Oh my soul take heart.

i have overcome

Oh my weary soul how much I have sensed your fatigue. You have pushed through and fought through the heartache and through the nonsense. My soul, how you have surprised me with the inner strength that has erupted within you! You have chosen to move forward bravely through the fear and through the the trials. You have chosen to stand in faith. You are believing there is room for hope when all you have seen up to this point is reason to lose hope.

The guilt is coming with a reckoning. It beckons you to condemnation. It desires for you to admit defeat. Don’t surrender to it. There is no reason to give in. There is no end in sight to this struggle, yet you know deep down that there is a God who knows the end from the beginning. He has already determined the outcome and He will help you face it with courage.

Praise erupts within you and has not yet been silenced. Proclaim God’s goodness. Remember His faithfulness. It is not time to question what He is doing. Do not let the confusion steal away your trust in God, the author and finisher of your faith. He stands with you and He does not grow weary. He will silence your fear and help you see through the fog. He will give you clarity and vision. You will dream again. You will have renewed hope.

The raw pain and the hopelessness you feel He knows. He is empathetic and compassionate. He is surrounding you with love and healing the brokenness. In the cursing and the heat of the moment He remembers you are human. He does not condemn or judge your raw emotion. Do not hide from Him. This is the time to draw closer. He won’t turn you away. He is waiting for you.

Oh my weary soul stand firm in your faith and trust He is working. Remain steadfast. He is moving on your behalf and He has definitely not forgotten about you. He sees you. He knows you. He will heal your wounded wings. You will soar again. You are not a flightless bird. You are meant to soar and to see new heights. In the healing you will see He will be your strength. He will be the air beneath your wings. You will rise above this darkness.

Oh my soul take heart for He has overcome the world. He has bore your pain and He is fighting with you. He is leading you into battle with the proper defense. You are not running into open fire without a shield. He is your shield. This world’s arrows will not destroy you. They will be deflected. You will be victorious. He said so in His Word. So hold to it.

Don’t cease to praise Him. Don’t wait until you see the victory to proclaim it! My soul you will see soon enough that everything will be alright in the end. Just wait. You will rejoice and see your miracle come to pass. Be still and rest now. He is working in your waiting.

 

 

 

 

Confession

The silence is deafening. It’s been over two weeks now since your stroke and I see the exhaustion wearing you down slowly. You have always been a fighter. You have never once let me see you break down emotionally. The night I saw the tears stream down your face I knew the stroke was taking something you weren’t willing to give. You fought to stay alive, to see another day with your family. We all watched you as you came to realize you could not speak, laugh, breathe, or eat on your own. We watched you and held your hand as you stepped into vulnerability. We have all joined you. You are not alone.

Staying by your side we have all tried to motivate you in our own ways. We want you to live, to fully recover and to join us in another crazy family dinner. We miss knowing what’s on your mind. We desire to see what’s in your heart. If there was only some way we could reach you where you are at…to give you what you need to fight through this storm.

I have attempted jokes but I see the laughter is forced. I have brought stories, truths and song and have still come up short. I fear that it is easier to accept death than fight for life. It doesn’t help when doctors refuse to give you hope. They fill your head with all the medical jargon and the plain “truths”. It’s too bad they can’t just wrap some of the facts in hope and give you a reason to see that there is a light at the end of this dark narrow tunnel. I have fought to see hope along with the rest of your loving family. We are holding onto every thread of it.

I still see you. I still know you love us and would give anything to communicate to us what you are thinking and feeling. Know I am not disappointed with you. I see your strength despite your vulnerable state. You are strong. The stroke can’t take away your inner strength unless you let it. So don’t give it up! God will give you the strength you need. Trust Him. He is with you. He has not abandoned you.

We must keep fighting together. I’ll do my part and show up to be a support for your recovery. You have to keep fighting. Your family needs you. We all want to see you drink your black coffee and laugh at the sad attempts as your team tries to make it to the playoffs. Please Grandpa keep trying. Don’t give up. There is still hope.

I confess I almost gave up. I looked at the challenges and didn’t see how you can overcome them all. But now I see God can do the impossible. I don’t know His plan but He will not give up on you. He will be there. He has held me up and I know He will hold you. I love you. I’ll be there. Just keep fighting.

Tiptoeing into the Ripples

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When I was around 8 years old, I used to love watching a beach shore shrink around the time the sun was setting. To be fair,  in my view it was shrinking. All I could see was the water moving out, not flowing closer to me. I didn’t know about tide cycles then. I used to believe that God was moving the water so that the animals in the lake would have more for them to swim in. My childlike innocence still believed God was good to his creation even then. To believe in the Creator and to know him more intimately has been a beautiful journey. Even still, I enjoy tiptoeing into the pooled water and creating ripples along the shoreline. I picture God skipping stones and gracing me with ripples to remind me He is present with me. He is a good good God.

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Maui, 2015  Shells collected by Chantal & Sarah

From time to time, I will stop and pick up a seashell as I travel the beach shoreline. I always have loved the uniqueness of shells. Their colors, shape, and size, differing depending on how much is left after it has been tossed around and battered. There have been days where I feel like those battered seashells. Life can toss us around. Often, we survive but with our scars to show. Unlike a seashell, we do not need to remain battered. For our Creator can mend, heal and restore us to something new. He is always doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:19 states

19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”- ESV

 

. Do we take time to pause and reflect on the new things that God is doing? Do we give him thanks for all He has done? The truth is we can never thank him enough. He is God Almighty. The Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is unexplainable but not unattainable. He was there for me at 8 years old and He is ever with me today. He is living within you if you have received him as your Lord and Saviour. Let’s take time today to reflect on who God is.

I came across this verse today:

 “Do you think you can explain the mystery of God?
    Do you think you can diagram God Almighty?
God is far higher than you can imagine,
    far deeper than you can comprehend,
Stretching farther than earth’s horizons,
    far wider than the endless ocean.” (Job 11:7-9) Msg

From the skies to the oceans his love for us is vast. It is beyond measure.

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Wherever you are, take the time to remember who God is and not focus on how limited you are. Take time to see the little things He is doing in the midst of your situation. There will always be a reason to be thankful. His love alone is reason to praise Him!

Enjoy the ripples in the pond and the feeling of the sudden coolness that your feet are graced with as you tip toe into the place where the shore (life’s circumstance) and the water (living water and power of God) meet. He will meet us wherever we are. We are His treasure. He will do whatever it takes to take us forward and through our situations. He will fill us up and strengthen our souls and be with us wherever we go.

There is nothing too big or impossible for our God.

I will end with a simple prayer:

Lord, come grace us with your presence. Meet us where we are at. Let your greatness and majesty be known, that it would encourage us to fix our eyes on you today. Let us know that you are God Almighty, that You alone are Creator and king of our hearts and that you are in ultimate control. Please bless these readers as they seek you out this week. Heal and restore the battered ones and give us all strength to embrace the ripples in our lives. We give you thanks. In Jesus holy and mighty name, Amen. 

 

 

 

Contentment: Feeling or State of Being?

contentment quote

Daily contentment. What does that look like for you? Does it involve tackling a long to do list? Is it attending all your meetings and scheduled sit downs with clients? Does it mean finishing all the daily chores of the household for the week? Does it mean you finally accomplished the goal(s) you had for the week or month? The truth is for every one of us contentment can be defined and perceived differently. Depending on the season of life you find yourself in, contentment could seem achievable or it could seem like a distant hope. As I have pondered the question of what contentment looks like for me, I have also had to ask: How will I know when I have achieved contentment? Is it something that I will feel in a moment? Is contentment meant to be a state of living? As you can see there are many questions that one can ask surrounding this idea of being content. I’m no expert. However, I can’t help but want to dive in deeper to what it means to live in a place of contentment.

In my current season, it has been rather difficult to find meaning and find a sense of purpose in the day-to-day. I can often feel trapped in needing to check things off my daily to-do list while still taking time to rest and still be able to get together with people and socialize. I often feel as though I need to have had accomplished something significant, in order to be content, and therefore satisfied with my day. It made me realize that I am not living in a state of contentment rather trying to feel like I can be content.

If contentment comes from having to have accomplished something great than it is no wonder that many of us haven’t arrived to this place of contentment. How can one be content if one is constantly having to strive to meet other goals and standards in order to feel like one has permission to be content?

The truth is whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a student, some one who is a professional in their field or a young adult searching for their next place to land, we all need to have a sense of purpose and a sense of fulfillment. What happens though when we don’t accomplish what we set out to do for the week or for the day? Can we still be content? Notice how I didn’t say feel. What I am realizing in this season is that contentment is not a feeling. It is a state of being.

Similar to the attitude of gratitude, we can all choose to live in a state of contentment. We can choose to be thankful and see purpose in the little things as well as in the big achievements we accomplish in our lives. We can be content in times of rest and in times of joy and celebration, and even still in times of deep sorrow or confusion. Why?

Contentment comes from making the daily choice to believe that there is a bigger picture than what we can see in front of us. It is a choice to look beyond the circumstances and see the possibilities for good to come out of bad situations.

It does not mean we need to fake a state of happiness or act as if we are exactly where we wish to be. It is remaining diligent where we are and continually seeking improvement. It is choosing to fix our eyes on strengths rather than the weaknesses. It is choosing to remain constantly grateful for what we have and maintaining faithfulness on the journey.

If you believe in God, Philipians 4:12-13 gives us the secret to the how part of being content;

“12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (emphasis mine)

The secret for those who want to remain content is to remember that it is not in our own strength, but by the power of Christ who lives in us that makes it possible for us to be content in all circumstances. God will never leave us so we can always trust that He has the bigger picture in mind. We must take time to be thankful and live in the place of gratitude while circumstances are being worked out to show His strength.  We can also ask for his strength in times of discouragement, confusion, and/or loss. He is always willing to help us.

I end by encouraging/challenging you (as I too challenge myself) to take time this week to remind yourself that you can remain in a state of contentment as you choose to fix your focus to being thankful for what you are accomplishing right now, and what you have currently, instead of focusing on what you still have yet to attain or achieve. There is nothing wrong in having a plan for the future and living in anticipation for greater things. However, let us not lose sight of what is currently happening in the season we are in and the transformation that is already in forward motion.

C.M

contentment hebrews

I Bleed Red: Reflections from the Lady in Red

IMG_20160701_180928615There is nothing like seeing love on display and seeing prejudice and judgement be wiped away in one room. When hearts respond to difference with compassion rather than hate we begin to see that we are all remarkable in our own way, and that we were all made out of dust and out of clay. To be Canadian is to stand against injustice by bringing peace not war. It is to be in community not to seclude oneself from the rest of society, or handpick certain people over others. It is to learn from each other and discuss the big issues and not to hide from them. It is to trust God with our land and trust He has a greater plan than we could ever see in front of us. ISIS is not the enemy to be feared. Pride that grows into hate is an enemy that often remains in the shadows. Pride and ignorance lie in waiting to attack and destroy, to rid others of dignity and identity. It is unchecked pride, bitterness, and shame that often leave us defenseless against the enemy’s attacks. The truth is that most people do not realize the true enemy that is fighting us at all sides.  We, ourselves, can be our own worst enemy.

This Canada Day, I aimed to change the way I celebrate being a Canadian. I chose to band together in love with friends and family and eat with some Syrian refugees and other people from my community. Many hearts came together in unity despite many differences between us all in faith, lifestyle, and culture. Yet, there was no greater evidence that love truly opens doors. As we learned about each other’s customs and celebrations, we started to see the true similarities that unite each of us: the need to belong (either in family and/or community), to celebrate, and to be loved for who we are. There was such joy in the room as people got out of their comfort zones and learned new things about people in their community that they might not necessarily see on a day-to-day basis. It was truly a time of celebration for everyone. No matter how far each of the refugees have come, and no matter how much they each endured before they arrived in Canada, one thing was evident… they could finally open their hearts to love, joy, and hope!

Helping hand shakes another in an agreement

Sometimes love begins with the gesture of a handshake.

 

I bleed red because my country is working to bring hope to people who are feeling hopeless. It brings peace and freedom to those who have been oppressed. Like Christ, I bleed red for those who are in need of the message of unconditional love. A love that is not founded on a certain race, background, culture, perspective or founded on social history. It is a love that was displayed on the cross when Christ took the sacrifice for all our freedom to come and get to know our living God without barriers. No matter what you believe in or where you have come from, we can all be united through love. We are all able to have a relationship with God and spend an eternity with Him. There is no reason to allow differences to separate us all from the truth that we are loved. We are all precious in His sight. To fellow believers, remember that love is practical. People don’t need to hear criticism or hear about all our opinions. Just love like Christ loved. There are enough people in this world who speak their opinions. How about we try to do less talking and just love in the simplest of ways. Loving people can be eating with them and opening up your heart to listen to them as they share their stories. We can all work on being better listeners (I include myself in this).

The truest Canadian description of Canadian culture I could see this week is simply, love, peace and unity within community. Let’s all be proud to bleed red. We all have our flaws and our government is far from perfect, but we are blessed to be Canadian.

Beauty in the Endings

I found that this week I have been truly embracing the beauty in new beginnings. I am excited with what’s ahead for me that I can glimpse at this current time. However, I am also thankful for the ending of something beautiful in it’s time and season. I used to feel like I was losing my mind as I pursued something so out of my comfort zone. My last relationship was passionate, loving, intense almost consuming, and pretty incredible. With it I experienced anxiety, sadness, and frustration and dealt with many doubts and insecurities. I often would feel unhinged at times. This is why the song “ Out of the Woods” by Taylor Swift is a song I can relate to. I remember asking myself multiple times throughout the relationship “ Are we out of the woods yet, can we make it through this? Are we going to be alright?

As I look back on this intense but extraordinary relationship, I can truly remember feeling the ending could come at any moment as if everything could just sink beneath my feet and I’d be left with nothing. The love was real, but so were the obstacles and the doubts and insecurities in my head. How could I keep going on like this?  They plagued me at times. He stood by my side and helped me walk through the maze within my head. However, ultimately things began to change. The anxiety grew and I started feeling like I was going to lose myself if I kept travelling the path we were going down. The relationship would have to end otherwise we both would be left resenting each other. The friendship surviving by a thread left me hanging onto every word hoping and praying that we could make it out alive.

An ending was not the desired outcome. Endings are terrifying. They cause us to feel things that we can’t always explain. It makes us go through a loss that we cannot fathom until it happens. It is a roller coaster that can often hold us hostage. Eventually the anxiety and pain subside for a time and you think to yourself maybe I will make it through and that I can survive

I eventually got off the roller coaster but the experience left me wounded.

I believe in time the friendship could be restored but it will look very different. Nothing remains the same. Loss will change the dynamic. I realize now that the relationship was not a mistake but a wonderful blessing. With it came pain and trials, but it pushed me to go beyond what I thought I could survive. I came out more aware of what I want and what I need. I am thankful and I pray that I am reminded of the amazing things that came from the relationship. I also remember the pain. It all happened. Nothing should be chucked out. It was all part of the season. Now that the season is over I am seeing the beauty from the ending. I can see the end just as fall leaves fall and one can see the beauty in the red, in what is dying. We must not forget to look for the beauty in the ending once the pain subsides. We must take time to fully grieve the ending. Though we can look forward to the day we see beauty in the goodbye or in the ending of seasons. I finally do.

I am out of the woods and excited to see what this next season teaches me, and what it brings.

for KING and COUNTRY: Out of the Woods (Taylor Swift Cover)

Embracing One’s Self in Entirety

Ravishing beauty, apple of his eye I am or at least I am supposed to see myself as those things. I am supposed to not look at my flaws, but the truth is I woke up and today that was all I could see. I didn’t see the beauty that everyone else sees. I felt plain, unworthy of such a title. I am sure I am not the only one. What’s worse is that I am supposed to come up with a program to help young girls deal with body image issues and learn that they are beautiful. How can I come up with a program for that when I am struggling just as much with it? How can lead a discussion when I can barely convince myself that my flaws won’t matter and that I am beautiful the way I am?

That is when I was reminded to look beyond what I see in the mirror. To start to look at who I am on the inside, who exists inside the fleshly vessel. I realized I am considered kind, intelligent, I possess talent and I am able to carry conversation with anyone. I am adventurous, sexy, loving, true, passionate, empathetic, loyal, and giving. These were only a few that immediately came to mind. It seems like my creator and friend was reminding me once again that I must look deeper and not hold such a shallow view of beauty. We can all look deeper and open our minds to what is beautiful. There isn’t just one definition or image of it. God created so much to be admired including us…though at times I have doubted that He would see me as something worth admiring or creating for that matter. He chose to die for me and to give me life and purpose so I need to not be so tough on myself. I must learn to see what He sees.I may have flaws but on the inside I can say that by God’s grace I am spotless, I am in His eyes as perfect as can be. I was reminded of this yesterday 😉

Funny how yesterday I was reminded of something I would need to hear today. The truth is we all have something that we don’t like about ourselves. I am sure if we stare at ourselves long enough we will find something or multiple things we would like to change. I am realizing that body issues don’t go away because its the one big insecurity we all hold onto in some degree. Its our humanity and imperfections that allow us to hold onto the insecurity of how we look. The bible says we are made in His image. This is the One who created Heaven and Earth and who made all of creation including our existence. So if we could believe that then why can’t we see that He doesn’t see what we see. He sees his perfect creation.

I am human. Today I woke up insecure and it probably won’t be the last time. However, I have come to realize today that I made progress because I changed my perspective and attitude about my imperfections and I can focus on that. I can focus on who I am and who I am proud to represent. I represent Christ. If He chose to use me and love me then I must be valuable to him. I must have purpose and I must be something worth admiring. I am not sure how someone who doesn’t believe in God gets through, but I think that they must have some optimism that they pull out for these insecure times.

The challenge will be to create a program that allows the girls to be open and honest with themselves without the criticism and self loathing. I was given this lesson so that I can see firsthand how difficult it is to not only talk about but admit. So how much harder will it be for these girls to open up and admit the things they struggle with? The truth is that being a support requires me to help them view themselves not how society sees them but to see themselves through the strengths they possess, the talents they are given, and for them to embrace who they are in the body they have been created in. I can let them know it is alright to love themselves for everything they are flaws and all. It’s not a cop-out it’s the truth for they are one of the Creator’s masterpieces.

This verse resonates with me today.

Till next time.

C.M

Malawi internship January 2016

As some of you may or may not know I have decided to pursue an international internship in Nchiteu, Malawi for three months. It has been an on-going process and I can honestly say it hasn’t always been easy. I need over $5000 and that doesn’t even cover the cost of immunizations. I could be overwhelmed by the cost. However, after the Malawi Benefit Concert which I ran with the help of my family and band Broken Road, I was able to raise over $1200. I truly saw God’s provision and faithfulness. It also floored me to know how many people were supporting me on this journey. I am blessed to be given this opportunity to work along my friend and work for Action International Ministries. This organization helps feed orphans, widows and families. It brings hope to people through the sharing of God’s word and it is an organization that is truly helping to change lives for the better.  It has brought me great joy to know I will be helping to make a difference in people’s lives. I’m excited to see what God is going to do in and through me. Right now I’m ready to prep myself for the journey ahead. Any encouragement you can send my way is appreciated. If you would like to support me financially. Here is the link: 

https://www.gofundme.com/chantalmalawimissi
I am excited and thrilled to be even closer to making this internship a reality. To be able to work the children and families will not only be satisfying, but I will also learn more about the international effect of poverty and hopefully come closer to being part of the solution. I know  this new season in my life will bring me closer to discovering what I want to do for a career,  but also teach me cultural communication skills. I’m hoping to teach the children and use some of my tools from my kit to help bring change and growth in their community. All in all, I just want to make a difference. It just takes one person making a selfless choice to bring about change. I hope that I’ll be able to be the love of God to the people of Nchiteu and surrounding regions. 

I know one thing for certain: I am enjoying the journey. 

  Chantal 

The Inevitability of Change

A few days ago I saw an old flame in his element which is performing/busking. He hadn’t looked like he had changed at all. He was still making people laugh and feel entertained. He was  still enjoying life on the edge as he juggled flaming torches and tested different heights. He even had a new gf who of course was his assistant. To be honest, when I first saw him I felt no feelings except gratitude that I hadn’t chose to go down that road with him 4 years ago. I wouldn’t have enjoyed having to see every show, and support a crazy lifestyle where nothing is ever certain or typical. Where one is constantly chasing a new high.  Heck I love adventure, but I have my limits and adrenaline only lasts so long. Seeing him again, I had the realization that I had changed drastically from where I was 4 years ago and yet some things remained the same. 

It makes me wonder… do people really change?  Some people would say that life changes us and to a certain degree I would agree with them. The truth as we know it is that change is inevitable no matter how hard we try to avoid it. For some, change seems to be daily and happens through small improvements at a time. For others, change takes a while and it is a big change overnight that alters someone’s lifestyle and choices. For myself, change has been gradual and yet drastic. I don’t do things the easy or typical way so when something changes in my life it usually is a catalyst for a change of season and for growth. 

People who know me know that I believe everyone has the power to change and make different life choices. I also believe that every choice can lead to a totally different pathway in life. If we allow ourselves to embrace change and with that the growth that comes from the transformations, then we can live “undaunted” as one of my favourite authors Christine Caine would say. 

See, I want to live my life courageously, boldly and without holding back. One day I’d like to be at the place in my life where I can embrace every change and not be stuck wishing to relive past moments. Don’t we all wish we can stop whining and hiding behind what is comfortable and just step out and embrace whatever is new on the horizon. Truth is with God’s help we can live a daring, beautiful and undaunted life. However, it requires surrender to His transforming process. 

As someone in this process, I can attest to the fact that it has not been easy. I have had to do things afraid and push past fear. I have had to face my insecurities head on and become aware of my own limitations and hesitations. I have had to step out of my comfortable place and trust God to guide me into the unknown, where everything is new and foreign. All this to say, yes some days are tough and they test me, but the process is worth the discomfort. For I can honestly say I have grown so much more than I thought was possible at my age. I have seen God’s faithfulness firsthand. I know that He isn’t nearly finished and that the journey He is taking me on will have its rewards. 

So whoever is reading this, remember no growth comes easily. It requires boldness, vulnerability, consistency, and a spirit that will not quit. The battle is real and there will be pain at times, and the fatigue you will feel. However, when you cross the finish line and see how much you have come through you will appreciate the journey and it will be that much more satisfying. Change is inevitable, but with God’s help all things are possible to him who believes. So be bold have faith and let growth happen. Don’t fight the process for it needs to happen if want to live an extraordinary life. 

  

  
Photo credit: Mika S. 
Chantal

Affairs of the Heart

June 16, 2015

Raw yet fragile wounds are healing and they remind me of my own fragility.

The heart in all its complexity showcases its depth and sincerity.

Wild crazy passion in my heart remains restlessly stirring

Words being spoken in careless phrasing uttered as slurring

—-

For when it comes to you the deepest parts of me come to the surface

You know my secrets and you have seen me at my weakest

You read me like a cheap harlequin and that says something

For I am not cheap nor easy to read but some would say I am stimulating

The affairs of the heart are driving this conversation

Yet we still can`t seem to get past our reservations

If only we could speak without hesitating

Then maybe we could move on past suggesting

—-

Here we remain fixed in place unsure where the paths will lead

The affair of my heart impossible to understand even more impossible to read

Looks like the mystery of this love will remain

I honestly would do it all over again

—-