joy soaked words

finding my way

multiplied hotdogs

Opening this blog after such a long time feels like cracking open an old book, blowing off the dust and inhaling that musty scent that old books carry.

I’m back in school, my first years moved in and school starts again on tuesday. I also can’t believe that camp is done – that I am back here. I catch myself trying to process camp for all that it was and all that the Lord showed me through those 2 and a half months that I was cooking for over 100 people, and I can’t. There were so many moments, where the Lord poured his goodness out over that kitchen, over me, that continually brings me to tears.

A little backstory, I am not a camp person, never liked going when I was young, and worked one summer as a cabin leader three years ago before deciding that camp was just not for me. This year, every single summer job was falling through, and I was sitting with the Lord, asking him what I was going to do because nothing was working out and I was beginning to get a tad bit stressed about this whole make money during the summer because you are a student sort of situation. He told me to wait – I have patience issues sometimes and the Lord is well aware of this, we are working on it together. The director of my camp and his wife had come for dinner right around exam season for me, which wasn’t great timing, but I made it home anyways. He was joking around and said that the Head Cook role was still available, and immediately the Lord told me, that’s where I have you. So, I ended up in a kitchen all summer long, and absolutely loving my job for all aspects of it.

So here I am, back at school. Feeling like the summer was almost like a dream, but enjoying the fact that I can have more then two sips of coffee before somebody needs me for dietary options.

I’m not entirely sure where I wanted to take this blog post, other than perhaps an update on my life – so, cool.

Also, had a total loaves and fish story that involved hotdogs this summer, which was absolutely wild – the Lord really does provide if you ask him.

I am heading into my third year of university, running a women’s ministry, being an RA to a lovely bunch of women, and am also on the school newspaper. It is going to be great, I can feel it in my bones, the Lord has some big things in store for this year.

There is such a small update on my life, if you want to hear more, let’s grab coffee.

njl

she’s a writer.

Words falling onto this page, early mornings and bleary eyes. In school, I study words. At home, I write words. Words have become who I am, they flow through my veins like blood cells on the way to my fingertips. A writer, an artist, a creative brain. Some words taste bitter off the tongue, delete. Some words roll, sweet off the lips. Sometimes I feel like writing is like riding a bike, skinned knees and all. You get up and try again, and again. Rejection comes as fast as the pavement to your shins, the unexpected, stinging blow.

I struggle with the term writer. I’ve been published in a few Redeemer related publications, but that is the extent of what work has gone beyond this blog, my journal or my instagram.

I have random pieces of poetry, written on the back of receipts and scrap paper that I keep tucked away. Sometimes, Fear speaks louder than Courage in my mind. Fear likes to tell me that I’m not enough, that my writing doesn’t matter, so why bother. Courage is a different voice than fear, because Courage allows me to share my story. I’ve learned how to give Courage the ability to speak up for herself. To give Courage the ability to speak up for herself, means the creative side of her is aloud to present itself. It allows her to share these marked up receipts and paper torn out of old journals. To give her the ability to say no to things, instead of giving in. Courage yells sometimes, when I know I need to listen to her. I’m learning how to tune out Fear and listen closely for the voice of Courage.

Discipline is a large part of this journey, choosing discipline regardless of what is going on, discipline in my writing, discipline in showing up, in my running and many other areas of my life.

I’m all about the redemption process, the dirt and grime. I’m all ears for how Jesus has stepped into your life, traded out old for new. I want to capture these stories, in words written on paper.

This blog post has come out of soapy water, and cracking over 300 eggs. It comes from the silence in the big room, with my feet tucked under me, and my shoes off and beside me, the rest that I crave after a busy morning of meal making. This blog post has been a paragraph here and there, between cups of coffee and massive pots of macaroni.

It’s how I fully expect this summer to go, little breaks here and there. Sentences in holding, waiting to be.

This is the cool thing about writing, it doesn’t define me. Nor does being a runner, or anything else I enjoy doing, and make time for in my day. I don’t like to be put in a box, being told what I should call myself, or how I should define myself.

There is something so beautiful about mismatched patterns on clothes, having very specific ways I like my coffee, and how I could happily eat cotton candy for every single meal. It doesn’t define me anymore then being a writer does. Writing is in my genes, it’s apart of this bigger story that I am apart of, for I am the pen in His hand.

anyways, meal planning is calling my name.

till next time, little corner of the internet.

njl.

show up.

So far I have cooked 3 meals for over 100 people, without running out of food or burning anything. My feet are aching, but this heart is oh so full. I was chatting with somebody yesterday about how this season is exactly where God has me for right now, and it is so obvious. Through this season, I know that he is preparing me for the next, I can see the gold strands of him throughout it all. Being the head cook at camp this summer, I felt a lot of pressure, I didn’t want there to be strife between the staff I was working with, I wanted to create a menu that was not only camp food, but food that people enjoyed eating. I wanted to create a space in camp, where people felt welcome to come and chat, spend time (washing dishes) with me and my fellow cooks, as well as just a place where good food and good converstation came out of. So far, all of these things are happening, and it’s a joy to stand back and watch how the Lord provides to those who ask. I know that there are going to be days where I want to throw in the towel, and days where the dishes are literally never ending. But I also know that the Lord has asked me to be here, for now. So I am going to keep showing up. Showing up to cook good food, and showing up to those never ending dishes.

Showing up to my writing is just as important, I tend to push off my writing, my blog and any other creative writing. I don’t schedule time to blog, like I schdule everything else in my life. My planner is my best friend, and keeps me organized, but I don’t set aside an hour to just write. I’m changing that, I am setting goals for myself because I work hard to accomplish them. I set a goal to run a 5k in the fall a couple of months ago, and I have been running close to 6 days a week, because of that goal I set.

800 words. That is how many words I want to write in a week, through a blog post, a short story or poetry. 800 words is doable, and it will force me to keep showing up to this blog, to my writing. I can’t be a writer, if I don’t write. I can’t be a runner, if I don’t run. When I first started training, I could hardly run for 30 seconds without having to stop, a couple of weeks ago, I ran 2, 8 minute stretches. I know that isn’t terribly long, but I also am aware of how far I have come since I started.

The first step in my writing dream, was buying my domain. This is my space to write, to create.

Next, 800 words weekly.

Like this kitchen, I have to keep showing up. It’s my anthem.

Also, I just wanted to remind whoever reads this blog and also remind myself, that it is also very okay to mess up. You will mess up, you will forget things, you will burn food and forget to show up sometimes.

Keep showing up. Keep messing up. You have to learn somehow.

This is my way of keeping myself accountable. If the words are in my corner of the internet, I feel as if I know have accountability in this. Accountability in showing up, and sometimes messing up.

Until next time.

njl.

our kitchen table

My mom is the most hospitable person I know, she opens her home to anybody who needs a hot meal, or a warm bed to sleep in for a night. I don’t think there was ever a time that she has turned someone away, because in opening her home, she is loving whoever walks through our front door in the best way she knows how. My mom is a lover through the art of hospitality, and I hope that I can love to the exent that she loves one day, opening my home like she does so often.

My parents have also instilled in us the importance of sharing a meal together, coming together to break bread together. Our kitchen table is in the main area of our home, it serves as a beacon of family and comfort when life is feeling like a chaos of appointments, job schedules and music lessons. As a family, we make time every single day to come together and sit at our table, usually over a meal, but sometimes a card game or two.

The kitchen table that we all grew up eating around, was a table that my dad had made. A labor of love, through his gift in woodworking. That table was full of memories sitting around, laughter and joy echoing off it’s scratched surface. My parents bought a new table, made by an amish woodworker a couple of years ago. Knowing the importance of how my mom loves, they bought a table that can be extended to fit 20 people around it. Fully extended, it basically goes to the other end of the living room. It takes people by surprise every single time they walk into our home for a large gathering.

I think that in Heaven, there is going to be a table that fits every single person at it, because that’s how Jesus loved while he was here on earth. Breaking bread, sharing a meal. He loved in ways that people didn’t understand, turning 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish into enough food to feed 5000, with leftovers. Jesus’s mission here on earth, was a labor of love, loving in the best way he knew how. Being there alongside his followers, healing the sick and sharing the good news.

My parents have shown me how to love others well, through our kitchen table. Love doesn’t have to complicated, it’s knowing a few recipes that go over well with a crowd, and opening your home, even when you don’t want to.

People have walked into our home, and said that they feel at home. That is the kind of atmosphere I want to create when I own a home. A kitchen table full of memories and scratches from dishes being passed around the table.

Thank you, Mom for showing me the importance of a kitchen table.

Thank you, Dad for building that first table, through your labor of love, I have learned how to love others well through good food and laughter.

njl.

forks and swords.

I tend to forget that I have this little corner of the internet to write in, dusting off the URL after a bit of a hiatus. I’ve been in such a sweet season of life of rest, preparing for camp and all the craziness that comes with the role of head cook.

I’m writing this post on the art of discipline, rest and the table that Jesus calls us to sit at, two things that are somewhat connected in this walk of life I’m in.

I am currently training for a 5k run. I started training just over a month ago, and those first couple of days were the hardest. Getting up in the morning, putting on my workout clothes and telling myself that it will get easier, but I have to stick with it. Exercise has never been something I have stuck with for long, without a goal I slowly fizzle out of the pattern of working out everyday. Since I now have a goal, to complete a 5k run, and then hopefully longer runs after I have a 5k run under my belt, I feel like I can do it.

Somedays, it’s the last thing I want to do, but I’ve kept up with it for the past month and I am already seeing results. There are a lot more areas in my life that I need more discipline, writing is one of them. I will never get good at something if I never work at it, because it takes time.

In the same breath, rest.

I can’t push the idea of rest enough, even with discipline in other areas of your life. You also need to have rest as a discipline, because without rest, you will eventually burn out. I run between 5 and 6 days a week, but have always scheduled Sunday as a full day of rest. To a certain extent, because church is busy and tiring, but I still set aside the day of Sabbath to spend time with family and friends, not worrying about trying to get a run in that day, because the Lord himself even rested on the 7th day.

On Sunday, my pastor spoke on the idea of Psalm 23, and how the Lord has prepared a table for us in front of our enemies, the idea of how he calls us to sit down and rest instead of fighting our battles, because he will fight them for us.

“He calls us to pick up a fork and drop the sword”

– Mike Rutledge

The idea of how he has prepared a table with all of our favorite foods, I imagine a table full of cotton candy, BBQ chicken and green and red jelly beans, a table full of laughter and sweet conversation, a table where rest is fully present.

We need to have discipline in our walk with the Lord, with tithing and simply setting aside time to spend time in his presence, to find the rest we are craving with him. The discipline in sitting down at the table that he has prepared for us, in the presence of our enemies.

I understand why discipline is hard, I get it. I understand why people just don’t start, and I understand why people don’t stick with whatever they are doing. It takes time to build up the endurance, but with time, you will see the results.

I think it’s time to drop that sword you have been holding onto, and pick up the fork. Pull out a chair at the table you have been yearning to sit at.

njl.

frustrated plants

This year is wrapping up, less than a month to go. I know this season of beautiful things is coming to an end, and I don’t know how to think. I catch myself spending more time trying to hold onto every single memory, and yet I am also trying to figure out how I am going to get all 26 plants home without damaging them. The Lord has been so gracious to me, his provision continually brings me to tears. I know that new things are on the horizon, new and exciting things. I have decided to RA again next year, with a whole new group of first year women. I will once again be in a position as a role model, of leadership, and simply a position where I get to love on, and pour into these girls with everything I have inside of me, for the eight months that we will love together. The Lord showed me how important this role is over these past seven months, and how much of a heart he has for these women.

I’m going from a dorm room, to a suitcase and back to a dorm room. I so badly want to settle down, rent an apartment and move in my plants so they don’t feel displaced every eight months. One of my plants drops off all of its leaves when I move it anywhere, a passive aggressive attempt at telling me to leave it put. I feel you plant. I know that I am good at making a place a home, I learned from my momma how to make somebody feel right at home, even if they are there for five minutes. I created a home away from home for these six girls for these eight months, and I’ll do it all over again in September again. What an honour that is. I know that the Lord is calling me to this, so I will continue in it until he lets me know when it’s time to move on.

These past seven months have been nothing short of incredible, learning more about who I am as a leader, as I step out of my comfort zone and step into who the Lord is calling me to be. I’ve embraced the words, mama nat. Loved on these girls with everything I have inside of me. Laughed over spaghetti being thrown above our heads, and played ultimate frisbee along some of the finest players I know. I’ve stayed up late, much later then I would prefer, eating nutella on bagels and having life chats. Jane the Virgin marathons, mini egg fights and chats over teeth brushing. This is such a sweet season of life.

Somedays I feel like my plant, desperate to put my roots down. Passively aggressively dropping my leaves when I have to move. Other days, I feel like all I want to do is pack and move on to the next thing in my life because it’s so exciting to start fresh.

Let’s meet in the middle, with half of our leaves gone and the other half packed away in a suitcase. Let’s meet in the middle, and get real with each other about the struggles we are facing. The arguments we are having because we are taking our frustrations on those who don’t deserve it. Let’s grab coffee and sit with each other in the silence of the unknown. Let’s rock out on long car drives to jams, and learn how to love each other better during these times of transition. Transition isn’t easy. It’s messy and complicated. There’s something beautiful about being in the middle of it.

I’ve written about transition before, and I know this won’t be the last time I will. I know I will find myself in transition a lot in the upcoming years, and there is a lot to be said about this topic, a lot on my heart about what I need to say.

I feel a bit like my leaves are beginning to drop. I am dreading the day I stand in an empty dorm, as empty as I first moved in. I know this next season will be vastly different, but I also know that the Lord is preparing me for what’s next.

Anyways.

njl.

Dormancy to Growth

I went plant shopping yesterday, because why the heck not. One of my cactuses is becoming wrinkly, and I couldn’t figure out why, so I asked a very kind saleslady. “There’s a good chance it just needs water, because it is coming out of a dormant season, and into a season of new growth.” Felt like the Lord used that kind saleslady to speak directly to my soul. I feel like I am coming out of a season of intentional dormancy season on my own part, parched because I haven’t spent hardly any time with the Lord. I often use the excuse of busyness, running from classes to meetings and hardly finding time to eat or sit down sometimes, and yet I am forgetting the most important aspect of my entire day, my entire life. That I need to be filled up with Jesus because right now, I am running on fumes. I get frustrated much quicker, I am annoyed at things that I should be fine with, and I blow up at my family members who don’t deserve that from me. I have been allowing myself to run on empty, basically stuck at the side of the road because my Jesus light is flashing. I need to be intentional about spending time with Jesus, to be filled up with him because my intentional dormancy isn’t resulting in anything other than anger and frustration.

I realize that I have absolutely no excuse for this, I also realize that there is grace involved. Because I am human. I am a human that messes things up. Gets angry instead of showing compassion. Forgets important dates and sometimes eats cookies for breakfast. I realize that I am human, and God created me with this in mind.

He created me with this in mind, but I know that he also created me with a love for words. For creating. For people. For dreams. For organizing.  A passion for baking yummy things, and a good thing that I don’t have a sweet tooth. I know that the Father has created me for things beyond my imagination. He created me with grace in mind because he knew that we as humans are not perfect, and yet he loves us all the same.

I am still knee deep in creative writing and grammar. Soaking up everything I can like I am a sponge. The Lord has reminded me through a kind garden worker that I need to move from a season of intentional dormancy to a season of intentional growth.

I hope this serves as a reminder for whoever stumbles across this blog. There’s always grace. Listen to his gentle nudgings wherever you end up, he is always speaking even when we aren’t listening. We serve a God who loves us beyond anything we will ever be able to comprehend or imagine.

Joy,

Nat

Heaven’s plans.

I snuck away from the new year festivities to allow my introverted soul a little break from people, as well as to dust off the dust of this URL. I meant to write a little something yesterday, to prepare for today. As things go, I managed to catch the flu that has been going around, a big thank you to those germs for a rather lovely evening. I have been living out of a back hallway and sleeping on the floor of my sister’s room for the past two weeks while I’m home from school. I don’t have my own space, my clothing is in laundry baskets and bags, and it has been teaching me a lot about creating space for myself, even if it’s a hallway, wherever I am, regardless of the time I spend there.

I feel as if I owe my readers first an apology. I haven’t been on here, because I have been busy with everything else that has been going on in my life. I have been busy, being the best RA I can possibly be to the girls of dorm 11. I am running a women’s ministry on campus and involved at my church very heavily when I am home from school. I am learning how to build into people, to call out the beauty within them. I have been busy with everything else, except with showing up to this blog. I changed the name of this little corner of my world last year, I sat in the Redeemer Libary late at night, typing different names to see if they had been taken. I probably tried upwards of 40 names, to decide that Joy Soaked Words would now be my area to write until I turn my words into a novel, I will share on this little site. I think I am coming up on 3 years now, something that simply astounds me. Time flies peeps.

To quickly catch those up with who I don’t see on a regular basis, nor have I shared everything over hot cups of coffee in hand, I am still knee deep in creative writing courses, loving every single minute. Journals and teacups are still my favourite thing to buy, and London fogs are still my fav. That’s the main things.

I have been thinking about the main things that this year has taught me, with all the joy, heartache and grace, this year has been one for the books. The one thing that has stuck with me the most, that I know I will carry into 2019, is the fact that I have a voice. My voice matters. I am allowed to stand up for what I believe in and speak up if I don’t believe that things are right, whether that’s how I am treated, or others are being treated. I have lived a lot of my life not believing that I had a voice that was worth being heard.

“Find your voice, and share your voice” – pst. mike.

I love the air on new years eve. The excitement in voices, and anticipation for what will come. The feeling of a fresh start, that maybe, just maybe, this will be their year. I know that this upcoming year is marked by the hand of God. I know that big things are brewing.

Raise your champagne, your grape juice, or your favourite teacup.

Let’s ring in 2019 with a bang.

Here’s to what Heaven has in store,

Nat

here now.

I cried ugly tears the other night. I was washing dishes and having a conversation with my sister about having my room back when I moved home for the summer. Elbows deep in hot soapy water, the tears were burning my eyes as I tried to explain why I needed my room back. I explained that I wasn’t trying to be selfish, that I needed the space to create, to write and a space to come to when I was overwhelmed. It is the room that I had stayed in for the past 5 years, and I needed it back for 4 months. She was gracious towards me, even when she could have told me to suck it up and stay with Julia. I don’t know why I cried. Why it wasn’t just a few tears dripping off my cheeks, but rather a full on cry, snot and tears. I also don’t know why I needed to know then. That I won’t be moving home until April, but I needed the security of knowing that I would have that space back when it was time for me to move home.

The same sort of thing happened last year. I was two weeks deep into university, into my first year. I told my sister that I was terrified to figure out who I was going to live with. That there was so much doubt and insecurity in my life, that I was worried about who I was going to live with and I had just started. God has done a lot of work in my life since that conversation, on the sidewalk in downtown Hamilton. He keeps reminding me to stop worrying, because he’s got it. It’s funny to look back now, to see his hand in everything. That I decided to apply to RA an hour before I wrote my Religion exam, even though I was like 3 months late in applying because I had heard that they needed more RA’s. How I found out in the middle of the summer that I would have the honour of living with a group of first years. With Claire.

He knew.

Holy moly did he know.

I like to think that God laughs. I think he laughed when I was worried about who I was going to live with this year, how he already knew and was telling me to stop worrying.

I’ve said it before. I like to make a place a home, even if I’m there for just a short period of time. He’s calling me to crazy things, I feel it in my bones. I also feel that maybe for this time period he is calling me to a dresser instead of a suitcase. To be here for the 7 months I have left, and then to figure out what’s next. Instead of being so caught up in trying to figure out what’s next that I am missing out on seeing his grace right here and now.

It’s such a beautiful time. I am walking out of a deep valley, and I am beginning to seek the joy that I know I had lost. I am seeing his Hand in my life. He is showing me that his grace is exactly what I need for right now, and that he will lead me to the next adventure when it’s time.

I’ve been learning to fight. To fight my battles with him. Because he is forever good. He is forever good.

For now, find me with a pencil in my hand. Learning grammar youtube videos on my laptop. Elevation worship playing through my headphones. Laughing with Claire and discovering more about Jesus and his crazy love for me. Find me with a hot coffee in the morning, and a kombucha in the afternoon. Find me under a fuzzy blanket with earl grey tea with honey. Find me here. Because I am staying in the here now.

Here now.

Big ole bear hug and his sweetest blessings.

nat.

praisin’

guess it’s time for an update on my life. this crazy life that has been so fun to live. I am back at redeemer, to study english. I changed my minor to a social justice minor, and kept my major. I am RAing. I’ve got an incredible group of girls that I get to live with this year, and my roommate is simply the best. And on top of everything, Jesus has been speaking like crazy to me lately, reminding me that he hasn’t left and he isn’t going to leave. How he needs to fill up my love tank so I can keep on pouring out. What an incredible opportunity that I am here. living this life.

Anyways, I actually wanted to jump on this blog for the past bit, but got myself locked out accidentally because I can never remember my passwords to anything. I wanted to get real about faith. But not just any faith. I’m talking about thick faith. The kind of faith I want to have. The kind of faith that many trials have created. layer after layer. Thin faith bends when the winds come, but thick faith faith holds it’s ground.

My pastor got on stage yesterday and said this. He said that there are three types of praises. Before the season. During the season and after the season. He deserves all three of these praises. He is worthy of all these praises.

How often, do we forgot to praise Jesus in the mess because we are too caught up in ourselves. That it’s easy to worship him when everything is right, and easy to worship after because you know he’s brought you through. We can’t forget about the middle of the storm to worship him. Because regardless of what is going on, he is still good. He will always be good.

Thick faith comes from praising God even when you can’t see him through the storm that surrounds you. Take faith, he is still standing right beside you. He is standing right beside you because he loves the heck outta you. I don’t know about you, but when I love somebody, I love with my whole being. And I’m not Jesus. Like holy moly that dude knows how to love.

So.

Keep praisin’ him regardless of where in the storm you are because no matter what he is good.

He loves you. More then we as humans will ever be able to comprehend and there is something so beautiful about that.

May we never lose the wonder.

Go love somebody. And let Jesus fill your love tank too.

Big bear hugs and his sweet blessings,

nat