The Plans He Has

The view from on top of the grain-dryer

Last night I sat up on the grain-dryer and had a good think.

It’s the first time in the past two months that I actually wanted to get alone to think… But as I looked out at the golden light, and meditated on the thought provoking ideas in the book I was reading, the idea of climbing the grain-dryer and getting alone with God and the beauty of the evening kept calling to me. So I went.

You see, I’ve spent the past two months looking in the rearview mirror, and expecting to be able to drive forward.

Yesterday, I realized that I can’t do that.

But more then that… I realized how beautiful it is, when I look forward and focus on the light streaming across the future that God has for me.

Up on that grain-dryer I let myself dream again.

I let myself actually think about where I could be a year from now, and what I could have accomplished by then.

You know what?

My friend was right when she told me that I need to focus on the purpose instead of the pain.

That focus changes everything.

It makes this path possible.

God has plans for me. Plans of a future and of hope. Plans that He wants me to press into… instead of always looking back on what was, and what could have been.

I’m going to keep on looking ahead. Looking into the light. Letting it flood my soul.

God is good.

He’s good in the painful moments, and He’s good in the golden glow of the evening.

I can’t wait to press farther into Him!

I know this is the fifth post in five days…  I feel kinda funny about that. But there should be a good long break after this. Unless I find time to post tomorrow after we get back from boating… because next week I’m starting a new job, and life’s gonna look a little different for a while.

I’m kinda excited to find out what God has in store!

“We’re Here for You”

Last night, I was terrified to go to bed.

I’d done everything I could. I’d taken a hot shower. I’d told myself again and again that I needed to just go to bed and make myself get over this.

I couldn’t.

The panic was too much.

I hated to knock on my friend’s door.

We’re close. Very close. She’s one of the closest friends I have. But we’ve not really dived into this stuff before. At least…. she’s never seen me in panic mode yet….

She’s a good friend. A true friend. A caring friend.

She might not have all the answers. She might freely admit that she really can’t understand what I’m going through.

But she wrapped her strong arms tightly around me and just held on.

She told me “We’re here for you.”

She told me that it’s okay.

That I don’t have to say sorry.

That I don’t have to be strong.

I hate getting to that point. I hate letting someone see the raw, jagged, broken side.

But I love what happens to a friendship after a night like last night.

It cements it.

Forever.

I’m still scared. Even after a really good night. Even though I know each day is a step toward healing. There is a whole log of fear, and pain, and brokenness that is still trapped in my soul.

I also know there’s gonna be a whole lot more nights like last night before I get there.

But there’s people too.

People to wrap their strong, capable arms around me, who hold on tight, and whisper that they’re there for me. No matter how messy it gets.

Of Fact and Fiction

Yesterday, I was bitten by a snake.

I was also bitten by a grisly bear, and a pig. Oh, and the pig was a mama piggy, with a whole train of hungry little piglets.

Of course, the worst bite (the grisly) was only a slightly painful pinch from a pair of small fingers attached to a very imaginative little brain.

The experience was as amusing as I made it seem horrific, to the enjoyment of my five-year-old back seat companion.

It was one of those fun evenings of errand running that delights the hearts of a truck-full of girls between sixteen and twenty-one. (Oh, and there was the five-year-old, too!)

No, I didn’t go shopping last evening, after my day-full of second-hand stores. We were picking up tables, and dropping off wedding invites, and putting stuff away at school, and having a lot of fun.

Driving down the road with a bunch of friends, listening to CityAlight and all singing along. Drinking in the orange tints of the sunset. Making memories. It was a good evening.

Today I got my first taste of the berry patch that I’ve been hearing about for the past two years. It’s hot, and its backbreaking. But it’s fun. It’s just plain good to be together.

After lunch thr five-year-old gave me a bouquet of flowers. When I asked where I should put them she suggested that they go beside my bed. So they’re perched on the window sill at this moment. When bedtime hits, I’m going to remind myself of the messagd of love and hope bundled into those flowers.

This afternoon my imaginative little friend has stuck fairly close. Commenting and questioning about most of my actions. Turning my head into the nesting roost of the wooden owl that her sister brought her home from the mission field.

It’s been fun.

Good to be sitting with friends all working on different projects, all rejoicing in each projects success.

There’s still an ache down in my heart. It’s an ache that comes back and settles like a lump whenever the happy chaos of life dies down again.

Across the room sits the friend who four months ago I planned with to spend this upcoming weekend together, even if our church camping would be cancelled… I don’t think either of us quite thought it would look like this.

I think of the vivacious little one busily employed in the other half of the house with a project I found for her… sometimes I wish I could be back at that innocent age of paper-cut sized troubles, and kissable bruises.

And yet… I know that some day, she too will have to face a world full of pain. Whether it’s her own hurts, or those of someone she loves… she’ll have to go through the fire and through the flood. We all do.

I pray that she’ll come through the fight as strong and battle-strengthened as the incredible family around her.

And I pray that I’ll find that place too.

I know the footsteps that I want to follow. I know the chain of life-giving hope that I want to join.

And I know that today’s pain is the path that will lead me there.

The hurts that eat away at me, might not be the fictitious bites of snakes, and bears, and a whole host of little piggies.

They might go a whole lot deeper than that, and they might be a whole lot harder to resolve then the housing troubles of a wooden owl.

But I’m reminded at every turn around me of the God who heals.

He’s real. He has wrought miracles before. He will lead me through!

That is a fact, that is more marvelous then any fiction.

Gone to the Lake

Just after 7:30 this morning we pulled from the laneway. A car packed full of ambitious and unambitious second-hand shoppers.

Nine and a half hours later…

Well, let’s just say it was a long day.

It was a highly profitable day too.

I crossed a significant portion of things off of the list my friend gave me of things that I need to buy this summer.

And I found fabric!!!!!

Now, if you do NOT sew your own dresses, I don’t blame you for thinking that there were too many exclamation marks in the above sentence.

However, since I DO sew almost all of my clothes, buying fabric for three of my dresses, and a matching one for the thirteen-year-old, for what normally would be a good price for one dress… well, it makes me very happy!

It was a long day, and I’m definitely tired, but it was totally worth it!

You are probably wondering how going shopping, constitutes going to the lake.

It doesn’t.

But I found something while I was shopping that I prize almost as much as those pieces of fabric. Maybe, it it’s own way, I prize it more…

It’s a little plaque. Plain. Almost austere.

“Gone to the Lake”

The lake, is a very special place to me.

It’s a place full of healing and hope.

A place where I meet Jesus.

A place where Jesus has taken my loads from off of my shoulders.

I’m sitting in a friend’s livingroom as I write this.

Forty minutes ago I was blinking away tears after having said goodbye to someone who means a lot to me. Someone who I’m not going to see for almost a month.

Twenty minutes ago, I was smiling as I cradled an invite to the wedding of one of my closest friends.

There are so many ups and downs. So many tear drops, and so many smiles.

So many moments when life seems to quiver under my feet.

So many moments that just feel so precious, priceless, and wonderful.

In the ups and downs I can feel kinda lost.

Unsure where I belong, and what my life even is…

Those are the moments when I go to the lake.

The moments when I long for Jesus… and as I search for Him, He meets me there.

Amid the Raindrops

It feels like something has broken deep in my soul.

Something vital. Something delicate. Something of intricate and precious design… of incredible value.

Sometimes, it feels like its something irreplaceable.

Today, I’m tired. Today, the weight of the world feels like its pressing down on my shoulders. Today, life looks impossible.

I know that it IS possible.

I know this journey will someday be the past, not the present.

I know that someday, I’ll look back and thank God for the days, that just now can feel so long…

But for today, I’m done trying. Done pretending. Done being who I can’t be.

Today, I’m the broken, struggling, shattered life that I tried so long and so hard to hide.

And that’s okay.

Because in the midst of the downpour, God is still good.
In the middle of the rain drops, the sun is still shining.

In the middle of the nightmares… there is a song!

And THAT, is beautiful!

If I Could Say “Thank You”—Two Years of Memories

Recently a quote came into my inbox that fit so well into my thoughts for this post, that I had to include it. It went like this:

Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest.

It’s about who walked into your life, and said, “I’m here for you” and proved it.

Two years ago, a friend started to prove it….


Two years ago today, I guess you could say I met you. Although I can’t remember whether I introduced myself that day, or whether we just stood there and half talked as a group.

I still remember watching you file out of one of the rows of chairs near the back of the church with your sisters, and sit almost across from me during Sunday school.

I still remember what I was wearing that day… and I still remember what you were wearing. But maybe your directory photo helped with that one….

That day, I was in a bad mood. I’ll freely admit that.

I hope I can blame my hasty conclusions about you, purely on my bad temper.

Today, I can’t believe that we’ve only been friends for two years.

And I wish that I could say “thank you”… even though, I know I can’t. Friendship is something that you never really can truly say thank you for.

But I’m going to try…

Thank you for that first conversation at the campfire. For all the singing advice you gave that night, that I’ve never forgotten.

Thank you for that fun week at music camp. For all the giggling, and the memories, and the hugs. For that conversation at supper… you know the one I mean…

Thank you for the encouragement to follow God. For helping me break down my thoughts, and face my fears.

Thank you for that Sunday when we got honest. For the things you let me say… for the things you said… for that hug that felt like you’d hold on and never let anyone hurt me. For checking in the next day to make sure that I wasn’t overwhelmed by our conversation. For emailing me even when it was your birthday, to check in on where I was at.

Thank you for loving me in my pain. For showing me what unconditional love is.

Thank you for putting in the effort that a long distance relationship needs to keep going. For writing those long emails, sending all those pictures, and having those long phone calls.

Thank you for the many good conversations, long hugs, and words of wisdom that you have poured into my life.

Thank you for listening to my tears, texting me almost every night before bed when I couldn’t stand alone, and just being there for me in so many ways.

Thank you for being the safe, listening ear that I needed when I was at my most vulnerable. For letting me hold on when I was terrified. For talking me through what I couldn’t have faced alone. For showing me that no matter what… God was trustworthy, and will always be faithful.

These past two years you have done more for me then I can ever list.

I owe so much to you… and I thank God for you again and again.

You have blessed me so much girl, and I couldn’t imagine life without you. I’m glad that I don’t need to.

“Thank you” really doesn’t begin to touch it…

But I’ll try to say it anyway… because my life would never have been what it is, if I hadn’t sat across from you in Sunday School, criticizing the “new girl” with all the stubborn prejudice in my silly heart. Thanks for forcing me to redefine what I thought of you, just by being a true friend….

Hugs girl!!

Falling in Love with Jesus

I’m the girl who was scared to let Jesus get too close.

The girl who was afraid to ask Jesus to hold me, because that didn’t feel safe.

The girl who was terrified to invite Jesus into the pain in my heart and life.

Now, I’m falling in love with Jesus.

A dear couple who mean the world to me, gave me a new Bible as an early birthday present. They ordered it, and shipped it to me, and I was so very excited a few days ago when it arrived.

It’s a beautiful journaling Bible. With illustrations that practically beg you to colour them in.

I can’t explain all of the story. It’s too close to my heart…. To close to the things that mean more to me then I can ever express…. But as I turn those pages, and get drawn from the text in an illustration, to then diving into what the surrounding verses say, my Saviour is winning my heart.

He is becoming real and alive to me.

The One who walks beside me on the sea shore.

The One who I long to trust.

I still have moments when the thought of letting Jesus get close scares me.

Asking Jesus to hold me will still sometimes give me momentarily panick.

The thought of inviting Jesus into my pain still makes my chest tighten… even though, more and more, it has become the cry of my heart. Even though now, I have done it again and again.

I’m still learning to trust Him. But I love Him. And what I’m learning as I read… is that He loves me too!

That it’s really true! Here is a verse the jumped out at me tonight:

I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

Jeremiah 31:3b

Just imagine that kind of love pursuing you!

Maybe your trust in God has never been shaky. Maybe you trust people easily, and can just transfer that trust over to God. Maybe, like me, your trust in people has been shattered and left you terrified to trust. Wherever you may be at… falling in love with Jesus is the very best thing that I could wish for you.

It’s worth it.

Above the Clouds

Saying goodbye is one of the toughest things to do.

“Remember, you’re coming back.”

I’ve been consciously and subconsciously repeating that ever since my dear friend told me that, and looked deep into my teary eyes.

It doesn’t totally remove the sting though.

I spent the first five minutes on the plane crying behind a slightly damp mask. I’m thankful for the chatty passenger in my row who took over when we were told to put our phones on airplane mode… I guess she understood that texting and crying needed to be replaced with something. (I know you’re not gonna read this… but I wish I could tell you “thank you”, whoever you are.)

Well, the plane took off.

And I’ll admit that I tearily told the province fast disappearing beneath me, that I’d be coming back.

Really, I was telling that to myself.

The past two weeks have meant more to me then I can ever express.

They’ve been weeks filled with so much raw honesty… so much acknowledged pain… so many new experiences… so much good advice… and a friendship that has gotten even deeper then it was before.

Leaving has felt like more then just saying goodbye to the couple who I trust so much.

I can’t and don’t want to try to describe it.

As I stared down at the Alberta countryside fast diminishing below me, we entered a misty layer of cloud.

I felt like I was being consumed into it.

The world that I’d grown to love was slipping from me.

That’s when Jesus answered the prayer that hadn’t really felt answered when I prayed it…

I’d asked Him to be real to me. Told Him that I needed to know He was there, because I would no longer have my biggest support at my side…

My plane settled between two layers of cloud.

And the sun broke out.

Flooding my world.

I don’t know how many pictures I snapped on my phone while the sunlight washed over the plane.

None of them really captured it.

But it captured my soul.

No, the facts haven’t changed.

I’m still on a plane flying miles away from the safest place I know. I’ve still just said goodbye to one of my dearest friends. There are still clouds. Misty white clouds that threaten to consume my life.

But there’s Light.

Heaven-sent light.

Above the clouds.

And that is where God is taking me.

Little “Siblings”

The past month, I’ve spent most of my time between two homes. In an odd way, they’ve become kinda like family.

I always longed for little siblings.

Now, I’ve sort of got 10 of them.

Of course, I recognize it’s not quite the same thing… but they definitely hold a special place in my heart.

They ask the oddest questions… some of which are not the easiest to answer. Like whether I like it at the other family’s house… how do you answer that one??

They express their love in totally unique and individual ways. From the almost thirteen-year-old’s sweet note before my plane trip… to the five-year-old’s asking me how many days make up the two weeks that I’ll be gone, and then groaning at the number… to the one-year-old’s biting me. Yes, he bites people he loves. I felt a due mixture of pleasure and disgust over his affection.

I’m amazed at how accepting and welcoming children are.

They don’t see your scars, or focus on the parts of your life that don’t make sense.

They see you are someone special and valuable. Someone to want in their life. And they think that I’m capable of doing anything! I wish that I was… but I truly enjoy being believed in.

I could learn a lot from these 10 wonderful children. Some of whom are growing up fast… almost too fast.

They definitely help fill up my life.

Maybe if I’d ever had little siblings, I wouldn’t think that these 10 wonderful people were like siblings… but to me, they’re the only little siblings that I’ve had. And I love them heartily!

Almost Five Years Ago…

Tonight, I caught up on reading blogs that I have sadly naglected lately.

It was kinda like rediscovering friends… and opening memories…

And it left an ache.

Five years ago, I fell in love with an incredible group of people. (It will be exactly five years next Saturday!) These people totally stole my heart. They became my life… and they gave me so much! They became my church family.

It’s not been an easy five years.

Due to fast growth as a congregation we planted a second church two years ago, and I “lost” half of my “family”.

No, they haven’t totally drifted out of my life… but it’s not the same. Instead of siblings, they’ve become cousins.

Oddly enough, the people who cemented my life in this church have mostly moved on from my life. But the people who followed in their footsteps, are the people who keep me here. I am still very much in love with my church.

It’s hard for me to believe that I won’t be there on the Sunday that marks five years.

Lord willing, I’ll be meeting with another congregation as I visit one of the people who I met at my church, and who forever changed my life. (More on that one someday.)

Reading blogs of old friends opened a ton of memories.

Good memories… and memories full of longing. Then, I was desperate to belong. Today, I belong.

I’ve changed so much in these past five years. And I miss the people who helped change my life. And I miss who I was back then… young, naive, a total statistics freak… but I wouldn’t go back to who I was. Even if it sometimes hurts.

The changes have been needful.

The people who left big holes in my life, made room for other friendships that I have needed desperately this past year.

The hobbies that I left behind made room for other things to fill my mind and heart.

Maybe I still wish I was the naive, sports-crazy girl who was just falling in love with a church.

But I don’t really wish that. I’d rather be the broken, struggling girl I am now. The girl who has the middle names in her church directory almost memorized, rather then being able to recite hockey statistics you’d never heard of. The girl who’s survived multiple panic attacks. The girl who is still deeply in love with her church.

This post probably makes no sense to you.

Because it’s about a journey that is so mixed, and heartbreaking, and beautiful to me.

If you’ve walked it with me, then maybe… maybe, it will make a little bit of sense. I hope so.

All of that to say, that I miss the past, and that I wouldn’t trade the present for anything.