Sunday, June 20, 2010

Conversion Story - Part 2

There are two moments in my life that I would say have been pivital moments that I will remember forever. Some folks that have committed to Christ in their adult life probably can remember all the events that took place or have gone through experiences before and after their conversion. And although my first conversion story wasn't as much life-altering but rather it was more monumental in my thinking and faith.

My second conversion story, I would say, was life-altering in many aspects as far as faith, belief, how I approach others about my faith, boldness and perspective. It was like a light came on for me. Fortunately there wasn't anything traumatic going on in my life I think I just finally woke up to the path God has planned for me all along.

It was the year that the book 'The Purpose Driven Life' by Rick Warren came out and everyone was reading it, everyone was talking about it and lives were changing because of it. I had read it through the first time and thought it was a good book but didn't really think I'd read it through again. I like to read but I go through stints and I didn't think I'd pick it up again. Anyway, by the time I was going through it for the 3rd time one of the chapters hit me like a tonne of bricks.

At the end of Chapter 3, Rick states or gives an image of what will happen at the end of time or Judgement Day. I will paraphrase but in short, he says:

You were put here to prepare for eternity.

One day you will stand before God and He will do an audit of your life and will ask two questions.

  1. What did you do with my Son Jesus Christ?

  2. What did you do with the gifts He (God) has given you? The gifts, the talents, opportunities and relationship, did you spend them on yourself?

Again, I believe this moment was truly the Holy Spirit working in my life to show me that I am not alone and I am here for a purpose. It was at the time when I felt like I needed to make a difference and let those around me know about Jesus Christ. In fact, I was so moved and impacted that I didn't want any opportunity to be missed.

Particularly I remember meeting up with a friend to check out her new house that was being built and we had to wait outside in her car until the one of the construction workers came to open the door. While we waited, I thought this would be a good opportunity to just say what I had to say. It was the first time that I ever really professed my faith and so I was nervous but more I felt like I just needed to say it.

I think I started out by saying something like, 'You know, I have to tell you something and I don't know how you will respond to it but I feel I just need to say it. I had mentioned that I was reading this book and I want to tell you about my friend Jesus Christ.' To my relief we talked for a bit about it and shortly after that she decided to start attending church. We've had many bible studies from that first meeting and we've also gotten closer because of it. All in the name of Jesus Christ.

I try to speak boldly about my faith but one thing I know for sure, the more I study and read, the more I grow and less fear is instilled in me. I know I've been blessed with having many contacts, friends and relationships to the point of it being (probably) to my detriment. Meaning that I thrive on relationships and that fulfillment is good but I also know that being in His Word can fill a deeper void that I have within me. It's the discipline of taking the time to spend it with God rather than filling the clock with 'things to do'. I also believe that God made us for the purpose of relationship, however, we need to keep the vertical relationship Priority #1 before any horizontal relationship.

So I ask this (it applies to myself as well), where are we giving our time? Are we spending time with the Father as much as our earthly relationship? How are we making a difference in our lives and to the circle of influence around us? Are we making the most of opportunities?

Capability + Opportunity = Responsibility

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Conversion Story - Part 1

When I was 13, close to turning 14 I told my dad that I wanted to be baptized. We had talked a bit and we went through reasons why I wanted to be baptized and also what Jesus did for this whole reason to be valid.

However, now that I'm older and have life experience behind me I belief that moment when I was a teenager was more of the act of committing to Jesus Christ and not the faith behind it. Well, to give credit to myself I think that I did understand but it wasn't until my twenties when I truly felt it. It being a conglomerate of faith, grace, the Holy Spirit, Christ in my life and the sacrifice given.

When I first moved to Calgary I didn't know anyone but thankfully the Nyrose family opened their home to me. I moved here during Stampede time and for a girl who didn't know what Stampede was it was quite a shock and highly not recommended. I was with them for a few weeks looking for work before they were leaving for a couple weeks of camping. Quickly I found a job so I was quite excited since this was my first job fresh out of college. I had a spring in my step and innocent (or naive) eyes upon the world to which I would begin my new life and new career.

Unfortunately (at that time anyway), one of the projects they had hired me for was quickly cancelled and they couldn't afford to have 3 designers. Well, you know how the saying goes - last one hired, first one......even though it was a lay-off it was quite a blow to the self-esteem. I had just started unpacking my things after being there three weeks and sure enough I was having to collect it all again.

All that being said, I went back to the Nyrose place and they had just left for holiday so I was all by myself in a unfamiliar home, city, even side of the country. I was definitely going through some culture shock. I remember sitting on their kitchen counter with my thoughts and in shock of the events that had taken place wondering what I was going to do. I knew I had to get back to the job-hunt again but having been hired and laid-off for the first time (for each) within a 3 week time period was a lot to handle.

Knowing I was all alone I started crying and then I began to pray. I didn't know what to do or who to turn to but thankfully I knew and remembered that God was in my presence. Since I didn't know anyone here I felt alone and without love but then it hit me that the One that truly loves me is Jesus. I started crying harder but more out of happiness and grace knowing that I am loved even when I'd been given this blow to this new start I had that was shortly lived. I felt like I was finally understanding it, well, understanding more than what I did before about why Jesus sacrificed himself for us, for me! Why?? Because He loves me! Then the song 'Jesus loves me' came in my head. It was like a light finally came on with that song. I had been singing that song for literally decades but it wasn't until something monumental happened that I really took note of it.

Having Jesus in my life for most of my life had been an advantage I had taken advantage of. But when the rubber hit the road I'm glad I was able to fall back on a foundation I'd grown up with that wasn't noticed before.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I saw a rainbow tonight

I was driving home tonight and before me sat a perfect rainbow. I don't usually see the full half of a rainbow (because as you know, rainbows are circles, we just don't see the other half because of the horizon line), but tonight I did. I could see most of the colors and it was so beautiful. When I saw it tonight, especially because of how crisp it was, it made me think of Noah (of course).

Maybe I think too much or read into things alot (don't judge please) but I started thinking about the rain falling on my car and the dark clouds around me but since the sun was behind me I knew there had to be a rainbow nearby. I took to be a little metaphorical (is that a word?) in how some times we can be in a 'teary' place but when the Son is shining His promises will follow through. He promised Noah with the sign of a rainbow and He continues to do that for us today. We must remember though that our rainbow or promise is that of the cross. After the tears became the Resurrection and the promise of eternal life with Him.

Coincidently the song on the radio was by Third Day, Mountain of God. The words are below and it sort of all tied together.

Thanks for making my day, Lord.

Mountain of God

I thought that I was all alone,
broken and afraid,
but you were there with me,
you were there with me.
And I didn't even know
I had lost my way,
but you were there with me,
yes, you were there with me.
Tell you opened up my eyes I never knew,
that I couldn't ever make it without you.

Even though the journey's long,
and I know the road is hard.
Well the one who's gone before me,
He will help me carry on.
And after all that I've been through,
now I realize the truth
that I must go through the valley
to stand upon the Mountain of God.

As I travel on the road,
you have led me down,
you are here with me,
yes, you are here with me.
And I have need for nothing more
Oh, now that I have found
that you are here with me,
yes, you are here with me.
I confess from time to time I lose my way,
but you were always there to bring me back again.


Sometimes I think of where it is I've come from,
And the things I've left behind.
Well, of all I've had,
what I posess,
they can't quite compare,
with what's in front of me,
with what's in front of me.

Even though the journey's long,
and I know the road is hard,
well, the one who's gone before me,
he will help me carry on.
And after all that I've been through,
now I realize the truth
that I must go through the valley,
to stand upon the mountain. . .
well, I must go through the valley,
to stand upton the mountain. . .
yes, I must go through the valley,
to stand upon the mountain of God.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What do you talk about?

Intelligent people talk about ideas.

Smart people talk about events.

Small minded people talk about others.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Upside of Anger

Years ago I saw this movie (The Upside of Anger) and although most people said they weren't really impressed with it, I found it actually quite intriguing. Intriguing enough to buy it as well. Whether their opinions reflected the plot or acting, I'm not sure but I learned a good lesson from the movie.

**Warning - Spoiler Alert** I plan to reveal the climax of the movie so if you would like to watch it without me spoiling it than I suggest you close this page down and wait (with eager anticipation, of course) till my next post.

The plot of the movie is that the main female character (played by Joan Allen) becomes a bitter woman when her husband apparently leaves her family and her, traveling with his Swedish secretary to her country. The beginning of the movie shows her trying to call or contact her husband but since there is no answer she assumes that he has left her. Since she is left with looking after her 4 teenage daughters all on her own she begins to depend on alcohol to numb her pain. She then becomes highly emotional - most of her emotions tend toward anger - and with the addition of her drinking problems, she will often have outbursts, both appropriate and inappropriate.

Throughout the movie there are different scenes where they show how the bitterness envelopes who she once was and the pain that exists inside her is washed over by numbing it with alcohol. Her relationships (especially with her daughters) become unhealthy and division is created and broadened as time and hurt grow longer.

The turning point in the movie is when some developers are excavating behind her house (sub-plot and not important to the point I'm trying to make) discover a body in the bottom of a well or creek. Upon discovering the body they look in the wallet of the deceased and realize that it is/was her late husband. It's at that moment when her mind starts to race and guilt fills her soul because of what she thought was the truth was actually what killed him. Whether or not he was having an affair with his secretary is watered down by the fact that her insecurities overshadowed any type of truth that could exist.

The lessons I learned from the movie run far deeper than a reel shining on a big screen. Maybe I like to find deeper meaning to stories but I think if people weren't thrilled about this movie than they missed the whole point. Some times, most times we tend to only look at circumstances/life/others/etc through our own eyes and become so self-involved in our own failures/insecurities/pride/etc that we make judgements on what we think is reality. We don't need to resort to anger because there is an upside. There is another story to be told, we just have to have the patience and humility to hear it.

I say all this because recently I've been exposed to a situation that woke me up from my own cloud of ignorance. In my last post I was commenting on the fact that this is 'wedding season' and how I felt like status updates on facebook were in-my-face when I have been struggling with that 'thorn in my side'. Recently, however, it was brought to light that some times things aren't as rosey as things may appear. By no means will I go into specifics because it really isn't my point.

Why I decided to post on this situation I came face-to-face with was because I am just as guilty as anyone else with expressing unnecessary feelings that are only a detriment to me based on my own assumptions and not reality. It sort of gave me a wake up call to realize that there are two sides to every story. Someone told me once 'don't judge your insides with someone's outsides' and it is so true. I've also been told before that a majority of the time when we are feeling angry it is usually ourselves we are mad at we just take it out on others. I wasn't sure if that statement was true or not but since then if ever I'm feeling angry I walk through my thought pattern and realize that, yes, a majority of the time it is myself who I'm most upset with. I can't control how others are but do have control over (and a responsibility of) my actions or reactions. Could the main character have chosen a better way to handle her anger? Of course! We all make decisions and regardless of the situation we are in it is how we handle it that is the true test of character. I'll take that statement to the grave for sure.

I could be angry (not recently anyway) at God and take it out on loved ones around me like the main character in the movie but what I have to realize is is that I can't look at what other's have been blessed with and compare it to what I feel God hasn't blessed me with. With marriage comes other sorts of 'work' that I haven't been exposed to. I've been blessed with other opportunities and other sorts of 'work' that some married folk would believe they've missed out on.

Things are not always as they seem and there is an upside to anger.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Geek at heart

Ah you intrigue me. The older I get the more I'm yearning to soak up knowledge.

Solomon says in -
Proverbs 1:7 - 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.'
Proverbs 2: 6 - 8 'For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.'

I find that pretty encouraging given that lately I've been trying to read catch up with all the books on my shelves, ones people have given me and magazines purchased. On my trip home I bought two magazines (and no they weren't celeb mags with the latest gossip only because I know most of it already - haha), one was a travel magazine and the other is called Scientific American Mind.

Lately I've been trying to read about history and monumental events but typically most of the books I read are about bettering yourself and becoming all that God would like us to be. Currently I'm reading The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet. In it he uses the Starbucks franchise as an example of how we are as Christians. For example he says, we can stand in line all day at a Starbucks but if we don't participate (in any form of transaction) we won't actually be satisfied. Now if you take that into context with the God's Church it would be like saying that you need to participate and be involved or you won't fully get out of it what you need and what God has prepared for you. Pretty good stuff, I'd say.

The mag's I read on my trip back home were so fantastic! I love to travel and it was great to know that two of the places mentioned for the top 20 places to visit in Europe were places I've been to already. So many places, so little time and money......

The American Scientific Mind was intriguing as well given that I like to read information about how or why we think the way we do, etc. This month it's main focus had different articles on how men and woman converse with one another and why we communicate the way we do. Still working on those articles but if I find out anything earthshattering I'll post it on here.

I remember someone saying something to the affect of knowledge being like climbing a ladder. The more you climb, the more you see the horizon and see how much more there is to know.

Friday, May 7, 2010

My nightmare last night

Last night I had a terrible dream. I'm not sure what caused my thoughts to go down that road but they did. I say 'caused' because I think our dream state is due to things that are in our subconscious and we don't even realize it. This dream was quite disturbing and I'm not sure if I can describe the intensity to reflect the feelings I had. Sort of like reading a book then watching the's just not the same.

It was dark outside but still lots of city lights and night time activity and I was at the back of a convenience store scanning the shelves. My back was to the coolers and facing the counter but since the shelves were my eye-height I couldn't see the window front. (Of course, from my experience in working at 7-Eleven I realize now that shelf height is much lower than that.) Anyway, there were others in the store as well, some new each other some didn't. Small conversations were about and just normal, regular activity.

Then a few men came in and they started yelling at us in a foreign language and then repeating themselves in English. They we asking us to divide up into races, North American over here, Mexican over there, etc., etc. At this point the blood in my veins was pumping so much with adrenaline I could hear it pulsing in my head. I was so nervous and thoughts were running through my head a mile a minute with ideas of how to get out of there or trying to impress on my mind the details of their face so I could recognize them or describe them later. From my recollection they seemed to be part of the Taliban or something. Who knows! I had never been in a situation like this. This only happens on tv! They didn't ask for cash or anything of monetary value; their prize was us. They had some weapons but they must've been small and I say that because as they were doing that another group of men came in with visibly larger weaponry and took over this group of men and again started asking us to divide up. (I'm not sure what any of this means and I haven't thought long enough about it to decipher it)

I then found ourselves on a dirty old school bus going to another location and then the scene changed to our final destination. The next scene was all of the customers (to whom some had now turned out to be some of my friends), walking in a barn-like building with dirt floors. The light shone from one bulb hanging loosely above the leader of this criminal group and he was carrying a gun resting on his shoulder. I noticed different wooden crates misplaced here and there; to my left was some rope tied to a warnout picnic table that looked like some sort of torture mechanism.

The leader then ordered us to take a seat on some of the crates and at this point our hands were tied behind our backs. There was no way to escape. We were tied up, the tension, nerves, adrenaline, weaponry, and evil roamed about us. Across from me I could see the makeshift torture 'area' to which would soon be my fate. I didn't notice too much of the feelings inside of me and the fear I must've had but it was more like I was having an out-of-body experience and noticing everything around me and the energy in the air instead. (If that makes any sense) I did experience fear but maybe my body was just in shock.

Then we were asked the question: Who would like to be the first to be beaten at the Cat-o-nine table? He called it. Really? Is this how I am suppose to live out my last day? Is this my final moment? There was hesitation in the room and there was a big guy sitting next to me whom I could sort of hide behind his shadow but I felt like I would be picked first. Was it something in me that felt I should take the first hit and help the others from experiencing the pain? Those are some of the thoughts that went through my head.

I then remember again having the out-of-body experience because I was still sitting on the same crate I first sat on but then I was watching myself being tied up at the picnic table and about to be tortured with the Cat-o-nine tails. (sp) My thoughts then turned to Christ. Is this what he had to endure for us? His back split open from a whip that would tear him apart and the rest of the torture all because he longs to be with us. Through all of beatings, ridicule, humiliation and adrenaline pumping through his veins and his only response was: Forgive them.