Monday, October 31, 2016

My Morning Routine

Sunday mornings are my favorite. I start my day with going to church and then I like to go for brunch either at some restaurant or make my favorite brunch recipes at home. Yesterday I had a bad hairday so I put my hair in a ponytail, the hairdo that always saves the day when I don't want to get up extra early to wash my hair. I like to have small habits that make life easier in the morning. Another one of my habits is to have very few outfits available to pick between which makes getting dressed easy. I spent so much of my time thinking about what I should wear in my twenties, now in my thirties I like to keep it simple. I know what I like and I stick to these things no matter what colors or styles are in fashion.

Brunch at Cora's. A well made latte, crepes, eggs and bacon made my day.

On Weekdays my morning routine is less exciting. I start my day with bad news, followed by some good news. First I read the newspaper which always includes some really depressing news, sexual assault on the public transit and murders in a nursing home, it's a very broken world we live in. I then spend some time reading a devotion with a few Bible verses in A Fresh Infusion of Joy by Sheila Walsh, this book always gives me some good news that restores my hope, peace and joy. After a second cup of coffee I'm ready to take on whatever challenges the day brings.

We need other people's help to stay strong

We all go through struggles in life, but we were never meant to go through them alone. Something incredible happens when we discover the strength that can be found in sharing your weaknesses with others. Pastor Jonathan Josephs teaches a great sermon about the importance of inviting other people into our struggles in life. We are all prideful by nature, we want to cover up all our mistakes and weaknesses and we want to appear like we have it all together, although the opposite is true. Jonathan talks about how the Israelites in The Bible were able to keep building the wall around the city in the midst of great setbacks and discouragement. The key to their success was that they would help each other whenever there was an attack on the city in the weak places. In the same way each one of us needs to let other people help us where we are weak to be able to make it in times of trouble and despair. Our weaknesses may look very different, but we all have them, and we need each other to stay strong.

As Christians we are all called to treat each other like brothers and sisters, when somebody among us is suffering we are called to reach out to that person and offer to help in any way that we can. As Christians we are also called to be humble, to let others help us and to choose to reveal our vulnerabilities to others in our community so that they will know where we need help. Other people can't offer to help us if we are keeping all our weaknesses a secret. It requires a humble heart to share one's vulnerabilities and to let others offer their help, and it requires an unconditional brotherly love to make oneself available and offer help to others in times of need. This is the kind of lifestyle each Christian is called to live out, it's what we call Christian community. 

Living in Christian community with others might mean that we decide to bring a meal over to someone who is sick or to a family who just had a baby a few days ago. It might mean offering to fill up the fridge for someone who is going through a tough time financially at the moment. It takes a generous heart to choose to live in this way and it takes a humble heart to be able to receive help when offered. One of my friends was on bed rest during her pregnancy and her Christian friend offered to come over and clean her house since she wasn't allowed to move. It required great humility from my friend to let another person serve her in this way.

A couple I know in church have two cars and live in a neighborhood where some neighbors can't afford even one car, anytime they see a need they offer their neighbors to borrow one of their cars. Sometimes it's small things God asks us to do for one another and sometimes it's something that requires great sacrifice from us. Every act of kindness matters to God and this is the way we are all called to live, serving each other in love. It's the way Jesus lived during the years he walked on this Earth. Jesus didn't use his time on Earth to make himself rich and live in luxury, instead he made himself poor so that through his sacrifice others could become rich. Wherever he went Jesus shared the good news about the Kingdom of God and healed those who were hurting. Jesus set an example for how we are all meant to live; to share the good news about God and to offer to serve others wherever we go. I love the gospel, this world can be really cold and sometimes over-complicates things, but Jesus shows us that life doesn't have to be that way. We simply need to talk about the love we have found in God with others and use our personal gifts to serve those who are suffering among us.

Let There Be Light

When You speak
Darkness has to bow
Confusion has its final hour
When You speak
Mountains rise and fall
It tears down every wall around me

When You speak
You breathe upon the dust
You come alive in us
When You speak
You silence every fear
We feel Your Spirit here around us

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October Days

It's the last week of October and I'm trying to savor every last moment of this beautiful month, one of my favorite months of the year. I love living in the suburbs this time of year, the colorful trees decorate the neighborhood so beautifully. The maple is my favorite tree, the world would be a less beautiful place without the maple tree. I'm convinced that it's the same way with every human being, we all have something beautiful and unique to offer to the world. The question is will we ever realize that ourselves and put our unique gifts to use in the world? We can keep our gifts to ourselves or we can share them with the world around us.

One of my favorite hobbies in the fall is to spend my evenings reading new books. I've already taken quite a few trips to the book store this fall, I'm definitely keeping the authors and book stores in business. I buy psychology books, books by Christian authors and of course cooking books. Another one of my favorite hobbies during fall is to try new recipes. The Best Baked Sweet Potato recipe in the book "Deliciously Ella Every Day" by Ella Woodward has become one of my favorite dinners this fall. It's easy to make, healthy and tasty! :)

Present Over Perfect

Shauna Niequist has written a new book called "Present Over Perfect:Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living". Shauna has also created a Five-Session-Video-Study based on the book. "Present Over Perfect" is a book about Shauna's own journey from living a very busy life filled with too much of everything to her deciding to build a new way of life from the inside out. Shauna decided to choose a new way to live that would include enough time for rest, deep connections with others and time for prayer. I think most of us can relate to Shauna's story, it's so easy to end up striving to do everything in life perfectly and become exhausted as a result of that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to fix trust issues

Most of us tend to have some trust issues, trust issues can easily ruin a relationship since trust is such a vital part of a healthy relationship. Lysa TerKeurst gives us some advice on what we can do to deal with our trust issues. If we don't deal with our trust issues we will end up trying to perform our way to love, trying to earn another person's love. Unconditional love is not something we earn, it is freely given.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Erika's Story

Does God Heal Today?

When we read the Bible we see many different examples of Jesus healing people through miracles. It's stories like these that lead many people to assume that the Bible is untrue and "just a fairy tale". People can't be healed and dead people can't rise from the dead, we know these things to be true. You might be surprised to find out that God still heals people today. God has given people intelligence, knowledge and wisdom to help other people through medicine, but there is also another way that God heals people; miracles. We don't hear people talk about the miracles they have experienced that much, these people are fully aware that most will assume they are crazy when they start talking about the miracle they have experienced, so they keep quiet.

There is a lady in my church who has a son who was diagnosed with incurable cancer. After the doctors had done everything they could she asked if she could bring her young son home. The doctors agreed that she could take her son home for a few months. She told the doctors that she would bring her son home and pray to God for a miracle, the doctors laughed at her face. The lady prayed in faith and over time her son started to get better.

As the months went by the doctors wanted the lady to bring her son back to the hospital. The lady refused to bring him back because he was not sick anymore, all the symptoms of his cancer were gone. The doctors called in social services because they were convinced this mother was crazy. The social services did their investigation and found that there was nothing wrong with the woman mentally. The social workers asked the lady to bring her son to the hospital so that the doctors could do some tests on him and find out that he is not sick anymore.

The doctors ended up spending a whole day doing test after test on the boy, freaking out over the fact that something very odd had happened. In the end they came to the conclusion that the mother was right, the boy no longer had cancer. The lady brought her son home again and he is still a healthy boy today, although today he is driving his parents crazy with his typical teenage behavior, but that's the kind of "crazy" all parents get every now and then. :)

You Never Let Go

You're not a distant God

Not just a legend of old

In the middle of the darkness

There is no moment I'm alone

Your love can't be outdone

A love that You never withhold

You are constant, always with me

In Your presence I am home

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Workout

It's been rainy all week long but yesterday the sun came back out. I needed to walk to my Women Connect meeting in the morning so I was very happy about the perfect timing for this beautiful sunny day. After Women's Connect I decided to do a biking workout because days like these don't happen all the time, it's best to make the most out of them when they arrive. It was +24 degrees outside yesterday and clear blue skies, beautiful weather for a 60 min bike ride.

I went biking along the lakefront of Lake Ontario as usual, it's my very own "Day Spa".

Halfway through my workout I stopped to rest and drink lots of water on the beach. I also read one of the devotions in "A Fresh Infusion of Joy" by Sheila Walsh.

As it was time to head back home I felt very grateful for this enjoyable workout. Today my legs are soar so it seems like the workout served it's purpose, it gave me new physical strength and I got an opportunity to relax my mind and enjoy the nature around me. Today it's rainy and colder outside again so I'm glad I took the opportunity to enjoy the day yesterday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

3 Things I love about Fall

1.) Visiting Black Creek Village in Toronto. The pioneer village is so beautiful this time of year when the trees are colorful and you can stroll between the buildings without getting cold. I love visiting this museum.

2.) Spending time in front of the fireplace at a nice cafe with very good company.

3.) Enjoying kettle corn with pumpkin spice flavor or candy corn flavor. I love holiday flavored popcorn! Life is good! :)

Chip & Joanna

Chip and Joanna Gaines talk about what their personalities are like and how different they are from each other.They share how being married to each other has changed them and helped them grow as individuals. Joanna mentions how sharing her life with Chip has helped her gain a deeper understanding of who God is which has led her to be willing to take more risks in life rather than to always play it safe.

I find it really beautiful that God knows exactly what we need and that he puts us together with someone who can help us flourish in life. I thought that I had pretty good self-esteem before I met my husband but the way I see myself now is very different than before I met him. My husband is great at giving me encouragement and he lifts me up when I start to beat myself down. I'm the one in the relationship who isn't afraid of taking risks and I help my husband find the courage to step outside of his comfort zone. I love that God put the two of us together, we are definitely so much better together than we ever were apart.


Other gods

The first of the ten commandments says “Have no other god before Me.” Why? Why can’t we worship many different gods or religions? God is simply trying to protect us from evil, from our spiritual enemy. There are many different “gods” out there, many different religions and things us humans have chosen to worship. Our spiritual enemy knows that if he can use something, anything, to distract us from God he can have our souls.

At first glance this commandment seems pretty simple to follow, I don’t worship any other gods. I show no allegiance to the Hindu gods, Buddha, or any other god, but then there are the Pagan traditions that my culture still practices today. As I took a closer look at my lifestyle I noticed that I would still read horoscopes in Women’s magazines every now and then. Today I make sure I don’t take part in any magic arts or spiritual practices that worship other gods. I don’t want to open myself up to the demonic side of the universe. Opening yourself up to the spiritual enemy is a little bit like leaving your door unlocked at night. It might be that absolutely nothing happens for many nights in a row, but then one night someone might enter that door and come into your house. I want to make sure that I leave “the door to my soul” closed and locked so that the enemy has no access to me. 

If I choose to give my allegiance to the enemy he can do whatever he wants with my life. He will work hard at killing, stealing and destroying everything that is good in my life and he might even decide to take my life. This is not the kind of spiritual power I want to have whispering in my ear, I want to stay as far away as possible from the enemy. I hold the key to my own soul and I get to choose who I give this key to, God or the enemy. God is my protector in life but I have to choose to stay away from my spiritual enemy if I want to flourish in life. I have free choice; I choose who I give my allegiance to.

My friend was married to a man who was Hindu and after he died her children wanted to celebrate his memory by doing some Hindu spiritual practices. At this point she chose to not take part in the Hindu spiritual practices. She explained to her children that she will gladly celebrate the memory of her late husband in other ways, but she won’t take part in any Hindu practices. It’s often small things in our lives that lead us to show our allegiance to the other side of the universe, the side that stands opposite to God. Our spiritual enemy works in all things to try to draw us away from God, it’s my own responsibility to choose to not let him have his way. I choose God, the God who loves me and who gave his own life upon a cross to save my soul. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jim Warner Wallace

Jim Warner Wallace is the type of guy who you can expect to not have much interest in God. He is intelligent, successful and a good person according to himself. Jim viewed faith, and especially Christianity, as "a completely unnecessary mythology" that he had no interest in. A series of events in Jim's life eventually led him to decide that he was going to take a closer look at Christianity. Jim decided to use his skills as a cold case detective to disprove Christianity. Jim was very surprised by the results he found.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Our Champion

Our Champion, You fight for us

You made a way where there was none

Our Champion, You're strong in us

The debt we owed, You paid in blood

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sisters: The Pursuit

5 Questions to Ask During a Heartbreak

Lysa Terkeurst and Chelsea Crockett discuss what we can do when we experience a heartbreak in life and feel rejected. We can't completely avoid experiencing heartbreak in life, we will all experience it from either a breakup, a friend or when we are on social media. On the other hand, we don't have to let our heartbreak beat us down completely and steal our joy and positive outlook on the future. Lysa shares her top five questions that we can ask ourselves after a heartbreak to help us move on with our lives.

It's the start of a new era

Last week when my husband and I went shopping at Toys "R" Us it hit me that we are just about to enter a new era in life. We are about to become adoptive parents to two amazing, funny and energetic kids in a few months. One thing I love about older child adoption is that you get to jump right into playing board games with them, taking them to their activities and having conversations with them. Little babies are very cute but it takes a few years before you can start to carry a conversation with them.

As we were shopping at the toy store it also hit me how incredibly excited I am about becoming a mommy to these kids. Yesterday I talked to my friend, who adopted an 11-year old girl last year, and she said to me that although the long wait before the adoption is hard it produces an excitement in us that we probably would not have otherwise. I think she's right. After many months and years of waiting you start to look forward to everything about becoming adoptive parents. You start to not only dream about the good times you will have together, you even start to look forward to when the kids will have their tantrums and push your buttons. :) I show the pictures of our kids to anyone who wants to see them and when my friends ask me about the kids I won't stop talking about them. Parenthood, what a great and deep love it is!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Maddie & Collin

Marriage is not a contract, although we sometimes tend to treat it that way, marriage is a covenant. We all understand what a contract is, it's something we can get out off when we are not satisfied with the service. A covenant is something entirely different than a contract. God has a covenant relationship with the church. God loves his people with an unending, relentless, unconditional love, there is absolutely nothing we could do to loose the love God has for each one of us. When we enter into marriage we are establishing a covenant relationship with each other. We are promising to love each other just like Jesus loves us, that is no small promise. This kind of love will be incredibly difficult to live out at times, but at the same time incredibly beautiful.

Marriage was created by God to be a visible picture of what God's invisible love looks like. When we enter into marriage and commit to love each other with the same kind of love that God first loved us, we show the whole world what God's love is like. What an incredible honor and what an incredibly special and important assignment marriage is. An assignment from God to love my husband the same way Christ loves me.

You&Me Forever

Francis and Lisa Chan have written a book about marriage called You and Me Forever. In this video Francis and Lisa talk about the chapter about humility. We are all prideful by nature, we all have a desire to have things our own way. Our pride can cause a lot of problems in marriage because when we are fighting to have things our own way, to be right and to win, it will lead to a lot of conflict. Pride gives life to bitterness, anger, arrogance and a desire for revenge in us.

The opposite of pride is humility. Humility will not come naturally for us, we have to make the choice to walk in humility. When we are humble we will consider other peoples' needs more important than our own. When you have two people in a marriage who are humble, who choose to consider the other person more important than themselves, you get a very beautiful relationship. It's natural for us to want to win and have things our own way but when we choose to walk in humility it changes everything in our marriage.

Francis Chan mentions that most of us are competitive people, but we can choose to use our competitiveness toward something good. Instead of fighting to be right we can compete in trying to outlove and outserve one another. When we stop fighting to win and rather try to beat each other at loving and serving the other person our marriage will thrive. Our goal in marriage should be to try to outdo one another in love. When our aim is to keep forgiving, loving and serving each other in marriage our relationship will be happy and healthy.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Thanksgiving Monday

It's Thanksgiving Monday here in Toronto and we are relaxing and having a nice slow day. I have been spending my day enjoying a Pumpkin Spice latte and taking a walk in the park. On Saturday we enjoyed having the family over for Thanksgiving dinner and on Sunday we went to church in the morning and had more Thanksgiving food in the evening. Now I think I will go have another piece of Pumpkin pie, since there's still some more pie left in the kitchen. I love celebrating this holiday! :)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Decorating for Thanksgiving

This weekend we are celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada so I decided to decorate our home a little bit. Flowers and pumpkins bring the fall colors into our home. I'm really looking forward to having family over on the weekend. On Saturday we will serve a traditional turkey dinner at our house and have Pumpkin Pie for dessert. I love this holiday, it's fun to celebrate the harvest and all the things we are thankful for in life. I wish you all a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bringing Purpose to Your Pain

Chad Veach is the author of “Unreasonable Hope,” in this video he discusses finding hope in God's love during life's challenges. We will all face different types of challenges during a life on this Earth, for Chad and his wife Julia it was being told by doctors that their baby daughter would never develop past three months. They were told she would never walk or talk. Chad talks about how he and his wife have been able to find the strength to face this daily battle and what their experiences have taught them in life. 

My life is in your hands

I was talking to my husband last week about how sometimes I’m afraid that if I make the wrong choices in life I might end up ruining my future. My wise husband said: “You won’t, as long as you follow God He will take you to the place in life where you are supposed to be. I have found that it’s when I try really hard to have it my way in life that I tend to mess up my own life, but when I trust God and follow his will for my life I always end up in a good place.”

My husband’s advice reminded me of a quote that one of my friends had shared on Facebook: “Are you afraid you have ruined your purpose in life, don’t worry friend, you are not that powerful.” Sometimes when life feels overwhelming it’s usually because we forget that life isn’t in our own hands, it’s in our Heavenly Father’s hands. I will definitely make many foolish choices in life and do things I will regret later, but no matter how far I stray from my purpose in life God will always bring me back to where I need to be eventually. I know this to be true once I stop to think about it for a minute.

There have been many times in life when I’ve wanted something really badly but no matter how hard I’ve tried to take that route in life I’ve experienced one closed door after another. Then there have been other times in life when something completely unexpected has happened to me that I thought would lead me down a very difficult path, but in the end it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. God seemed to open all the doors for me and He kept removing obstacle after obstacle right in front of my eyes. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when we think that it's all up to us to “get it together” and make the right choices in life, but we need to remember that we are not walking through this life alone.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

My heart is at peace

From the day we are born our spiritual enemy, the devil, will work hard at trying to ruin our lives. He will send diseases, challenges and heart aches our way, whatever he can use to break us. He knows that if he can destroy us then through our broken lives he can break the whole world, piece by piece. Anyone who has tried to take on the enemy on their own knows that he is much stronger than we will ever be. The enemy will win if we fight him alone, but if we go into our battles in life with God by our side there is nothing that will be able to come against us and succeed at taking us down. There are many examples in the Bible of kings who went into war without asking God for his opinion first, let's just say it didn't end very well for them. Other times Israel would have a king that would always inquire of the Lord before making any big decisions and in times like these there would be peace and joy in the land.

One thing I have noticed through the years of being a Christian is that as long as you live a complacent life, thinking mostly about yourself, the enemy will leave you alone. You will even doubt that he exists because you have no big problems in life, but the day you decide to align your life with God's purpose he will come after you. When you take on changing the world make sure you are not doing it out of your own strength. You will need God's strength, his provision and his protection. The enemy works hard to kill, steal and destroy everything that is good in our lives and in the world, but our God has the power over all the darkness. When we are saved and become filled with the Holy Spirit the spirit that lives in us is so much greater than our spiritual enemy who is in this world.

Monday, October 3, 2016

My Weekend Treats

It’s October and I didn’t make it more than one day into this new month before I got a cold. I spent my weekend trying to do as little as possible so that my body could rest and recover. I ate a lot of fruits and vegetables to make sure my body got all the nutrients it needed and I stayed mostly indoors since it was rainy all weekend long.

On Sunday evening I was tired of all the healthy food and decided to treat myself to a bag of Chicago popcorn. I also bought a new home decor magazine to add some fun into an otherwise not so interesting weekend. This week I will continue to eat healthy to help my body recover and I also depend on my Tylenol Cold pills. When I first moved to North America my husband tried to get me to eat Tylenol Cold, but I thought it was weird that you can take a pill for almost anything in North America. Six years later I have definitely become sold on these pills, Tylenol Cold makes life so much easier when you are sick.

The upside of being sick is that I get a whole new appreciation of the fact that most of the weeks of the year I’m not sick. I’m also very thankful that I get to live on planet Earth in year 2016, a couple of hundred years ago the situation was very different. Can you imagine going through any type of sickness with close to no painkillers or other medicines available? Imagine going to the dentist two hundred years ago for example. Yeah, this world is still a mess, but it has been a whole lot worse before people. :)