Girls

I actually had a completely different post put together, ready to be posted online when I realized and decided that something needed to be addressed first. The concept of community is still a new and astounding thing to me; it’s something I’ve always craved for yet feared. To be truly involved in a community of people, there has be a give and take, a commitment towards vulnerability with people you continue to grow in trust, respect and love. My community of people consists of the friends I’ve met throughout my travels, my family, those old friends I’ve known for more than a decade and those that surround me here in Edmonton. It is this emphasis that I try to carry and apply to my life, regardless of how busy my schedule can get.

Today, I want focus on one particular group of friends that have really opened my eyes in the past year, that have surrounded me with so much support and love that I feel the need to write a sort of a love letter. Today, I’m writing to my girls. That’s right. For quite a while, I have scorned the friendship between women because I saw a lot of the negative pettiness that existed between women and the drama, oh the drama. But the past year or so, God has really put an emphasis of meeting and developing close relationships with girls in Edmonton and rejuvenating and deepening the already close relationships with my girls that live elsewhere. So here we go ūüôā

Dear Girls,

I’m not quite sure how to start this letter. Somehow, I don’t think the usual greetings will suffice but hey, I’m just killing time right now as I try to find the right words. Your friendship has been a light in my world. I’ve never experienced so much joy and support as I have in the last year I’ve been in Edmonton. I always knew that God grounded me in one place for a relatively prolonged period of time so that I may develop relationships but I never thought I would’ve found you girls. You are the girls that rock my socks. Somehow, we bounded like glue. Actually, in some cases, it was almost like lightening and we were instant friends. If I look back, all I can think of is ‘hawt diggity! we became friends so quickly’. And it’s not just a surface friendship, no. It’s a friendship that delves into the reality of who we are, the struggles that we face, not just with boys but with life. Most of all, we unite in our faith, the one thing that brought us together in the first place, the one thing that enables this deep connection that we share. It doesn’t matter if we climb, bike, run or swim together, though we probably do at least one of those things together. Maybe it’s when you call me out for lunch or a movie night, or willingness to squeeze in a short coffee date into your busy schedule because you know I need some face time with someone who cares and loves me. Maybe it’s when you answer instantly to my text and tell me to call ASAP because you know I need to talk to someone NOW. Maybe it’s because you are willing to pray with me regardless of what I’m going through, whether or not you’re physically with me or because you just keep me in your prayers. You inspire me. You inspire me with your triumphs, with your struggles and with your faith in God. You inspire others; you just don’t know it, but you do. You were uniquely created by the God who loves you unconditionally and bestowed gifts upon you so that you may be a salt and light to the world. You have got to know that you have achieved that in my life. So let me end this before I get too sappy: Thank you.

B

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25: My Story

As my 25th birthday approaches with seemingly great haste, I keep thinking that this would be a fantastic occasion for me to reflect on my life. I first thought of the things that I had done and also the thing that I have yet to do. But after a pretty deep conversation with my dad and his wife this evening, I thought that it would be more prudent to reflect on how God’s ongoing story is being written out in my life.

My life did not really start until I was 19. Let me give you a bit background. I had a fairly normal childhood until I was 14. My parents divorced then and it was a fairly amicable divorce as far these things go, but even now, I continue to realize how significant this was and how deeply it affected who I was. I became reclusive, internal and sometimes, even suicidal. I withdrew from my friends. I spent my time in the library dwelling and writing out dark thoughts. Somehow, I managed to get into university and eventually majored in English. However, my area of strength had become my area of weakeness and I struggled immensely in school, despite the fact that I worked very hard. I was so frustrated, down trodden and unsure as to what my future prospects were. At this time, I knew God or at least, I knew the existence of God in my life. But no matter how loudly God cried out to me, opened a crack light in my dark room, I refused to simply turn around to see the light that penetrated the darkness that enveloped me.

When I was in 19 and in the second semester of the school year, I somehow got pulled into looking at going to Hong Kong to teach English as a short term mission. My faith was on the rocks and was completely unsure as to how I could supposedly share the gospel when I wasn’t sure if I really believed it. Yet all the cards fell into place: financial support came through, all the documentation worked out and before I knew it, I was on a plane to Los Angeles for a few days of training before flying to HK for a month. It was here that God began His incessant bid for my life. During one of our worship sessions, I felt His sledgehammer of a fist shatter the rock walls that I had built around me; His glory banished the darkness. I became alive. I became the person He had made me to be. It was this person that would bring the glory of God to the world…this person, even though they shared the same fleshy shell, was the complete opposite to the one who refused to turn around in the dark to see the light. My dearest students from Shatin and my fantastic team, you played a huge role in God’s plan to save me. Thank you.

I came back a changed person; the people in my life could see that notable difference. With God as the driving force behind my life, I was changed. I became an optimistic person; outgoing, bouncy even. I smiled a lot, laughed a lot and was always excited to meet new people and make friends. My school work improved drastically; I enrolled in political science in addition to English. I found myself enrolling in a program to go to Washington, DC. I found myself given a scholarship for that program I would not have otherwise been able to go to without it. A semester after DC, I found myself boarding a plane to go and intern in Bruxelles, Belgium for seven months. Brussels wouldn’t have have happened if an auntie from the church felt the need to answer God’s prompting to support me and provide me with enough funds to work as an unpaid intern. A couple months after I came back to Canada, God gave me a job with the provincial government as a policy advisor. A year after, when my contract was not renewed, He gave me a permanent job in immigration policy with the most wonderful team of people I could ask for. A year later, He has given me a secondment opportunity to continue learning and developing my abilities, not for myself, but to bring glory to God in every stage and chapter of my life.

And yet, despite of all these amazing blessings, despite the fact that God saved me, I fell away from Him in different stages of my story. I fell away mainly in pursuit of nonplatonic relations with others. I was drawn away from Him and the perfect love He had for me for the imperfect love of a man. After a few months in my first job upon my return from Bruxelles, I had fallen to my lowest point in this regard. God told me, ‘no more’, so I took my ‘boy free period’ or BFP. During that time, I felt my spirit begin its renewal. I became once again involved with the people who shared my faith and helped me deepen this faith and keep me on track.

Then, I met D. I thought that he was the one that God had set out for me. However, despite the precautions taken, I jumped and had very hard landing. D walked away. I was shattered. My parents’ divorce had¬†inadvertently¬†instilled a fear of commitment to other people or really, to anything that could hurt me. With D, I had jumped; it was my commitment. And on my first true leap, I had failed. It broke me. But, God came through. God told me that to be with one of His sons, I had to be right with myself and be truly content as a daughter of God riding ¬†with God alone. That my companion of the future, would always place God before me as I would and that God alone was/is sufficient enough to carry me through this life. It was and continues to be truly a difficult lesson to learn and apply but absolutely life changing.

Believing in God is a change in perspective. Nothing was physically different in the mental room of my mind. What was different was where I was looking: the dark wall or the crack of light that was coming through. From the surface, I know that I look like a well adjusted and successful young woman. However, I have story and so do you. Share it. You never know what part of your story will resound with someone else and show them that they are not alone in whatever dark place they may be in. Let your story be a source of light, of God’s eternal hope shining through you like a hundred blazing suns.

My Perfect Day

I read a number of publications/online journals that are geared towards the outdoor community such as Outside Online and Adventure Journal. The former is running this series that pulls together a short Q&A interview with a number of influential members of the outdoor community, whether they be environmentalists or athletes at the top of their game. The first question that comes up in these interviews is ‘what would a perfect day be for you?’. These days are rarely something considered to be far fetched; they are relatively simple days that involves doing what they love with the people they love. I thought this is a brilliant question, an answer to look back to when the day isn’t going so well. ¬†A place in your mind and hopefully many times in the future, you will be able to live it. So this is mine:

I would wake up around 9, 930 AM with the sunlight streaming in through my window or tent. When I look outside, the trees will be heavy with lush green leaves with some gaps to allow the brilliant sunlight to filter through. There won’t be a cloud in the blue blue sky but there would be faint breeze that stirs the trees and teases my hair (assuming that at this point my hair is long enough for the wind to play with). I would take a big breath of free air, mountain air if I happen to be in the mountains then I would head out to one of my favorite places for brunch: if I’m in Edmonton, that would be the Sugarbowl; if I was in Canmore, that would be Summit Cafe; if I was in Banff, that would be Wild Flour and if I was in Calgary…well I haven’t quite pinned down my favorite place just yet. I would go there armed with a book, maybe a magazine but most definitely with my prayer journal and phone so that I could access my Bible. Let’s say I’m in Edmonton; I would order a cinnamon bun (half to stay, and half to go for future snacking) and a coffee with a bit of cream. Summit Cafe in Canmore deserves special mention: I would order a latte (best lattes ever!!!) and a breakfast bagel..oh baby. Then I would camp out there for a couple hours, alternating between reading my book and writing in my prayer journal/reflecting on the Word.

I would eventually meet up with some of my friends either at the climbing gym or at the crag we’ve decided to go to. If it’s outside, the hike in won’t be overly painful but there will be peace and quiet…think Blackfeather Crag for those who climb in Alberta. The air will be absolutely crisp and clean, the moss soft and fun to bounce on (gently of course), hikers friendly as you pass them. We would get a few climbs in; perhaps even pushing our grade but enjoying the experience regardless; get totally stoked for all the climbing.

Before dinner, I would get a chance to go to a yoga studio or even better, practice yoga outside. Then we’d have dinner at camp OR if I was in Edmonton, probably meet up with my church buddies for dinner/go to a church event. If we went out, we’d go to a small restaurant that has amazing fresh, simple meals. The sun is setting around this time and the sky is pink, orange and well, stunning. If I’m lucky, I’ll see the whole milky way and be absolutely stunned by God’s creation of natural beauty and humbled by the fact that in such a vast world, I am but one and yet…I am loved unconditionally by Him.

That’s my perfect day. What’s yours?