joy soaked words

finding my way

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

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