Trials

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Released November 12th, 2019!

We all endure trials. Some so intense, lengthy, or heartwrenching we fear we won’t make it out alive. We cannot live very long without facing hardship, such is the nature of life on earth. 

This past week, my new devotional, Soul Focus, on the theme of trials was released. It’s close to my heart because this book was birthed out of my own period of pain, and is the fruit of over ten years of devotional writing, blogging, and prayer journaling.

It’s an offering of comfort whether you find yourself in the midst of a trial or are facing the mourning process that comes after. Inside, I offer personal examples as a reminder that you’re not alone.

It was written with the intention to kindle hope during times when it seems your prayers are unanswered, when you wonder if God has stopped listening to you, or when you fear he has forgotten you. I have included journaling pages throughout for personal reflections as you journey through this month of daily encouragements.

Tonight, I’m hosting an event at my church for Soul Focus entitled, An Evening of Hopeful Stories. Three others and I—in an act of vulnerability and sacred solidarity—will share our stories of struggle. I’m hopeful that all who come will feel greatly encouraged and leave with renewed hope. 

If you’re nearby, the doors are open! If far, I hope you will be reminded that God hasn’t left you to navigate this trial alone. He is with you. He has never left you. 

“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

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An Evening of Hopeful Stories:
November 18th at 6:45PM, Knox Galt, 2 Grand Ave S, Cambridge, ON

If Compassion Outweighed Comfort

Recently, my sister and I enjoyed dinner at a local Thai restaurant. While waiting for her to arrive, a woman, quite advanced in years, entered the restaurant. We smiled and exchanged a polite hello as she found her way to a table behind me. My sister arrived and soon we were caught up in conversation while consuming our curry. After some time, I noticed the woman saying her goodbyes to the staff. 

She passed by the restaurant window just below us, a frail form bend over her cane. Minutes later, she was back again, and the staff spoke kindly with her. This coming and going happened three or four times in the course of our dinner. From what I deduced; the dear lady had forgotten she had come just moments before.

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I was struck by the kindness and patience the owner and staff repeatedly extended toward this woman. I’m not sure if she remembered to pay for her drink, or how often they receive her throughout each day, but the dignity they offered to this woman warmed my heart.

I thought about all the unseen acts of kindness people, like this restaurant owner exhibit, who—in great and small ways—make a choice or a habit to care for others, freely and unselfishly honouring them and offering a safe, welcoming place to land. Their kindness may never be seen or repaid, but they do it, nonetheless. In this moment, I was blessed to glimpse the beauty of humanity helping another along in her journey. 

What about the many ways this has played out in the past? Those who risked their lives during war to hide sacred souls within their own homes to save their lives. The soldiers, battle-weary and broken, who set one boot in front of the other and their gaze upon the horizon to secure the future we presently enjoy. Those voices of one who spoke into injustice declaring a better way than the status quo of greed, power, and control for which society has so often settled. Countless courageous and kind actions multiplied over centuries—over individual lives.

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I think of the billions of people around the world, and how many beautiful, glorious, random, and unseen acts of kindness occur every day never to be seen or celebrated. What would happen if each of us took hidden or found invitations and chose to help, took time to hear, or to lighten a burden? What if we stepped out of our comfort zones and mindsets to answer a need? 

What would it look like if compassion outweighed our comfort?

It could be as simple as a smile to a passing stranger, a coffee prepaid for the next person in line, finances offered to a cause, hands to serve the needy, or a proffered seat in our restaurant for a lonely or forgotten soul. It could be looking out for—or creating—opportunities to serve out of the little or abundance we’ve been given. Whether seen or unseen, our actions may soften a stranger’s journey or even save someone’s life. 

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10

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  1. Look for an opportunity this week to show kindness outside of your comfort zone.

A Roomful of Love

71051079_388729618467623_1034085484717932544_nThis past Tuesday, a life-long dream of mine came to fruition. My debut novel was released. The very same evening a supportive crowd of approximately eighty family and friends gathered to celebrate my book launch. 

The scene was surreal. The room was full of people from all different facets of my life all gathered in one place. I was flitting around the room working hard to bury my nervousness.

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It’s one thing to write a book, but quite another to release it to the world. All the while I was tapping out words on my laptop, editing streams of sentences, and pouring over various details, I was secure in my creative bubble. Now the book was launching and would be in the hands of readers, I felt a little exposed. 

The evening flowed beautifully and the enthusiasm of the gathered crowd encouraged me. I explained the book’s inception, my writing process, and offered details about the characters and themes. I enjoyed reading excerpts and left time for questions. 

My publicist had encouraged me to take a moment at the launch to look around the room, soak it all in, and ponder the gravity of what I had accomplished. I was attempting to do that between conversations, photo ops, and a trip to the bathroom to pray! I finally managed to take that moment just before I began to speak. I scanned the room, seeing the faces of the seated guests, and smiled. How is it that they all came here for me?

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What struck me the most wasn’t so much my accomplishment, but how blessed I am to have these dear souls in my life. When you really think about it, what would anything big in our lives be without others to celebrate with? To laugh with, cry with, to be silly with, or to accompany us through the hard bits of life? The people in the room represented love to me. A packed roomful of love. 

And there was something else. When I finished speaking, I exited the room to make my way to the signing table. Seated just outside the room was our pastor. Having had another engagement that night, he had come late to the launch and sat outside so as not to disturb the presentation. I can barely explain how much comfort and support his presence offered at that moment, but seeing him seated there was so beautiful. 

It struck me as a picture of Jesus. I envision him sitting nearby, his steady, comforting presence celebrating in our midsts and cheering me on. And truth be told, he was there. His presence among my friends, weaving through our conversation, amid my whispered bathroom prayers, and on the empty stool as I read from the book he helped me write. And like my gathered guests and their show of affection, my book would be nothing to celebrate without my Saviour. 

We can do a great many things in this life. We may write a book, receive a special award, earn multiple degrees, reach all our goals, but for me, it would be empty and futile if I didn’t know Jesus. His sacrificed life saved me. His offered love changed me. His spirit helps me. His presence comforts me. 

He gave everything and in doing so gave me life.

I’m thankful for God’s grace, and all the dear people he has seen fit to tuck into my life. Those I’m honoured to journey with and celebrate life’s events alongside, and with whom I’m privileged to help bear a burden or who help carry mine. As hard as this life can be, there’s much beauty in our midst. Sometimes we just need to take a moment, look around us, soak it all in, and ponder its gravity.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)