Vibes Schmibes

I have a friend who is into vibes. Really into those vibes. She sends happy vibes, positive vibes, affirming vibes, shining vibes into the universe all the time. She sends them my way (I kind of wonder how that is actually done) and she instructs her social media followers to send similar vibes in all sorts of different directions. Her world is a vibey place.

 

Along with that she is all about speaking things into the universe. She believes that when we speak positively and throw things out into the great unknown, the universe will hear us and bless us. The universe is just waiting for us to name and claim things and once we let the universe know that we really want good and happy things— they will happen. It’s magic!

 

Now, I know that this happy positive vibey universe engaging philosophy is a weak kind of “religion” and I know that blessings are from God and not from the universe and it doesn’t matter how much we implore mother nature for sunshine, God controls everything… but what about the power of positive thinking?

 

You see– it’s been a weird year for me and it’s been a year where at times I have not been feeling very positive or deliriously happy or able to hold onto the belief that good things are comin my way. I spent a lot of time fighting for the ability to be okay. Some days that was easier than other days.

 

BUT THEN — I suddenly felt like things were changing. Dark clouds were clearing. I was feeling happier, lighter, healthier. And the thing is– it wasn’t because of all the vibes people were sending me, it was because God was teaching me some big things. It wasn’t about my flinging the dreams into the universe, it was about me trusting God completely and me finding joy in the act of doing so. It was about me finally being able to truly and fully believe that God is good and God is for me. That’s what filled me up and that’s what made me smile and that’s what gave me true joy. So yes, the world is right when it recognizes that seemingly positive people seem to attract good things but it’s dead wrong when it comes to understanding why. So I will never send positive vibes your way, but I will pray that whatever you’re going through, you will be able to “consider it all joy” as you trust in our great God to bring you through whatever it is you’re facing in the days ahead.

Two Become One.. but not like that.

I have kept a journal for ages, since I was about 9 years old I think. While during some stages of life I was more diligent about writing in it, I’ve always had one on the go. I remember in high school someone introduced me to the idea of a Prayer Journal and I thought that sounded appealing too. I remember thinking at the time that I didn’t want to give up my personal journal and combine it with the prayer one so I have had two on the go for many, many years.

If I examine my reasons for this.. well back in the day I wanted to write in my personal one about .. well “personal” things. It was mostly about boys and friendships and the daily dramas I was going through. I didn’t want to mix that up with God stuff because, sometimes I liked boys that I didn’t want to pray about and sometimes I had very ungodly and mean feelings about people in my life. So I felt like I had this double life of journals going on. I also had the far-fetched idea that I was going to be a famous writer and when I died and my journals were published, I preferred that the public read about my ever-so-exciting life of being unable to decide between two boys and musings about my humdrum life instead of see my inconsistent prayer life. Ridiculous.. on so many levels!

So this kept up for a very long time. I would write prayers to God in my devotional journal and then I would pick up my other one and scribble out anxious thoughts about men, jobs, friendships, etc. Recently, I have been writing way more in my prayer journal and it’s started to turn into a personal journal too.

One of my consistent spiritual struggles has been trying not to balance on the fence.. keeping one foot on either side and I think the separate journals is a very tangible depiction of that. I am now “all in” but my journals were not.

SO… today I started a new journal. Just one. A journal where I can record my life and talk to God about it at the same time. Imagine. I’m pretty excited because not only is it quite pretty, but I finally am at the point where I can see how I need to be transparent and open with God about all the areas of my life. I am hoping that this will be a good thing and I can’t wait to see what ends up being written on the pages.  It’s one life… so one journal.

 

 

Being Happy

When I was younger (OK maybe only a couple months ago), I would lie awake in my bed at night and wonder if I could be happy. I would go over all of the things happening in my life and look for the one thing or maybe two things that were getting in the way of my happiness. I would pretty much always find something; a friend acting strangely, an approaching science test, an upcoming meeting or presentation, an illness.. and then I would look forward to that thing being done with or resolved because then I could be really and truly happy.

Almost two years ago, I was recovering from a breakup and starting to feel like myself again. I can remember distinctly thinking.. “Give me a couple more weeks and then I can be totally happy”. Everything was going really well in my life and the bruises on my heart were starting to heal up nicely. I figured that I was on the brink of being able to be happy again. But then, I found out that my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and so the idea of being able to be really happy quickly faded away. I remember thinking: This is it. I will never be truly happy again. How dramatic!
Anyway, miraculously, my father is recovering brilliantly, the stresses in my life seem to be at a bit of a low, life is pretty good except for… well there is always an except for. And that’s what I’ve learned. As long as I’m living on this planet, there will something less-than-ideal going on. Because we are humans. Because we have bodies. Because we are living on this planet with other complicated humans. Because we need to grow. Because we need to stay in constant communication with God. The list goes on…
I’ve also been really tuned into the fact that I don’t need everything to be going perfectly well to be happy. Because it’s not the little fleeting emotion of happy that I’m after, it’s the much more powerful JOY that is the goal, the command. It seems like over and over I’m confronted with the idea that we are called to rejoice in all of our circumstances, to be joyful, to seek joy. Realizing that I don’t need everything to be going well to be able to find complete joy in life, in God, has been a bit of a wake up for me.
And so now when I go to bed, instead of looking for the one thing that is blocking my happiness, I’ll focus on the things that bring me joy.. the One who brings me joy. It works out much better this way.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV)

Little Thoughts in the Morning

While reading Psalm 84 this morning a few verses really stood out to me . “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself” (3a). It struck me that in God’s courts, kingdom, presence there is a sense of belonging that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s an experience that we as Christians are blessed to have. Living overseas can be oh-so-lonely sometimes and even though I have some excellent friends, it’s hard when they just don’t “get” that whole christian side of me. When I go to church and sit in the pew and listen to some familiar song or hear people speak about God’s goodness, it gives me a sense of finally being home. I’m surrounded by people who may or may not talk to me but they believe what I believe or something like that.. and it’s a huge comfort. We are not meant to be lonely or alone in our faith and I love that God provides a way for us to have company in this journey.

It’s hard to fit into this world and it’s difficult to find our place sometimes. It’s easy to be lonely in a crowd or feel out of place but with God, it’s so different. We belong with Him, we have a place with Him, even the sparrow.

 

 

 

On a Rainy Easter Monday

I have been thinking about relationships a lot lately. Relationships with family and friends and… boys. I have been thinking about how easy it is to wreck these relationships and how difficult it is sometimes to see past the humanity of our family, friends and… boys and be able to love and accept these people anyway.

I have been thinking about how we hurt each other by accident or on purpose and how deep down we are all very selfish. I have been thinking about how for me, it’s difficult to talk out or fight out certain difficult issues that arise. It’s hard for me to believe that if I fight with someone, they will come back. I’m not quite sure where this idea comes from but while I can talk a tough game, I hate conflict.

I know that God is our perfect Father, Jesus is our brother and our friend forever. I know that the Holy Spirit is always with me, urging me and prodding me and guiding me through my daily life. I know this but it tends to not sink in as much as it should.

What differs our relationship with God from our other relationships in life is that He is perfect, He can be completely trusted-all the time, He is not a sinful human being.

I have had times in my life where I neglect God, where I squeeze in time with Him to ease my conscience and not because I really want to. I can go for a while without consulting Him and often my prayers can become filled with asking Him for things instead of worshipping Him and enjoying Him. What friend would put up with that?

I continue to appreciate the fact that even when I drift away a little, He welcomes me back and helps me get back on track. I can’t think of a person I know who would be okay with me saying: “I’m sorry I have been neglecting you, help me to start loving you more because right now it’s really hard.” Yet God does. He forgives my humanity, my weakness, my selfishness and He helps me move past it.

I know that as Christians we often compare our relationship with God to relationships we have in the world but it is so much more than that. It is so much better than that. We can’t hide from Him, He sees our ugliness and loves us anyway. That’s a pretty incredible thing.

And so on this Easter Monday, I am thankful for many things particularly that God made it so that we can be in a relationship with Him through His son Jesus. Incredible!

 

 

Be Still and Know

Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10

One of the most beautiful phrases ever written. The simplicity of the words yet the immense power of the meaning makes it something that I can have running through my mind all day long. Lately, it seems that I do better with small phrases and concepts than anything else.
Sometimes, most times, when we face things that unsettle us, things that we can’t fix because they are locked in the past or hidden in the future, things that have no ready solution, things that we are dealing with because that is where God has us today, that is all we can do. Very seldom is life about grand heroics and brave and complex proclamations. Sometimes the greatest wisdom, the greatest advice is found in the simplest of statements.
***
When thoughts of the past creep up and haunt me, bringing with them past guilt and anxiety and the wonderings based on wishing that we could in fact repeat the past:
Be still and know.
When the busyness of the present causes me to spiral into a ball of stress and unhealthy distraction, making me appallingly self-centred, self-focused, confused and tired:
Be still and know.
When the idea of the future has the power to cause me fear and trembling, when it frightens me and destroys any feelings of hope and peace:
Be still and know.
It’s simple. It’s perfect. It’s a command.
Be still and know.

And so I smile

Because these are days where everything seems so… volatile and because I’m in the fairly new habit of living life one day at a time, I have noticed that I do my best to block out the future in my mind. Because these days I find the future to actually be quite scary.

Living in the moment can do that to you– it can prevent you from thinking about anything beyond the boundaries of the next 24 hours.  And usually that is a very good thing.
It is the beginning of the school year and so I am in the midst of planning, planning, planning. Almost daily I am sent emails with important dates to note down and I pretty much loathe receiving every one of them. Not because I don’t want to know that this year I get to chaperone the middle school dance (you really haven’t lived until you’ve experienced that ball of wonder) but because it reminds me that things are so incredibly unknown.
I write down a date in November and wonder what the world will be like then. I write down a date in April and wonder how much different things will be or not be. It frightens me.
Up until recently I have been blessed by living in a state of constant excitement about “what’s next”? Whether that next thing was 7th grade or graduating high school or starting university, graduating, new jobs, new relationships, living in new countries, going on fun holidays… getting older has all been rather thrilling.
Until lately.
Until the not-so-fun parts of growing up started showing up. Suddenly, the harsh realities of life started to close in and my tomorrow became a little scarier.
And now that Proverbs 31 verse takes on a whole new meaning.. “Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come.” (ESV) or my favourite: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future” (NASB).
The idea of laughing at the future, as I write dates down in my diary, is rather intimidating but something I would love to be able to do. In sitting here I wonder how do I do that? How do I stop feeling sick to my stomach when I have to write down another date? I think I  know the answer. That’s where the idea of faith and hope are vital. I may not be quite able to laugh yet but I think I can muster a smile.
I can smile at the future because I know who God is.
I can smile at the days to come because I know that no matter how dark they may get, He will not leave me.
I can smile because I know that He is with me all the way and will give me all that I need in order to get through whatever He puts me through.
I smile at the future, not because I know it will be filled with fun and happy times (it might be!) but because I know that God will get me through it, whatever may be.
I am not alone and that’s why I smile.