The Parable of the Lost Coin… 2.0

For those of you that know me well, you know I love being physically active and doing things hands-on. This past Christmas I got a FitBit (Flex 2 if you’re wondering, which came with a nice, pink bracelet) which I’ve been using lots mainly to track my steps during the day. A couple of weeks ago, some of the guys I work with encouraged me to join in on their rugby team practices (a men’s team composed of more Fijians than non-Fijians) 2x’s a week which I’ve been attending now for a couple weeks. I started out hesitant to participate in drills or a game of touch as I wasn’t familiar with anything and didn’t know many of the people, so I sat on the sidelines watching to get a feel for the practices. Now, I’m participating in almost everything! I practice with the team because I can, they’ve been kind enough to let me join, patient with me as I learn how to play during their practice time, it’s fun and great exercise, and it’s helping me get to know more of the Fijian community here in Steinbach. If there’s something I’m hesitant to particiapte in (like *ahem* full-contact rugby), I usually join the wives and kids on the sidelines. I’ve been told by a few people that the best way to learn something new is to just do it. How’s that for a kick in the pants (totally something my dad would say haha)! So, now you’re probably wondering how the FitBit and rugby relate to each other. If you refer to this posts’ title, you might get an idea…

I usually wear my FitBit to rugby training. If I don’t get many steps in during the day, I’ll most likely finish them on the field. When I reach my goal, my tracker vibrates like a cell phone would getting a text message and the lights light up like a rainbow… it’s awesome! Last Monday I had my FitBit on and at some point, the tracker fell out of the bracelet onto the field. I didn’t realize until a ways into practice when I joined in on a game of full-field touch rugby and felt an empty bracelet. My heart sank because it was a gift I got for Christmas so of course I couldn’t just let it go. I made it through training but was still internally frantic that I’d lost it for sure :'(. After practice some of the people I work with helped me search the field for it which made me very grateful. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack and I wanted to give up because I was pretty sure it was lost, yet I was still determined to find it. I rode my bike back to the field after practice when I had my phone and tried to sync up my FitBit app to the tracker… nada! I texted my dad to see what wisdom he had for me about the situation, I prayed and interceded over the tracker in hopes that someone else wouldn’t find it, it wouldn’t be lost or damaged, that its’ location would be revealed at some point and then had to go home before it got too dark.

I’m so thankful for my phone and its abilities! My dad told me about an app I could get to help me locate the tracker, which I was very willing to get. So, Wednesday morning, with my phone and it’s newly installed “Bit Finder Geo” app (it’s a real app, trust me, and it’s pretty cool), I sped to the field on my bike. I prayed again that I would find it that morning, and once connected to WiFi and Bluetooth, project “Find Kristi’s FitBit” was underway as I wandered around waiting for my phone to pick up the trackers’ signal (the app has a radar showing how close or far away you are from whatever you’re trying to find, and can make lower or higher pitched sounds to help speed up the process). My heart leapt with excitement when my phone screen finally read “Fit Flex 2” which I quickly selected!! Oh my goodness I was so excited and had the biggest smile on my face that you probably could’ve seen from across the field :D! For a while I mostly heard low-pitched sounds and felt like I was walking around in circles until I heard the heavenly high-pitches. I got super excited when I was in one area (the same area I’d been tossing a rugby ball around with a few people at Monday practice) because soon enough, the high-pitch sound lead me to look down to my left and hidden in the grass was the tracker! I can’t tell you how happy I was… it definitely made my day and week. Being the millennial I am, I took a selfie with the tracker and texted it to my dad, which was followed up by him calling me because he was so impressed that the app worked and helped me find it! Then, he brought up an interesting point – the parable of the lost coin from the bible.

Are you familiar with the story, “The Lost Coin” from Luke 15:8-10 in the bible? If not, it’s about a woman who has 10 silver coins and loses one, searches her house thoroughly for it, finds it and celebrates. “She lights a lamp, sweeps her house, and looks carefully everywhere until she finds it. When she finds the coin, she calls her friends and neighbors together, and says to them ‘I am so happy I found the coin I lost. Let us celebrate!'” Similarly, that’s how God and His angels rejoice when one of us come to know Christ – God goes to great lengths to find us when we wander off. My story may not seem as big as “The Lost Coin”, but by now I think you get the idea of my excitement. I got a sense of what that lady went through, felt how inclined and motivated she was to find something that would seem small or unimportant to most people, and experienced how Jesus doesn’t stop searching when one of us are lost. Relying on my phone to find the tracker symbolized to me that by being connected to God through relationship with Him and relying on Him to help us in life, He’ll be our radar and show us when we’re near or far from Him and His path for us. When we’re near and in sync with Him, oh how beautiful are those heavenly high-pitched sounds :D!

I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve ever had any “Lost Coin” stories and if you got anything from it! Be sure to “share” this post so it can hopefully encourage someone else! Take care and God bless!!

Who’d ‘a thunk it!!

This post ties in a bit with my last post, “Listen, your Father is speaking.” It’s becoming more normal to hear God speak to me through everyday, ordinary objects, yet it keeps blowing my mind when it happens because to lots of people, it may not be normal. Years ago, believe it or not, I started to enjoy cleaning. I went from being the kid that pouted in the hallway one time (a moment I can clearly still visualize haha) because I was told to clean my room, to enjoying it and finding it rather therapeutic years later. From personal experience more recently, cleaning’s proven to me to also be spiritual – you might think I’m crazy after saying that and that’s a-ok! Hopefully after reading this, you’ll see what I mean 🙂

Lately our team’s had lots of financial income opportunities for ministry and to get the whole team to join on this year’s outreach (to Fiji & Australia) with the DTS. The men have been helping people in and around the community with lots of heavy labor stuff (dealing with heavy items, paving jobs, yard work, snow blowing, etc.), and us ladies have been cleaning people’s houses! Bathrooms have been my go-to because it keeps me occupied and I like cleaning them for some reason – there’s something satisfying about taking porcelain from grime to prime that feels so good! Cleaning rooms reminds me of a point from gardening about how God uses specific tools for different jobs (ex. vacuum/broom/mop for floors, Windex for windows, hot soapy water/dishwasher for dishes, toilet brush and/or rubber gloves for toilets, etc.). Lately during cleaning, it’s like I hear God the most when I clean toilets… ya, I know right?!?!

No matter how dirty or not they are, it’s like God whispers to my heart “This is how I am with everyone. It doesn’t matter how messy your past may be, what you look like, or how… crappy (sorry, couldn’t resist it :p) your situation is. I want to get into all the small corners, nooks and crannies, right into the mess and clean you up so you can be bran spankin’ new (grime to prime)!” This shows me how much He wants to be in relationship with us and be involved in every aspect of our lives. I love watching the gunk being wiped up like it was never there, even if it needed scrubbing. Some of us might have a hard time believing God loves us unconditionally because we think our past is too messy, therefore we’re looked down on, we think He thinks less of us, or we feel like our sins are unforgivable. Newsflash – we all sin, yet God still chooses to love us like a parent chooses to love their child even if they do wrong. We’re loved by God no matter what, even if not by others. I read “The Shack” a while ago and was reminded of what Papa says when Matt walks into the cottage and meets the 3 manifestations of the Trinity: Papa (God), Sarayu (Holy Spirit) and Jesus, “I am especially fond of you.” Need I say more?

Cleaning and nature seem to be main ways (so far) that I hear God. A fully grown tree outside has a trunk and branches with leaves. Tree trunks are deeply rooted in the ground and the roots are probably very spread out. In storms, heavy rain or wind, sure the trunk might get some battle scars, but it doesn’t move because it’s roots keep it grounded in one place; the more you know and understand what your beliefs, values, morals, etc. are, the harder it may be for others to make you sway your thoughts/opinions of those things. It doesn’t take much of a breeze for branches and leaves to blow about in the air; if you’re unsure where you stand in your beliefs, morals, etc., it can be easy to be swayed by others. I know I’m sometimes easily swayed. On the bright side, branches and leaves blowing about can teach us about “going where the wind takes you” or “going with the flow”.

There’s a big wooden fence separating our house (that my roommates and I live in) from our neighbors. I remember hearing an analogy during the DTS last year about how a yard fence is like the wall of our heart. A poorly built fence can be easy to break down or destroy. Watching or listening to something with inappropriate, destructive (non-life giving) or suggestive content or hanging out with the wrong crowd can violate the “eyes” of our hearts, which can be difficult (yet still possible) to heal. A properly built fence can’t be easily destroyed and keeps intruders from coming in and messing with the yards’ contents. We can protect the “eyes” of our hearts from “intruders” by making sure that the content we allow ourselves to see or hear is encouraging and life-giving and that we surround ourselves with the right people.

Well, as usual, this post turned out longer than I expected and I probably rabbit trailed a bit from my original idea (spirituality in cleaning), which is totally ok by me :p. I’m a deep thinker and like to be very detailed and thorough, which often causes me to over-analyze/overthink everything a lot! However, it also helps me think of what I can learn from my surroundings. My journey of hearing God is never ending as I’m constantly learning. I hope this post was encouraging in some way and serves as a testimony that God really can speak in and through anything! 😀 I’d love to hear any stories about how God’s spoken to you!! ‘Til next time, take care and God bless 🙂

“Listen, your Father is speaking…”

The title of this post is lyrics to a song called “Listen” in the album “Story of All Stories” by Laura Woodley Osman. I’ve listened to it over and over because it’s so good!! It helps me focus in on Jesus :). Over the last few months, my curiosity of God’s character has really spiked (thus, helping me deepen my relationship with Him) and I’ve been growing to know more of how He speaks to me on a daily basis. I knew God could speak to us pre-YWAM, but it wasn’t until my DTS that I started learning how He could speak to me personally. I found it very difficult at first, but it’s gotten easier. Think about your best friend, someone you’re really close with or even a loved one for a moment. You’d know their voice if they called your name in a noisy room right? When you spend time with someone and get to know them really well, you’re able to recognize them super easily. It’s the exact same with God – when we spend time getting to know Him, our daily awareness of Him in our lives increases and He becomes like another best friend to us.

I believe working in the garden last year (2017) gave me a heightened sense of God’s daily presence in my life, and has helped me hear what He sounds like to me. I picked up on bits and pieces of God’s character and love towards us as He helped me see life from His perspective: choosing to find the rosebud/’gold’ in people (what brings them life) despite appearances and/or personality at first glance (I was told to try and find any traces of life (aka the rosebud) near a developing rosebush made of thorny stems at the time), like how God chooses to see the beauty in us as His creation, despite our own shortcomings; and also seeing that my flower bed was so beautiful having different types of flowers, like how God makes our world a beautiful place having so many unique cultures around the world.

A while ago, I found a personal letter from Jesus that a relative gave me expressing Gods’ love for us and how He longs to spend time with us. Sometimes it seems hard to find God in daily life – it could be that we’re the ones walking away, we’re choosing not to listen when He speaks, or maybe we simply just don’t know Him well enough. The next morning, I woke up shortly after 7:30am to a streak of sunlight on my wall inviting me to look out my window and have some Jesus time :). I said “Good morning Jesus!” and peered out my window, and was welcomed by the sun shining through the tree branches on such a peaceful and calm morning. Then, I opened my window and heard the trees swaying in the gentle breeze and birds singing. It was so beautiful!! In that time, I felt like God wanted me to see His beauty through the nature right in front of me. I also felt like he was telling me that no matter what season of weather (literally or metaphorically) we’re enduring, He’s always there watching over us and protecting us, even if we can’t see Him (no matter the weather, the sun is always there). All of this happened in about 25 minutes (but hey, who’s counting!!) which was pretty cool because that time wasn’t rushed and I didn’t care about needing to get ready soon. After I got those revelations of Him and went to go get ready for the day, having my soul satisfied, my alarm went off… mind=blown.

My wish is for this blog post to be an encouragement to you. It’s pretty incredible when you take time to slow down and examine your surroundings and are able to find God it in – you never know how He could use it to speak to you 🙂 I’m curious to know if any of you have found out how He speaks to you? If so… I’d love to hear about it! I also have a short, personal video on “Hearing God’s Voice” on our YWAM Prairie2Pacific Facebook page if you’d like to check it out https://www.facebook.com/ywamprairie2pacific/videos/1629135020515852/ :D! Take care and God bless! 🙂

Red Lake, ON goes tropical!!

ALOHA!

It’s been quite a while since my last blog post… which was sometime last summer I believe. So, here’s me getting back at it and starting off my 2018 blogs with some exciting news!! Many months ago (fall of last year), I thought of our Island Breeze Manitoba team doing a production tour (performing pacific island dances) in my hometown, Red Lake, Ontario to show my family, friends and ministry supporters what I do, show Red Lake something it’s NEVER seen before, and show our team where I grew up.  After bringing the idea to the table and after months of hard work, it’s finally happening and I’m stoked to show everyone back home this ministry and what we do!! I got a little taste of how these events are pulled off and it makes me that much more appreciative of this opportunity and that much more excited to perform at home!!

Something super cool I got to be apart of this past Wednesday (Feb. 7) was an online interview with a grade 7/8 class at the elementary school I attended growing up. They’re helping to promote our teams’ tour within the school and so they wanted to ask me about what we do… which you’ll find out more about if you stick around in Red Lake from February 15-18!! It was different being the one who was interviewed instead of being a part of the interviewing, however it was awesome and the students had some really great questions! During the interview, I honestly felt like a celebrity or someone who’d made a name for themselves, but even in that case, I’m still a regular person who has bills to pay :p. I guess that brings me to another thought – sometimes when we perform at schools, the younger kids will run up to us in the halls with big smiles and hug us and say what a good job we did! When this happens, it’s like they see us as celebrities or think “Woah, you were one of the performers!” It’s pretty cool, but we’re still just normal people 🙂 It’s such a special feeling getting hugged by them and it makes me so happy inside because I get to bring them joy through my passion!!
I encourage all of you Red Lakers (even those of you not in Red Lake but living nearby) to stick around during February 15-18 for some Aloha and tropical island fun – who wouldn’t want that in the dead of winter?!?! You won’t want to miss this!!!!!!!!!!

My story

Learning and discovering!

So, this entry will be quite different than usual because I’d like to share me story with you guys which I’m still discovering and figuring out. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the last few months of my life since joining Island Breeze Manitoba team as a staff member, and how much I’ve been learning and how much my life has changed since YWAM. After my DTS last year, I considered for months coming back to be on staff, but was still pretty hesitant. I’d been messaging some of the staff and asking them what staffing was like. A common thing said was that it was a great learning and growing experience in an ‘x’ number of ways, in these ways and those. Part of me thought “Oooh! That sounds exciting, learning new things and skills, getting out of my comfort zone, meeting new people and expanding my horizons!! Woohoo!!” Part of me now thinks “Yikes! What did I get myself into?” Little did I know just how much of a learning and growing (but awesome and amazing) experience it would be. It was mentioned via email with the director that someone needed to manage the garden for the upcoming year… when I read that I immediately felt like God told me “That’s you. There are things I want to tell you and teach you about in the garden”. That thought scared me so much because I knew very little about gardening, wasn’t confident in my leadership skills and knew it would be a big job.

Fast forward to now – almost mid June. Being part of this team, I’ve been learning so much about the world, life, more about God, cultures, myself and have grown lots since joining. I didn’t really consider myself a leader growing up, didn’t think my world[view] would be expanded past the walls of the small town I grew up in, wasn’t expecting to learn about life through gardening, or enjoy performing in front of people – not to mention even standing up in front of people because as a little kid, I was extremely shy (had a hard time making eye contact and would often cry when friends or strangers called my name in public settings). I’ve changed quite a bit since then! Besides being part of the classroom staff, I’m garden project manager (not overall manager) for the work duty slot from 3-5pm during the week. I was pretty hesitant and scared about this position because I knew that I would need to step up as the leader and direct the students during this time. I wasn’t very confident in my leadership skills, however helping me improve those skills was the exact reason why I was given this position. I still struggle sometimes with figuring out how to teach the students things I’ve been learning about life through gardening in ways they’ll understand… isn’t that why growing pains are called that? They hurt and aren’t fun to have, but they allow us to grow. Looking back on myself since May, I’ve noticed a big improvement in my leading abilities which is very encouraging to me! It’s difficult at times, but with the support I have from my garden mentors and team, it’s really helping me grow in that area 🙂

This week was staff week in which us as staff get to be the speakers. On my day, I spoke about “The Garden of Life” and what I’ve been learning about life through gardening. It’s honestly so fascinating, I don’t really know where to begin! I’ve come to love being in the garden this year because it feels like that one place where I have a special connection with God and can actually hear Him speaking to me. Last year I had a hard time hearing from God and was easily discouraged because it was like everyone else could hear Him except for me. I’d like to share some of what I’ve been learning in the garden, however I’ll save most of it for another blog post because there’s too much to tell – I could go on and on about it, trust me. One thing I’ve learned that ties into my story is about diversity in the garden. You can have the same group of crops or flowers growing in an area, which is nice but it doesn’t “leaf” (haha) whatever’s planted with much room for space, growth or opportunities to adapt to learn to grow with different plants. God loves diversity in the garden of life because it makes things much more beautiful and come to life. He loves it when people from different backgrounds are “planted” together because it makes life so interesting and beautiful, allows for growth as individuals, helps us learn to adjust to new things and expands our horizons and what we know about the world

The analogy describes a lot about how my life has changed since YWAM. I grew up in a really small town in Ontario where pretty much everyone knew everyone and news traveled fast. There were times where I didn’t think I’d get to do anything exciting with my life because I lived in such a small town, but that changed when I joined YWAM. It’s been a life-changing experience for me because I never imagined in a million years making friends and working with people from Fiji, New Zealand/Austrailia or Hawaii and develop strong friendships with them. Moving away from home to be part of this team was very difficult, but has taught me so much about God, life and different cultures – “Pacific”ally (haha) the South Pacific and First Nations – which I love. The thought of going to the South Pacific and/or Hawaii seemed like such a distant dream to me and was something I didn’t think was possible, however God rocked my world because I can say I’ve been to those places and because of all the amazing things I get to be a part of with this team. It’s such a blessing! haven’t been to Hawaii yet, but I know I’ll be there someday 😀 I’ve adjusted quite well to community living, new environments, living and working with people of different backgrounds, realizing I have things that others don’t but need and vise versa (some plants can provide shade and some are small and give space for others to grow), figuring out my strengths and how to use them, growing in my leadership skills and in dancing, getting out of my comfort zone by performing in front of people (even as the only girl at one event) and leading in the garden… oh my what a mouthful!! :p So, that’s my story so far, and it’s still changing as I’m still learning and discovering. Stay tuned for more, take care and God bless! 😀

Catching up!

So much excitement!

For some reason, I had the hardest time figuring out what to write for this post which is unusual because I’ve been blogging for many weeks now. I apologize for not blogging for almost 2.5 weeks… I’ve been super busy, so please forgive me 🙂 A lot of awesome things happened 2 weeks ago: our speaker brought in guests everyday which was awesome. It was great to hear what they all had to say! We started the week learning that God is a God of joy, what joy is and some ways it can be expressed – worship is one of those ways. We were introduced to a lady who does flagging at her church not too far from here. It’s a great (not to mention active) way to worship! We learned different flagging techniques and fun moves you can do. I found out that sign language can be used in flagging to worship by exaggerating the motions of the words/letters. I loved every bit of it (surprise surprise) because I love dancing and had a great time! We also had a well-known local comedian as one of the speakers which I loved. He was hilarious and shared on how we can [not be afraid to] share our faith. The last bit of the week we had a speaker who was my favorite during the last week of lecture phase of my DTS. Everything said was – in today’s language – “on point” and just amazing and so full of truth! So much truth was spoken it’s still hard to wrap my head around everything that was said. This year it’s been easier to understand the topics because now I’m just building onto my foundation from last year. I’m glad some speakers were different this year because I have new perspectives on some topics which are helping me in my relationship with God 🙂

The 19th-24th was quite the week aside from lectures. On Thursday (22nd), myself and another dancer were chosen to be the only dancers for a gig at either an old folks or retirement home not too far from town, mainly for a confidence boost. My nerves arrived when I heard I was the only girl dancer performing and didn’t leave until we finished! I think we did a great job and I’m more confident with my dancing now!! Saturday was SUPER awesome because our team performed at a Hawaiian-themed wedding celebration for a couple who got “Maui’d” in Hawaii (aka my dream destination!!) 😀 I LOVED all of the decorations and the music and got to take a pineapple home at the end!

Ok, so now I’m more up to speed *whew*. The topics this past week were video teachings on sex (“Moral Revolution” – Havilah Cunnington) and marriage (“Love and Respect” series). Both were pretty amazing, informative and gave helpful tools for the future and in the context of familial and/or romantic relationships. What I found super interesting with the teaching on marriage was the concept that girls see with pink glasses, hear with pink hearing aids and speak with a pink megaphone; guys are the same but with blue – when a girl says “I have nothing to wear” she [usually] means she doesn’t have anything new to wear; when a guy says it he [usually] means he doesn’t have anything clean to wear. We interpret things in conversation differently; it’s “not wrong, just different.” I guess in a nutshell, the video spoke about how spouses or guys and girls in familial or romantic relationships can learn how to “Love and Respect” each other. It was great and I got lots out of it.

Friday evening (30th) our team had an “IB’s Got Talent” show at base. We decorated the main area and dressed according to our performances. I was impressed because pretty much everyone did something whether it was dancing, singing, telling jokes, making balloon animals, etc. Even the younger kids participated and did great 🙂 I knew our group was talented because of the production stuff that we do, but I didn’t know we were that talented!! So way to go team on all the awesome performances! I’m also happy that I’m more excited than nervous for this upcoming event our team gets to perform at every week this summer!! I’m excited about it because we get to perform dances from the different Pacific islands 😀 It’ll be great!!

Since January, I’ve been praying that if being in this ministry is where God wants me right now, that He would provide a great place for me to stay after DTS. Over the last little while, an opportunity for a great living arrangement has come up… thank you Jesus, and a massive THANK YOU to everyone supporting me, encouraging and praying for me during this time in my life!! Stay tuned for more 🙂 Take care and God bless!

Finding a passion :D

I love dance!

Last week was another great week! We learned lots of good stuff on the Kingdom and Sonship (stepping into your identity as a son or daughter of God and living your life as that) 🙂 one thing I really enjoyed this week was the bits of soaking we got to do which helped us to enter into the Kingdom and see bits of what God has up His sleeves for us. I can also say that that I must have needed lots of rest because during soaking on Tuesday last week, I actually had to be woken up by someone in the group – that never usually happens :p anyways, we got to have some time here and there in class during the week to soak and just listen to whatever God wanted to tell us… it’s a process for me because it takes a while to die to my own imaginations and quiet my own mind so I can hear from God. I really enjoyed it though 🙂 One thing I really enjoyed and I know the students and other classroom staff enjoyed were all the stories our speaker told of his personal experiences relating to the topic. He also had some quests come speak as well which was great! Lots more stories which (in my humble opinion) made the content even more interesting!

We also had a pretty busy weekend. On Thursday, our production team went to perform at a community event (I believe it was a BBQ) in Winnipeg. I got to dance and it made me soo happy 😀 This past weekend was also Summer/Cultures in the City! I had a fantastic time as I got to dance on Friday as well as dance twice on Saturday. What made it the most enjoyable was how some of my family got to be there to see me dance live and in costume for the first time!!! They got to watch me perform my favorite dance (“Logo Te Pate” from the hit movie Moana) followed by another dance later. They were super proud of me and so happy they could make it… I was to 😀 I didn’t think my smile could get any bigger at that point :p I was really nervous because I had family watching me for the first time, however I still had soooo much fun! On top of all that, our dances were going live on Facebook!!! CHEEHOO (an exclamation used in the Pacific islands to express excitement or celebration)!!!!

I really can’t tell you guys how much I’ve come to love dancing not just the Hula, but also other Polynesian dances. Even though I still get nervous on my way up to a stage to dance (who doesn’t??), as soon as I start dancing, I feel so happy and so much joy in my heart from it 🙂 One thing’s for sure is that I don’t need to “smile more” when I dance :p I’m so thankful for my DTS last year as that’s where my love for the Hula and Polynesian dancing started. As I watched the team last year during their practices and when they performed at venues, something in my heart was stirred and I would feel an overwhelming sense of joy!! I’d sit and watch and just be in awe with the dances and couldn’t wait to start student dance practice. (Fast forward many months to June 2017) I’ve been part of the production team since January, and to this day there’s just something about it that fills me with so much joy as it’s becoming such a passion of mine 😀 It’s also a GREAT way to get your cardio in that’s for sure hahaha!! What surprises me (and other people I show pictures to of myself dancing on stage) is how incredibly shy I was growing up, and now here I am years down the road being able to perform in front of crowds of however many people! Who’da thunk it?!? I’m surprising myself and lots of others haha… it’s pretty amazing 🙂 Just thinking about all of this makes me very thankful for the work God’s been doing in my life! Stay tuned for my next post!! 😀

New Creation Realities

Being challenged!

I’m not quite sure how to describe/summarize this past week… I was really challenged with the topic New Creation Realities as we got to ponder some serious and deep questions about God. I was a bit upset that I missed the Monday Morning lecture because I needed to be in the garden, however I learned a very important lesson about people and life that morning through a process called Managing by Walking Around. In a nutshell, the process is (1) identify the plants/flowers (people) and try to find any source of life or the “gold” amongst the surrounding grass/weeds (looking past peoples’ flaws, issues, etc. to find the life/”gold” in them) if any, (2) prioritize and work first where it’s needed most, and (3) support any plants/flowers that look like they need assistance. If you really think about it, it’s a very similar to how a hospital operates and when it comes to people. So, I guess I learned something valuable anyways! I was happy because even though it was hot, I was in the garden with our students mostly all week!! WEED did (that was a pun in case any of y’all are PUNdering… ok, I’m PUN – sorry, ok no more :p!!) lots of work hoeing, butifying (aka weeding – shifting focus onto making room for the plants and not focusing on the weeds) and tending to our flower  beds… the garden looks absolutely beautiful now!!

The week was different than my DTS last year because we had class outside a few times and got time to roam around and ponder on some questions. Our speaker spoke for a bit, then would say “I’m going to ask you a question, and then the next 15-20 minutes or so is yours to do whatever you like as you ponder the question, then we’ll meet again and discuss what we got.” Some questions he asked were “Who is God?”, “Where is God”, “What does God say about you?”, “Who does God say you are?”, etc. The first question was “Where is God”. I got up and felt compelled to go to the garden. I wandered a bit in the parking lot and closed my eyes and felt myself being pulled towards the garden again… and so I went. I wandered around there for a bit and then headed back when it was time. As I shared what I found, I mentioned seeing the wind blowing the trees in that direction and how I felt myself being pulled towards the garden when I closed my eyes… Where is God?? In that moment, I believe He was the wind guiding me to the garden because He loves being with me in there and because it’s such a beautiful and sacred place to encounter Him.

As I said, the week was full of challenging questions that our speaker asked us which we got to discuss as a group; questions that I wouldn’t have thought of or even want to ask because I’d be too afraid that God would be upset with me or that people would question me if I doubted my faith :/. However, asking God those questions and discussing them with others is how we can gain a deeper and better understanding of God and how He operates. This is my 2nd time hearing this topic and it’s still a toughie to wrap my mind around as it’s a complete change in mindset… as I said (for the 3rd time haha), New Creation Realities. Us girls watched “The Shack” at the end of last week. I’m not sure how to describe it other than to say that I cried and that it basically (in my opinion) shatters any ideals/expectations/pre-conceived notions or opinions people have of who they think God is compared to who He really is. I haven’t read the book yet sadly, but I hope to soon. After we watched it, it made me think about how I view God, who I think He is and not who He really is. Quite a bit to chew on isn’t it?? I’ll give you guys some time to think about that haha :p

On Friday, our speaker prophesied and gave each of us a word(s) that he sensed God spoke to him about us which was very cool. I’m glad I recorded the session so I can go back and hear what he said to me 🙂 It was a great week full of interesting and engaging discussions and being challenged. Later in the afternoon we got to have a pool party as a team which was so much fun!! The best part of my day though was visiting with my parents and one of my siblings over supper in town before they carried on with their trip. It was so nice 🙂 On Saturday, a group of us went to a town not too far away to work the concession at the fair. It was a LONG and busy day but it was lots of fun filled with memories and much laughter! This coming week I believe the topic is on the Kingdom and Sonship which I’m looking forward to 🙂 Take care everyone and I hope y’all have a blessed week!! 😀

Another great week :)

Father Heart of God!

Last week our speaker flew in from Hawaii (aka my dream destination :p) to speak on “The Father Heart of God”… always a great week!! That week was my highlight from lecture phase last year. It’s usually a big week during DTS for many students as they gain better revelation and understanding of God’s love and heart for them. It’s also a week to laugh, cry and feel all the emotions in between as it deals with heart stuff. As a 1st time staff member, it’s such a great reminder again of just how much God loves me and what His heart is for me is no matter what I do.

A few verses I’ve come to love from last week are: Romans 8:36-38 which says “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now, I’m not sure about you guys, but I seriously LOVE that verse. It’s hard for me (or anyone for that matter) to fully comprehend that verse because God’s love is unfathomable, in other words (haha), it can’t be measured and is impossible to understand because we don’t get how someone could love us that much with what “mess” we may have in our lives. Another verse I love is James 1:12 “Happy are those who remain faithful under trails, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.” This verse makes me think of being on staff because even through the “trials” I face (being overwhelmed with everything sometimes, taking on more leadership type roles even if they seem scary/uncomfortable, stepping out of my comfort zone, etc.), I still praise and thank God for them and for where I’m at because I know they’re helping me become the person He made me to be 🙂 “You grow the most outside of your comfort zone.” – quote I heard from one of our staff members.

It’s super encouraging to me to see how eager our students are to learn everything they can about God during lectures; they’re like sponges absorbing water haha! It’s so cool! One thing I love about “The Father Heart of God” week is that as difficult as it may be at the time, the students and us staff get to deal with the “mess” in our lives which often brings healing in some way, shape or form. Then, it becomes the message/testimony which can be shared with others who’ve dealt or are dealing with the same thing(s) and can bring them healing, and the cycle continues. It’s so great and I feel so blessed to be part of the events that take place in the classroom every week 🙂

At the end of the week on Friday, all of us (students and staff) wrote on paper the things we wanted to give to God (dying to self – DTS – basically) and taped them to a wooden cross which was carried outside to the fire pit. We each took our piece of paper and put it into the fire after individually saying a prayer to be done with whatever was on the list, which symbolized that we were saying goodbye to the old us and wanted Jesus to come and fill us up again. It was great and we each had the chance to give feedback on how we felt afterwards. After lectures finished and lunch was over, we got to relax and swim in our base directors parents’ house for a few hours before playing “Survive-All” Steinbach (a twist on the show “Survivor”). It was so nice because it was a nice hot summer day, however I got burned a bit :p. “Survive-All” was lots of fun and had challenges that involved crazy, vigorous physical activity… I haven’t done that kind of physical activity in months, so one could imagine how sore you’d be after doing something like that :p it was lots of fun though! I really enjoyed it 😀

Welp, we’re almost a month and a half into this DTS which is absolutely crazy! Despite some challenges I’ve faced in the last while, I still love what I get do to cannot tell you guys how much of a blessing it is to be part of this ministry. I’m also enjoying working in the garden as I’m learning so much about life through what God’s been speaking to me and the people I work along side with in there. I’m looking forward to this next week and what it holds! Stay tuned for more!! Be blessed y’all and take care 😀

He speaks :)

Crazy how God speaks!

I’m going to try blogging on a weekly basis or maybe every 2 weeks… I’m not sure yet. I would seriously appreciate your guys’ thoughts/any feedback on these blog posts whether it be on future improvements, questions, or anything y’all want to know.

2 weeks ago was Life Skills week! The topics covered were budgeting, public speaking (my personal favorite… I say sarcastically), car maintenance and cooking. Public speaking is definitely not my favorite thing to do, however being on this team is helping me to overcome my fear of it… slowly but surely! On “car maintenance” day, we learned how to boost a car, change a tire, change the oil and check the oil level. I got to change a tire and volunteered to get a little dirty and empty the oil tank so that it could be changed. Doing these things brought back memories of my dad teaching me how to do this stuff. Thanks dad!

Last week the topics were prayer, conflict, conflict resolution and fear. I really enjoyed the lectures and got so much out of them and was equipped with tools that I can use in the future for sure. For me, the most memorable topic besides prayer was fear. Our speaker showed us what we thought was a happy, peaceful video of a car driving down a windy road down in the trees when it was actually one of those videos where a scary face popped up screaming!! We all jumped and shrieked a bit – one way to help us stay awake in the morning :p Later on, we each got a mouse trap and were instructed to write some of our fears on the back of it, and if we wanted we could share them out loud. It’s scary sharing your fears, but I believe it opens up doors for a deeper level of trust between people as well as welcomes others to help you overcome those fears. After sharing if we wanted, we were told to set the trap and put our hand over it with the goal of lowering our hand so that it touched the mouse trap… TALK ABOUT SCARY RIGHT?!?! I was freaking out because I didn’t want the trap to go off. Where do these fears come from??

Another interesting point that I learned during that lecture is that we fear when we are not in control *le gasp!*. You’d be comfortable driving down the road if you were the driver and had control of the vehicle, but you wouldn’t be as comfortable if you were in the passenger seat because you wouldn’t be in control of the vehicle, especially if animals decided to randomly cross in front of you. That was a mind=blown moment for me because I can definitely see what side of the vehicle I’ve been sitting on in my journey with God. I gave my life to Christ on June 1st (this week will mark 1 year!) last year and I still find myself trying to do things my way because I like being IN CONTROL. It’s hard to give Him the reins and just let Him take over because then He’s in control (aka the driver seat) and I’m not, but again that’s what DTS also stands for: Die To Self – poof, mind=blown… again. So there’s a little fun fact about me for you guys.

*Switching topics now* Part of my job description on staff is being garden project manager for the work duty slot during the week. I get to direct/lead the students in the garden whenever they are needed in there, and help out even if the students aren’t needed. It’s a growing but also a fun experience for me because it’s helping me develop my leadership/communication skills, hear from God and get to know the students even better!! Things are a bit different this year than last because we have flower bed plots around the perimeter of the garden, so on the one side each of the garden the students and I each have our own flower bed plots. It’s really exciting because as I plant flowers, vegetables or direct the students, God speaks to me by using garden metaphors about life, lessons I learn through gardening, or even through the dirt!! Who’da thunk :p! It’s awesome!!

I’d like to share some of what I’ve heard from God from being in the garden. When I weeded in my flower bed for the 2nd time, I felt God was saying “no matter how many ‘weeds’ you have growing in you, no matter how many times they show up, I will ALWAYS help you clean up the mess because I love you”. Another time, the dirt started crumbling as I took out a single leafy green plant from the tray it came in. Before planting it, I soaked it in water so the roots would loosen up. When I took it out, the dirt crumbled even more and I immediately enclosed it in my hands and did my best to keep the plant together. In that moment, I felt God said “this is what I do when my children ‘fall apart/crumble/veer off track’. I hold them even tighter in my hands and help put them back together.” It’s seriously amazing what He can say to you, even through dirt of all things!! I could go on, but this post is getting quite long and I don’t want to take up too much of your time.

I’m very excited for this week and for our students as our next speaker will be talking about the Father Heart of God which I’m hoping to blog about next week! Alright, take care and God bless you all 😀