joy soaked words

finding my way

Category: Uncategorized

lover

You know the kind of prayers. The kind of prayers where it’s all you can do, to keep the tears from spilling onto your cheeks, making your lips taste salty. The kind of prayers that are not shouted with joy and thankfulness, but rather whispered into the wind, hoping they will get to where you need them to go. Hannah Brencher, an author, blogger, creator, and somebody I hope to sit at a table with someday, hot cups of coffee in hand, and listen to how she made it. How she stopped listening to the world when times got rough. How the heck she found her voice when there are so many voices swirling around, telling us what to do. She calls these prayers breath prayers. The prayers you whisper under your breath to bring your eyes back on Jesus when they were on the waves. The prayers you whisper, help me, Jesus. You’ve lost your focus. Your eyes are on the waves, looking for a rock to hold onto. The simple prayers. These prayers are raw. They are real. Because all you need is Jesus and you are opening up, becoming vulnerable. I’ve said a lot of these breath prayers this past year. When I first started at Redeemer, I was trying to make friends. When dorm life got rough. When I was missing Mexico to the point where I was looking at plane tickets to go back. The beautiful thing is, He showed up. Every single time. He didn’t leave me hanging. He didn’t leave me in the parking lot, surrounded by falling leaves. He didn’t leave me when I was crying myself to sleep every night for a week. He didn’t leave me in the classrooms, where I was blinking back tears. He showed up because that’s the kind of lover he is.

I was having a conversation with somebody about the gaping hole that I know is going to be left when I have to say goodbye to the kids I nanny. They reminded me that there is a group of girls waiting to be loved on once I move back to school. That God keeps putting me in places where I have the chance to love people with everything I have. I was a nanny before I left for Mexico, where I worked in a homework club and had the chance to love on the kids who didn’t have much. Then I came home and was a nanny for the same family. Then I went to Redeemer and loved on the girls in my dorm the best way I knew how. I was there when they needed me and always had mini eggs to share. Then I became a nanny again. And now I am going back to Redeemer to RA. He knows. He knows. He always knows. I mean, he created me. He knows my gifts and puts me in places where he knows I will thrive. Because that’s the kind of lover he is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about creation lately, more than anything us humans. Like how intricately we have been made. The best part, we aren’t one the same. He cared enough about his creation to not even make one snowflake the same. I come back to the image of him scooping up mud, not caring about the dirt under his fingernails. Blowing a breath of life into that mud. He created a human. He kissed mud and created life. Because that’s the kind of lover he is.

I’ve been overwhelmed these past two days in the best way possible. Overwhelmed by Jesus to the point of tears. He’s been showing me his greatness, and I never want to be not overwhelmed by him. He’s wooing me because that’s the kind of lover he is.

keep loving on people guys.

give it all you got.

blessings + hugs

nat

mountains, valleys and cake.

I’ve wanted to write about this for a while. I’ve wanted to write about these mountains and valleys that each and every one of us climb, and walk through every single day. These mountains, and these valleys are like our faith life. Our relationship with Jesus. Those mountains are the highs. It’s where you can see Jesus in everything around you. You feel him right beside you. You want to shout about how good he is. Tell everybody on the street, because you are so overwhelmed by him. I recently heard somebody describe Jesus as a romantic. Someone who woes us. Pursues us. I love that description because to me it shows exactly what the mountain looks like. It’s Jesus. Chasing after our hearts, not because he needs us, but he wants us. It’s on that mountains that raw love happens. It’s on that mountain where joy is present. It’s on that mountain where you feel like you could never be more in love with Jesus. Then you walk into a valley. Those valleys are the low parts in our life. The dry seasons. The drought when we need rain. They are the diagnosis’s that rip you apart. They are the breakups from somebody you loved. They are the seasons where you can’t feel his presence, and you feel like he’s walked away. They are the moments where you feel like you can’t go on. It’s the moments where instead of running to Jesus, you are dragging your weary body back to Jesus. It’s those moments of tear-soaked journals, the ink running down the page. It’s those moments of pulling to the side of the road and sobbing against your steering wheel because you just don’t understand. I’ve been there. I’ve been on the mountain. I’ve been standing on the street, eager to tell everybody who walks past about how good Jesus is. How in love he is with me and them. I’ve been on the mountain, singing my little lungs out about his reckless love. I’ve been there. I’ve also been in that valley. I’ve been on that side of the road, forehead against the steering wheel, sobbing so hard the tears were soaking my shirt. I’ve been there. I’ve been in that valley, in that dry season. Looking for Jesus and not being able to find him. I’ve been there. I know I’ll be there again. Because he doesn’t promise us mountains.  He doesn’t promise mountains. Nor does he leave us in the valleys. He comes and finds us. He comes and finds us. Shows us that he was there the entire time even though it doesn’t seem like he was. Because that’s Jesus for you. He woes us. He loves us. He walks alongside us in this crazy journey called life. We are his daughters. His sons. His royal blood flows through our veins. These mountains and valleys are going to come and go. You are going to learn more about his radical love for you. You are going to cry and bang your fists against your steering wheel. You are going to fall more in love with the one who created you. Blew breath into mud and created Adam. That’s God. You are going to find yourself in the valley. On the mountain. Keep chasing after his heart for you. He’s never going to leave you. Forsake you. Hurt you. Because he loves you more then you will ever know.

Somebody recently asked me how I write like I do. I didn’t know how to answer this question, and I still don’t. I open this blog. This blog that I’ve opened for almost 3 years now. I start pouring out what God has been teaching me. Teaching me in the valleys. On the mountains and everywhere in between. I get real. Getting real with people you don’t know is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. I have people reach out to me, people I don’t know and say what a blessing these words have been to them. And that’s why I write. Because God has called me to write.

I wanted to add something about the valleys and the mountains. When you know somebody who’s on top of that mountain, celebrate with them. Buy cake because you have an excuse to eat cake then. When you know somebody in the valley, get down beside them and tell them that you aren’t going anywhere. Walk alongside them through the rough patches and give hugs when needed.

So let’s celebrate with cake on top of that mountain and encourage those in the valley.

Who wants a piece of cake?

Nat

roots.

This season of life has been slow in the best way possible. There have been waffle eating mornings with the family, and watching cooking shows with my mom in the evenings. Changing diaper after diaper and learning that there is grace in every little messy moment. There has been routine. Glorious routine, I love routine with bits of spontaneous adventures sprinkled in. I catch myself thinking and planning so far ahead that I miss out on the little glories and joys right in front of me. Being a planner is good. I love to plan but I know that I need to be right where my feet are.

That’s my anthem. Being right where my feet are. To allow myself to be planted, to have roots. I got told a couple of days ago, that even though I was planted, I would grow. In these times of growing, it’s when you begin to see the fruit.

I know that I have strong roots here, right at home. My parents have created more than just space for us to grow up in, but rather they built a home. My home is where I curl up in the rocking chair in my room, with a hot cup of coffee and a book in the morning. Home is where I grab a chair at the table when my mom shouts dinner. We eat together because that is one of our family values. Home is where the candy cupboard is always stocked and “drive safe” echoes after us as we walk out the door. Home is full of plants. I had to get my plant love from somewhere. Somebody once told me, that as soon as they walked in the door of my home, they felt at home. That speaks volumes for what my parents have built.

In the same way of having deep roots, my parents have done an incredible job of encouraging us to spread our wings and fly. They want the absolute best for us and have proved that over and over. They come alongside us and celebrate the victories and encourage us when times get rough.

Home is where my roots are, but my branches are reaching into Hamilton. Where I plan to spend at least the next 3 years of my life, and from there I don’t know where they will reach.

Home is a beautiful thing. Dig deep. Plant yourself and allow yourself to have roots because, without roots, there isn’t fruit. Stretch your branches into new cities. New places.

Go. Live where your feet are.

Bless up,

Nat

go make a mess

Creating has been an anthem in my life these past few weeks. I have bought watercolor paints and spent my evenings learning this new craft. I pulled out my acrylics, I haven’t used these in years and painted a canvas for my sister. I made a cake and decorated it with marbled fondant. It turned out great, better then I expected it to look.

I am learning a lot about creating the space to allow myself to create. I have to allow my hands to get messy in order to create art. Without the mess, nothing would come from creating because we learn in the mess. The mess is where we create. It’s where we learn and we grow.

Through creating, I have learned to find my voice. I have found my voice in writing, in painting and now cake decorating. I have found my voice in relationships, and I’ve learned how to stand up for myself when I don’t feel right about something. I’ve learned that in this crazy journey thing called life, that we have countless choices that lead us and shape us into who we are today.

We are called to create. We are creators. We are artists and dreamers.

I’ve been thinking a lot the growth that I have gone through, the desert seeming seasons and the seasons where there is a heck a lot of growth and I see God’s hand in everything.

I am thinking about plant loving nat. cake eating nat. God loving nat. creating nat. writing nat. These things don’t change as the seasons of life change. God is constant through it all. He’s there while I pick out new plant babies and beside me while I write. I know this because even though I don’t always feel him, I know he’s there because I know he’s never left.

So.

Let’s keep living right where our feet are. Let’s allow ourselves to be messy. Make the space to create. Find your niche and stick with it. God hasn’t left you and he isn’t going to because he so deeply cares about each and every one of us.

Go create.

Go make mess.

Go buy a new plant and name it.

Go live right where your feet are.

bless up,

nat

good things are coming.

In the words of Hannah Brencher, an author, dream chaser and rather quite amazing human and also somebody who I aspire to be like one day says this: “I hope you fall in love with cities, coffee shops, people and good books. I hope you fall in love with your place in the world. People always told me that love was quick and instant but I don’t want to tell you the same thing. You will fall in love with people, cities, jobs, and prospects in an instant, but after that, the hard work of staying in love will remain. Dig in. Learning how to stay in love after the magic seems to wear off.”

I have these words hanging above my desk, as a reminder to fight for what I love. This past year taught me a lot about healing and how crazy good God is. I learned that I am actually rather good at English, and have since made that my major. I learned what it means to be at rock bottom and what it feels like to have joy echoing off the walls.

Timing is a funny thing. I thought that I could fix myself in a day, be okay with what went wrong and move on with my life. I was wrong, and I spent the next 8 months trying to find the little joys in everything I did. I pushed people away when I thought I could do it on my own, but I needed those people in my life more then I realized. I fell more in love with words and the impact that Jesus has had on my life and others around me. 1st year taught me a lot. It taught me how much I hated history and how much I loved the English classes. It taught me that friends from different cultures are so cool and bring so much more depth to your life. It taught me to fight when it was time to fight and to let go when it was time to let go. It taught me how to love again, and live in a dorm with 7 other random girls. It taught me that passive aggressiveness is not the way to deal with unwashed dishes and late night chats are so healing. I fell in love with Hamilton and the beauty that surrounded each and every bit of it. I fell in love with school again. English and words.

There were times where I wanted to throw in the towel and call it quits. I didn’t want to continue on in school when I was struggling to make friends. When I pushed through and didn’t give up was when I realized how much of a beautiful life this is. How freaking blessed I was. I found friends. I guess I should say they found me. We found each other when we needed it most.

I am 3 weeks deep into the summer and already counting the days until I get to go back. I am looking forward to paper writing and late night study crams. Feels a bit weird to type that. I am also really looking forward to this summer. I am a nanny again, so my days are filled with dirty diapers and baby snuggles. Games of tag and daily walks to the park. I absolutely love this life.

This life is golden.

I also wanted to touch on transitions while I have this blog open. I really really really do not like them. Matter of fact, they suck. I don’t like packing my life into boxes and moving from place to place. I am learning that with transitions, you need to have extra grace for the people around you, that it isn’t just you that is affected by the transitions. So, that being said, let’s allow ourselves grace in these times of moving. To be okay with the mess, because nothing can be born without a mess. Good things are coming.

It feels so good to open this blog back up after not writing for a while, to pour out what has been on my mind these past couple of weeks. I will admit that I cried a bit while writing this, but it’s good tears. The kind of tears that you cry when you are so overwhelmed by Jesus and his goodness.

Peace out my dudes, it’s been rad.

Hugs and blessings,

Nat

takes time

Writing is something that I have fallen in love with gradually, I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I wanted to be a writer, an author or a blogger. Instead, it was many mornings of journaling and blogging, realizing that I find my true passion on that stark white piece of paper and under my URL for my blog. It was countess cups of coffee growing cold beside me and headaches from staring at screens. It was the way a single comment on my blog would make my entire day and that kept me going. It was the way the pencil scratched the surface of the paper, creating something that wasn’t there before, creating words. It was those long English classes, cups of earl grey with milk and honey to keep me awake. The way my professors spoke with passion about their work.

You know, I didn’t fall in love with words overnight.

I can’t fall in love overnight with anything.

It takes time to learn the craft, to learn to write, to know somebody, it takes time to fall in love.

I wrote two English exams yesterday, both had essays on them. I have never really been happy to write an exam, but I loved writing both of them. Because of passion that I carry with me.

The older I get the more I realize that this life is not as long as we think it is when we are 8 years old and dreaming about finally being behind the wheel. Dreaming about our first kiss and simply “growing up.” We were tired of our parents making our decisions for us but we weren’t ready. My dad just told me the other day that he trusts my decision-making skills, that he knows that I am old enough to live with my choices. Guess I have finally grown up in the eyes of my parents even though I know I will always be their little girl.

Don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t wait till you have a better job, you are married or whatever else you are waiting for. Stop waiting and start chasing after what you are passionate about. You can’t fall in love in a day, it takes time. Dreams take time. We have to keep showing up, keep being true to who we are.

I have a headache from staring at this screen. Oh well.

I want you to remember three things.

  1. You can’t fall in love overnight with anything
  2. Dreams take time
  3. Find your passion

I have studying to do and stuff to pack up so I should sign off.

Keep showing up.

hugs + blessings,

Nat

you are my breath of fresh air.

I’m sitting a coffee shop across from a friend, papers scattered across the table and a latte with almond milk in hand. Worship music blaring in my ears and the rain is pattering on the window beside me.

I had a conversation with somebody not that long ago about making a place your home. How when you are there and not sure how long you will be there, it is hard to settle down. To allow yourself to feel because you know you have to say goodbye.

Goodbyes are hard for me.

Over time, I have begun to realize how much I need people in my life, even though I know that I will have to say goodbye. How much richer my life is because I get to know and pour into my friends the way they pour into me.

I remember starting at Redeemer, desperate for friends. I remember introducing myself to people in a class, but the conversations would die after how are you.

I remember that desperate prayer I whispered walking back to my dorm. I remember the way the wind took the words straight up to heaven. “God, I need friends. I don’t need many, but father I’m desperate”

I remember when friends started coming into my life and the joy that they brought with them.

I want to make Redeemer my 2nd home for the next three years of my life. I want to make Hamilton a place where I am comfortable.

I know that I am slowly falling in love with this city. The people and all the cool buildings. The coffee shops help with this too.

There is something about friends who giggle with you till 2am. Who give hugs and pray for you. Who continually encourage you. Your life is richer because you know them. Who teach you how to dance. They are popcorn lovers. Sandal in snow wearers. They are extroverted and introverted. They smile with the love of Christ inside them. They are joy bringers. They are encouragers. They are granola addicts and the knock on the door every morning to tell me to have a good day. They are surprise party planners and donut burners. They are the breath of fresh air in my life. They are the “I’ll be back in 5 minutes but actually 2 hours” and kitchen dancers. They are full of life chats and excitement for what’s next. They are selfless lovers. They are the “i’ll be right there and take you to emerge at 3am and sit with you for hours. They are there when you need them most. They are love. Joy. Grace. They are treasures.

Boy oh boy did God ever bless me.

Hamilton, I love you. Thank for the sweet memories. The treasures and the coffee shops.

Thank you for allowing me to have a 2nd home here.

There is so much to be thankful for.

Joy soaked hugs + God’s richest blessings over your life,

Nat

joy bringers.

“We are dreamers” my English Prof spoke into the room filled with the sounds of zippers on backpacks being done up and papers being shuffled around. I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down those three words. I haven’t been able to get those words out of my mind as I have been cracking open my books and making countless cups of tea as exams loom.

We are dreamers. 

Created to dream.

I have these huge dreams percolating (I couldn’t find a better word) inside my heart.

I also know that I am swamped with homework and studying.

When my English prof said those three words, it shook me to my core.

He reminded me what I was doing here. Why I am studying English. Why I still have this blog. He reminded me to keep chasing after the dreams inside my heart, even though sometimes it feels impossible.

I wrote a blog post a little while back about my dust covered dreams. I realize that I have shoved my dreams into the back corner again. I have been more focused on other things and I have forgotten about those dreams. I am pulling them out again, dusting them off.

I refuse to let fear take control. Comparison. These are joy stealers. There isn’t room in my heart for joy stealers, only joy bringers.

Joy bringers. 

We need more joy bringers in our lives.

For me, it’s a cup of good coffee and quiet time spent with Jesus. Laughter filled times spent with close friends. An empty journal, just begging to be written in. Handwritten letters and words of encouragement.

I realize that this is the second blog post I have written today. I have so much to say. I have so many journals that are filled cover to cover because I had so much to say. If you give me pen and paper, I can write for hours.

God is doing rad stuff in my life and here on campus.

I can’t wait to see what is next.

May you experience more joy bringers in your life. Go, dust off those dreams of yours.

In the words of a wise man, we are dreamers.

Never forget that.

Blessings + Hugs,

Nat

dear you.

I am writing an open letter to anybody who has come into my life, to those who aren’t in my life anymore and to those who are.

Dear whoever reads this,

Thank you for being apart of my life, thank you for shaping me into who I am today. Thank you for the laughter that you brought, and the tears that we may have shared together.

I know that there are lots of you that I don’t talk to anymore, I know we grew apart as we grew up. Please know that I still remember you, the sweet memories that we shared together.

To those who I still talk to, know that I hold you very dear to my heart. Every time you make me giggle to the point of tears, I realize how blessed I am to know you.

The sweet hellos, and the hard goodbyes knowing that when I said goodbye I might not see you again here on this earth.

Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone, pushing me into what Jesus is calling me to, even when you know I’m scared.

People come and go, but each one marks me for good and sometimes for bad.

The older I get, the more I realize that each and every friendship that I have and have had are so God ordained and a true gift from above.

Thank you for being apart of my life, whether you still are or we have grown apart.

You are awesome.

Your friend,

Nat

praises

My fingers are hovering over the keyboard because the words are swirling around in my mind but I can’t seem to get them out.

I don’t even know when the last time I opened my blog Joy Soaked Words to write, I don’t even remember what I wrote about last. A lot has happened in this past couple of weeks, and God has been teaching me a lot about everything that has happened.

Backstory, I injured my knee while swing dancing close to a month ago, and it hasn’t gotten any better. Two weekends ago, I was at a conference called Freshwind in Toronto. One of the speakers said that she got a picture of somebody with right knee pain from an injury, and God wanted to heal them. I was believing that God was going to heal my knee, and I still am believing that he is because I didn’t get healed at that moment. I realized at that moment that I had a choice to make, I could be disappointed and frustrated with God because he healed other people and he didn’t heal me, or I could keep praising him for what he is doing in my life and the lives of people around me.  I decided to keep praising him, and I haven’t stopped since. God keeps reminding me that I need to rest, to simply be still in his presence.

My first year at Redeemer is almost done, last week of classes and then exams. I am finishing up papers and drinking more coffee then I know I should. This year has changed me in the best way possible. It has taught me to fight for who I am and what I believe in. To never settle. That I still have control over the fear that tries to creep in. That I am worthy of His love. That mini eggs are a food group. At the beginning of the year, my life fell apart and I was left to pick up the pieces, I was ready to drop out and just go home. Then Jesus met me there, he helped me pick up the pieces and put my life back together. He walked through the trials, holding my hand the entire time. He didn’t leave, I know he never will leave.

This year has been one for the books.

I have learned so much.

I am still learning.

Summer is nearing, and I don’t want to leave. I didn’t think I would be able to say that, because I was so ready to leave at the beginning of the year.

He keeps reminding me of his crazy overwhelming love for me. That he went to the cross out of his love for me.

I wrote a little poem after Easter,

he loved. he lived. he died. then he lived again in order to love again. 

To anybody who actually reads this blog, know that Jesus loves you with passion, a love that you won’t be able to experience from anybody else.

This is just a bit of what has been going on in my life, I have some papers that I need to write so this blog is a bit shorter.

I am so happy.

So joy filled.

Laughter filled.

Bless up.

His sweet blessings and bear hugs,

Nat