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Life is a journey…..this is MINE

Conformity. This post is like all the others. — March 19, 2012

Conformity. This post is like all the others.


People like to follow a crowd.  We talk a good talk about wanting to be indiviual, to pursue originality and to “be different.”  Yet, there are many times where we never want to be the first to do anything.

I found it especially hard as a teenager to be anything different.  Even as I tried to follow what everyone else was doing I was never quite the same.  My physical difference was always apparent anytime I wore a skirt.  Immediately set apart from the crowd.

I remember when platform shoes came back into style.  Most of my friends had gotten this pair from a shoestore in Kingswood (England).  I had desperately wanted these black lace up shoes.  Eventually, after almost everyone else had them, my parents took me to get those shoes.  I was so excited to go and get them.  Could barely contain my excitement.  When we got to the store though, they didn’t have my size in the lace up ones.  There was a pair very similar but instead of lace up they had a zipper top.  Definitely not as cool.

My mom convinced me that I should get the zipper ones as they were similar to my friends but were different than everyone else’s shoes, so I could be different and special.  To her this was a good thing.  To me, the only thing I wanted to do was fit in.  However, since I really wanted to get a pair of these platforms and I was finally allowed to and they didn’t have my size in the lace up ones, I got them.

Pretty sure one really noticed that it wasn’t the lace up shoes they all had, they probably neither cared or thought it mattered.  Eventually I realized that I actually liked not having the exact same shoes as every one else.  I was similar enough to still be trendy without blending in so much that I lost my individuality.  At 12 years old I didn’t verbally acknowledge that, but it was definitely part of my thinking.

Now I embrace the flair of not being part of the crowd, of standing out, of finding my own beat.  To pursue a unique thought, style or opinion based upon fact and truth is much more rewarding.

Many adult people are still not comfortable standing out, preferring the anoniminity of being one of the “sheep”.  When you call yourself a christ follower and you pursue the sameness of the world though you are putting aside a critical element of your idenity.  You are not called to love Christ and then be like everyone else.

Carve out your own identity in Christ.  Don’t base everything you think or feel upon what a person tells you, follow what God decrees.  Open up your bible and let God talk to you.  Let Him dicate your opinions, desires, dreams, and creative pursuits.

If you are a Christ follower who is waiting for your friends to tell you how to behave, how to dress, how to speak – you’re going to lose the part of your existence.

I see so many people who copy and follow.  Who decide that if a friend is doing something then they will copy them.  If they hear of someone who wants to purchase a certain item, they rush out to do it.  It’s confusing when we’ve moved out of the teenage years to have some adults acting this way.

All I think is that these people haven’t learned the true gift of what the Holy Spirit has for them.  The Holy Spirit indwells us in unique ways.  While others may share your gifts, or hopes, or dreams, or loves that doesn’t prevent you from being unique.  God creates every person with a purpose, with a divine design and doesn’t want to have an earthly amy of defenders who blend into each other.

If you are so afraid to stand alone, it might be time to figure out why.  You’ve likely not surrended something to God.  You likely have some forgiveness to deal with your life. Ask him to dwell in you, and you will see the wonder of who he created you to be.

As soon as you feel free in Him, you’ll be free to stand out in a crowd.

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We are meant to live for so much more — January 20, 2012

We are meant to live for so much more


We are meant to live for so much more.

And many days we live for a lot less.

Jesus is the more we should live for.  Yet the trappings of our lifestyles make us live for less.  And we don’t serve the way we really should be.

In order to live for more you have to understand what Jesus lived for.  I’ve asked a few people this in the last few days and everyone says for us, he lived to wash away our sins.  While that was the ultimate act he did for us, our sin is what he died for.

Jesus lived to show us how to really live.  He loved people.  He cared for those who the rest of society had cast out.  He helped heal the forgotten.  He exuded patience that cannot be matched.  He set the bar real high.

In Mark 12:28-31 Jesus explains what the most important commandment is:  “one of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate.  He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked “of all the commandments, which is the most important?  Jesus replied “The most important commandment is this: Listen, O Israel!, The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.  The second is equally important: Love your neighbour as yourself.  No other commandment is greater than these”

So you might already love the Lord your God with all your heart.  But are you loving everyone else as yourself?

I sometimes question what it really means to be a Christian.  Not because I doubt my faith.  But because a lot people use “being a Christian” as their opportunity to hate and destroy.  I could change the word to “Christ follower” that the trendy term at the moment but it’s still the same.  You’re still part of that same body of people.  A rose by any other name…etc.  But what are the defining things that we do that set us apart?  Aside from loving Jesus, what sets us apart? 

At church on a Sunday we get excited when someone accepts Jesus as their saviour.  And it truly is something to be celebrated.  But that’s not the end of the story.  It’s the beginning.  If you’re at a church that has hundreds of souls “saved” each year but your missions teams never grow, or you never impact a community or you never see growth in outreach beyond increasing your attendance and offering…well something in your church is missing the point.

I have an idea of what I think the steps should be after you get saved. 

You have to learn how to speak about your faith.  Jesus recruited people through walking the walk.  People around heard and saw that he was doing good things.  That he was above and beyond the ‘normal’.  But unless he could articulate why he was walking the path he was, it couldn’t have had a profound impact.  We have been given the 5 senses and in order to connect with others we have to use those senses.   What you say and what you do have to match up.

Jesus had compassion.  “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick”  Matthew 14:14

Jesus was and is a loving, caring, feeling, comforting, compassionate person.  When we suffer, he is suffering with us.

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  but if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it”  Matthew 16:25

The disciples that lived with Jesus faced the real possibility daily of losing their lives.  Real discipleship means that we need to show real commitment.  We have to pledge ourselves completely to his cause.  If we are so consumed with protecting ourselves while carrying out the very things that we know Jesus would want us to do we’ll begin to die in our connection to Jesus.  We would stop being faithful in his true word and not believe that he would protect us when needed.  That doesn’t mean taking stupid risks, like heading into a crime-ridden downtown street in the middle of the night alone,  God protects us when we complete our missions, but he doesn’t always protect stupidity.

Serving God is one of the most rewarding things that you can do a Christian.  That moment when you start to serve another is akin to picking up the cross, sharing the burden in some ways, but lightening the load for someone else.  It definitely feels good to do something nice for someone else but even more satisfying is that moment when you know that God used you, your abilities, your person to do something for His Kingdom.  The ultimate servitude doesn’t serve your ego or another person, it serves God.

Serving God isn’t just teaching at Sunday school (although the kids department could reallllllllllllly use some extra hands, hint-hint), serving God happens in many ways.  It can be something as simple as picking up a licence less friend for church to teaching a bible study.  It can be that moment when you help a disabled person with groceries and you ask how you can pray for them…that’s service.  It can be calling that friend you haven’t talked to in a while and discussing a bible story, which helps them open up their hearts to something that is affecting them right now.

Serving God at your local church though, that brings community and serving together.  Being part of a team that sets up the Sunday environment is rewarding.  Being a smiling face when you greet guests at the door sets the tone for a guest to enjoy the service.  ensuring that family gets to sit together, serves God’s kingdom as they experience the words and teachings as a family. 

I love evangelizing – those unexpected moments when I can share a story about what God has done in my life, in the lives of others, and who He is.  The first time I brought up my faith to a stranger in a coffee shop my heart was pounding but I just knew that God wanted me to say something.  I didn’t want to, I wanted to refuse, but it just kept playing over and over that I really needed to speak.  I did.  It wasn’t well received.  Over a year and a half later I saw the fruit of that one “chance” moment.  That woman is now a Christian herself and accepted Christ.  I didn’t really remember what she had looked like, yet she remembered me.  When she approached me to thank me for my comment that rainy day it took me a few seconds to place her face, yet the words I’d said were still etched in my heart.  There were many things that followed that day, but there was link in a chain.  As other life events built up she was able to recall various “God moments” and when the hardest times hit, she was able to piece all of that together and come to church, to find strength, and to find that she could be free from the bitterness of hatred, that forgiveness could be a choice she made with God at her side.

So when you share your faith and it seems like it is rejected, don’t assume that it will never do anything for the Kingdom of God.  Most times you just don’t get to see it happen.

If you want to live for more, make it so.  Open your bible and apply it.  Approach a leader and get involved.  Ask God to direct your steps and daily decide to live for Him.

Praying. — January 17, 2012

Praying.


Don’t need to put on a show when you pray.  – Matthew 6:5

Keep prayers simple and honest.  – Matthew 6:6

Talk to God as your loving father, your best friend.  Don’t worry about the formula’s and strategies that others try to show, or wish you prayed like someone else…be yourself with God.  He created you, He loves you just as you are.  – Matthew 6:7-9

When fasting don’t do it to impress people.  – Matthew 6:16-18  Jesus says WHEN not if, Jesus assumes you’ll do this.  Fasting is just between you and Him.

There is a time for celebration and a time for fasting.  Jesus gets this.  He loves to celebrate too!

The message talks about the Lord’s prayer and presents it like this  “Father, Abba Father, reveal who you are, set the world right, keep us alive with three square meals, keep us forgiven and forgiving others, keep us safe from ourselves & the devil”  – Luke 11:2-4

I learned really quickly from some wise folks when I became a Christian to not bargain with God.  God doesn’t work like that.  I’ll add to that information.  Don’t decide what the answer to a prayer ought to look like.  Your expectation shouldn’t be based on what YOU want but on what is right before God.  I pray more open ended.  If there is something I desire, I tell God, of course, but I don’t make it to be that the answer HAS to be that.  God knows what’s best for you, for me, for all…so I cannot know all that He knows.

I was just reading through the Gethsemane prayer again.  And just thinking about how Jesus lays before God how he doesn’t want to do what he knows he must, however, he knows that is what God wants.  It struck me, how many times do we ask God to do what he wants in our lives?  How many times do we ask Him to decide everything, and leave the control in His hands?  Jesus pleads…”My Father if there is any way, get me out of this.  But please, not what I want.  You, what do you want?” (Matthew 26:39) – that, that is how I want to pray.

Start. —

Start.


The Revolution starts.

We all have the chance to be the creation we were meant to be.

You were given the heart to lead the charge.

Your eyes don’t see because you’ve kept them closed.

Take a chance, push the lines to the end.

Leaping isn’t safe, but we were never promised safe.

Angels come, prophets speak, I do not deny the truth.

The limits that you think are in place cannot hinder your promise.

Rise up, be one, The Revolution starts.

Friendship. — December 27, 2011

Friendship.


What else could I possible write about right now?

One of my closest and dearest friends just left to go to YWAM Newcastle, AU.  It was the worst moment I’ve ever had at an airport, and I’ve said goodbye at airports a few times in my life.

To be a friend isn’t something to take lightly.  When God places someone inside your life with the explicit relational intention of being your friend, it’s because God is asking you to help Him work within their life, or to have them do a work in your life.  It’s a serious responsibility.

Too many people take friends and friendships for granted.  They are fragile things.  These friendships require love and commitment to make them work.  They require an emotional investment from you to make them work.  They require time. They require honesty.

Friends should hold you accountable.  Friends should celebrate every milestone.  Friends should encourage you to make the changes necessary in your life.  Friends should be able to recognize what is best for you. Friends should be….your friend.  Period.  In the highs and lows.  No matter what.  But you should never abuse your friends.

The dictionary gives the following definition to “friend”:

1.  a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter.

3. a person who is on good terms with another’ a person who is not hostile.

4. a member of the same nation, party, etc.

It doesn’t matter what the reason was for someone to come into your life, but it’s what they do with the relationship that matters.

This year I had a few friends, who I had thought were very close friends, people who I trusted, decide to end our friendship because of a job I had taken.  It was hurtful, it was done with zero conversation from them to even hear my side of what was going on.  I trusted those people with some pretty personal stuff…and now I’m left to wonder what they are doing with it.  I hadn’t needed to question their character until they abruptly ended our friendship.  The fact that it was so abrupt made me evaluate those people.  They obviously weren’t the people who I had thought they were.  It still stings.

In light of that though, I was able to take a look at other friendships I had.  I put those friendships under the same kind of scrutiny.  For a while I withdrew from those other friendships just in case I’d have to have the same thing happen.  I went into protection mode.  Now though, I know that God had wanted me to do this.

I spent some time looking at those close people in my life.  I could balance their thoughts and perspectives in my life and see if they lined up with the truth of how they lived their lives.  Did their words become played out in the actions that they took daily?  And those friends, who I call best friends now, definitely line up what is said by their mouths with the actions of their heads and hearts.

What God did for me during that time was illustrate that there are varying levels of friendships. 

Superficial:  There are those people who take from you, until they do not need you, and then they move on.  These are ok to have, you just have to remember to only share what you don’t mind being taken. 

Timely: There are those friends who will always have your best interests at heart, but they never become that close.  These people are great to have in your world, they can impart wisdom at an arm’s length respectful way that you will listen to.  They come and go seasonally through the storms that God puts in your path.

Core:  There is that other category of friend.  The one that is so blessed, it’s almost sacred.  These friends will be there for you on the days when you are having your pity party.  They are the friends that call, unexpectedly at the time when your world is crashing down.  They will always, in deep love, hold you accountable and tell you straight up when you are wrong.  These friends will never take from you more than you have to give and will never promise to give you what they cannot.  These friends are the earthly angels God desires you to make community with.

I can confidently say that I have at least 5 people like that last category in my life.  In fact if I took stock of that, I can almost certainly say that there are more likely 10 people who have that type of relationship with me. 

I pray for that core group daily.  I know when I need help, prayer, guidance, to be held accountable for anything – that core group will listen.  They will pray.  They will not judge me.  And they will be there to make me smile again.

Jeremy, the friend that just left, is a friend who tells it like it is.  We’ve definitely pushed our friendship on some issues – sometimes our views are pretty polar-opposite. But I value that we can say what is needed, when it’s needed.  He’s a friend who knows me inside out.  And that can be scary, letting someone know you that well, except he’s also as trustworthy as a person can get.

I am excited for his path.  He’s been there for me, to impart wisdom, truth and biblical accountability to me for months.  It’s my turn to be that for him.  And it’s great to know that at anytime we can call upon each other and we’ll always be there. 

The rest of our friend group is going to miss him like crazy.  Yet, it’s so bitter-sweet as we know that God is taking him from us in order to do the things that God needs to do.  It’s an honour to be able to witness God’s power and presence transforming someone.

Those other friends already stepped up to support each other in this change.  And WOW, to know that I have so many people who love me, is mind-blowing.  You are, if you’re reading this, loved and beloved and I pray for you right now to be able to recognise this in your lives friends.  🙂

Friendship is special, it is a family.  Treat it with the respect it deserves.  Invest in the friends you should have, respectfully change the relationships you need to, and above all, remember that your best friend will always be God.

one moment… — December 25, 2011

one moment…


Today is a day where for one moment, on one day this world collectively seems to unite.

It doesn’t matter where you are, what you look like, what colour your skin is, what religion on you believe in, or what you think policitcally.  Today is a day where we can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

As the year draws to a close we gather together.  We embrace family, friends, memories, and acquantainces new and old.

It’s hard to not enjoy the warmth at this time.  Amid the busy shopping, the frantic scramble to clean houses and ready food…there is a joy that drives us and feeds us and encourages us to love the day.

Today, whatever it is that you carry in your heart negatively, lay it to rest.  Push it aside.  Decide to love.  Decide to hold the hands of your neighbour, walk with the world in celebrating the season.

Celebrate Christmas, remember Jesus, and love the people of the world with abandon.

Regrets — December 20, 2011

Regrets


I didn’t blog as much as I wanted to this year.  Somehow in the busy of all that’s been going on I put my passion and love of writing on the back burner.  Making time for writing was just one more thing to squeeze into a day, yet I know that the less I do of it, the harder it is for me to deal with life.

Writing is a great release for me, a great happiness.  There is something decidedly REAL about written (typed) word.  Whenever you write (type) something and post it, it’s there for the long-term.  It has weight.  It has impact.  It has meaning. 

I feel like I should make a resolution to write more in the new year.  I’m not sure it’s a resolution that I could keep.  Maybe I need to make a date with writing, block off a specific time in my week solely for the pursuit of creative literature from my heart.  Maybe next year I could finish all those half-way/three-quarter way novels I have cluttering up my hard-drive.  Maybe I can commit to finishing a story, and getting into the real editing process.  Maybe.

Somehow those creative things we just love to do are the first things that get pushed aside for life.

Next year could always be the year.

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