August 31, 2012

"Bike" Jove, I Think She's Got It

I did it! For a very long time I've had the goal of biking to work. After a very sad failed attempt (which can be read about in "NOT a Biker Chick") I completed my goal! I knew it had to be done this summer, because I may never work in the community that I live in, and even if I do, I may never have my bike with me. It had to be this summer...and it HAD to be today. (I wrote this last night.) I only have one more day of work, and tomorrow I'll be busy in the evening, and sleepy in the morning, so it had to be today, and it was today! 

Once I got rid of all the things that were weighing me down, I was able to go, and go fast! I didn't take a water bottle, I didn't take pants to wear over my shorts, I didn't take an ipod and headphones, nor a phone. I didn't need a new shiny bike, and I didn't wear the new helmet that I had bought. 

I went with just me. I had my bike from grade 6, and my ugly (which at the time was cool) blue helmet. I left all of the distractions home, all of the extras home, and most importantly all of the "I can't"s home. Once I got rolling I didn't try to be the fastest person on the road, and once I got brave enough I even snagged a bit of pavement. I got off of my bike and walked across every intersection that I came to. I nodded to a man in his driveway, I smiled really big when I drove past my friend Dawn's house, and I even saw Ethel from church as I made my way home. 

I biked all the way to where I work, which isn't really that far, in fact I think it's 3.7km each way. Once I reached the drive way of the church I think I almost cried, because it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I am finally ready to go back to school. All of my summer goals have been completed, and I'm able to return to year four a winner. A winner, I like the sound of that! 

While on my home I started thinking about a lot of things, and the main one was this blog. I was becoming very discouraged with it, because I started it as a way to keep track of things I feel called to do, life list items. For the most part I haven't been writing about bucket list items at all, I've been writing about life learning. While biking I was hoping I could run into someone that I could minister to, especially children that I could invite to the Fall Ministries we have planned, but I ended up ministering to someone else instead. Me. Just because on my bike ride I didn't tell someone how God loves them, or invite them to church does not mean that a life didn't change. I know for a fact that one did, and just because it was one that I wasn't expecting does not mean that it was insignificant. My life changed. I realized that just because I set out to do something with a specific purpose does not mean it will go as I plan. My first biking attempt wasn't so great, and my blog has taken a new turn, but these aren't bad things. We are called to minister "as we go". We don't need to set out on a mission to change 10 lives, we just need to be changing lives as we live, by the way we live. The simple smiles to neighbourhood folk, the drivers that saw me obeying the laws of the road, and those around me seeing me accomplishing a goal a living a healthy lifestyle are ways that I changed lives "as I went". If we do our part, God will do his. As long as we do something He will be faithful and give us opportunities. My summer goals have all been completed, and I think it's safe to say it's been my favourite summer so far. 

Just a little tuckered out.  

August 23, 2012

Craft Room Conundrums.

The other day as I tried to take inventory of our Church's craft room, I realized that something must be done first. Before ANYTHING could be counted or sorted, everything first had to be cleaned and tidied. So I messaged my good friend Jessie Campbell, and Tuesday afternoon we cleaned the craft room. We did a fantastic job, it was way cleaner than last year's annual "clean" of the craft room. I also encouraged her to throw some things away, because if a child has to go through 5 markers that don't work before they get one that will actually....mark, they are going to get frustrated and won't want to finish coloring their picture of Joseph's coat, and noah's ark, the rainbow, and the animals will all end up being one color.

My favourite find of the day was not the 200+ markers that wouldn't mark, no. My favourite find was the rusty pair of scissors. Now I gave them a chance, I thought maybe they could be the cute kind of rusty, like Mater from Cars, but no. These scissors were the dangerous, icky kind of rusty.

As I sit this morning reflecting on my Craft Room Cleaning experience, I can't help but notice that the craft room is very much like my life. Warning! Cheesy Comparisons ahead.

Match the craft room comparison with corresponding Verse.
(Please keep in mind that there are no correct answers. The answers I have selected are at the bottom)

___1. The rusty scissors may have been sharp at one point (no pun intended) ,
          but not being used caused them to rust.
___2. The rusty scissors hide very well in with the other more user friendly scissors.
___3. You can't know the quality of a marker without first seeing if it is fruitful.
___4. The label, size, and color are no indication as to whether or not the marker is useful.
___5. One gross sticky glue stick made the rest terribly sticky.
___6. 127 glue sticks may be a bit much for our six kid sunday school.
___7. Both plastic and metal knives hide very well at the bottom of a pile of markers.
___8. Just because a marker's case and cap are purple does not mean that the ink is in
         fact purple.

A. Just as a little leaven in bread quickly spreads completely through the dough, one "little"sin affects our whole being. 1 Corinthians 5:6
B. "What good it is, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions?" James 2:14
C. "Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves." Matthew 7:15
D. "But in fact God has places the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?" 1 Corinthians 12:18-19
E. "People Judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
F. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you." Ezekiel 36:26
G. "A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit." Matthew 7:17
H. "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?" Matthew 7:3

Maybe it's time to tidy your life's craft room, you never know what you'll find. 
Happy crafting! 
Happy living!

1. B        2. C       3. G        
4. E         5. A        6. D           7. H            8. F

August 21, 2012

Notes from Nouwen

Sunday I picked up a copy of "The Way of the Heart" by Henri Nouwen. It is the first book by him that I've had the pleasure of reading. The book is broken into three sections: Solitude, Silence, and Prayer. I want to share a few bits of his wisdom with you. The following are a few quotes that stood out to me. 

~"Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self."

~"Solitude is not a therapeutic place. Rather, it is the place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born."

~"Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken."

~“A word that bears fruit is a word that emerges from the silence and returns to it."

~“Too often our words are superfluous, inauthentic, and shallow. It is good discipline to wonder in each new situation if people wouldn’t be better served by our silence than by our words.”

To keep it simple, here are two ideas that made me think.

~ Does the overuse of words lead to a loss of their creative power?

~If words lead to sin, perhaps a great deal of silence is prescribed. 

Here is a quick story that was my favourite part of the book:

“Three Fathers used to go and visit blessed Anthony every year and two of them used to discuss their thoughts and the salvation of their souls with him, but the third always remained silent and did not ask him anything. After a long time, Abba Anthony said to him: 'You often come here to see me, but you never ask me anything,' and the other replied, 'It is enough to see you, Father.'"

I leave you with the last sentence of the book,
 “ By the time people feel that just seeing us is ministry, words such as these will no longer be necessary.”

What I liked best about the book wasn't something inside, perhaps it was something that was not inside. I liked that the message was portrayed even in the binding of the book. What I mean by this is that the book is about how less words is more, and that the words that are used should draw you into thoughts. This book may only be 95 pages, but the 95 pages stay true to the message. The fewer words, the more authentic they are and the less room there is for error. I started reading the book, because I wanted to know more, and I ended the book wanting to learn even more! That is a successful book, in my books. 

August 19, 2012

Greetings with Smashes and Splashes

I have been actively involved in my church for almost 7 years now, and during this time there have been 2 pastors that have served as the Pastor of Youth and Children. Now there will be a third. There is something similar about each one of these guys, and it is how we met. The first one, Pastor David, I met in September of 2005, I met him while on the first night of youth group for the year. The youth night was held at the house of a couple from the church. I remember it quite well, because I played table tennis with Pastor David, and I got very wet. The second pastor was Pastor Darrell. My first time actually getting to know him was in August of 2011. We were both working on the church on a Wednesday and I was getting ready for a Kids' Day. He offered to help, and together we tried to poke holes into ping pong balls. I remember it quite well, because I played with a ping pong ball, and I got very wet. The third Pastor, who has yet to be hired seems very nice. I met him on Friday, but my first time actually getting to know him was at a youth event held at a house of a couple from the church. I will always remember it quite well, because I played table tennis with the prospective new pastor, and I got Extremely wet. Let's just say there were pool toys, and many water guns; these mixed with teenage boys....well I was bound to get wet. 

It's interesting that my greetings with all of the youth pastors involved ping pong balls and a lot of water. The greetings involved things that I like a lot...and others not so much. I am a huge fan of the sport of Table Tennis, in fact a played for Team Nova Scotia for a bit of my high school life. Getting wet is not one of my favourite things. I think that having Smashes and Splashes involved in these greetings is a great reminder that each new pastor that I meet will have both good and less good qualities. Just like my first time getting to know each one, my relationship with them will include fun times, and there may also be times when I get wet (literally and figuratively). I know, however, there will be more smashes than splashes. 

August 17, 2012

This Week I Soared.

This week has been one of the best weeks of my life. I was able to be the Bible Day Camp director for my home church, and this year I was able to enjoy it, because the stress was shared. The most stressful part of VBS for me is being in front of the kids in the morning and informing them of everything that is going to happen that day, because I panic and fear that I won't remember everything. This year my pastor shared that burden with me. He used one of his strengths (sharing important information with a large group of people) so that I could focus more on making sure people knew where they needed to be. 

My highlight of the week was getting to know the kids and building relationships with them. My relationships with the leaders were also strengthened. By the end of the week kids were fighting over who got to sit next to me, who was chosen to be in my group, and who could stand by me during singing. This didn't make my heart happy because it could inflate my ego, no. This made my heart happy, because it made it 10 times easier to share with them how much God loves them. I took the time to listen to them when they told long......drawn out.....stories. I asked them their favourite color, and when their birthdays are, and because of this, they then listened to me when I told them alllll about the  glory of God.

Perhaps the happiest time if the week was when one of our "busiest" little guys repeated the bible stories back in full....THREE times. It just goes to show that kids are listening even if they are moving, talking, running, etc. If you give them a little free time, they are much more receptive to a message. Another happy time was hearing from a new girl that her FAVOURITE part of the week was bible story. This goes to show that kids really pick up on enthusiasm. I made SURE to express that my favourite session was bible story and songs....and by the end of the week, the least favourite activities of the kids turned out to be their favourite! Bible story and worship for the win!

The saddest part of the week was realizing that I only have two hands. I'm pretty sure that there is a picture of kids hanging on my arms and legs, because God only gave me two hands. Maybe God only made me with two so that we learn to share. Whatever the reason, it was the saddest part of the week.

This week I learned the benefits of going above and beyond, (aka soaring in the clouds). On my most busiest and more tiredest night, I stayed up really late baking and decorating cupcakes for the kids. On my most tiredest and sickest days, I spent the entire 1.5 hour bus ride listening to a girl that just really wanted to talk. I had a HUGHMUNGO head ache, and was the most tired I've ever been.... but I kept listening, and nodding, and through this my patience was stretched.

One of my proudest moments was when I witnessed a boy be content. He was supposed to sit with me on the bus and be my partner, but a girl with special needs plunked herself down right beside him before I was able to. This boy didn't look sad, he didn't complain, and he didn't even roll his eyes. He simply pulled out a book and read. I made sure we could sit together on the way back.

One of my most frustrating moments was when one of the parents tried to take advantage of what we were offering...a few times. She completely disregarded what we clearly asked of her, but we didn't let that affect the child. We made the best of the situation, after sharing a large communal sigh.

One of the funniest moments of the week was when our busiest four year old took my cardigan and wore it for a few hours. She exclaimed to everyone, "I like it cause it cozy, it happy, and it smells good." I like that she thinks my clothes are happy. I'll wear my bright blue cardigan more often.

My most heart-felt moment this week was seeing a best friend of mine come out of her shell. During a magic trick, one of our leaders made funny noises, did funny things, and had a good time while doing it. She also helped out and spoke out during bible story by helping the kids to connect Jesus with Easter. I can see her directing VBS one day, I just have to teach her to dance ;)

These are just a FEW of the many marvellous moments that I had this week. I'm sure I'll remember more once I've had some sleep.  As usual a lot of time, money, and effort went in to this event, and seeing the lives of EACH child change, was TOTALLY worth it. It would have been worth it even to make a difference in one life, but the other 18 lives were an awesome bonus! If there's one thing that I want you to know it is this: Kids are not merely the Future of the Church, they are a vital part of the present church, and God is working in them!


August 15, 2012

"You Should Have Known"

"These are things that you should have known"

It's not that I didn't know them, I simply just forgot.

I stare at my sneakers, and think.

Perhaps I'll remember next time.

I'll make a note.

So that I don't forget the things I should know.

To error is human.

and human am I.

Somehow I made it to my second year of university without knowing how to properly use a semi colon. Somehow I made it to my third year of university without ever being taught how to use a comma. Who is to blame? My teachers for assuming I knew how to use them?  My mother for not making sure I knew how to use them? Myself for not realizing they are important and teaching myself? These are things that I simply did not know, and to be honest, I don't think anyone is to blame. I think it was just an oversight by myself and those around me. Yes, I probably should have known how to use them, but the truth is that I didn't and there is no use of lecturing me, on my lack of knowledge. Instead, why don't you sit with me and teach me what you think "I should have known". Being frustrated with me, embarrassing me, and hurting my feelings doesn't help me, or the situation. 

A couple days ago I learned to thank people for their generosity when it comes to constructive criticism. I learned that when I give criticism, to make it in the form of a gentle reminder, because sometimes people really just forget things, and reminders are more well received. I learned to have a plan E, because sometimes people will be unhappy with plans A-D. I learned to smile, and smile lots, especially when you've been reminded of your mistakes. I learned that when someone tries to extinguish your joy, sometimes that abundance of hot air that they give to you can be used to feed the flame. My joy is an unquenchable fire deep within my soul. 

A couple days ago I learned an important lesson for when I am a teacher. I will always celebrate when students learn, and I will never lecture them for not knowing something, because either they forgot, or they have never been taught in a way that is receptive to them learning, neither of which is their fault. It will be a teaching opportunity! How exciting is that?!?

August 13, 2012


The past two summers I have been working at my church to keep the children's and youth ministries alive while the church transitions into hiring a pastor for those duties. That being said, there are many things that I am asked to do at work that I am not qualified for. At Soulfest I was unsatisfied with my guitar playing, singing, the devotionals I wrote, my ability to navigate, and with my leadership skills. VBS is the same way. The footsteps that I've been following are so huge, and when I do not meet the standards that are known by the church, it is hard on me. It has been difficult to be excited for the up and coming week, when there is so much pressure on me. But as I reflect on everything I've done in life, I've realized that I never feel qualified until the task is complete. Once grade 6 is over, I know the ins and the outs of the school. Once I've made the power points for church, then I know how they should be done. Maybe the only way to be truly qualified is by experience. 

  Well brothers and sisters, you probably know this, 
but incase you could use a reminder...

I know that my job isn't all about God showing me everything I'm terrible at, even though it often seems that way. As I make mistake after mistake, I can't help but feel unworthy, and beaten down. Hello, answered prayer of humility. The more I do things that I thought were impossible for me, the more I realize that they really are impossible for just me, and the more I firmly believe that "everything is possible with God!" (Matthew 19:26)

This summer I was very sure that I was called to work at my church, and so I happily accepted the call. When I think about being called and unqualified, I think of Moses. Here was this man who responded to God through a burning bush. If I remember correctly, Moses didn't feel qualified, and even asked God to send someone else. This is exactly how I felt when asked to direct VBS for the first time. I was looking to my left and to my right to see who was going to direct it....and my boss was looking directly at me, it was I he was talking to. My thought? "But I'm just a youth, I'm only 20, I'm just me." 

It is these "Only"s and "Just"s and "But"s that can hold us back. If we eliminate them, we get: "I am a youth" "I am 20""I am Me". Doesn't that sound better? 

God asked Moses what he had in his hand. It was a staff. A simple staff that he used to keep sheep in line, to lean on, etc. God uses ordinary things and ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and to demonstrate His power. The important thing is that we say yes, we have to say yes to God, offering our simple things and ordinary lives.  It is your availability that matters to God, not your ability. 

So Annie, you've already said yes, so now the question is, "what do you have in your hand?"
-My hands are filled with resources, my mind is filled with ideas, and my heart is filled with love. Nothing is going to be impossible this week. Our VBS Day Camp will be life changing for the kids and leaders, because I am certain that it has been for me, and it hasn't even begun. 

August 11, 2012

Following in the Footsteps

While camping last week, I was able to get to know many people that I didn't know very well. Two of these people are from the same family, in fact, they are father and son. It was so neat to be able to see how much fun they had together, how patient the son was when his older sister was shopping, and how firm, but joyful the father was while disciplining his son. It was as if the father was thinking, "how blessed am I that God has trusted me with helping to show my son what is right from what is wrong."

It was an incredible blessing to hike with them on Cannon Mountain, because as the picture shows, the son is following the in father's footsteps. What the picture fails to capture, is that the father is following in the footsteps of Christ. He is leading the way for his son to have life to it's fullest. How cool is that? I absolutely adore these two people, both of them always take such good care of me, especially when we are away. Although the son often jokes about how mean I am and how he never wants to sit by me, it was pretty neat on the last night to sit and play DS games with him. When another "cooler" youth came over and asked to play, the son replied, "No, not now, I'm playing with Annie."

I am so excited to see my favourite 10 year old grow into a teen and into a gentleman. I am so excited to see the amazing things God has in store for his life, and I am SO excited for him to reach the age where it's not lame to hang out with the female youth leader. I am so very excited for us to be best friends, and I don't mind waiting even if it means waiting a decade or two. ;)

August 9, 2012

Splish, Splash I Was Takin A Ba...ptism.

Three days ago I returned from the trip of a life time. Myself, and 19 others from my church family spent a week together in New Hampshire to take part in the music festival known as Soulfest. My church has gone 5 times in the past 7 years, and out of those 5, I have gone 4 times. This year was my favourite. The week was filled with many, many, many blessings, but the whole time there was something that lingered in my mind and that was that most of the youth became distracted soooo easily.

The camp site we were at had a zipline. Distraction.
The camp site also had a rope course. Distraction.
One of the beaches had a Pirate's Cove Miniput. Distraction.
The mountain ride and museum had a gift shop. Distraction.
One of the beaches had a water slide. Distraction.
The little lake at Soulfest had kayak and paddle boat rentals. Distraction.
We drove by 2 other rope courses.  Distraction.
The concert stages were surrounded with venders in tents. Distraction.
The concert stages were surrounded by fast food venders. Distraction.

This was the first year that the leaders gave the youth almost complete free run of the festival. With the exception of a few concerts, a speaker, and a few events, it was up to the youth as to how they would spend their time. To be honest, I think that most of the youth spent more time with these sources of empty entertainment, or dreaming about these sources of empty entertainment than they did celebrating why we where there. We were there to fellowship with one another, we were there to get to know 13000 other Christians, we were there to listen to famous musicians and marvellous speakers that glorify God. We were there to have our eyes opened to what is happening in other parts of the world, to have our ears exposed to new music, and we were there to see just how real and authentic these musicians really are.

But, somehow, the youth were really challenged this week, and maybe I was too. They were challenged with the temptation to spend their time and money elsewhere, and perhaps I was given the challenge of how to help them. Honestly, it was like taking a child to Disneyland and have them sit and be amused by a seagull the whole time. It was like giving a child a toy for Christmas and then watch the child play with the box the whole time. It was like cooking Christmas dinner and having your guests sit and eat candy instead.

A lot of money and time, and effort went into this week, and I don't just mean by me, I mean thousands of people had a hand in making this festival possible, and all the youth wanted to do was the flashy, pricy, expired entertainment. As I stood listening to one of the most famous Christian Bands known today, I couldn't help but notice that there were not many people by myside. It was heart breaking to realize that most of the youth had no idea why we were there, and perhaps it was even worse knowing that some of them did know why we were there, but chose to ignore it.

Why is this? Why would the youth rather spend 70 dollars on a zip line course that lasts 30 minutes, than spend zero dollars on building relationships that last a life time? We have to be careful, the things of this world can be very flashy, and very appealing, but ultimately they leave us unsatisfied, searching for more, and with less money in our wallets. Empty entertainment is a drug. Don't get me wrong, going to the movies once in a while with friends, is a great thing, but when entertainment consumes you so much that you can't see the beauty and the bigger picture around you, I think it might just be time to re-evaulate what is important in life.

I have a lot of work to do, and friends, we have a lot of praying to do. Because if some of the best (in my opinion) youth of today have a hard time realizing why they are at a festival, it will only be from the grace of God that they will realize why they are put on this earth. I am trying my hardest not to be discouraged, I am trying my hardest to use this experience as motivation to work and pray twice as hard. There is hope. I promise. There is hope. The very last day of the festival, I was able to witness one of our newest youth go through the waters of baptism. The whole week turned around. While the rest of the beach crowd was splashing around, distracting themselves with beach toys, and sand castles, I was so proud of my youth as they stood and watched one of their fellow friends be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My friends, don't be discouraged, no matter how flashy and appealing this world becomes, there is hope. There is always hope.