year in review

as another birthday comes around, another year passing, I like to take a look at the year I’m leaving behind me, the year closing, and see how I’ve grown, how God has been working in my life.

last year’s.

this past year has been, well, a roller coaster ride.  last summer was good (to be perfectly honest it always seems to me like the summers are just an amazing blur filled with so many fun days and other days that are…. well let’s just say less fun), and the end of the summer was just spectacular (we went out west to see some friends). the fall was pretty rough, and I know that God was using it to teach me lots of things. the winter was a lot better, and I find when you look back at something it’s a lot easier to see how you’ve grown through it and the difference between where you are and where you were.

once again, I thank the LORD that I read 1000 gifts because I have truly discovered in my life that when I am off track, the best way to get on track is simply to spend more time with God, and count your blessings. this spring has mostly been lovely. {I say mostly, and what I mean by that is that it has indeed been lovely, but there are days here and there, which are not so much, ya know?} I know that I can look back over the past year and see that God has had a plan to work in my life, and there were things that hurt, and while I was in them I wished I didn’t have to, but now when I look back I see how much closer to God I have grown and I can say honestly that I am okay with it all. but only because God’s got a plan and He works in my life, and He worked through that.

some things God has been teaching me this year include but are not limited to:
1. biggest thing. God will work in every little detail of your life. everything that God brings you into He will bring you through and out of, and if you use that as an “excuse” to run to Him, He will bring you out of it closer to Him.
2. contentment (if you read this blog at all you probably already know that haha!). there are some things in your life you can change. go out and change those if you don’t like them! …but there are lots of things you can’t change -and so why would I want to waste all that time wishing for something I didn’t have? time is precious people! make the most of what you’ve got!
3. living on your own power is just. so. exhausting. when I don’t start my day with the LORD, and “stop in” a few times a day, I do stupid things and by the end of the day I’m a mess. yes.

some books I read this year that helped me grow that I would totally recommend to others:
1. A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. you have a life to live. you can make art where you are now. you don’t need to be a painter or a musician or anything like that to make art. to make art with your life is to glorify God.
2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. this book is great!!! it’s pretty deep and a little confusing at times, but it’s written in a way that is so easy to read… I have learned a lot of great things from this book.
3. The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins. I will admit that while I did read the first part of the book I only skimmed the second part… but I liked this book. did you know we spend a crazy whack of time waiting in our lives? (at the grocery store, the doctor’s, etc, or for bigger things like university acceptances, or a baby etc) and I know that I tend to think of waiting as a waste of time, but God has given us this time for a purpose and we’ve got to use it too!

a few songs that God has used in my life this year:

my favourite hymn-y-worship-y song lately: Crown Him (Chris Tomlin & Kari Jobe)

I need Him. Oh, yes! Every hour, every millisecond, whether I realize it or not!  Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher

Holy Spirit -Francesca Battistelli (honestly, I am so loving her entire new album!)
“Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for / To be overcome by Your presence, Lord”

I also made a youtube playlist with ‘just a few’ of the many many songs that I loved this year. (those that I remembered yesterday anyways lol)

 

this year I spent a lot of time in the Psalms, Isaiah, Philippians and a few other epistles. some verses (&passages) that have meant a lot to me:
(if I didn’t put the passage there is a link)

Isaiah 58

Isaiah 55:9-11

Isaiah 46:4

Isaiah 44:22-23
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
    for I have redeemed you.”
23 Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this;
    shout aloud, you earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
    you forests and all your trees,
for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    he displays his glory in Israel.

Psalm 25: 12-13

Psalm 27:4

Psalm 27:13-14
I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 34:8

Psalm 37:4, 23

Psalm 51:10-12

John 6:35
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

2 Corinthians 12:9a,10b
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Philippians honest to goodness, I so love this book! picking a few favourite passages was very hard, please go and read it yourself. slowly. over and over and over again.

Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:9-11

Philippians 2:5-11

Philippians 2:15b-16

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:11-13

Philippians 4:19

Colossians 3:17, 23

God has got a glorious plan for our lives, so that we might be part of the beautiful tapestry He is weaving for His glory. I pray that I would never forget that. We worship and great and Almighty God, who has loved us wayy beyond what we can comprehend. I pray that we would live like we know it!
I hope that you got something out of this mumbo-jumbo ;)

love Em

taste and see

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8

Image

please note that this verse says ‘that’, not ‘if’. once you have tasted, there is no choice. the LORD IS good. this is an absolute truth, not a preference thing. God, whose glory extends beyond time, and beyond the scope of our minds and imaginations, IS good, and what you feel about that doesn’t make a speck of difference in the matter. to those who believe that they have tasted and found that God was not good…. all I can say is that you must not have truly tasted. there must have been something sinful, something of the flesh that you were keeping between you and the God. and I earnestly pray that you would truly taste and experience the LORD, for you will find that He is good. it is simply impossible to find otherwise. God is good beyond our experiences and our world, and just because you may have had a bad time in life DOES NOT mean that God is not good.

I know personally, that there are certainly times when you’ve got to work at it, but I can also tell you, without a doubt, that when you have tasted the LORD and found shelter in Him, there is NOTHING that can compare.

bless you, friends.
~em

with my head and not my heart

*sigh*

this week I’ve attempted any number of times to make a post. I think and think about something to write about, and then I start it. usually I have a whole bunch of half formed ideas rolling around in my head on that subject, and when I try and spit them out, they end up all jumbled and messy and not really what I think I’m trying to say. so I just left all of them to be finished at a later date when those thoughts become more fully formed.

I wasn’t exactly sure why I was having this problem, but as I was talking to my dear friend last night, I was saying that my walk with God (and much of how I’ve been going through life lately) felt very much right now like I was doing it with my head and not my heart. I’ve been faithful at reading the Bible, and mostly faithful at praying, I have lovely blogs that I follow, I’ve been going to church, I have praise music on almost all the time, so it’s not like I’ve ‘taken a break’ from any of those activities. I just feel like it’s all so ‘half-there’. it’s so much easier for me to just read my chapter or two of the Bible for the day then it is to journal, and even praying feels sort of fake. I’ve tried crying out to God, asking Him to let this be more real again, let me feel it. and nothing happens. this isn’t a case of my not believing anything about Him, I truly believe that He is there, and He loves us, and “all that”. I just don’t feel it. I’m sure that it’s something going on on my side (after all He’s not left me, or anything, He’s still where He was), but I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET OUT OF IT!!

but then I was thinking about it. and I realized that it’s what we do when we don’t feel like it, that’s what makes us grow. it’s easy to follow Christ when you feel like it, when there’s depth in your relationship, when everything is going good. but it’s when it’s not so easy to follow Him that we show what we’re made of, and how strong is that grace that saved us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

I can’t wait until I start moving through life with God with my heart again! but right now I’m going to be faithfully walking with my head. if you are going through a similar experience, keep plugging away! if we all waited until we felt like it to do anything, we wouldn’t do anything! rather, at some point, the feelings will follow the actions. prayin for y’all!

love Em

connections

the more I learn, the more I see that everything is seriously connected.

right now, I am really dealing with contentment. (favourite blogs writing about contentment for 31 Days in Oct: Sarah Writes  and Cassidy Robinson :)) don’t we all say to ourselves – ‘I’ll be content when _______’ (fill in the blank for yourself), but I know for a fact that when I get there I will then be saying ‘I’ll be content when ______’ about the next step in my life, and this will keep going until I die unless somewhere along the line I learn to be content right where I am. so why not start now?

I am seeing that the key to being content is 3ish things, all of which are connected.

God’s presence. His character. who He is. dwelling on this y’all. Our God is the God of love, He is just, He is sovereign, He is good, He is best, besides a million other things that I don’t have the brainpower or time to list this morning. when we think, really think, when we soak in who our AMAZING God is – how are we not content? He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross so that we could have life??? *mindblown* our God truly is good, which leads me to my next point:

His promises. (favourite blog about His glorious goodness this Oct: With Love, From Here). there are many, many promises in the Bible (just googled it quickly and results varied from 1500-3000). when we know who our God is, and that He will not let us down, His promises have a lot of worth. we can hope in them, trust in them, and we can be content.

gratitude. (Ann Voskamp’s blog A Holy Experience has truly spoken God’s words to me during hard times in my life) I truly believe this is key to contentment. discontent stems from thanklessness. when we are not thankful for what we have, where and who we are, then what we don’t have looks better than what we do have, and this is discontent. when we give thanks for all things, we are accepting God’s plan for our lives. we are showing Him that we truly believe that He does not make mistakes and that He really does know best. when we neglect to give thanks we are telling God that we know better than Him what we need right now. and ummm, I’m sorry, but we don’t. contentment in each moment stems from gratitude in each moment. I could go on and on about giving thanks but considering this is just supposed to be an overview of some of the things that I feel are related to contentment I will save all that for another post ;).

other things related to contentment:

hope. (Sweetwater blog) sometimes I have trouble with this one because I feel like when I’m hoping for something, that makes me less content with where I am/what I have. but I think that when that happens to me, I am not hoping in the true sense of the word. hope should encourage us that God is good and what He has for us is good. we can hope for specific things and that is not wrong, but we can take it in the wrong direction and become discontent when we feel that God is not moving fast enough.

yearning and desire. right now one of my prayers is that the LORD would be my first desire. admission, often, He is not. :( and this makes me sad.

trust. in order for any of this to be of any worth to me I need to trust in God’s character, His promises, hope etc.

sometimes it is necessary for us to ‘fake it til we make it‘: go through the motions even when we don’t feel like it, and the feeling will follow along. maybe not for a long time; but it will. I promise. if we waited for the right feeling to be content/joyful/thankful/hopeful, it would never happen – at least not really and not for the long term. we need to choose contentment.

I don’t want to make any promises about what I’m going to post on next, but right now I have this idea of maybe going a little deeper into each of those sections that I’ve mentioned above. we’ll see if it lasts long enough to actually make the posts ;)

May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

love em

{this post has been reposted here from my previous, private blog}

 

On Saturday, we spent the day at Canada’s Wonderland, for WonderJAM, a day of fun at the park with some shows by Christian artists and speakers. This year Hawk Nelson, KJ52, Manic Drive, Third Day and Chris Tomlin were there. It was a blast!! I love love love Roller Coasters…. I went on the Leviathan twice,  the Behemoth once, the Windseeker, as well as a bunch of other smaller awesome rides! :)

I’m still not sure what my favourite part of the day is yet (I always have a really hard time doing that), but one of the highlights was when Chris Tomlin was doing ‘Amazing Grace’. Or rather, you know, Chris Tomlin was pretty much leading the whole crowd in worship. It was pretty amazing!

 

 

So we were singing Amazing Grace, with his chorus right, and the words go:

My chains are gone! I’ve been set free
My God, my Saviour has ransomed me
and like a flood, His mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing grace

And I’ve sung that song hundreds of times before, and that night, we got to the part, ‘I’ve been set free’ and I’m thinking to myself, this is surely true, I know it! I know it! but how often do I live like it? How often do I live like I’ve just been set free? The God of the universe just set me free, broke my chains, but I still choose to live like I’m not free. I live chained by fear of not fitting in, of people not liking me, not being accepted and what they’ll think of me, I live bound by the idea that I need to be better, on my own, I live like I’m enslaved by lots of things. But I shouldn’t be! So we were singing that chorus, Chris Tomlin, the giant crowd, and I, and I tell myself I need to live free! I am rejecting the full power of the cross when I don’t live free – because that is what Jesus came to do!

I challenge you all today, to live free! God made you, He loves you, He accepts you, He has already paid the price! You just need to believe that every moment of your life! You need to live and breathe that truth! You are free!!

And the second thing that God showed me on Saturday as we were singing this song, was the third line of the chorus, ‘and like a flood, His mercy reigns’. The first thing that came to mind was this, and that one line to this song. (<links) Because if grace is an ocean, and mercy is a flood, and we are loved, and free, then what more do we need? And I was thinking flood, ….flood… and my mind went to the recent flooding in Alberta. I’ve seen videos of that, the water rushing along, taking with it whatever it comes in contact with, whole houses rushing down the water, everyone flooded, the water just seeps in everywhere. But what if that was mercy? What if mercy rushed along, and everything it came into contact with became part of the flow, and you couldn’t escape it, what if it seeped into your heart and your soul? Why do we so often voluntarily evacuate when there is a mercy floods?

And so I lifted my hands, and sang that chorus without abandon, thanking my God for breaking my chains so I am free, and for flooding me with amazing grace! I just wanted to share with you what God taught taught (retaught?) me through that song on Saturday. I pray that maybe He will show you too.

Have a lovely lovely day!!
love Emma

Amazing Grace