even if

The words “Even If” have been my mantra over these past few months. I whispered them into the air of my silent bedroom in the moments after the countdown of the clock sent us all spirling into a new year. There was a lot of moments in 2019 that broke me, until I felt like I had nothing left to give. There were also moments where the Lord began to reveal some of his promises to me – promises from years ago that were now in fruitation. By the end of 2019, I was ready to wave goodbye to a year that took everything yet gave so much to me.

I don’t usually spend the time thinking about a word that I will carry with me throughout the year – because like the resolutions we all vow to keep, I’ve forgotten what that word is by the time we hit March. Except for this year. It has been a constant reminder, it’s been popping up everywhere. People will remind me. That even if, he is still good.

Let me break this sentence down for you, because there’s a lot of truth in just a few words.

Even if – These words follow an idea things are okay regardless of what happens. Even if you don’t get that job you want so badly. Even if your boyfriend breaks up with you – when you thought you would get married. Even if your grades are not as high as you would like.

He is still – A reminder that we follow a Father that loves us regardless of our accomplishments. There’s no “I have to all of this to get into heaven” rather he takes our hands and reminds us that his grace is enough.

Good – I’ve been sitting with this word for a while now. Good, the same word that God used when he described the work of His hand over creation. The same word that is used to describe him, stands as reminder of His faithfulness even if.

I don’t know where you have found yourself today reader. I don’t know what kind of mud you are walking through, but I’m here to remind you that even if, he is still good.

njl

the land of what if’s

I struggle with overthinking. I was waiting back to hear back from a job that I had applied for next year, a job that if I didn’t get it, it would change my entire fourth year experience. I wrote this blog post in that waiting period, but I never pressed publish. I’m not sure why, but I’m pressing publish now.

I’ve camped out in the land of what if’s.

I pitched a tent here, and some part of me thought it would be a good place to stay for a while. Explore my options while I’m here, to think about next steps.

I got caught up in it and stayed much longer then I intended to be, and the Lord reminded me that I was still camped out here, and asked if I had any plans to leave. To pack away all of these questionings and fears back into my backpack that were spread all over my campsite, and leave that backpack at his feet. The fears and worries that have me spiraling right now are out of my control, and I know that I am wasting my time and energy worrying about them.

It’s time to pack up my tent and put it back in it’s bag. Move out of the land of what if’s – because this land drains your energy until you have nothing left. It’s hard to leave, but when you do, you won’t look back.

I am aware that this whole idea of trusting God with something, taking off the backpack and putting it at his feet is hard. Sometimes it even feels impossible, and it’s the last thing you want to do. When it’s still in your hands, at least you feel as if you have a little bit of control over what happens, even if you don’t.

I also know God is gentle. He doesn’t get frustrated with you when you decide that you don’t want to leave the tent. Step out into the unknown. He doesn’t pry, rather he holds out his hands for you to put that heavy backpack in them. He waits for you, even when he knows that His calling for your life is better than the one you have planned out.

I don’t know what this next season of my life holds yet, but I know that it is time for me to step out of the tent and pack it away. Take off this backpack that I keep adding to, and putting it in His hands. It’s gotten so heavy, I know that there is apart of me that is afraid of what it might feel like to take it off. The nervousness of finally feeling freedom, after you’ve been entrapped for so long.

I’m happy to announce to the blogging world that I have been given the job – which means a spot on campus for me. I learned a lot about myself in that waiting period, but also more about who God is.

The land of what if’s is not a nice place to be, it’s not worth the energy of pitching a tent as I have learned. Next time, I hope to just pass through, maybe stop and talk to the other people who have camped out in that land and show them that the Land of What If’s is a soul and energy sucking place that in the end, gets you nowhere.

njl

Oh God, be my strength

I’m tired.

Not the kind of “I didn’t get enough sleep last night” kind of tired, but the kind of tired that you throw up your arms and say “Oh God, be my strength.”

The kind of tired that begins to creep into conversations and I realize that I haven’t been listening to half of what the other person sitting across me in a coffee shop has been saying.

That prayer, “Oh God, be my strength” felt like a form of defeat for me last week. I had taken on too much, and was stretched too thin – but in reality that’s what it means to be a Jesus follower. To allow him to be our strength, it’s a prayer that should cross our lips on the daily. It’s not a form of defeat, but rather a reality that we can’t do it all on our own.

These skin and bones that cover my soul are worn out. I’ve been ‘going’ without asking Jesus about what’s next. I’ve been ‘going’ and not taking the time to ‘be’.

I am the type of person that in a moment of crisis or stress, I stick with it. I used to run from problems or stressful moments, but after working as the Head Cook at Summer Camp, I learned it’s a lot better to deal with things in the moment. I get through whatever stressful moment / crisis that has happened, and then I let myself fall. I allow myself to feel the emotions that I hadn’t let myself feel earlier, and the overwhelmingness starts to creep in.

I’ve gotten good at storing these things away in the boxes that sit on shelves in my mind. I store it away to deal with later, but the later always seems to come at a time that I shouldn’t be dealing with my emotions – but I am.

The box labeled “I’m tired, and overworked” has begun to be reopened. It ripped it’s tape off the week before reading break, and I hardly had enough energy to finish that week, let alone feel like I finished it well. There was one thing after another that needed my attention, and I was moving through the week with energy that I felt I was rationing out. Reading break has been really good for me, and has given me the space to rest.

The box is still open – I knew a week wouldn’t be enough to deal with everything inside. Burnout is one of the main ones that keeps threatening to come out.

This box shows up, and I throw up my hands “Oh God, be my strength.”

I know that life doesn’t just stop so that I can catch up. It’s about learning how to catch up while life is still going on. I’m learning. I think I am forever learning.

It’s fair to say I’m tired. But with those words being uttered, also come the ones “Oh God, be my strength.”

Powerful words to pray, but He doesn’t take them lightly.

njl

‘untitled’

I’ve been writing. A lot. Trying to tackle the discipline of writing head on. I haven’t clicked publish on this blog in a while though, I have a lot of half written blog posts waiting to be finished. There’s a lot I want to say, but when I sit down to write it out with a cup of coffee beside me and my writing playlist in my ears, is when it falters. I hesitate and I don’t press publish.

It feels like a word on the tip of my tongue, or in the case of writing, a lot of words. Unable to know exactly what I want to write about, or if I have an idea, how to get it out of these fingertips.

I know I need to write.

I know that I need to press publish.

Perhaps this is me telling my readers (whoever you are) that I need to be kept accountable in this.

I’m going to press publish.

njl.

elimination of hurry

We opened gifts this morning, due to travel plans affecting the actual Christmas day, complete with cinnamon buns and endless cups of coffee. I opened a book that I’ve wanted to read for a little bit now, I mean it was just released a couple of months ago. This book – The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, needs to be on everybody’s bookshelf, and their reading list for 2020. I am only about 30 pages in, and I feel like it’s already rocking my world.

I hurry. I am fully aware of the hurry issue that is very apparent in my life. I fill my days with a constant busy, often going from one meeting to another, finding time between all of that to quickly finish a paper and study for a test, before rushing off to another class. I often catch myself scarfing down a granola bar for lunch and taking my coffee in my YETI because I didn’t have time to enjoy my coffee in a mug, snuggled up in my favorite spot on the couch.

When asked how I am doing, I feel the words “busy” fall out of my mouth before I can stop them.

In Comer’s book, he writes on this idea of the slow love of Jesus. Jesus never did anything fast, he was never running to the next place because he wanted to love people slowly. You can’t love fast, you miss out if you love fast.

“To walk with Jesus is to walk slow, with an unhurried pace. Hurry is the death of prayer and only impeades and spoils our work. It never advances it.

– Walter Adams

I just walked out of a semester that was also a season in my life. I hit burn out after camp. I struggled with my job, and how to do it well after already doing it for a year. I was incredibly busy – running a ministry and doing six courses, all while being in 3rd year. It feels like it has been nonstop. Until recently.

This semester, I took a course in spiritual formations. This course was so well timed for me, even though it was a second year course – but after a minor switch, I had to take it. (Rather not a had, but a gift to take it). The class was all about different spiritual disciplines in our lives to deepen our relationship with our creator. One of them, was this whole idea of silence and solitude. I wrote an entire paper on it, after reading countless books on the topic.

Silence and solitude is incredibly hard I learned.

This is coming from somebody who is comfortable with silence.

It’s incredibly hard to sit and listen for the voice of the one who spoke it all into motion. I wanted to move on, get the list of everything I had to do that day, return emails, and write letters. I wanted to stay busy, because I was comfortable being busy.

Our Father calls us to be. Just be. Not to do, but to be.

I need to break up with the busy. I think it’s time I say goodbye.

I need to return to the slow love of Jesus – I don’t even know if fast is in his vocabulary. I need to learn how to love those around me with this kind of slow love. The kind of love that eliminates hurry.

Stick around Reader, if you want to hear more about this type of slow love. About the elimination of hurry, as I dig deeper into what God wants to teach me through this book. Through the discipline of solitude spent with him.

Cheers,

njl.

burning bush

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a poem many years ago that speaks to what God is doing in my life right now – this is just a part of it.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” -EBB

There are bushes on fire everywhere around us, and when you ask the Lord to open your eyes to these little bush fires, you wonder why you still have your shoes on. You wonder why you still have your shoes on, because the ground you are walking on is holy, because the presence of Jesus is near.

I’m walking through a place of wondering why I am still wearing shoes, asking myself, why have I not kicked them off yet? When I start to become aware that this ground that I am walking on, planting my roots in, carries the presence of my Abba Father within the dirt, within the bushes that are on fire. There are so many burning bushes in my life and I am just starting to see them in this way, the little moments where I see the hand of God in my life. These burning bushes have come through random affirmations from people who don’t know me and my story, apple cider soaked conversations and late night sobey’s runs. When I started thinking about these moments, these moments over breakfast dates every wednesday morning and the chats on my favourite bench in the school, these moments that leaves me in tears because of how far I’ve come, and the fact that there is life. The fact that I am able to declare victory over the low seasons in my life. These are burning bushes in my life, the pure, unrelenting love of God and his presence, showing up in my life, over and over and over again.

I’m taking off my shoes, because I’m walking on holy ground.

When I started to process these moments, these kairos moments that I was having, seeing the way that God kept giving me more glimpses into his heart for me, he showed me that I was standing in front of a bush that was on fire with him. I’ve put down my basket that was filled with blackberries, and I’ve slipped off my shoes, because I have become aware of how many bushes are actually on fire in my life.

I am standing on the other side of a heavy season, a lot of processing and tears and late night “I don’t knows” have come out of this season, but I am standing on the other side, declaring victory over it. I am declaring victory over that season, as I look back and see all the burning bushes that are still on fire, bushes that I walked past without acknowledging them – just the smell of something burning was all that I noticed because I was so preoccupied with other aspects of that season. The smell of something burning was enough to remind me that God was still near, but now I am becoming aware of the bushes that were on fire around me.

So many bushes, all of them on fire.

My prayer for you dear reader, is that you notice the bushes when you smell the smoke.

This blog post is a jumble of words that have come together to somewhat form my thoughts on what I am learning right now – so thank you for reading.

njl.

Kicking Fear out of his room.

The reality of rejection, comparison and telling fear to leave – it’s a rainy day outside, the leaves are falling and I’m grabbing another cup of coffee and digging deep into these topics today on the blog.

Welcome, dear reader. Welcome to my little space in the corner of the internet, where we dive deep into topics of raw vulnerability, seasons that I am walking and things that I am learning and processing.

I opened an old instagram account recently, and began to post. This particular account was one in which I had actually started 2 years ago – an account dedicated directly to words that I had written, but never posted in it. Because of fear. Fear of what people might think, fear of rejection, of comparison. Fear ruled my writing, it was holding onto all the pages that I had written and told me that I would never be enough, that I would never become a writer, nobody wanted to read the words that I had written.

I am aware that these are all lies. Fully aware, although fully aware, Fear still had control of my writing and my ability to put myself out there.

This year has been a lot of telling Fear to leave, in different aspects of my life. I started writing poetry for people, and tucking it into letters in the mail system, something I had never done before. Aside from this blog, any words that I wrote for people, or just in general, are tucked away in various notebooks, written on scraps of paper and at the top of class notes.

I could tell Fear, that it was time for him to pack up his suitcases and move out, and he could take rejection and comparison along with him, but I wasn’t actually doing a good job of kicking him out. I wasn’t holding open the door and asking him leave, I was just mentioning it offhandedly like you might ask a roommate for the rent. He was really just moving room to room in my mind, and rejection and comparison were always having sleepovers with him.

I had become comfortable with the mess that fear left behind him, it was something I had become so used to, picking up after him and his friends, rejection and comparison. The three amigos.

For one of my classes, I wrote a short story on the idea of “home” and a daughter’s view on a restless parent with a desire to move with the moon cycles. I let a few close friends read it, because I needed feedback, I needed to get out of my head where fear ruled, with rejection and comparison at his sides. It was a story that took weeks to write, and as I printed it off to give to a few people to read, I knew that it was nothing like the short stories that we had been reading in class. It covered a topic that was more of a feeling, then something physical and I wrote it in a voice that left things open to interpretation for the reader.

I handed it in when it was due, holding my breath. As I pressed send, I felt Fear start to pack his bags. He was still hanging around, waiting at the kitchen table, but at least his bags were packed.

I was standing in the kitchen in dorm 2. The kitchen is a place where I meet God often, over dishes or cookie batter. It’s the place where, next to writing, I feel most alive. I got an email back, with feedback from my professor regarding the short story that I handed in. He told me, that I had the beginnings of a novel with my short story, it was something that I could chose to turn into a full blown novel. It was so encouraging that I called my parents to read it out to them, and the rest of the day, I was on such a high that I didn’t even realize that Fear had slipped out, he was just gone when I came back to clean up after him and realized that there was nothing to clean up.

I also realized through this short story, that this was three long years in the coming. Three years of learning what makes a home, three years of learning how to write, and three years of learning how to tell Fear to leave when it came to my writing. It was a reminder, that nothing worthwhile is going to happen overnight, and it takes time to hone the craft, to learn how to do something well.

I know that as I continue to write, to share these words that are so precious to me, that there will be times where Fear will come back, he will come knocking. I also know that, I have the ability to shut the door in his face, I don’t have to let him move in.

Because I am allowed to say no to fear. I have every right. And so do you.

njl.