Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We Need Each Other

I know that I'm not the most amazing writer, that English was always my lowest mark in High School, and that there are already millions upon millions of blogs that exist in the world. 

I also know that lately I've felt a strong urge to write on this blog again, and that sometimes we do things with the hopes that it might impact even just one person.

Please don't think I am writing as a way of fishing for compliments or looking for validation. I'm writing because I want the people in my life, near or far, to know that they are loved, that there is beauty & joy in the world, and that they are not alone in their struggles. 

We all struggle daily with many different things, big or small... guilt, anxiety, nerves, self-doubt, comparison, worry, job-related issues, relationship difficulties, family tensions, loneliness, self-worth, heartache, sickness, mental illness, financial struggles, confusion... the list can go on and on. 

The ironic thing is, we often just sweep our difficulties under the rug, and work like crazy to portray a perfect image to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, everyone else in the world is doing the exact same thing. We live in a community of people portraying perfection, but quietly suffering alone. 

If there is one thing I'm learning it's that we need each other. We need people who will support, love, and care for us, in the exact same way that we need to support, love and care for others. 

So let's go through life together... not just in an every-day, surface, routine way, but in a deep, meaningful, encouraging way. Let's address our struggles, and work through them together instead of ignoring them and pretending they don't exist. Let's be honest and open, with the hopes that what we've learned through our own difficulties may help someone else who is traveling the same path.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Lesson from the Elderly

It truly is amazing that God hasn't given up on me yet. I fail, I fall, I stumble. I live selfishly, I waste time on worldly things and I turn my back on Him. Thankfully God, in all His glory and majesty, won't give up on me. He slowly takes my hand and leads me step by step through this journey of life. He teaches me lessons (sometimes in not so easy ways), opens my eyes and molds me into the woman He desires. Day by day He works at my heart, stripping away the ugly to make room for more of Him.   

Lately God has been using a group of seniors to open my eyes and work at my heart. Every Tuesday I volunteer at Misericordia Hospital doing spiritual care in the mornings and recreation activities in the evenings. The group of elderly people that I interact with are a wonderful bunch. They not only make me laugh, but they make me think about my life - how I spend my time, how I treat others and ultimately how I live: selfishly or selflessly. 

When time does its thing, and I become a senior, I hope to look back at my life and find glimpses of humility, kind words and selfless deeds, not just a trail of selfish actions. I know it will be a daily struggle to put others' needs above my own, but I must try, with the help of God. Will you try with me? 

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In Memory Of

On November 7th, 2012 my Opa passed away. After battling cancer to the bitter end he left this earth and joined His Maker in heaven. His life was a testament of love, hard work, determination and generosity.

For the second time I decided to sit down and watch the picture video that was played at my Opa's funeral. As the tears poured down and memories rushed back, I was overwhelmed with a sense of awe and wonder. This one man's life has blessed so many people. His actions are forever remembered by foster children (over 100), neighbours, family, and friends.

Do you ever wonder what YOU will leave behind when you go? Will people look at your pictures and wonder how you were always so positive? Or generous? Or helpful? Will they be inspired by your love and your actions? Will they smile at all the memories you created with them, or laugh at your silly antics? Will the people around you be motivated to do more good and smile more? Will they be encouraged in their faith by how you chose to live your life?

We too often forget how greatly our lives can impact others for better or worse. A small act of kindness can change someone's entire life or simply brighten their day. An outburst of hatred can shatter self esteem or tear apart a heart looking for love.

Let us spend our time and our lives blessing those around us, helping the lost and broken, giving to those in need, loving those who only know loneliness and caring for each other. When all is said and done, and our time comes, what will people say of you? What will you leave behind? 

My Opa has left a print of love on many hearts. And it is my prayer that I (and you) will do the same.

Love You Opa.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

a heart full of you

As I was doing the dishes this evening I stumbled upon a song that touched my heart and challenged me as a Christian. The lyrics that stuck out to me are as follows, "Empty my hands, fill up my heart, capture my mind with you." I began to think about my day to day life and what it is that typically fills my hands, heart and mind. My short comings became clear to me as the command to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength echoed in my mind.

I don't know about you, but in my life this command is not easy to follow. We are surrounded by hatred, gossip, lust, impurity and selfishness on a daily basis. The media tells us lies about our self worth and meaning and our busy schedules act as our excuse to be rude or unthoughtful. These things are so polar opposite of what we should be filling our lives with. God's Word says, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (Phillipians 4:8)

It is not easy to purge our lives of the "ugly" things of this world but will you try with me? Will you pursue what is pure, lovely, noble and right? Will you let the Lord transform your heart, soul and mind to be filled with His love?

What a radiant and marvelous sight it is to see someone so consumed by the Lord that every aspect of their life reflects His beauty - even the parts that nobody sees or will ever acknowledge. 

Seek to love the Lord with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind and ALL your strength. And let us not grow weary for I'm certain our Lord smiles with every small area of our lives we surrender to Him.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trust Me

You know those days when nothing seems to go right? When no matter how hard you try to make something work it just doesn't? Those days that seem to be jam packed with discouragement? That leave you sitting on a back staircase in the school of music talking to your mom on the phone, as tears stream down your face? Ya... today was one of "those" days for me.

I left the university tonight feeling utterly confused, disappointed and discouraged. Not about school work or midterms, but about life. About all the concerns, big and small, that filled my day. I began my walk home with thoughts still bouncing around in my head.  Suddenly I was jolted back to reality... it was as if God whispered gently into my ear, "Sara, do you trust me?"

It seems silly to think that anyone would ever STOP trusting God, yet there I was, just moments before, drowning in my own confusion and worries. I had allowed the unexpected trials, failed plans, and discouraging words of others distract me from God's truth. Thankfully God took my hand and lead me back to His promises.

As I continued my walk home, pondering the question "Do you trust me?" this verse came to mind:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5,6

No matter how many times I've written, recited, read this verse, it's beauty always takes my breath away. What great joy and peace fills my heart when I trust in the Lord. My worries seem to float away when I'm reminded to lean on Him and not on myself.

As I finished my short walk home, that's exactly what happened. My discouragement, worry, confusion and disappointment were swept away in the breeze as I refocused my eyes on Christ.

Next time you have one of "those" days, think of this verse, let it linger in the air and take a second to listen to his voice as He whispers...

"Trust me."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

thinking about love

I've been thinking about love lately...  
(no, that doesn't mean day dreaming about prince charming
and more precisely, what love looks like.

In a world filled with selfish ambition, jealousy,
deception and hatred, it is easy to lose
sight of what true love is and what it looks like.

Perhaps this is why my heart was so refreshed
as I glanced through old pictures the other day.
In these pictures I saw more than just
people and memories... I saw love.

Let me show you what I mean...

Love looks like my mom and dad...
Who never once let their own trials and struggles prevent 
them from loving and serving others.  

Love looks like my Oma and Opa...
who have nurtured and loved many foster children
back to health, constantly living
selfless and humble lives. 

Love looks like neighbours...
who have been there through thick and thin, 
loving you no matter how silly you are.

Love looks like Camp Brereton...
The camp that was graciously provided this past year
for CNIB to use, in order to bless children who are blind
or visually impaired. The camp that made one little boy
exclaim in pure joy, "I've never felt like
 I belong, until I came to this camp." 

Love looks like this beautiful lady...
Who lives in a mud house in Uganda, with no bed, 
no running water and no light bulbs, 
yet kindly invited me into her home,
fed me a feast, and willingly gave away 
one of her only posessions, a mat she had weaved out of grass. 

Love looks like the church body...
A church that has stood by my family's side through 
the countless ups and downs of cancer.
A church that put on a social to raise funds
for my family when my dad needed to 
receive treatments in Pittsburgh.

Love looks like this little boy...
who always had an endless supply of smiles, hugs, 
and blessings for me, every time I walked into the room. 

I hope that your heart was also refreshed by these stories as mine was.

After thinking about these people and their lives, I am left
feeling challenged and inspired to radiate love in all I do.

So let it be my goal and hopefully yours too,
that with each passing day we show more love 
than we did the day before.

When people see a picture of you are they 
reminded of what love looks like? 

"Do everything in love. " - 1 Corinthians 16:14

Friday, November 18, 2011

Farewell Stress

Recently I have had many conversations with my friends about the stresses they are facing in university. The countless lab reports, assignments and midterms. Ironically I find myself in a place of stress for the complete opposite reason. I'm sitting at home wishing my professors would come back so I could hand in assignments and write midterms. This weird scenario I find myself in, got me thinking...

Why is it so easy to find someone who is stressed, and so hard to find someone content and happy living in the moment? Why is it that we can find every possible reason to get worked up, upset and stressed, yet if you ask someone to think about their blessings they have difficulty coming up with one? 

The more I thought about this, the more determined I became to NOT let stress rule my life and to make every effort to find beauty in the broken. I think I've spent enough time stressing in my life, so here's to hoping that with God's grace I can remove stress from my day and fill that time wasted with joy unending. 

Here it goes... A list of things that have brought me a lot of joy recently:

The smell of freshly baked cookies
& making muffins at 1 am

The look of a newly painted (and clean) room

Challenging & Inspiring Books

Watching the Winnipeg Jets 

Good conversations with friends

Watching snowflakes fall to the ground 

& Music of the guitar, piano, singing and flute variety 

I'm going to challenge you along with myself, to remove stress from your life, and fill that time with more love and more joy.