The best laid plans.

One of the difficulties in Christian work is this question – “What do you expect to do?” You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing. – Oswald Chambers

Tools of the trade.

I must really confuse people.

I was at work one day and a lady asked me what I did in school, the conversation went something like this:

Me – I’m in journalism.
Lady – At the U?
Me – No, St. Clair.
Lady – How many years is that.
Me – Two, but I’m just doing one and then transfering the credits to a degree in international studies. (pause) I just want to be a missionary, so I’m trying to get trained up.

That was probably a bit too much information for the poor lady who was just paying for her gas.

Really it seems like my plans change so often that I don’t think any of my friends can even keep track of them. Even the people who know EXACTLY what I PLAN to do may not realize I haven’t got a clue.

I’m learning you can’t hold tight to plans, when your plans are not your own.

I’m about to start the second semester of the journalism program at my local college.  I really enjoyed first semester and I learned a lot.

But speaking about God’s plans, and confusion, and all that jazz – I realized something interesting when I was working on my two major projects of the semester:

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Toronto Summers.

Last summer was the first summer in three years that I was not a part of summer camp with Urban Promise Toronto.


The summer of 2007 I worked with the downtown youth at Camp Peace YMAD. I carried a red filing box all around the city and was assigned to be the ‘mind’ of a rather scatter brained, yet unconventionally wise supervisor. I enjoyed my role, but overall I don’t think I’d say it was a very ‘fun’ summer for me. Still, I knew God was there. I wanted to be there with Him. So, I knew I’d be back.

Now the summer of 2008 I wasn’t there for just a summer internship, that summer was the start of a year long commitment. My good friend and intern director made a decision that I know was God inspired and moved me to the Camp Peace kids camp. I asked God to give me a heart for my community – and He really did give me a deep love for the community, and the people who form it that only grew stronger as the summer ended and the year went on.

The summer of 2009 should have been the end of my internship, but instead I went into it knowing I would more likely than not stay for the second year internship. One thing I wasn’t expecting that summer was that our funding for a camp director would fall through, and I would for some reason or other be my supervisor’s choice for a replacement. With his constant guidance and encouragement I made it through the summer. Looking back it was probably the hardest summer of my life, but possibly the best so far.

Now about last summer. Last summer was different.

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Sunshine and Rain.

Yesterday it rained all day.

I started work at 6am and pumped gas in the rain until 3pm. When it was slow the girl I was working with taught me a card game. I don’t usually like card games, but really like it. It was fun. I think it was called Gin? I got that old ‘raindrops keep falling on my head, but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red…” song stuck in my head. No one expected me to be happy, but I was, and I told them so.

When I got home I showered, put on some extra layers of clothing and went back out the door. My dad offered me his rain coat, but I’d been wearing one all day, so I stuck with my yellow hoodie. It wasn’t raining very hard. I went to the park. It’s pretty there when it’s raining, and less crowded than on sunny days.

Yesterday was fantastic.

Today the sun came out.

I didn’t know what to expect when I left the house at 5:45. There isn’t usually sun by that time. But sure enough, the sun came up today. I suppose it came up yesterday as well, but I sure didn’t see it. I played cards and pumped gas until ten and then a different co-worker came in.

No one could comment on the beautiful weather without griping about the day before. It seemed like they wanted to dwell on yesterday, on the rain. “It’s such a nice day isn’t it, oh my, not like YESTERDAY? That was awful wasn’t it?” I told them I hadn’t minded it, it had been all right with me. I wonder if they realize they wouldn’t have appreciated that sun if they hadn’t had a day of rain. My sister and the most beautiful baby in the world came to see me, and my co-worker worked a little extra so I could hold her for a minute. I got free chips, and my sister bought me a doughnut.

Now I need to shower, then I think I’ll head over to the park. I’ve been asking Jesus for sunshine for a couple days, so I think I’ll go thank Him for awhile.

Thus far, today’s been a pretty fantastic day.

I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.

I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.

Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

Psalms 34:1-5 (NLT)

I’ve been working on a post to sum up my summer. I feel neglectful when God blesses me so greatly and I don’t give Him the glory… via blog post. So I’ll get on that soon. 🙂

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Why I Just Can’t

I can’t possibly write a blog because:
– My computer was reformatted and I can’t find the disc for the program I used to write my blogs and keep them organized.
– I can’t find Adobe Photoshop so I can’t make a new less Toronto-y banner.
– I used to have files filled with random pictures and I lost most of them, blogs need pictures.
– I don’t have enough crazy little children running around to inspire me.
– I have ZERO drive.
Never mind the fact that:
– I used to write everything on Notepad.
– I used to make anything I wanted with Microsoft Paint.
– I have a fully functioning camera.
– I have never been so amazed at my God’s awesome power and creativity as I am in watching my beautiful little niece grow.
– I have always had zero drive. Yet this is my sixtieth post. He’s strong in my weakness and through His strength I can do anything.

Anything?
Even write a blog?
Yeah, I guess I can.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)


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To Write.

If a picture says a thousand words I want to be able to draw out each one. To arrange the words so perfectly on my canvas that the image stands clear and vivid. To transfer this picture from my mind to yours by merely tracing out letter after letter.
Perfect word after perfect word, forming perfect sentence after perfect sentence.
For the words to draw you in. Draw you into more than the visual.

So that you are no longer at some distant place looking into the picture but the words become a pathway guiding you into and throughout it.
_

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Filled?

I was sitting reading earlier when my dad asked if I had a recycling bin in my room. It’s recycle night. I ran over to my room to retrieve the bin and heard music from Phil’s room above mine. I stopped, wondering what adolescent junk he might be listening to, I underestimated this adolescent. The song was ‘The Motions’ by Matthew West, I nodded in approval and continued with my recycling.

Later I caught myself humming the song to myself so I decided to play it.

I don’t wanna go through the motions,
I don’t wanna go one more day,
Without your all consuming passion inside of me…

As I stood and listened I had a strange feeling. In Toronto when I heard that song I could smile, give an ‘Amen!’ and continue about my business. When I was in Toronto if someone told me they didn’t know where to serve God I would have told them, “Oh, serve Him everywhere and in everything of course!” It seemed obvious there, as I woke up in the morning and knew much of His call on my day. I knew the people I was called to serve. The children and their families knew that I did what I did because I love Jesus and I loved them. That made it easy.

I thought of the line: “Without your all consuming passion inside of me” And my mind wandered to another thing that’s been confusing me.

On the last day that I was in Toronto I went to Toronto Alliance Church. It’d been my home away from home, or church away from.. my home church rather. It was Pentecost Sunday and Pastor Bill spoke on being filled with the Holy Spirit. At the end the congregation prayed for each other and sang: “Jesus O Jesus, come and fill your lambs”. It was a beautiful service.

When I got home I was babysitting my niece and my sister told me to read her book, “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan. A book about the Holy Spirit. I read it and returned quickly as she’d been reading it.

Then there was the second Sunday after I was home, the first where my pastor had spoken since my return. There in my small town Baptist church my pastor spoke about the Holy Spirit, even about being filled by the Spirit. When the sermon had ended we sang our closing hymn and tears streamed down my face: “Jesus O Jesus, come and fill your lambs”

God is so in control, and so capable of driving His point home.
Sometimes I think I miss the application part of His lessons though.

Have I changed since God brought this all to my attention? Am I more Spirit-filled? More aware of His guidance? His presence? I’m not sure.

I am however quite sure that He won’t stop teaching what He needs me to know any time soon.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

– John 15:4

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The last day in TO – Words from my Mom

Two ‘finallys’ in two days. My mom finally came to ‘Camp Peace’ (or what became mine and Timo’s Camp Peace after the real one closed), and my mom FINALLY wrote a guest blog. Be blessed my friends:

Let me tell you about my weekend…

With great anticipation May 2-4 approached: Ruthie was coming home. Not that she wanted to come home, but after her two full years at Urban Promise Toronto it was time. For the entire time she was in Toronto we said that I was going to go visit. If you’ve been following her blog you know her well. And her love for the people in the communities where she has worked. You also accompanied her through the heartache of leaving Camp Peace and then watched as she fell in love with a new group of kids at Camp Victory.

So the time had came….. I was headed for Toronto to bring my daughter home.

I arrived at her intern director’s house at the appointed time. When it came time to leave I watched as the goodbyes started. Everyone was doing quite well until little Eli (who is four) figured out that Rumour would not be back and the tears started flowing. All the interns were there, some who were returning to UP to start summer program in a few weeks. Others who were headed back to their hometowns (and home countries) to begin their own new adventures. Everyone realized that things were going to be very different.

So Ruthie and her room-mates got in the van and we left for Jane and Finch. We stopped at the grocery store; for the past two years I have often wondered if Ruthie was eating right, or even if she was eating at all…… although they all looked quite healthy. We picked up supper and headed to the apartment.

In the evening we found my great-niece who is settling into Toronto for the summer as her cousin is leaving. She helped us pack up Ruthie’s two years of memories and of course I was pleased to be able to feed her (and the intern boys from down the hall) before we took her back to her place. Sleeping on Ruthie’s lumpy futon was an experience, although I’m not sure I did much sleeping.

Sunday morning arrived. Even though Camp Peace had closed Ruthie and the other interns had continued to go downtown on Sundays to pick up kids and take them to the Toronto Alliance Church. Today I would be part of that amazing routine. We packed up the van. She said her final good-byes to her room-mates, which was hard, but they both live in Southern Ontario so she’ll see them again (maybe soon). We drove to Yorkdale Mall to park the car and catch the subway to downtown.

As we were getting out of the van I looked down at my feet, where my dress shoes looked back up at me. They matched my tan slacks. “Ruthie I probably should change to more comfortable shoes eh?” So we got my black ones out “mom black goes with everything”. They really aren’t bad shoes, but with the tan slacks???? One of Ruthie’s little girls later said “My grandma has shoes like that. She has size 10 feet …You do too?” It was kind of cute, because at that point she took my hand.

And there was walking. Around the mall, to the subway, off the subway, under the tunnel to connect to the streetcar. Ruthie’s old intern partner Spencer and a couple of people from TAC were waiting for us as we got off the streetcar. Then to the neighbourhoods. Knocking on doors, the question “Are you coming to church?” At first lots of “No not today“….with Ruthie saying “well this is the last time I’ll be here” and then an extra hug good-bye.

Forty-five minutes later we were sitting in the second and third rows at TAC. Seven beautiful little kids among us. As the singing began I explained what was happening to the little boy beside me. He is only four and I don’t know if he had ever been in a service before. He said “I like ‘twinkle twinkle little star.’ ” If they had asked for favourites I would have suggested it; after all we do know who made those stars! They were great for the first twenty minutes then most of them got a little restless for the next twenty. (Okay they were really restless) but then they went out to Sunday School.

It apparently was Pentecost Sunday. And the pastor quietly entreated us to ask that the Holy Spirit fill us, so that we could experience God’s power and see Him work in our lives. People all through the church responded, and on this day of good-byes I realized again that as we love and serve Christ, yes, there are changes, but each day brings new and exciting experiences.

As the pastor spoke of the disciples speaking in languages, unknown to them, but understood by people in the crowd who were from different countries, I wondered if there was a language that the people from the Alexander Park community would understand. And then it hit me that the reason those little kids were at church there that morning is because the UP interns had been open to what the Lord would do in their lives. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control, has been present in the neighbourhood. The language of God’s love is one that all of us broken people can understand. It is very exciting that Spencer is going to be an intern at TAC and the kids will still have him. I am sure others from the church will allow the Lord to speak through them and use them to reach out to those kids and their parents.

Our time downtown ended with pizza (complete with a rendition of “Jesus is my superhero” in Pizza Pizza) and donuts, and visiting in the courtyard with the kids and a few of their amazing moms. I watched as Ruthie said her good-byes. I heard the moms tell me how much they love my daughter and how special she has been to them and the kids. And we were off to catch the streetcar, to get to the subway, to get to the van, to start the long drive home.

Please pray for Ruthie, that she’ll find out where the Lord wants her to be and serve, after this regrouping time at home. Pray for Spencer, as he will be officially ministering again in the neighbourhood. Pray for TAC and their presence there. And if you know Him, ask the Lord what hearts He would use you to minister to.

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