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What turns it all around

>> Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So originally this was going to be a venting post. I had a horrible day at work today and came home just beat. I was tired, cranky, had a splitting headache and was fully emersed in sorry-for-myself attitude.
I had a Uganda meeting tonight at the church though, so even though I was not really in the mood (and really wanted to just stay home, have a long bath and hit the sack early), I found myself trudging across the parking lot for our 6pm meeting.
It's now 9pm, and my bad mood has completely been lifted. Yes I still had a horrible day at work, and yes I still have a splitting headache, but I am sooo glad Chris made me get my act together and get my butt over to the church. In the span of about an hour and a half, I received so many hugs, and so much love from the youth in our Uganda team and the rest of the kids from the senior high youth group that it absolutely made my day. They probably don't realize it, but I will definitely be going to bed with a smile on my face tonight because of them.
I don't even know a lot of them that well, but it just goes to show how big the hearts of today's young people can be - that they can really care about, and really be that excited to see someone who (in all honesty) hasn't really given 100% since she stepped into the "youth pastor's wife" role.
I don't know if any of them read my blog, but if they do I would like them to know this:

You are all incredibly important to both my husband and myself. I may not always show it - I know I'm not at the church as often as I (or you) would like, and many Sundays and Wednesdays can go by without me stopping in - but I always have you all in my thoughts. I feel like I know many of you quite well, because my husband knows you so well and because so many of you are so open with what you're going through in your lives and how you're feeling. I was also a teenager myself (and not too long ago - I'm not that old!) so believe it or not, but I can relate with pretty much everything you're experiencing as you navigate the really tricky and often really painful years of highschool. You are all full of light and love. You may not see it in yourselves sometimes, but I (and I know my husband) see it in you. You are all loved and cared about, and you made the heart of a tired (and cranky) twenty-something fill with love and gratitude tonight, and you helped turn it all around.


In a Perfect World . . .

>> Sunday, January 25, 2009

In a Perfect World . . .

* when people say "Hi, how are you?" they would really be interested to know the answer and not simply ask it 'cause it's polite

* the colour of your skin would never matter

* everyone would worship together, regardless of faith or creed

* people would make a living doing what they actually loved to do

* all children would be raised with love, and never violence

* we would view the problems around the world as "our problems" instead of "their problems"

* no one would go to bed hungry

* elders would be respected instead of forgotten

* we would talk to each other, instead of ignore those in front of you while you talk to someone else on your cell phone

* tv shows would be encouraging and uplifting, instead of demeaning and full of bad role models

* people could always afford heating and groceries, instead of one or the other

* we would all put away the masks we tend to wear when we're in public

* we would look at each other and see brothers and sisters, not people who don't matter to us because we don't know them

* we would listen to each other

* we would help each other

* the barriers would come down

* we would live . . . together

* we would love . . . more


Moments of Clarity

>> Friday, January 23, 2009

I had a moment yesterday. It was one of those moments that makes you stop in your tracks and seems to make life stand completely still for a second.

I was at work, trying to make my way through a 20 page report of inaccurate inventory numbers. I was scanning through our wall of journals in our gift section (admitedly in a bit of a daze) when something on the bottom shelf caught my eye. It was a nice, medium-sized journal, but it was the fact that it was ring-bound that got my attention. I've been looking for a ring-bound journal for awhile now, to take with me to Uganda to record my thoughts and observations while I'm there. I crouched down to have a closer look and to see how much it was, and it was then that I saw the quote written in gold lettering across the cover.

"In the midst of our lives, we must find the magic that makes our souls soar."

I must have stared at it, reading the inscription over and over again, for only about 30 seconds - but to me seemed more like 5 minutes. It felt like someone had somehow gotten into my head, figured out exactly what I've been thinking / feeling / questioning for the last year or so, and in one sentence, in 16 words, not only summed up my biggest question, but answered it as well.

What is my biggest question? To put it very simply, it's probably the question that plagues most people either at some point in their lives or possibly every single day of their life . . . What is my Purpose? And once I find my Purpose, how do I go about living it?

The answer? Find what makes your "soul soar" and Do it. Stop making excuses, Stop being afraid, Stop giving up before you've even tried. Find what you love, find what brings you joy. If it makes time stand still for you, if it brings you true happiness, then it just may be your Purpose. And your Purpose reflects back onto others, for if it's real then it involves giving back to others and passing it on.

What makes your soul soar? What are you here for? Deep down, at the core of our being, we all know. It may take awhile to find, for many of us have spent years and years covering it up and burying it under so much fear and so many assumptions that it might take some work to dig up . . . but it's there. You'll know it when you find it. And when you do find it, take action. Do it, make it happen, make your soul soar. One of the greatest tragedies is to know what you're meant to be doing with your life and not take action.

Find the magic, make it happen.


History in the Making

>> Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm spent most of the afternoon so far watching the inauguration coverage on TV. I found it so incredibly moving watching the shots of the crowds - how excited and moved and inspired the people were as they watched their 44th President of the United States being sworn in.

I actually had tears in my eyes as I watched Barack Obama give his first speech as President. Watching history in the making and feeling the sense that change is here - what a privilege to be able to witness that moment.

I can't even imagine what it must feel like for President Obama right now - to have that amount of pressure and expectation on him. He seems to have an amazingly supportive and loving family behind him though, and with an 80% approval rating I know that most Americans are sending a lot of love and prayers and blessings his way and that is a huge gift to have as he undertakes this challenge.

Here's to America, here's to President Obama, and here's to a well needed change!


The Journey Home

>> Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In 7 weeks I will be in Africa.

After boarding a plane that will take me from Toronto to London, England, I will then board another plane that will take me from London to Entebbe, Uganda. After spending the night at the airport questhouse in Entebbe, I will be travelling by car to the place that will be my home for two weeks - Jinja, Uganda.

Approx. 1 year ago, my husband and I were talking about all the places we would like to visit or live in our lifetime. At some point in the conversation, Chris very nonchalantly said "hey - wouldn't it be cool if we could take some of the youth from church to Africa?" That sentence then turned into him connecting with a friend of a friend who just happens to run an organization called "GIVE International". GIVE stands for Global Impact through Volunteer Experience, and they're a Canadian-based charitable trust working in relief and development in East Africa. After several emails, meetings and phone calls, Chris' idea started to turn into reality. After hammering out some time lines, costs and what exactly a trip itinerary would look like, he took his idea to the church and they approved it. Chris and I (along with 4 other adult leaders) would take 12 high-school students from the church to Uganda for two weeks over March Break to do some house and roof construction, spend time at a couple of different orphanages, and travel to several remote villages to distribute family kits.

Over the last ten months we've had meetings, fund-raised, and have started to mentally prepare ourselves for what will (for many of us) be the trip of a lifetime. Now that the trip is so close, it feels like it's (finally) time to start preparing in the ways that I truly find really exciting (thinking about what to pack, getting our immunizations done, reading and researching a lot, and really focusing on studying Swahili so I can at least try to carry on a conversation with the people there in the villages where they don't speak English).

I'm really trying to prepare myself in as many ways as possible as I feel like I have been waiting for this experience for the past 28 years. For as long as I can remember I've had a love affair with Africa. I've always wanted to go, and actually almost signed up for an exchange program when I was just out of college that would have had me living in South Africa for a year or two. That didn't pan out at the time, but the thought of travelling to Africa and possibly even living there has never left my mind. I always think it's so amazing how things in life always seem to connect and happen in the way they do, as after meeting my husband and finding out that he was actually born in Kenya and lived there until he was three I just sort of thought "well of course" - it seemed natural that I would be meeting and falling in love with someone who had the same love of Africa as I did.

This trip is really momentous for both Chris and I. He's never been back to Africa and said to me the other day "I'm finally going home". As soon as the words left his mouth I got shivers as it echoed I feeling I've had since the minute I found out we would actually be making this trip. As crazy or corny as it might sound (as I've never actually been there and don't have any family living anywhere in Africa), I feel like I'm finally, finally going Home. I really can't explain why I feel that way, but it's the most natural feeling / thought in the world for me and I just know in my heart that this "trip" is actually the start of a really amazing life journey. I just feel like things are finally lining up me. As each day passes and March 8th looms closer and closer, I feel a growing and greater sense of clarity and focus. It's almost like God is telling me "This is it, This is what I've been preparing you for, This is why I've had you wait so long. This is your purpose, so pay attention."

Well, I'm paying attention. I'm 28 years old, and I'm finally paying attention.


New Year, New Outlook, New Path, New Hope

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy New Year everyone!! I truly hope everyone I know and love had a great Christmas season and brought in the new year with a smile on their face and a heart full of love and hope!

Chris and I were really blessed to be able to bring in the new year at a beautiful cottage in Lake of Bays in Muskoka. We were having a young adult's retreat there from January 2-4th, but the family who owned and were letting our group use their cottage are really generous and allowed Chris and I to come up early and have the place all to ourselves for a few days before everyone else came up. I worked on the 31st, but as soon as I was done in the afternoon, we quickly packed up and were on our way. We dropped Franklin off at a great new doggy hotel we found in Orillia and then made it up to the cottage by nightfall. By the time the clock struck midnight, we had already unpacked and enjoyed some time in the outdoor hot tub looking at the stars and reflecting on the past year.

I love New Year's day and always have. I actually find it to be the most peaceful and relaxing holiday of the year. Everything is closed, I never have to work, and I always get to spend the day doing exactly what I want to do. This year was definitely no exception. I woke up and watched the sun rise over the lake (absolutley beautiful), then had a fabulous day of reading, watching movies, hot tubing and hiking. I spent a lot of time really thinking over the past year - what I loved and what I didn't love so much, and what I look forward to experiencing this year. 2008 was a huge transition year for both Chris and I : we moved (again), I changed stores, we met new friends, and both grew a lot in many different ways. 2009 is going to be a big "eventful" year for us - I already know that things I've been wanting and needing in my life are finally going to come to fruition this year. One of those things is actually going to happen less than 2 months from now (but I'll write more about that in another post).

I was really in need of some time away from it all and time to read and reflect. 4 days off spent at that cottage was just what the doctor ordered and I feel a renewed sense of self, purpose and hope going into 2009.

I am really, truly thankful for being able to start the new year in such a peaceful, relaxing and beautiful way. I really love the outdoors and spending time in nature, so it could not have been more suiting to my personality than to start the year off in the quiet of Muskoka in the winter.

So here's to the start of 2009 - may your year be full of love and gratitude, and may we all reach the end of it being able to say we were our best selves and lived our potential.


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