Friday, December 22, 2017

this Christmas


This Christmas, I hope you remember that it's all about love

We make it into a season of crazy, of lights and winter tires and carols on repeat, and always giving ... giving time, giving presents, giving food, giving prayers and encouragement, giving stress (!) ... and sometimes I think our good intentions create background noise so loud we miss the quiet truth.

Christmas is about giving, but the gifts we have to give should always be step two - step one is God's great gift to us, and we can't even begin to pass it along to others unless we take the time to receive it, first. This Christmas, it's not about what you have to offer, and all about the no-strings-attached love that has already been offered to you.

True love - the deep, healing kind - is never about us and always about Him. Love is never what we can do and always what has been done for us already. Love is never about not being enough, but simply accepting that his love is MORE than enough.

THIS IS LOVE: not that we loved God, but that He loved us.**

And don't we so often try to do it the other way around? We try to prove our worth by loving well, and giving much, and we end up tired and falling short, even at the best of times. Because we mix up the order ... we try to give without receiving first, because we're told it's better that way. But sometimes, receiving is sacred instead of selfish, and giving when your heart is empty is the wrong decision.

So I hope that this Christmas is a season of receiving for you ... that you would take the time to accept the gift of Christ's love as a personal one - for you! - before you begin to pass it along to those around you. Yes, it is blessed to give. But oh, how life-giving it is to receive.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I'll see you all in the New Year!

*Photo by Arun Kuchibhotla on Unsplash
**(1 John 4:10)

Friday, December 15, 2017

things that make me happy // 646-660

646. watching the snow fall outside my living room window
647. Christmas trees in the student center at school
648. getting home after writing an exam and realizing that I don't have to pick up my study notes anymore
649. Christmas music!
650. singing carols at youth group in duets with my sister
651. long chats with mum when no one else is home
652. one blissfully long weekend when I baked and stretched and watched the ground grow white outside
653. Christmas lights!
654. fitness blender's workouts. probably someday I'll do a whole post on how amazing they are and how much I love what they do, but for now I'll just say I do three 30 minute workouts a week (which is NOT that much) and I am seeing real changes after only a few months.
655. the glittering lights in the mall (Christmas decorations!!)
656. sending "hello" videos to friends in other countries
657. when my sister makes breakfast. or smoothies. or BOTH.
658. new year plans and looking ahead to when I'll have more time to WRITE
659. long walks in the snow
660. Dancing Through the Snow by Jean Little, aka my most favourite Christmas book ever

In the midst of finals, or exam season, or whatever you call it wherever you live, I hope you find the time to remember the things that make you happy ... even if it's just five minutes taking deep breaths and reflecting on what makes your heart joyful! It's almost Christmas ... and you CAN do this. 


p.s. Photo by Todd Diemer on Unsplash

Friday, December 1, 2017

you can do this

Good morning friends!

Today's post is going to be a short one, since this week has been wildly crazy and I find myself with a to-do list a mile long ... and an essay to finish as the deadline comes closer and closer! (And while I'm not a procrastinator by nature ... I DEFINITELY should have started this one earlier!)

In the middle of the busyness this week, I've found myself discouraged often, and the words "I can't do this" have come out of my mouth more often than I'd like. I didn't realize how powerless that thought is, but as soon as I started thinking that I'd never be able to pull it all off, I just didn't have any energy left.

I am blessed beyond belief to have people in my life who are extremely quick to layer truth on top of that terrible little lie, and twice this week I've been flat-out told by people who love me that I am wrong - I am stronger than I give myself credit for - and I can do this. Just like the phrase "I can't" takes power away, hearing someone say "actually, you CAN" was like a boost from a rocketship.

So I wanted to a take a moment this morning, in the middle of a crazy week, to pass on this encouragement. Don't sabotage yourself with the lie that you can't. Do yourself a favour and surround yourself with people who will call out the truth in you even when you're unable to see it.

And if no one else tells you today? You CAN do this.

Has anyone else been living in this lie lately? Who keeps you on track with the truth?


Friday, November 24, 2017

a few things to remember at the end of the week

Hello friends!

 It's Friday again (isn't it lovely that we get one every seven days?) and this morning I wanted to offer you a few reminders as you go forward into the weekend. Maybe you had a fantastically wonderful week - or maybe it was just rotten. Either way, the hard part is over - you've basically made it to the weekend! I want to take a moment to invite you to sit - rest - breathe. Make some quiet space and see what happens.

learn how to rest like this Icelandic sheep is resting on the side of a mountain. so serene.

I kind of said this already, but something I've been learning this week is that when I create spaces of silence, God shows up. I found myself on a 30 minute lunch break in my office at work, and after scrolling through instagram for a few minutes, I decided to put my phone away and just sit and drink my coffee. I crossed my legs, looked out the window, and in about 30 seconds flat, I found myself reeling with how awesome it is that we are made holy through God's sanctification process (find the complete story on my post here). Thoughts that had flipped through my head at the speed of light earlier on in the week found a home in the 15 minutes of stillness that I found while looking out the window at work ... and I almost missed it all by watching YouTube in the background, as I so often do!

It's okay to not have it all figured out it. LOL @ the fact that I even typed that sentence, because this is one thing that I do not do well. I usually interpret weekends as "two days during which I must immediately figure every single thing out in my life and everyone else's, too". Don't be like me. Make better choices and let your weekends be weekends - time to do what you love (and maybe catch up on an assignment or two. Or sixty). You can figure it all out on Monday. (JOKING)

Sleep in at least once! Seriously. Be productive during the wee hours of the morning some other time, and enjoy your sleep. I always forget to do this until Monday morning when I have to get up for an 8:30 class - then I remember all the times I could have slept in and didn't.

I seem to be going through a phase where all my posts must be structured in some sort of list? Both of my drafted future posts are like this too and I'm not too sure why??? Anyway ... what are you remembering this weekend? Was your week long+hard, or short+sweet?


Friday, November 17, 2017

4 strategies for maintaining balance in your life

I will be the first to admit that living a perfectly balanced life is not something I do well (or ever? But then, does anyone?) But I don't like waking up in the morning stressed before I get out of bed because I'm doing too much of one thing and not enough of another ... and I really don't like not knowing how to fix it. Below I've included a few strategies that I try to use when I feel like I'm living an off-balance life - usually, running down the list of these helps me even everything out again!

1. Manage your input and output
One of the main things that causes me to feel stressed or unbalanced is if I'm spending too much time either absorbing energy through inward activities, like studying, or pouring energy into outward activities, like public speaking. (In the years when I did NaNoWriMo, my output would go through the charts because I was writing.all.the.time.) The best way to get back to feeling balanced is to take a break and choose something from the other category ... if you're writing all day, every day, take a break and scroll through Pinterest! Read a book! Listen to someone talk about their day! Do anything and everything you can to put more info into your brain so you can turn around and pour it all out again.
On the flip side, if you've spent the last week studying and reading textbooks and watching tv in the evening hours, your brain is probably overflowing! Go write a journal entry, or tell someone about what you're learning, or draw some gorgeous art - anything to siphon the extra stuff out of your head so you can keep right on learning.

2. Go visit a human person

Go walking, or drink hot chocolate in a new coffee shop, or take a drive to a nearby small town! Take an afternoon off and invest in your relationship with someone else - hear about their life, and vent a little bit about yours. This could be anyone - a family member, a friend - it doesn't have to be outside your comfort zone! I find that just spending a little time with people goes a long way to straightening out the things that feel "off" in my life.

3. Make a list of things you love and do one thing every day

 For me, writing hit the top of the list - a few months ago, I was working and sleeping and studying for exams, and that's it. I felt worn out, and like I was missing something key because I wasn't allowing myself to carve out time to write, or blog, or even journal. Don't do that to yourself. When you find out what you love, make time for it. Or, if you love a lot of things, make a list! Do a couple of them! Don't let the pressures of school or work crowd out the essence of who you really are and what you love to do.

4. Remind yourself to aim for excellence, not perfection

**This particular piece of advice is courtesy of my mum
Aiming for perfection is one of the fastest ways to throw my life out of balance -  I end up pushing and pushing and pushing for a goal that is not only out of reach, but unnecessary. Striving for the standard of excellence means expecting great things - hard things - but it also means that there is such a thing as enough. Occasionally, it's not such a bad thing to just stop. And be done. And let it be what it will be, and call it good enough. I'm not advocating for half-finished projects, or 50% effort ... just arguing against the mentality that we have to spend forever fighting for a standard that we're never going to reach. Don't get stuck there! There are so many other places to explore.

Okay, rant over. I fight hard for balance, mostly because I so often find myself without any!! What about you? Do you ever get get "stuck" aiming for perfection? Lost in a broken cycle of input/output? Caught not allowing yourself to do what you love? How do you get unstuck, break the cycle, and go back to embracing what you were made for? I'd love more tips!!


ps. why yes this is yet another post to be illustrated with pictures from Iceland!! Definitely because I love Iceland and not because I have no other pictures at the moment ... ahem.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

poems about birds, vol II

And here I stand, hands
buried in
this place:
the very end
of the world
where the water and sky
cease to be two
and waves become whitecapped clouds
the birds swim through -
they are caught in the current of air
tugging, tugging
back toward shore
where the hungry waves
the water back;
it is the tide that knits
water to land,
sand weighing down the waves
remember, remember
where you belong.


I know why there are no clouds today
it is because the birds
have stolen them;
fashioned wingtips from wisps
of leftover storms, the
darkest roll of thunder for
every feather's edge
and white for their back
where they cradle
the sun.
they have borrowed the voices of
the wind as it
screeches around the corners of
my house and
whips the lake into
a hurricane
come back, come back,
they shriek
come back,
the fun's just starting
it's wild here,
don't you know?
and don't you want to stay
and watch?

poems about birds are my favourite kind of poems. any place where there's water and sky and winged creatures that glide comfortably through both worlds, I think there's a little bit of magic. where are your lovely, ethereal places?


Friday, November 3, 2017

things that make me happy // 631-645

631. fall leaves and thick, heavy clouds
632. my siblings playing Christmas music on the piano
633. porch lights turned on at dinnertime
634. the mountains in Iceland
635. writing essays about fictional princesses (most fun part of being an English major)
636. when my youth pastor boss brings me a chai tea latte for no apparent reason
637. the way my dog looks at me when I get the peanut butter out of the fridge
638. library booksales (they sold their books for $2!!! each!!!!)
639. waffles+whipped cream
640. the way yoga+deep breaths unties all the knots in my chest
641. playing board games with friends until 1am 
642. going for walks after dark and talking about the stuff that matters
643. talking on the phone to faraway friends
644. when the sunlight comes through my window at work
645. dog-sitting a cuddly puppy

Did you know that Autumn is my favourite season? Anne of Green Gables once said that she was so glad that she lived in a world where there were Octobers ... and even though the month has passed, I wholeheartedly agree. What makes you happy this month? Which season is your favourite?