriage in this life, Mother Teresa was single. She didn’t need a husband to accomplish a lot of good during her lifetime on Earth. Paul in the Bible was single, and Jesus was single also. Getting married or having children isn’t the point of this life, the mission is the point. Sadly, we live in a culture that attaches status to being married and having kids. Some people get married and have children because they are passionate about marriage and raising children, others do it to look good in a culture that equates marriage and kids with a successful life.

Teamwork. Serving is so much more fun when we do it together.

Singleness is viewed as being “less than” in our culture, but not in God’s eyes. Mother Teresa and Paul were definitely not “less than” in God’s eyes because they were single, rather the opposite. Paul became one of the apostles and how many different churches are named after Paul all around the world today? You can find “St. Paul’s Cathedral” everywhere around the world. Mother Teresa has been sanctified and is called “Saint Teresa” today. Let’s just say God probably called these two people to singleness for a reason, it was on purpose.

When Katie Davis Majors was 18-years old she moved to Jinja,Uganda to serve the poor. She didn't know if she was ever going to be called to marriage, but she knew for sure that God had called her to serve the poor. Today Katie still lives in Jinja and God sent her a husband who is also passionate about serving the poor. Katie and her husband Benji have a biological son today, plus 13 adopted daughters, most of them teenagers. God sent Katie a husband that fit into her mission in life perfectly and beautifully.

Joanna was in her forties and single when God called her to move to Africa and start an orphanage. Today she is still single and has 50 foster children that she lives with. I assume Joanna probably doesn't feel lonely just because she isn't called to marriage, she has 50 foster kids to love. We don’t need a spouse to be able to accomplish our mission in life but if God calls us to marriage we can be sure that He will match us up with someone who will be the fuel for our dreams, not someone who hinders them from coming true.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Pastor Michan Carter from Together Church in Yakima, Washington preaches a great sermon about relationships in this video. Humans thrive when their relationships are healthy and flourishing. It can sometimes be tempting to isolate ourselves from other people because loving others is really difficult, but we can't escape the fact that we need people in our lives. We can't thrive in this life without healthy and fulfilling relationships to our spouse, our kids, our family members, friends and community.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Point to You

“God loves us with all our bruises and scars. We can come to Him just as we are. In every situation He is our Hope and we will Praise Him"

We Are Messengers

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Womanhood vs Manhood

An amazing eye opener for any woman or man!


With 16 wins and only 3 losses, Mixed Martial Arts Lightweight World Champion Michael Chandler knows how to prepare himself for a battle.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Intentional Parenting includes Having Fun

A happy childhood requires some serious fun that lead to positive memories. How can we make sure we have enough fun as a family in today's fast-paced and busy world? We can decide to schedule fun by prioritizing family vacations and by creating fun family traditions.

Life Right Now

November usually offers the most lovely weather; rain, wind and around +7 degrees Celsius. I felt so cold during the weekend that I decided to put my winter jacket to use. On the other hand, November is the perfect month to stay indoors and try out some new recipes! I bought a couple of new cooking books this Fall and every week I enjoy trying 1-2 new recipes. A book called "Oh She Glows Every Day" by Angela Liddon is filled with yummy vegan recipes. Angela's "Comforting Red Lentil and Chickpea Curry" is my favorite weeknight dinner at the moment!

An event I always look forward to in November is my weekly Date Night with my husband. On Sunday evening we had a nice Date Night at Scaddabush, an Italian restaurant in Toronto. We made some plans for the future together while we were enjoying a glass of red wine and gnocchi gorgonzola.

Decorating is my favorite little hobby in November. During the weekend I was adding some new pictures to our Family Picture Wall in the Dining Room. As I was looking at our wedding picture from Jamaica and the picture of Mom&Dad I felt so grateful for what I have in my life. Growing up I used to dream about finding a man who would treat me with the same love and respect that my Dad has for my Mom. Although I was almost ready to give up on that dream and settle for less at one point in my life, I'm glad I held on to hope. My husband is all I ever dreamt of and more. He is my greatest encourager in life and helps me become a better woman every year. I hope to do the same for him.

Quotes to live by:

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain. But first, coffee."

Let's be honest here, there is no way I will take on "dancing in the rain" before I've had my morning coffee. Good coffee is a must in life!

Our Addiction to Entertainment

We were made for wonder, but we’ve settled for entertainment. God built us to crave true, fulfilling joy. But for many of us, that God-given craving for heart satisfaction has driven us past God Himself, who was meant to be the fulfillment of those desires, toward a drug that dulls the ache of dissatisfaction and disappointment but never truly fulfills us.
I have a new purse that still makes me a little happy when I look at it. It is okay if I spend some money on a purse—and I did spend a bit too much on it. But it’s not necessarily a sin to spend too much on a new purse.
The sin is that I think it is going to satisfy some craving in me, apart from Jesus.
We’ve traded the wonder and satisfaction of a deep relationship with our Creator for Netflix, social media, and a new purse.”

Jennie Allen in her book “Nothing to Prove”.

What if our social media addiction and overconsumption of TV shows is just a symptom of a deeper root cause: the lack of a close relationship with God in our lives? I can not count the amount of times that I have used entertainment to escape my negative feelings. TV shows are my favorite escape. The last thing I want to do when I’m having a bad day or when I’m arguing with my husband is seek God’s counsel. I don’t want to spend time with God when I’m feeling angry or disappointed. It’s always so tempting to just escape for awhile and binge watch TV or spend a few hours on social media.

This is what I’ve learned so far: binge-watching TV feels good for a little while, but sooner or later I will have to face reality again. I often end up feeling even worse when I escape my problems through entertainment, because once I must face reality again I haven’t gained any wisdom. It’s hard to turn to God when I’m angry, sad or disappointed but every time I choose Him over entertainment I end up being grateful that I did. There have been multiple times when I’ve argued with my husband that I’ve gotten exactly the wisdom I needed when I’ve chosen to turn to prayer instead of TV.  

The biggest reason I want to choose TV over prayer when I’ having a bad day is because TV offers amusement but God offers truth. Sometimes I come to God in prayer saying something like this: “God I’m having a bad day, I need your help. Did you see the way my husband was talking to me when we argued? He’s being an idiot!” God’s answer often sounds something like this: “Are you being respectful, kind and loving in your actions right now? No. I’m going to need you to be the first one to say sorry. Don’t worry about your husband. You need to focus on your part in this argument.” Do you see why I’d rather choose to binge-watch TV? The truth stings sometimes. When I choose to escape reality through entertainment I can continue to be stubborn and full of pride. When I seek God’s counsel through prayer it’s impossible to not be humbled.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Intentional Parenting

Parenting is really, really difficult. One reason it's difficult to be a good parent is because parenting requires us to give up our own selfishness. Ouch!

Dough Fields has a lot of experience from working with children and shares some great parenting advice in this video. Episode 3 focuses on why it's important for us to be present and create a peaceful home for our children.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thrill Seeker tries God in search of next high

Nate desperately longed for a family, but after his parents divorced he tried to fill the void with thrill-seeking, partying, and money. But when his life began to unravel, he turned to something he'd sworn would never work.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

If You're Stuck in a Hard, Long Season and Sick of Waiting

A little conversation on walking through deserts in life (and how to keep trusting God through uncertainty, struggle, and setbacks).
If you're disappointed or frustrated with how life has been going, this is for you.

Jasmine's Story

Jasmine was living a happy life as a newlywed and had a clear vision for how she thought her life would turn out. Three years ago a tragedy struck Jasmine's life that would change everything. Life turned out very differently than Jasmine had imagined and after tragedy struck she was lost and longing for a new start in life. Jasmine eventually ended up moving from Denver to Los Angeles and in Zoe Church she found the community she had been longing for. Today Jasmine is happy to serve others through leading the Host Team at Zoe Church LA.

Monday, November 6, 2017

November Joy

Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons of the year. When I grew up we used to spend a lot of time at the cottage with family during Fall which built a love of nature in me. I love going hiking in November. All the bees are dead now and no wasps are chasing me on the hiking trail in November. Going hiking with family is so much fun!

On a rainy November day I like to listen to Kristene DiMarco's new album "Where His Light Was". I love all the songs on this album and Kristene's voice is spectacular!

On windy, rainy and cold November days I enjoy spending time in our warm Family Room. I read magazines and books and light candles with a Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake scent.

During the beginning of November I try to enjoy the last couple of weeks with colorful trees in our neighborhood as much as I can.

November is also a time of year when I appreciate living in the suburbs extra much. When it gets dark and colder outside I love how cosy it is to have your neighbors close by.

1st of November in North America also means that the Christmas season begins! I'm planning to shop most of my Christmas gifts for friends and family during November. I like to sip on a Chestnut Praline Latte while I do my Christmas shopping, to get into the Christmas spirit a bit. Once it's the middle of November I go all out and start decorating the house for Christmas plus listen to Christmas music daily. It's (almost) the most wonderful time of the year! 

A Day of Rest

I’ve been a lazy and uncommitted Christian when it comes to honoring the Sabbath Day. Although I’ve always been a strong believer in prioritizing time for rest and having one “slow day” every week I can’t say I have been honoring the Sabbath Day. My normal way of approaching the Sabbath would be to go to church in the morning and then fill up the rest of the day with a mix of chores and activities with family.

This fall I’ve been doing an 8-week study called Proven by Jennie Allen together with my friends at church. We get homework every week and one week the homework included establishing a Sabbath Day practice. The guidelines were:

·        Lay out some books to read and peruse, along with a journal to jot notes in.
·        Do not use technology.
·        Prepare the food you and/or your family will need ahead of time.
·        Tidy your house to be free of distractions.
·        Prepare the people in your life to join you or to respect this time.
·        Prepare a playlist of music for your home or Sabbath space.
Now, rest and enjoy.”

Jennie Allen, in her wonderful book “Proven”.

The main reason us humans feel like we can’t take a day of rest every week is because we are too busy. We simply don’t have time to rest. The question we all need to ask ourselves is this: Can we afford to not rest? Burn outs are becoming more common among women every year and the same is true for different types of mental health problems. One of my favorite pastors Craig Groeschel once said: “If you are too busy to have sex 2-3 times per week with your spouse you are simply too busy.” I love that quote! We’re acting like we don’t have time to prioritize our marriages, time with family and time for rest but the reality is that these are non-negotiables in a life of flourishing. Having three different hobbies is optional, writing a blog or having an Instagram account is optional, quality time with our loved ones is not optional.

If we are too busy to have sex, spend time with our families and rest then maybe we need to revisit our core values in life. Do we value money and status at work more than family? Do we value time spent on social media more than having sex? Do we value achievements so much that we spend seven days a week achieving stuff rather than allowing ourselves to rest? Everything we do stems from the core values that we have accepted in life and are currently building our lives upon. Rest is important to God, so it is important to me. I’m grateful that God decided to make rest one of the Ten Commandments. God knew how easy it is for us humans to become workaholics and achievement-addicts. It becomes easier to allow myself A Day of Rest when I understand that God commands me to rest.

It requires some planning to establish a Sabbath Day practice. I must plan ahead of time when I can do all the errands that I used to do on Sundays. No more grocery shopping on Sundays. No more housework or cooking on Sundays. There’s no point in beating ourselves up if something doesn’t go according to plan and we end up needing to take a trip to the grocery store on a Sunday after all, but striving for a full day of rest is a good thing.

It’s been a month since we started celebrating a Sabbath Day in our house and we love it! The day usually looks something like this: we wake up and attend church at the 11:15AM service. We come home and make some brunch after church. We go for a hike or a walk along the beach in the afternoon. Another alternative is that we head downtown to hang out with family who lives there. We come home in the evening and warm up dinner that I cooked on either Friday or Saturday. We light candles around the house, put on some relaxing music and just hang out together. Sometimes I read and journal in the late evening before going to bed.

The Shack

Two weeks ago my husband and I had a movie night together and watched "The Shack". The storyline of the movie is about the biggest question we all have about God: "If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? How can God let bad things happen to good people?"

I thought the movie was very good. It's impossible to understand everything about how God and this world works from a 90-minute movie, but some basic principles about how God works are well presented in "The Shack".

I'm a Millionaire

This is my favorite weekend song right now! I am loved by an amazing God whose name is Jesus. I am loved by my amazing family members. I am loved by my wonderful caring friends. I'm a millionaire!

Because love is more precious than gold
It can't be bought, no, never could be sold
I got love, enough to share
And that made me a millionaire

Friday, November 3, 2017

How can I love him back?

The ironic thing about life with God is that as new believers we are passionate about figuring out what the purpose is for our life. We boldly ask God questions like: “What’s my purpose?” and “What’s my calling in life? Please reveal it to me!” What happens when God answers our questions? We freak out. The response often sounds something like this: “Aaaaaah! Nooo, I don’t want to do that! That’s too scary and too big for me to accomplish! Don’t get me wrong God, it’s a beautiful plan, but are you sure you have the right woman for the job? I’m not strong enough for that calling. I don’t have enough courage to accomplish what you are calling me to do!

God’s response to our fears is usually something like this: “I know, and that’s exactly why I chose you. You do not have what it takes, so the only way you are going to be able to accomplish this great task is by letting me do it through you.” God is a great God, and it should come as no surprise that He will call us to great things. Plans so beautiful and big that we get both excited and terrified at the same time when He reveals them to us. We are not the first people in history to have that response to God’s big and beautiful plans for our lives. When God chose Moses to lead the people of Israel Moses was convinced that God had chosen the wrong guy for the job, because Moses had a stuttering problem. But God knew exactly what he was doing, our limitations will not hinder God’s great plans for our lives, but our disobedience can.

The Bible calls us to love God and love other people. We know what we need to do to love other people; prioritize spending time with them and help them out. But how do we love God? It’s simple; we spend time with God through prayer and reading the Bible and we help him out. How can we help God? We help God out when we do what He is calling us to do. There’s something we were created for and when we do what God calls us to do we express our love for Him.

“Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome.” (1 John 5:1-3 MSG)

It’s a joy, not a burden, to get to live this life serving God and follow his purpose for our lives but it’s also scary. Following God will often include the need to face some fears. If I’m only willing to obey God when I’m not afraid, then I won’t do much good in this life will I? There are a couple of different journeys that God is clearly calling me on during this season of my life and I haven’t started neither of them yet. Why? Because I’m terrified! Obeying God would require me to face a couple of my biggest fears. It’s tempting to listen more to my fear than I do to God. But what does that say about my love for God? If I know what God wants me to do during this season of life but I choose to disobey him because I’m afraid, then I don’t love Him very much do I? I’m not surprised that God is calling me on these two different journeys this year. Fear has too much power over my life and God clearly wants to change that. My problem is that I’m too content with life the way it is right now. I’d rather stay stuck and be comfortable than get up and face my biggest fears.

God loves me so much. He has given me so many beautiful gifts in this life since the day I was born. God gave me a loving and warm mother, a loving and protective father, a loving and kind brother and many wonderful friends growing up. God gave me a healthy body with arms and legs that work. I can walk, talk, sing and dance, my body is a beautiful gift from God. I was also gifted with the great honor, responsibility and blessing of being born in a country where I never had to worry about having enough food, clothing or a roof over my head growing up. God has given me so many beautiful gifts throughout my childhood and he continues to bless me every year in powerful and beautiful ways. How can I not love Him back?

I can choose to follow my fear, or I can choose to face my fears and obey God’s call on my life. It’s time to make that jump. I want to love God back! No more excuses. I know God will give me the courage I need for each step of the journey after I take that first step of obedience, so here we go! Step 1, check!

to be continued...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Set Free

“We strive to be seen, to be known, to matter. We’re desperate to believe we are doing a good job at whatever has been entrusted to us. But we are not enough. We are not God. We don’t have all the answers, all the wisdom, all the strength, all the energy. We are finite, sinful beings. And that is okay.
In fact, it is the confession that unleashes the freedom we are aching for.”

Jennie Allen, in her book “Nothing to Prove”

We all long to live our lives free but we walk through life weighed down by burdens. These burdens can be shame, fears, pressures and different types of difficulties. Here’s an example of what our thoughts can look like when we carry around burdens:

“I’m not worthy.
I’m a fraud.
I can’t measure up.
I’m too weak.
I can’t do this.
I don’t know what I should do.
I feel helpless.
I’m going to fail.
People will get mad.
I won’t be liked.”

Fear, pressure, shame, we carry them around year after year and they drain us of energy and steal our joy and peace. We worry that we aren’t enough and here’s the scary and beautiful truth: It’s true, we are not enough, but God is. We don’t get very far when we try different strategies to help ourselves get better self-esteem or more confidence, because deep on the inside we know that we are not enough. Our failures and inadequacies don’t come as a surprise to God. God could have chosen to make us perfect but instead he made us human. Why? Because we were created to function not on our own, but in a relationship with God. We were never meant to live this life alone so when we insist on leaving God out of the picture we end up burdened down by fears, pressures, shame and difficulties that overwhelm us.

There will be no freedom for us until we are willing to say this out loud to God: “I am not enough.” Freedom is only possible after we have named and confessed our failures, fears, pressures and our shame to God. God’s forgiveness becomes available to us immediately once we confess our failures, but until we do that they won’t go away, they will continue to weigh us down. God wants to set us free from the need to measure up, free from all our burdens and free from the pain of never being enough. It starts with our confession. Once we name and confess our burdens we receive God’s beautiful grace.

When we come to God and let him give us His forgiveness, grace and love we become free, empowered and filled with his joy and peace. We can now finally see ourselves the way God sees us, and it makes us completely free. God’s love takes away all our pressures and the need for striving. When we come to God with our failures we receive His forgiveness and the freedom that follows. When we come to God with our fear we receive the courage we need. When we come to God with our difficulties in life we receive the strength we need for each battle. It’s always an exchange, a relationship between us and God.

The fact that every single one of us carry around a feeling of not being enough isn’t a sign that we’re worthless, it’s a sign that we need God. But the pride inside our hearts keep pushing God away. We don’t want to need God. Here’s another truth: every single one of us knows that God is real, we know this deep inside our souls. But we don’t want God, we suppress the knowledge of God. We push God out of our hearts and out of our minds. 

Each one of us wants to be “the God of our own lives” and we understand that if we were to acknowledge God it would change everything about how we live our lives. We don’t want that. We want the throne, so we keep pushing God off the throne, but that doesn’t change the fact that God is still God. I can choose to deny God, but I can’t make God go away. But once you have tasted and felt His love you never want to live separated from Him again. There’s nothing else on Earth like God’s love, nothing else even comes close to being as amazing. God’s love is what sets my soul free.