What is the wrong in the world that disturbs you?

How can we invite people to join us in following Christ if we, as a church, are not following Christ ourselves?

How can we say that Christ offers freedom while we oppress people?

How can we say that Christ does things for our good while there is still abuse in the church?

How can can we talk about loving community while we gossip?

How can we talk about authenticity while we focus on our image?

How can we talk about truth while we are still caught up in lies?

How can we decry the sin in culture when faced with the sin in the church?

This is the wrong in our world that disturbs me.

Not For Me

Proverbs 31:1-9:

31 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:
What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?
    What are you doing, son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women,
    your ways to those who destroy kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
    and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
    and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.
Open your mouth for the mute,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

When someone mentions Proverbs 31, the first 9 verses aren’t usually the first to come to mind. In a book full of catchy sayings, this motherly advice is easy to pass over.

King Lemuel’s mother took the time to teach her son some important lessons about leadership that are easy to forget. She begins her oracle by demanding attention, asking, “What are you doing, my son?” It is a call to stop and reflect. She asks her son to reevaluate his actions.

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The Voice

You are the voice in my head that says,
“Why didn’t you do better?”
and no reason is sufficient.

You are the voice in my head that says,
“This is your fault!”
all my actions have malicious intent.

You are the voice in my head that says,
“You are a burden.”
When did my basic needs become selfishness? Continue reading

Celebrating Valour

My grandma is one of the most amazing people I know. If anyone has displayed Christ accurately to me, it is her. During some of the most difficult years of my life, she would stay up with me for as long as I wanted to talk to her, and she listened, never judging or condemning, even when I talked about some of my frustrations with my parents.

She always checks with me before she cooks a meal to make sure that it will be something that I enjoy, and she buys my favourite instant oatmeal (Dino-Eggs, just for the record) when I am coming for a visit. She never criticizes my eating.

She encouraged me when I became frustrated with my inability to cook. She has been the one who reminds me that I am still competent and talented, and that I don’t need to be great at cooking after all.

She is honest, yet kind. Christ shines through her, but she doesn’t flaunt it. She is generous, yet wise. She is perceptive, but she does not worry about what she doesn’t know. She is steady in crises, and strong in more ways than one. She is a woman of valour, and her works deserve to be celebrated. Continue reading

Making Your Youth Ministry a Safe Place for Girls

Odds are that if you went to a youth group as a teen, the youth pastor was male.  Odds also are that the youth pastor at your church is male.  If the youth pastor is you, good.  I’m writing this for you.

I firmly believe that youth groups should be safe and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of race, economic status, popularity, religious background, body type, and gender.  Whatever you believe about the genetic differences between males and females, girls and women have different interactions and experiences with culture, including Christian culture, than guys do.

The Church, as representatives of God, needs to treat girls in a way that reflects God’s love and acceptance of them.  If they can find safety, acceptance, empowerment, and inclusion in God, they should be able to see that reflected in the culture of our youth groups.

What are some practical ways to do that? Continue reading

Beat

I was at the youth group I was interning at talking to someone when a junior high guy suddenly jumped on my back.

“Get off me, please!”

His weight started pulling me down.  I thought about defending myself, but I’m one of the adults responsible.  I can’t hurt him to protct myself.

“You’re hurting me.  Get off!”

My knees hit the floor, and the boy’s older brother called his name: “Get off her.”

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Good Enough

This weekend I sat through another sermon about being good enough for God no matter what mistakes we’ve made or what sins we have committed.  It seems like so many people need to hear this message, but it never seems to resonate with me.  I have spent my entire life trying to be perfect for people.  I don’t have regrets that make me feel guilty and distant from God.

It’s not, though, that I think that I deserve everything God can give.  I know that I do not.  I was raised with the knowledge that what I deserve is Hell.  What I deserve is suffering.   I am not worthy of anything good happening to me. Continue reading

10 Things About Being an Extravert That You Might Be Surprised To Hear

  1. I do have a personal bubble.  Just because I want to be around people all the time and I like talking to you all doesn’t mean that you can invade my personal space.  Back off.
  2. I am okay with silence.  Hey, often I’m happy just being around people without the pressure of keeping up a conversation.  In fact, one of my favourite things to do is to find a busy place and just people-watch.
  3. I am more inclined to listen than to speak.  No, seriously.  I like talking, too, but I also like being involved in other people’s lives.  I love other people, and part of what makes up each person is their experiences, thoughts, and feelings, and I enjoy hearing about that.  And – BONUS – even as I listen I’m still around and interacting with people.  Yay! Continue reading

Look For the Helpers

I have been becoming increasingly frustrated lately with the people who I have been encountering as I travel around the city.  Between nearly getting run over, catcalling, strangers trying to get a date out of me, inconsiderate behaviour, and parents screaming at their children, it has been hard to see the good in people.  I have good reason to be angry at the way I and others have been treated, and that can obscure the rest of the picture.

Last Monday, my bike’s chain fell off the gear and got stuck.  A lady returning home a few houses down from a walk with her children saw me struggling with it, so she came over and helped me.

Last fall, I forgot my purse in a bus stop on my way to an 8 AM class.  A lady saw it, picked it up, and brought it to the police station, where they contacted me to pick it up.

When a drunk man was hitting on me while I sat on the bus, and he grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let it go, the bus driver took the time to make sure that I was safe and that I was alright.

When a man taking a smoke break saw me looking at my bike while waiting for the light to change, he explained to me what was causing the noise I was hearing, exactly how to fix it, and not to worry about it, since it was a very minor problem.

These are just a few examples of people who have gone out of their way to help me, unasked, and without anything in return.

I am grateful for these people, and I need to make sure that I do not forget them too quickly in my frustration with others.

The Gap

The gap between my thighs.

I can’t look at it.  I cringe when I see it in the mirror: empty space framed by twig legs.  The gap that makes girls envy me, the gap that they starve and hurt and die for is the gap that I dream of being rid of.

Sometimes I like to imagine what it would feel like for my thighs to brush against each other as I walk.  I imagine that I would feel powerful, and that I would own the space I am in.  I would be more than a branch sticking into the air.  I would be a full person, with fat and muscle and bones and skin and intelligence and I would feel human.

I hold this image in my head as I scoop another serving on my plate even though I am full.  Family or friends that sit with me say, “Have some more!”  They look me up and down.  “You could use it.”  They are right.  I want to fill the space between my legs, so I force my stomach to take more, praying that it will all stay down. Continue reading