Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Letting go of grudges

Few things can make us more miserable and negative than holding on to grudges against people. The reality is that we live in a world filled with imperfect people so it's inevitable that we will get offended and hurt by others from time to time. We can't avoid getting hurt in life but we can decide how we will act when it happens. We don't have to carry around our hurt feelings and let them grow into resentment toward others.

The best thing we can do to avoid holding grudges is learning to voice our hurt when it happens. If we can express how we feel to the person who offended us chances are high that the person will apologise, but even if we don't get an apology we will have voiced how we feel which makes all the difference. When we put our feelings into words we won't have to carry the negative feelings around with us any longer.

Undeserved Love

I’ve been a Christian for almost nine years now and at this point in my spiritual journey I’m starting to have some favorite chapters in the Bible. One of my favorites is Titus 3:

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. 
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”
Titus 3: 1-5 (NIV)

One of the most counter-cultural themes in the Bible is that God loves us although we do not deserve his love. Our societies are built based on a “you get what you deserve”-mentality. We realize that you don’t always get what you deserve in life. Sometimes you do all the hard work and someone else still gets the promotion, but we like the idea of getting what we deserve. We also love the idea of others getting what they deserve, especially when they have done something wrong. Forgiveness and grace is something we don’t like very much when it comes to other people, but we do expect others to forgive us.

One huge difference between Christianity and all other world religions is that Christianity is not about getting what we deserve. God does not love us because we have earned his love or because we are such good people. God sees all our thoughts and actions, he sees our messy lives and he loves us anyway. Most of us have only experienced the kind of love that humans can give us, so we learn early on to hide our messes and only show the beautiful side of ourselves. The sad truth is that we have learned that people won’t always love us if we show them our real selves. God on the other hand, knows every single mistake we have ever done and loves us despite all that. There is nothing we could ever do in this life to loose God’s love for us. God doesn’t love the way humans love, God’s love is perfect and never fails.

God doesn’t invite us into his family because we have done so many good deeds. We can never earn our way to heaven, it’s a free gift. We receive this gift by “opening the door to our hearts” and letting God in. It’s our faith that saves us, not our long lists of good deeds. One of the most encouraging things about the gospel is that we don’t change ourselves so that God can love and accept us. God loves and accepts us just the way we are, and then He starts to transform us from the inside out through the Holy Spirit. The only thing we do is decide if we will open up to God when he knocks on the door of our hearts or if we will slam the door shut in his face. God has given us free choice, we can choose to embrace his love or we can choose to reject him.

You Don't Miss A Thing

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Slow Weekend

Last weekend was a busy one so this weekend I decided to take it easy. One of my favorite things to do on a slow Saturday is crawl up in my favorite corner of the couch and read a good book.

On Sunday we went to brunch at Cora's after church again, we've definitely been keeping this place in business lately. I love having brunch; pancakes, waffles, eggs Benedict, I love it all! The Gigi Omelette is one of my favorites at Cora's.

We also managed to squeeze in some shopping in Yorkville this weekend. I bought a leather jacket and my husband bought a new pair of glasses.

All in all I had a very relaxing weekend. I got to spend some time with family on Saturday and on Sunday my husband and I got a lot of time for each other. Next weekend it's 1st of May and I plan to celebrate the Scandinavian holiday Valborg. Valborg is a holiday when Scandinavians celebrate that spring has arrived.

Is there more to life than this?

Life, what is it really about in the end? Is it that simple that we are born, live our lives for a few years and then we die and there is nothing more to it? Does everything end the day we die? Could it be that there is more to the story after all, that there are things we can not explain through science and that there is more to life than what we can see with our eyes? Could there be a God, or is what we can explain today all there is to life? The Alpha film explores the big questions that we all face at some point in life and takes a deeper look at faith and God.

Sam's Story

The Holy Spirit

What is the Holy Spirit? Does all Christians have the Holy Spirit inside of them? How can we be filled with the Holy Spirit and how will the spirit change us? In episode 9 of Alpha we learn about the Holy Spirit and how we can be filled.

The Holy Spirit is simply God's presence in the here and now. God is not a distant God, he longs to have a personal relationship with each one of us. The Holy Spirit is God with us. The Holy Spirit is our guide, our comforter, our helper. There is a big difference between going through life's struggles alone and going through them with God inside of us. We were not meant to live this life alone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Following Your Fear

Most of the time we assume that if we are really afraid of something we should avoid such situations, but what if our fear is a sign that this is exactly the road we should be going down? I'm not talking about the negative kind of fear, the fear that stops us from doing something that is dangerous or irresponsible, but the kind of fear that appears when we have an idea or a dream.

The fear that can hold us back from pursuing a dream we have had for a long time is the kind of fear that we should follow rather than avoid. People tend to have some of their biggest breakthroughs and successes in life after they have decided to follow their fears rather than to stay away from what makes them fearful.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Is Jesus really God?

Lord? Liar? Lunatic? Jesus actually claimed to be God. How can we possibly know if he was telling the truth? The Curiosity Collective brings together thought leaders, authors, philosophers and theologians to explore this difficult question.

Atheist to Christian

Jennifer Fulwiler never believed in God, not even as a child. Jennifer was very content with being an atheist, until she had her first child. As she looked down at her newborn child in her arms she knew in her heart that there was more to the story than what science can explain. Jennifer decided to start exploring different world religions but Christianity was the last religion she expected to find any truth in.

Jennifer bought books about all the different world religions except Christianity. It wasn't before her husband mentioned to her that Christianity should be quite easy to disprove, since it's founder claims to be God himself, that she decided to look into it.

Monday, April 18, 2016

I'll Wait For You

Love Works

Pastors Philip & Holly Wagner share their thoughts and experience on what it takes in relationships to ensure that Love Works.

My Weekend

On Saturday we went to a wedding and had a really fun time with our friends. I love weddings! Sunday was beautiful and warm in Toronto with +23 degrees Celsius, but I spent most of the day indoors at a conference. We decided to spend the evening downtown in Toronto. We enjoyed a very tasty dinner at Jack Astor's, I had their Smiling Buddha Salad which is one of my favorites. I also decided to treat myself to my first iced latte of the year on Sunday since the weather was so nice.  I definitely look forward to more weekends like this one as the weather continues to get warmer. I'm also starting to long for another road trip! :)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Never Give Up

Marriage isn't easy, it will take work, real commitment and willingness to do whatever it takes to build the kind of marriage we want to have. Session five in the DVD-study "From This Day Forward" is called Never Give Up. I like what they say in the video: "Life wouldn't be so hard if we didn't expect it to be so easy."

I don't think anyone who have been married for 15 years or more have had a trouble-free marriage, there will be difficulties in our marriages because life itself will always be filled with both ups and downs. If we realize that we have the power to decide what kind of marriage we want to have, and then commit to do the work needed to have a good marriage there is great hope for our future together.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Living Large with Less

Yves quit his job even though he had it all: a big salary, health benefits and a pension plan. He sold his downtown condo, too. Why did he decide to drastically simplify his life? Because he was unhappy and unfulfilled. A couple of years ago, he went on a 10-day silent retreat and, after much soul-searching, realized that his job and his stressful lifestyle needed to go. Now, a year and a half later, he's living a minimalist lifestyle in a small bachelor apartment, riding his bike to work, and working 3 days a week at a grocery store. He has more time to spend with the people he loves, and a lot less stress.

Every minimalism journey is different because we are all unique and what makes one person happy might make someone else miserable in life. Sometimes all it takes is the courage to admit to oneself that "this lifestyle is no longer making me happy" and dare to make some changes. We have more opportunities today than ever before in human history and whether we are happy working in a high paying job, a lower paying job or anything in between it's all about finding out who we are and embracing what works for us personally.

Monday Night is Date Night

My husband and I had our weekly Date Night on Monday evening. We had a very enjoyable dinner at Moxie's. I had their Mango Chicken and it was amazing! Taking time for Date Nights is quite easy for us during this stage in life since we don't have any kids yet. We never imagined that we would be celebrating four years of marriage and still not have any children, but life doesn't always go the way we expected. I used to be very frustrated when things didn't go according to my perfect five year plan but I'm becoming better and better at trusting life and letting go of trying to control everything.

There's and upside and downside to every stage in life and every challenge in life can teach us something, although personal growth can often be both annoying and painful. The great benefit of this stage in life is that my husband and I have a lot of time for each other and can have a Date Night on a Monday which would probably not happen if we had little kids at home. On the other hand, the constant struggle is staying positive while we wait for that stork (who is supposed to bring our baby) to find our address.

Patience, faith and hope goes a long way. I believe that 2016 is the year when things will start to turn around for us, and who knows, a year from now we might be at home with our child/children helping them with their homework.

Minimalism and the Important Stuff

Colin Wright talks about minimalism and how simplifying and focusing our time and energy in life can help us get more out of life. Minimalism isn't about owning as few possessions as possible, but rather about owning the right possessions, it's about focusing on what matters to you.

When it comes down to it, a lot of what we buy, do and spend time on in life is what we think that we should be doing because it's the norm in our city or it's what our friends are doing. When we take a closer look at our lifestyles we might find that a lot of what we are spending our time on doesn't really line up with our values or what we believe about life. When we simplify our lives we will always have time left over to spend on what matters the most to us.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Line of Fear

The Storm Inside

We all face storms in life. These storms many times devastate us and leave us torn apart and beyond recognition. Heartbreak. Fear. Regret. Insecurity. Shame. When these emotions well up inside you, it's difficult to believe you will make it through. We have an enemy who says you will not survive this one.

But God offers us a way through the storm. In The Storm Inside, we'll look at the stories of eight women of the Bible who traveled the path from shame to love, from disappointment to hope, from insecurity to courage, from despair to faith, and more. We'll get to know them as real people and see how God came through for each of them. We'll see the crucial choices they made, and we'll lay hold of the grace that forgives what is past, gives strength for the present moment, and offers hope for the future.

Join Sheila in this eight-session video-based Bible study of eight women of the Bible, whose stories still speak today, encouraging you that God is faithful enough to get you through the worst storms in life.

Sessions include:
1. From Shame to Love
2. From Disappointment to Hope
3. From Fear to Joy
4. From Heartbreak to Strength
5. From Regret to Rest
6. From Insecurity to Confidence
7. From Insignificance to Courage
8. From Despair to Faith

You can buy "The Storm Inside" by Sheila Walsh as a book, audiobook or DVD Study at www.chapters.indigo.ca

When The Fight Calls

I won't let the storm weather my heart
Won't let the darkness beat me down
Sing in the night my hope alive in You
I'll walk through the fire and not be burned
Pray in the fight and watch it turn
Jesus tonight I give it all to You

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"You look disgusting"

Social media has given us many great benefits to enjoy and has enriched our lives in many ways. One of the more sad results of social media is that it seems like the way we treat each other has gotten more vicious than ever. On second thought, maybe we aren't meaner today than before, maybe it's just that our true selves are more on display today than ever before since we can hide behind a fake name online?

Every now and then you read in the news about teens who have committed suicide after being bullied online for a long time. I hope that we can create programs in schools in the future where kids and teens will learn about the real life impacts of their behavior online and get to hear stories told by people who have been victims of online bullying. I think especially kids and young teens can sometimes have a hard time understanding how much power their words can have on a persons life.

When we say a mean thing to a person in real life we feel bad, but as we write mean words on a screen the person can easily become objectified in our minds, we "forget" that it's a real human being we are writing to and it becomes harder to feel empathy. Videos like the one by "My Pale Skin" are good reminders of how much impact our words can have on a person. We have the power to either lift someone up or pull someone down, with as little as a single sentence.

Embracing Uncertainty

Andrea Lewis talks about how she has learned to embrace the uncertainty of life lately. I think we all struggle with this more or less, maybe more than ever before since we actually can control a lot of things in our lives these days so we get used to being in control and kind of like it. Then something happens that messes up all our plans and we get frustrated, confused or fearful because we think that we have to figure everything out, rather than to "just go with it".

Sometimes it can be really freeing to just let go, accept and embrace the fact that no matter how much we would like to, we can't control life. We might as well enjoy the adventure and trust that things will work out in the end. Although we can't control where life will take us we can be sure that life will continue to teach us new things about ourselves and the world every year if we let it.

Have Fun in Your Marriage

One of the very important things that are needed to keep any marriage healthy is having fun together. There are three different types of fun we want to make sure that we prioritize and schedule into our busy lives to stay healthy relationally. Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life Church talks about the importance of having fun together face to face, side by side and bellybutton to bellybutton.