Thursday, June 9, 2016

It's a team effort

It's pretty phenomenal to be trusted. It's pretty amazing when God's favour is with you. It's amazing how God chooses to show his power through weakness. Maybe I'm not the worst fundraiser in the world, but it is certainly not my strength. Yet God is the one who is sending me. He has been and is moving generous donors to give and partner with me in the work he has given me to do. I'm floored. I'm amazed. If everyone who's promised to give gives what they've promised, that would put me at about 102% right now. I'm still awaiting some of that to come in and show up online, but as far as things are looking right now, I should definitely be able to meet the 70% deadline for June 15th. When that happens, my company will greenlight me to go. Then I'm going! It's... it's incredible.

I keep looking at this little envelope in front of me filled with evidence that people are standing with me. People are believing for great things to happen, that God will be at work through me and my coworkers to do them. That both excites me and terrifies me. It's one thing to hope and dream for something on your own. But on my own, they would remain only hopes and dreams. Hopes and dreams, remaining so, become false. However, when people join together to affirm the value of a work that needs financial backing (shared by many), it becomes a team effort. The one entrusted with their partnership becomes a steward who carries the responsibility of doing the hands on work to make their collective dreams and hopes reality. Not that it's only my work or that I should do it on my own strength! I can't. But with God as my help, working side-by-side with my coworkers, all things are possible. Can't wait for the adventure ahead!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Something amazing

Hey, hey, world!

Keeping it fresh, keeping it real...
Here comes Steph in her automobile!

Jk, jk.

Cool thing.
Yesterday, I met up with two of my friends from high school Dylan and Jill. They're married now and have been for the last four years. Dylan was one of my best friends. We played hacky sack almost everyday with our other friends at lunch. I knew Jill (and Dylan, too) fairly well from going to youth group, snocamps, canoe trips and all those cool things together. We even went to Malawi together with our fellowship nine years ago (not Dylan, though).

We've all grown up a whole lot. That was probably the sweetest thing about it all. We've all matured a lot, though I think we'd all say we still have a long way to go. It was really amazing. I don't know how to put it.

They own their own house now. We're getting real jobs. Planning dreams and doing stuff that's on track with the Father's heart and will. Doing it together. Partners in it all. It was truly so amazing.

Though the whole time was super informal and more like hanging out than having a meeting, we were getting together to talk about how their fellowship could partner with the work that the Father's leading me to in China. Honestly, it was so encouraging. Our time together was honest. They were real and supportive. I wasn't sure if our getting together would be a formality done because they were on a committee, made awkward because of having known each other a long time ago. But it wasn't like that at all! Shame on me for ever having let that thought cross my mind!

It's so cool to see how we could pick up our friendship not just where we left off but better than where we left off. Without having been together for several years, our hearts are and have been really moving in the same direction. This is what is to be like-minded, to have kindred souls where it really counts. It simply amazes me. Praise him for the good gifts he gives!

Peace till next time, Stephanie :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Accelerating the process

My biggest fear, I've discovered this year, is the fear of calling people to ask for support money. Can you believe it? I've nearly been crippled by it. Only now, as the deadline for getting the funds in to go to China approaches, has the sense of urgency been enough to push me to get going really. But I'm glad for it! I fear of calling has been a mix of fear of confidence, fear of being accepted, fear of being rejected. Probably the fear of other things, too, all mixed together! But the urgency has actually pushed to start making calls. And while I still don't feel like it's my greatest strength, I've found that it's not as bad as I imagined.

I don't like only getting one chance per call to say things in the right way with the right ways. But what I've done when I've forced myself to make calls is that I'll go into the washroom to psyche myself up. I'll set my timer for three minutes to make my physical presence seem bigger. And I'll smile the whole time to make myself feel happy. Today I even made myself laugh during that time. I think doing that boosts my sense of confidence and decreases my nervousness somehow.

Then, when I'm basically ready, I look at the list of numbers to call and find the nicest person on the list and call them first. Then I choose the next nicest. And after talking to a few nice people, everyone starts to seem a less scary in my mind and if things go well, I won't be afraid to call anyone. Since I know that feeling doesn't last forever, I'll call as many people as I can in one shot. When I feel like I've called a fair amount of people, I call it a night and pat myself on the back. "Good job, Steph!" (I'll think to myself.) "You're amazing! I'm SO proud of you. That was a difficult job and you totally overcame it!" Apparently, I don't get enough praise for doing the right thing. Nobody understands exactly how overwhelmed the idea of calling people makes me feel. So when I do a good job, I just congratulate myself. Yesterday, I even imagined that I would draw myself a pictures filled with hearts, one for every call that was made. I didn't end up doing it but imagined that as a real thing.

The other thing that I've done the last couple times after calling is to journal about how it went. Journal out in detail what the fear has made me think and feel. How I felt how and sweaty when I was nervous, and had to take off my sweatshirt and even switch into a lighter top. Crazy things like that. I'd also journal out the successes, and the surprises that went well or not so well. Like how an intimidating answering machine message compelled me to leave a message (leave-a-message-or-else kind of feel) when otherwise I would have just hung up. And then the person give me a response when I saw them next, so maybe it was for the better! Or the family that I thought would be too busy to be interested was, in fact, very interest and only asked for my flexibility. Why, of course, I'll be flexible!

I've journaled yet today, so I'll do that now here. Today I started earlier in the evening and felt more confident from the start than earlier days. However, I still ended up starting at about the same time as yesterday by the time I got started. I did the same washroom exercise of making my physical presence bigger and smiling before starting. I chose to call a family friend as my first call tonight. No answer. I left a message, but it wasn't very well worded at all. I wish I could redo it, really. But that's the benefit of calling someone you've known for your whole life. You can make your mistakes with them and the relationship is so secure, you know they'll still be friends even when you're not perfect. Next, I thought I might call my grandparents (mom's side). I had a nice visit with my grandma. But my granddad wasn't home so that we could set up a time to Skype and talk more. When he got home, shortly after we had hung up, he called back. Saying that they would both like to Skype, as well as support me. By the time we finished talking, it was starting to get a bit late and my mom was asking me to walk the dog with her before the sun went down. So only two calls in (ten less than yesterday), I called it a night. And a successful one even so!

I may or may not have the chance to call people tomorrow night. I'm hoping I might be able to Skype a friend of mine tomorrow. But if it doesn't work out, then I will be calling people tomorrow, too. I like calling people, actually. But as I wrote in my journal yesterday, I feel like a cat learning to like to bathe. It's a huge learning curve, but I am truly starting to enjoy it more. I makes the process of getting responses from people much quicker than just hoping that people will respond to a letter that's been sent out or a presentation made at a fellowship. All that to say, I'm thankful. I'm thankful for the this whole learning process. It's fun in a messy kind of way. It's kind of amazing because overcoming what's scary is no little thing, but so delightful as it happens. I'm working towards 70% for June 15th. I'm confident the Father will see me through with it. And much more past that, too! To his name be all the praise!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Nostalgic Longing

The subject of apologetics fascinates me. I like understanding why faith is reasonable immensely.

Two nights ago I found myself watching a debate between Richard Dawkins and William Lane Craig on YouTube. Debates are usually a waste of time to watch, and I'm not sure this one was any exception. But I did find a rare conversation in the comments section of the video where two people of counter perspectives were engaging in constructive dialogue as to whether Craig's arguments are credible and worthy of acceptance. These two are definitely above my ability to converse. Nevertheless, their dialogue left me with unanswered thoughts and questions and I heartily wrote out the most thoughtful response I could muster late into the night. I didn't know what response I'd get.

The next morning I saw there was a nice comment from the person who holds the counter view to my own. He essentially said, "I appreciate your response. It's well thought out even though I see some flaws in it. I don't have time to respond now but I'll let the other person respond first."

I haven't got any further response to it yet–and I may not. That's OK. But the thing was that it was so exciting to see that. It's like having a friend. A friend of a special sort. Where you write our your mind and finds that someone else appreciates and accepts it. Even if it's not a mainstream or popular thought. Apologetics fits that category. There are so many things that interest me that don't seem to interest others. This makes meaningful conversation on those subjects nearly impossible with others nearly impossible, because unless another person is already interested in a given subject, it would require teaching the subject first in order to engage it. So I find it's hard to find friends who engage at a deeper intellectual level, especially when most people my age just want to have a good time.

It's lonely for me sometimes. I confessed that to a friend of mine a few months ago when we were texting. It saddened her to hear that. I didn't describe as an intellectual loneliness because I hadn't yet identified that that was the issue. When she asked what she could do, at first I had no answer. But knowing that she really wanted to help in some way I kept thinking about her question. A day later I asked if she'd be interested to get together to read. (Which felt like the best idea in the world–true love reads together.) In every good way, however, she is a near opposite to myself. She agreed, of course, to read together. I realized during that visit, though, that it's not something that suits her personality the way it does mine. She's very intelligent. She's also very extraverted. (This one of the things I appreciate most about her because it makes it easy for us to be friends). But that same quality meant that during the time we had to read, (between my parents, my friend and myself), we probably spent more time visiting than reading. I didn't mind much as I was mostly thankful for the simple gift of spending time with her but I certainly was a little intellectually disappointed.

Anyway... All that to say that I guess everyday relationships don't seem to satisfy the deeper intellectual longings that I have. College was my happy place. I had a ton of friends and lots of classwork and classmates to keep my mind going. It's hard for me now that I've moved on from there.

Before going to college, I had this blog. This blog got me through high school. Don't know if I've written about this on here before, but it's true. I didn't plan for this blog to be anything important but it was. My friends in high school didn't understand me. My family didn't understand me. (And a lot of people still have trouble.) I turned to this blog as a means of expressing what had no expression otherwise. An outlet to share stories. A place to ask my questions. It was my secret place. And I really kept it secret. I was nervous for anyone even to know about, though I did share it with one older friend.

Then the unbelievable happened. My anonymous blog that I thought no one would ever read received its first comment. That was from my first online friend Samantha Marie. It delighted me to read her blogs and that she, another Christian girl, just a few years older than myself, was interested to read mine. My favourite part of everyday was logging on to see if she had written something new. Though her I became connected to our other blogging friend, dragonflysoul. She was something like ten years older than me at the time, being twenty-seven then. That seemed like a huge age gap at the time but she was a good friend nonetheless. (Now it won't be long before I'm twenty-seven (in a couple years) and it's hard to believe that so much time has past.)

Samantha Marie and dragonflysoul were my two best friends in high school. Isn't that amazing?! Two people I had never met–and still haven't–were my best friends in high school hands down. When I went to Washington, DC for Move DC (Kony 2012) I thought I might have had the chance to meet dragonflysoul, because that's where lives (lived?) but it didn't end up working out. I have no idea how Samantha Marie found my blog that first time but I'm so thankful she did. But things petered out more or less by the time I graduated high school. They got busy and life moved on. They might have started new blogs. Who knows!

I've tried starting a number of blogs since things died down here, but I never keep going with them because I've never been able to gain a sense of online community the way I first did here. I think I've always been longing for that since then. I miss that sense of feeling known on a deeper level. That's what the comment on YouTube yesterday reminded me of. A sense of being recognized. A sense of being understood and valued for the thoughts inside my head. A sense of some importance because someone else values my thoughts. I don't know where to find that anymore. (Tumblr's the one exception to the new blogs I've started, though. It's become the place where I collect my finished poetry.)

I feel like I'm writing, foolishly hoping, that one day someone will find this blog again and revive the experience that I had back then. I don't expect that to happen. But writing here feels like writing to a friend. Like writing to someone who understands. I won't make any promises about whether I'll keep writing here more again. But after so many repeated years of coming back to this place, I think I can expect that I'll keep returning here. Till next time... here's me, missing my old blog.

Friday, May 22, 2015

FYI - Moving to Tumblr

Blogspot, you've been good to me. But I think it's time to move on. Because that's what everyone else is doing, and you haven't even made an effort to keep up with the times... So sorry.

Unless I should change my mind, I'm hopping over to the Tumblr. Here's my address: Cheers!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dream Epiphany 1: Hope

May 17, 2015

In the last few days, I have been struck by epiphanies as I sleep. I’ll share the first one for this post: Hope creates. Where there is longing, the thing or end desired comes alive so that as one hopes, one creates. That doesn’t necessarily mean that longings immediately (or ever) materialize, but where there is yearning, when hope is strong like rock (as true hope is), a certain reality joins those desires so that something is created in hope.

Not only that, but hope creates the means to pursue the end; it clarifies the directions needed to take or try to see that the longings do, in time, find their existence. In this case, hope fuels the creation of its ends with the tenacity to see them through.

Finally, the death of hope most confirms the idea that hope creates. When hope is lost, the heart mourns. Hope takes the whole of one’s being. Hoping is when you’re banking the whole of your life on a veiled answer, waiting for it to arrive finally in your hands. We can hope for trivial things, but I’m thinking here about the things that are much greater. Longing for relations to improve between you and a loved one, persevering to reach graduation day at last, holding out for someone who would make a good spouse, waiting for the Lord’s provision, waiting for acceptance to do a certain kind of work, for certain things to get better in the church, etc. If for any reason, one feels there is no longer reason to hope for the thing desired, real loss ensues. When hope dies, something real inside also shatters. Because the loss is real, the thing hoped for must also be real as well.

Proverbs 13:12 tells us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” If you’ve experienced this kind of deferral, then you know that it’s real. But this verse ends with reason to hope. “[A]nd hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5). Hope finds its anchor in Jesus, since we know that the character of God’s purpose is unchangeable (Hebrews 6). We have real hope in God. Let it be to the creation and pursuit of desires that are in accord with the purpose of his heart and mind.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Pianist

May 12, 2015

Dear Friends,

Hopeful melodies fill my house. This is its design. The pianist plays from above; those of us below receive its gift. How wonderful!

The playful music fills one’s soul with cheer. The world is all right tonight. Maybe it shouldn’t seem so but in this moment the crashing waves are kept at bay. I have One in whom I can trust. And so I find my lungs expand with breath. Can one complain in such a moment as this? No, no, certainly not.

Your fingers tell a better story than your lips. Your mind is one of great creativity; I wish I could see inside. I wish I could know your thoughts as you play. Call me up to you. Include me as a stepping note in your song. Let me dance in the life you give. That’s where I want to be.

Let joy light the fire. Let laughter erupt from the overflow. The rest will be all right.

My mind on a platter,