Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Healing and a Second Chance





Typical. In his own words Shane Kampe was "typical" of many other kids that grew up in the suburbs. But typical wasn't enough, he wanted something "better" than a clean-cut lifestyle. Drugs, alcohol, women. All three drew Shane's attention and he more than complied. He chased them to excess.

10 years ago Shane had an appointment with destiny. His life hung in the balance, yet he was powerless to do anything about it. It was an impossible situation that only a miracle could resolve. 


I Have This Hope





I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go

So, whatever happens I will not be afraid
Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I'll see Your face



Monday, June 26, 2017

32



On Sunday I celebrated my 32nd birthday with a very tasty strawberry shortcake. I can't believe it's already ten years since I came to North America for the first time! Time does not stand still.


This stranger woke me up early in the morning on Sunday.


I was served breakfast in bed, which in my world means a BIG cup of coffee. I don't have much appetite early in the morning.



Later we went to Milestone's for a Birthday Brunch. I had a Mimosa and their Prime Rib Eggs Benny, probably the best Eggs benedict I have ever had! The weather was also perfect on my birthday, in other words it was +19 Celsius and pouring rain most of the day. Summer, where did you go?? Please come back before July when my family comes to visit us in Toronto!


Saturyay!










On Saturday it was warm and sunny in Toronto so we decided to take a drive to Cobourg, ON. I went for a swim for the first time this summer. Was the water warm an enjoyable? Absolutely not. The water was ice cold, but it was still a lot of fun to go swimming. We stayed in Cobourg until sunset and enjoyed hanging out by the marina.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Singleness, Self-worth and Purpose





Sarah from the youtube channel "Sarah Destiny" gets real and honest about being single, finding yourself and knowing your own worth. Sarah reveals that it was in her season of singleness that something major happened that changed her life. If you are single right now this video will help you find beauty in your season of singleness and help you appreciate who you are.


He is Lord





Again the wind is raging
But I will not be shaken
For I know, who's in control
The greater One within me
Is more than what's against me
He's in control, for I know
He'll see me through like before
He is Lord, He is Lord
I'm not afraid anymore
He is Lord, He is Lord


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Are You Sabotaging Your Relationships?





I love Ashley's videos about relationships on her youtube channel "Ashley Empowers". In this video Ashley talks about how we can easily end up sabotaging a new relationship if we haven't healed from past hurts. When we carry around unforgiveness and open wounds from the past we give these things the power to affect our new relationships negatively.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

From Spring to Summer




Tomorrow is the first official day of Summer in North America! I feel like Spring 2017 went by crazy fast, but I don't mind at all. I'm allergic to pollen so Spring isn't exactly my favorite season of the year. This year we also had an unusually rainy spring in Toronto with very high water levels in Lake Ontario. The black flies love the damp weather and this spring they put a stop to my biking workouts. When I happily went for my first biking workout in May I ended up getting these mini flies in my nose, eyes, mouth, everywhere. I decided that biking will have to wait until Spring is over and until all these tiny but annoying flies DIE! Thank God they only live for a short time during spring!




I took this picture on a beautiful spring day when I was so happy to be able to wear my spring jacket for the first time.




This was the year when I got excited about landscaping. I got a lot of inspiration during my morning walks this Spring, as I looked at my neighbors' beautiful front yards. I love the pink tulips in this front yard! Next year I want to plant tons of tulips in our yard. This is life after 30, the things that excite me today are quite different than ten years ago. Let's just say that gardening was not an interest of mine in my twenties.




Signs of Spring. When you can enjoy a good book and an iced latte without freezing to death.




Now Spring is over and Summer has arrived, I enjoy that everything in the suburbs is so green this time of year.




One of our favorite things that my husband and I like to do together is take walks along the lakefront just before sunset and catch up on each other's day.




We enjoy the beautiful sunset for awhile and then we go home and go straight to bed. The sun goes down around 9:30PM this time of year in Toronto.




Signs of Summer. I had my first glass of Sangria on our Date Night with my husband two weeks ago, it's officially summer!



How to build a strong and healthy marriage





Craig and Amy Groeschel celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary this year. I'm not surprised that Craig&Amy have a strong, healthy and passionate marriage because they are clearly practicing what they preach about marriage. Love works, if we just commit to live it out. Pastor Craig Groeschel gives some great advice in this sermon on how we can pursue each other in marriage to make sure we stay in love. If you are single this sermon will give you the tools you need to know what a healthy relationship looks like. If you are married this sermon will give you tools to strengthen your marriage.


Craig talks about how when couples feel like they have "fallen out of love" somewhere along the way they stopped pursuing each other. We naturally pursue what we don't have, so we can't wait for a natural urge to do the right thing. If we want to keep our marriage healthy and strong we will need to get intentional about pursuing our spouse. There is no other area in life where we can be lazy and still see improvement. We can't be lazy at work and expect to do well in our careers. Why do we think we can be lazy in our marriages and still have a great marriage? I like this quote by Craig Groeschel: "In your marriage, if the grass looks greener somewhere else, it's time to water your own yard." How can we make sure we continue to pursue each other in marriage? Here's a few guidelines to live by:


1. When you think something good, SAY it.

The Bible calls us to encourage one another daily (Hebrews 3:13). Men and women respond well to different types of encouraging words. Men long for words of affirmation. Us women can gain a lot from restraining ourselves from pointing finger at our husbands faults and weaknesses. When we keep encouraging him with words of affirmation he will be motivated to grow. Pointing finger at his weaknesses won't motivate him to keep growing. Every husband wants to know: Do you believe in in me today?


2. When you think something special, DO it.

"If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them" (James 4:17). Anytime you know something good that you should do to be a blessing, do it. Be creative: fill up the car with gas, write a love note, surprise your spouse by arranging a night at a hotel while the kids are with a babysitter etc. Anything that you know will be a blessing to your spouse.


3. When you want something different, BE it.

Don't complain about what your spouse is not, focus on who God wants you to become. We will never criticize ourselves into a better marriage. Do you want something different? You become something different. You can't change anyone else than yourself. When you change for the better your new behavior will influence and motivate your spouse to change too.

If you don't like what you're getting, look at what you're giving. Instead of complaining about what you are not getting ask yourself: "What can I give to add value to our marriage?" I like this quote from Craig Groeschel: "To get what you've never had, you must do what you've never done." If your marriage was special in the beginning, it can be special again. You know what to do, you did it before. Commit to always pursue your spouse and you will have the wonderful marriage that God wants you to have.


Friday, June 16, 2017

When Women Fear Other Women





Today more than ever, it's very easy to get stuck in "the comparison game". We can't escape the fact than when we interact with people from all over the world (on social media for example) we are going to have very different world views and opinions. It's impossible to live in a way that everyone in the world will approve of, even if we tried we can't please people. What we can do instead is stop living for the approval of others.

We can choose to encourage and lift each other up and resist the urge to judge others. We can also choose to learn something new from each other's differences, instead of becoming angry or mean when someone has an entirely different opinion than we do. We can learn something from every single person we interact with in this world.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Living a Life of Meaning and Connection





Twelve years ago I was 20-years old and realized that I had no idea what life was about, and neither did anyone around me. It seemed like everyone were busy living their lives in the way they felt obligated to live. I was studying towards a Master's degree in Education, having my own appartment, dating many different guys while I was looking for Mr. Right etc. I was doing all the normal stuff, all the things my own culture was telling me was the right way to live.


At 25-years old I had just graduated from university and moved abroad. It was a very exciting time in life and at the same time a confusing time. Living abroad opens up your perspective on life. I soon realized that many of the goals I was pursuing in life were goals my own culture had taught me to pursue. It was exciting to be exposed to many different cultures in Toronto which meant many different ways to live. The only problem with more options in life is that it makes everything even more confusing. "Who am I and what do I really want to focus on in life?" Questions like these we all ask ourselves during our twenties.


I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. On the other hand, I knew how I didn't want to live. I didn't want to get married one day and have my marriage fall apart like 50% of all marriages do today. I didn't want to jump on the wheel of normal big city life and become too busy and overbooked. I wanted to have enough time in my life to spend with my future husband, kids, friends and other family members. I knew I wanted to build a meaningful, healthy and balanced life for myself, but I had no idea what that could look like. It turned out I wasn't the only one in our society who was confused about how to create a life that leads to flourishing.


This year I'm turning 32-years old and I'm happier than I have ever been before in my life. I feel much more content and free today than I did a decade ago. My life is far from perfect and not all of my dreams have come true yet, but I still have a peace and joy in my life now that I longed for ten years ago. I'm no longer confused about my own identity and I know what my purpose is. I'm excited to spend the next 50 years or so living out my purpose. Every year I'm learning new things about myself, about other people and about God. I try new things, I succeed, fail and grow. The journey will continue through all the days of my life.


Another woman who has been on her own journey toward peace, purpose and balance in life is Shauna Niequist. Shauna's new book "Present Over Perfect" is one of the best books I've read this year! Here's a couple of quotes from Shauna's journey in the book Present Over Perfect:

"There we were, women in our thirties. Educated, married, mothers, women who have careers, who manage homes and oversee companies. And there we were, utterly resigned to lives that feel overly busy and pressurized, disconnected and exhausted.
But that's shifting the blame, right? Who's the boss, if not us? Who's forcing us to live this way? Or, possibly, do we not want to face the answer to that question, preferring to believe we can't possibly be held responsible for what we've done?"

"Some of being an adult, though, is about protecting and preserving what we discover to be the best parts of ourselves, and here's a hint: they're almost always the parts we've struggled against for years."

"I'm committed to a particular, limited amount of things in this season, and if what's being asked of me isn't one of those, then it stands in the way. That's why knowing your purpose and priorities for a given season is so valuable-because those commitments become the litmus test for all the decisions you face."



When you feel like you don't measure up





On Sunday morning I went to church online at Elevation Church. You can find the online campus here: http://live.elevationchurch.online/
I love that with today's technology I can go to church no matter where I'm at, even when I'm having a sick day at home in my pyjamas. A few years ago I was living in a city that didn't have a church that I could join, during that time I was still able to attend church thanks to church online.

Ten years ago online churches only had podcasts and videos of their sermons. Today many churches Live broadcast their services with the message, the music, the pre show and after show. Elevation church's online church also offers the opportunity to volunteer online and to sign up to an online Life Group called "e groups". Not everyone lives at a driving distance from a church but with church online it becomes easy to attend church anywhere in the world.

Pastor Dustin Stradley preached a very encouraging message on Sunday about the struggle to feel good enough in a world that often makes it hard for us to measure up. Dustin gets really personal and vulnerable in the message as he shares about his own struggles and insecurities. He challenges us to learn a new and better way to develop confidence so that we can stop the comparison game for good.


Where is the Value of a Woman?

Monday, June 12, 2017

I'll Find You






Just fight a little longer my friend
It's all worth it in the end.




Friday, June 9, 2017

Be Who You Already Are





Rebekah Lyons newest book is called "You Are Free-Be who you already are". Rebekah's book is calling women to become who they've already been designed to be. She talks about the struggles women face as they seek to live a life of meaning today. Rebekah also gets vulnerable and honest about her own battle to overcome anxiety, depression and consumer impulses. She challenges women to discover and boldly pursue the specific purpose God has for them in life.

When we let go of trying to be someone else and quit the striving, the perfectionism and the chasing after approval from other people, we find freedom. When we stop trying to please everyone and focus on only pleasing God. Complete freedom awaits us in this place, it's a place of vitality. A place where we feel full of life, full of spirit, full of passion.


What's up with the attitude?


Yesterday I was reading in the book of Job and it reminded me of how self-destructive my bad attitude can be. Every time I see someone with a bad attitude on reality TV, on the news or in a restaurant I don't like what I see. A bad attitude is ugly, rude and ungrateful. When I work with kids I don't respond well to a bad attitude, so why do I think God is okay with my bad attitude? It's easy to make up excuses and pretend like it's okay to have an attitude because I have a bad day, because I'm stressed or because someone offended me. Still, I'm aware that my own attitude is my own responsibility. When kids are rude to their parents everyone suffers. The parents get tired and irritated and the kids will loose some privileges for that day as a result of their actions. I'm thinking that it's a bit the same with us and God. I know God loves me and wants to bless my life but he can't respond with blessing when my attitude is negative, ungrateful and discontent. I am in control of my own thoughts and the words I choose to let out of my mouth. My words can either be words of complaint or words that praise God.


Job is a man in the Bible who had all the reasons to complain about his life. Job was suffering and facing tremendous pain and darkness in his life, but instead of crying out to God for help in humility he chose to complain and accuse God. Job's friends tried to give him some advice but none of them spoke wisdom into Job's life. In the end a man much younger than Job was courageous enough to speak up and he spoke wisdom and truth into Job's life. The young man's name was Elihu. Elihu wasn't afraid to point out that instead of praising God and choosing to revere him Job was complaining, being self-righteous, focusing on his own glory and what other people thought of him. Job was also showing that he didn't trust God and even took it as far as to accuse God of being wrong and unjust. My conclusion from reading through chapters 29-42 in the book of Job is that God takes a bad attitude very seriously. Here's a few of the words that the young man Elihu spoke to Job:


"Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.
He repays everyone for what they have done;
he brings on them what their conduct deserves."
Job 34:10-11

"Is he not the One who says to kings, 'You are worthless,'
and to nobles, 'You are wicked,' who shows no partiality
to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?"
Job 34:18-19

"God is mighty, but despises no one;
he is mighty, and firm in his purpose."
Job 36:5

"But if people are bound in chains,
held fast by cords of affliction,
he tells them what they have done-
that they have sinned arrogantly.
He makes them listen to correction
and commands them to repent of 
their evil.
If they obey and serve him,
they will spend the rest of their days
in prosperity
and their years in contentment."
Job 36:8-11

"The Almighty is beyond our reach and
exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness,
he does not oppress.
Therefore, people revere him,
for does he not have regard for all the
wise in heart?"
Job 37:23-24


The book of Job ends with God speaking to Job out of the storm. Job listens and repents from his sins, he realizes that he has been self-righteous, complaining and falsely accusing God. After Job prays for his friends God restores his fortunes and gives him twice as much as he had before. God then blesses the later part of Job's life even more than he blessed the earlier part of his life. Reading the book of Job reminds me to be intentional about checking my own attitude every week. It's so easy for me to slip into a bad attitude when I'm tired, stressed or having a bad day. It helps when I remember that God is always present, he sees everything I do and my life can either be honoring to God or dishonoring to God. Adjusting my attitude is my responsibility. I don't respond well when other people are ungrateful, complain and accuse me, neither will God respond well to me treating him that way. Every new day I have the power to choose to express gratitude, joy and praise to God, instead of spewing out complaints and negativity.


It's astonishing what a huge difference a change of attitude can make in my life. I had a moment two weeks ago when I received some bad news, instead of complaining about it I decided to thank God for how great he is. I prayed for God to intervene in my circumstances and decided to restrain myself from spiraling down the path of negativity and worry. A few days later I received some great news and was happy to see that my new approach had made a difference. God watches every move I make, who am I to complain when everything good in my life comes from him? He is my provider of all good things and I will choose to praise him always!



Thursday, June 8, 2017

He's a chain breaker




We’ve all searched for the light of day in the dead of night
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right
And there’s a better life
There’s a better life

If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker


Monday, June 5, 2017

The Gift of Great Service


We are all gifted in different areas. No matter what your gift is I encourage you to put it to use, it will change lives. No human is more important than another, together we change the world. God calls each one of us to be servants, to serve others in love just as Jesus did. It's a great gift to others to serve them with excellence. Putting your gifts to use is practicing generosity.


On Saturday morning I woke up with pain in my neck. I have been sleeping on the same pillow for the last five years and on Saturday my neck was letting me know that I needed to buy a new pillow NOW! I was annoyed that I had to squeeze in a visit to Sleep Country on my Saturday morning since I had a birthday party to organize. Once I arrived at the store my mood completely changed, I was met by an older man who served me with excellence and gave me all the advice I needed to pick the perfect new pillow for my aching neck. We laughed and joked and afterwards I returned home with a new luxurious pillow and a feeling of gratitude for the great service I had received. This morning I didn't really want to get out of bed because my new pillow is super comfortable and sleeping on it feels like a taste of heaven to me. My point is this: whatever you do, do it with excellence! No matter what your gifting is and no matter what job you have, decide to serve people with excellence.



When we commit to giving our best to other people we change people's lives. We love our neighbor when we commit to serving others with excellence, no matter if our client is wealthy or poor. Every time the barista serves me an excellent latte at the coffee shop he/she makes my day. Every time the nurse at the hospital gives me excellent care she makes a huge difference to my week. Every time a stranger gives me a compliment in the street it puts a smile on my face and reminds me of how kind and awesome Canadians are.



Words can not describe how big the difference is between when somebody treats you as an object versus giving you their best effort. I've had doctor's visits that have made me cry because the doctor clearly didn't care about my situation and only saw me as a case number. I've had other doctor's visits that have helped me tremendously, not only because I was given great medical advice but also because I was treated like a human-being, not as an object or case. Whatever you do, do it with excellence and you will change many people's lives in the process. As you change people's lives you also change the world in a positive direction at the same time.





Drugs, Prison & Second Chances





Michael Carroll talks about how from a young age he was carrying around a lot of guilt and shame in life. The trauma that he and his sister went through as children caused Michael to become a very angry young man. He started smoking weed as a teenager and was looking for different ways to numb the pain in his life. At age 16 he became very rebellious, moved away from home and started selling drugs with his friends. Michael eventually got sent to prison which became a turning point in his life, in prison he surrendered his life completely to the Lord and started reading a Bible and getting to know God. Today Michael is serving in ministry and is passionate about sharing a message of hope and deliverance to other people who come from different broken situations.


Friday, June 2, 2017

FEARLESS







"GOD met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears." 

Psalm 34:4 (MSG)




Nothing to Prove





The level of happiness has gone down among women over the last few decades. We are stressed, tired, and struggle to feel good enough. We carry many different roles in life; daughter, sister, wife, mom, business owner, leader etc. Today, maybe more than ever, the expectations on women are heavy. Social media can add even more pressure and expectations to live up to. We have grown up in a society that teaches us that to be somebody you have to "make something out of yourself". We learn early on that we have to prove our own worth if we want to receive praise from others.


God has a completely different view of us, He tells us we are of great worth because we were made by Him. An expensive piece of art is valuable because of how famous the artist is, our maker is the most famous artist in the whole universe. We are all His masterpieces. When we understand who we are in Christ we can stop trying to prove our worth. We finally understand how precious we are to God, not because of what we do but because of who we are. It's freeing to see yourself from God's perspective. We are all important to him, we don't need titles or social status to be loved by God. God loves the woman in prison equally much as he loves the successful business woman. Our performance is not what gives us our worth as a human-being, although that is exactly what our society tells us every day.


If we try to control everything in life and strive for perfection we will end up exhausted. We are not able to live perfect lives, even if we tried. Our failures and shortcomings are a constant reminder of our need for God. We are not perfect but God is. God is the one who will fill in the blanks in our lives when we underperform or fail. If we live like we are God we will constantly be exhausted, anxious and overwhelmed. If you let God be God you are free to be you.


I am not enough. I make mistakes all the time. I fail and underperform, but then I get back up and try again. I refuse to let my failures define me because I know God has grace available for each one of my mistakes. His forgiveness and grace for me is new every day. I'm free to live a passionate life serving him without any fear of failure. When I fail God is fully able to use even my biggest mistake towards making something beautiful in the end. I'm not the one who will change the world, God is. I'm just a tool in the hands of the King of the universe. All I need to do is focus on doing my small part and watch God do the big part.