Love the butterflies...

There has been too much excitement for this girl, and not enough homework time. This week I plan on really cracking down and getting a head start on a major paper that's due at the end of the semester. That would be nice if I could get it done :)

This week-end was amazing. I got to go to Niagara Falls and hang out with Corey, Caitlyn, and Jake; we froze our butts off, rather, thighs, and had a delightful experience at the Rainforest Cafe. Then we went to the Butterfly Conservatory, and came back to my house to watch Third Rock from the Sun, and eat pizza! Today my roommates were all home together, so we sat and chatted and ate homemade popcorn. Plus, it was our first gig in choir this morning, which was incredibly fun. Like I said, too much excitement.

With that said, I won't claim to be Casino Rama with their motto: We deal excitement.

I just really enjoy being with people and hanging out, and being intentional about friendships and investing in the lives of others.

And I am so in love with my Jake. Like, I can't even begin to describe to you. He loves me and respects me in such a godly way, and I am honoured to be his girlfriend.

My heart is so full with love for my God, and for how his wonderful blessings rain down in such an unexpected way. He is amazing, maravilhoso, poderoso, e tao forte!!!!! AMEM!!



Hang out Day...

Going out with Corey, Cait, and Jake today to celebrate Cait's birthday :) She doesn't know where we're going, but it will be awesome! Updates later...


Henna hands...

the ink.

People comment, but I don't even notice it anymore.

It's become a part of me.

Worked it's way into my skin, staining it brown in an intricate design.

Scrubbing will do no good.

I just have to wait until it starts to fade away.

Henna tattoos, unfortunately, remind me of sin. It looks pretty. People may notice it, but you may have forgotten about it because it's been there for so long. It digs deep, and it's roots go far. It stains us and taints us, separating us from God. While henna fades away in time, sin will never fade, and if we don't watch out, it can grow into something far out of our control.

The good news is that Jesus can scrub the sin out of our lives. He's already dealt with it once and for all, but we must be patient and work with him as he continues to change us daily. Although we make mistakes, God will be there to pick up the pieces if we let him.

So the henna on my hands, with its dots and swirls, is an encouraging reminder of how Jesus is renewing me day by day into the godly woman I strive to be, as he replaces my sinful nature with the mind of Christ.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in the appearance of a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father"
-Philippians 2:5-11


Feeling blessed while stressed...

How amazing is our God?! He has done so much for us, even more than we might claim to comprehend. Our human minds cannot grasp the full extent of His love for us. I am proud to call myself a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. And yet it is He alone who claimed me as His child. He gave His life, dying a most painful and humiliating death on a Roman cross, to bear all the burdens of my sins. The most putrefying, wicked, and horrible secrets of my heart and mind He took upon himself. And I have the privilege of serving Him for the rest of my life. No wonder some religions don't understand. I am amazed at how followers of Islam think that it would have been shameful for Allah to send his son to the earth to pay for the wrongs we have done.

That is the beauty and majesty of our God.

He IS POWERFUL GOD. He sent His son because HE IS GOD. And because He deserves to be glorified.

I have so many blessings to be grateful for. Never take life and breath for granted. Never take education for granted. Never take family and friends for granted. And above all, I must NEVER take the message of the Good News for granted, nor keep it a secret.


"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heat, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
-Deuteronomy 6:4-9




Reflections on Missions Conference 2010...

After two full days of talking with missionaries, sitting in sessions, eating wonderful ethnic food, and drawing henna on people, there is so much to reflect on. We enjoyed a wonderful speaker who focused on God- as the theme was "soli deo gloria"- To God alone the glory. He spoke about many things, but the one that struck me the most was in today's session. He told us of the story of Paul/Saul being stuck with blindness after his encounter with God, and how God called Ananaias to go and touch him so that he would be healed. If Ananaias hadn't responded to God and been obedient, Paul's mission may not have been accomplished. So when God asks us to do something, when he calls us to obedience, what are we going to do? How will we respond?


And the bus stops here...

[This is where I wish I was right now...]

Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if everyone took the bus. People would be more relaxed, and time would be less of a worry. I was out for six hours this afternoon, and only went to two places. Granted, it was the travel time between the two cities that cause it to take so long, not to mention having to walk a ways to get to my destination. However, it was a lovely day, full of sunshine and warmth (though not the kind that makes you want to lie out and tan).

I have been pensive today, quiet, and somewhat sullen. I have not had a decent discussion with anyone, except through texts. Well, there was that one girl on the bus who basically asked if crazy people take it all the time-not in so many words, mind you. She was a little frightened of a certain young man who was acting quite strangely, and, in that, she was not alone. I was also rather disturbed by his actions, and was quite grateful once he departed.

What did I learn on the bus today? That all people, of all ages, shapes, and personalities use it from time to time. There was a man who was with his two little girls (which was quite endearing). They kept asking him to make them laugh, and after a while started talking about how they wanted a Venus fly trap. I was quite curious, and couldn't help but smile.

I love watching how people interact with each other. I don't realize how much I observe people until I am in public without anyone else to distract me. I watch how couples interact especially, but try not to observe too much, because then I start to miss Jake. I notice if a guy is helping his girlfriend with something, or if a mother is treating her children with respect and love. Relationships are so important, and we tend to spoil them so much. I often wish I could go back and re-do the way I interacted with my siblings and parents growing up, while at the same time I am happy I have learned something from those times.

I hope everyone has a great week-end. Two more days until Missions Conference starts :)


Dichotomies of Service...

I realized today that every week I volunteer to hang out with children for one hour, and yet I also visit an elderly lady of 92 years old for an hour. Not only that, but also I hang out with people my age and slightly older. What a contrast! It is actually quite edifying and holistic, I feel, to be able to spend time with people of all ages. One definitely learns a lot from all age groups, how they think and act, and what they talk about. I am enjoying it immensely :)

I have been gathering music to compile into a CD to play for our missions conference, with music from all over the world. My mind has been exploding with the drone of the Arabic oud, the cadence of African drumming, and the smooth coolness of a Brazilian samba. Praise the Lord for diversity of music :)



The Call to Give...

Listening to Pat's testimony in chapel moved me almost to the point of tears. How can I even compare my own struggles with what she had to deal with? Although she must have, in a sense, come to terms with the past, there was still pain in her voice, and thick emotion as she walked us through her journey. Growing up in a poor family, being molested as a young child, having no food- I am not familiar with such things. God has blessed me so much, and I cannot thank him enough. After hearing what she had to say and listening to what she had to say about the Cambridge Food Bank as well as the kinds of people that appeal for help from there, I was moved to want to do more to serve the Lord. Moved to walk where He walked, among the poor and destitute. I volunteer with some organizations already but know my meager two hours a week is not all God is calling me to give.



Plug in, spread some light...

Tired eyes and lids of steel
Seem to lend bed quite an appeal.
Yet on this earth I shall not rest
If I am to give God my best.


Some things to ponder:

Are we, as Christians, spiritually obese? (in the words of Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village church)? Do we fill ourselves up with our own spiritual food and sustenance without giving to others? As I was listening to a sermon of his, I was struck by how many people, including myself, do not volunteer enough. We don't give enough of ourselves to others in service, being the hands and feet of Jesus. I am reminded about how the pastor at my church has made an announcement two weeks in a row about how there is a need for more nursery workers. TWO weeks in a row. This should not be! How can we sit there and hear about the needs in the church, as well as outside of the church, and not do anything about it??

We need to ind a church, and plug in where we can, and if you are doing so, I commend you.

God is in need of our service to further his kingdom!


Prayer for a friend...

I had a whole bunch of things I was going to write about tonight, and even then they seem to be jumbled up in my mind. However, after reading an e-mail update from a friend, I deem this more important than anything else I could write about. Please pray for her, because she is struggling in her faith and may even be trying to live apart from God right now. I don't know too much about how or why at this point, but I do know she needs much prayer. So if you could, try to remember her today and give it all to God! From experience, I know that God works in everything, and He will do His perfect will in her life.

[On a side note, I have had a cold that's been hanging on since Friday, so please pray for me also!]

All glory to Him,


Language and thoughts...

How far back does your memory go? Do you remember when you were 3 years old? 2 years old? 5 years old? Those were some of the questions we got asked in my cultural antropology class this morning. We delved into some of the focal points of the discipline, as it branches off from the main study of anthropology. The four main facets of anthropology are archaeology, linguistics, culture, and the physical/biological aspects.

It is interesting to note that when dealing with memories, one seems to have a cut off point. I can't remember much before I was 8 years old, while some can remember farther back than that. My professor brought up how most people start to remember things as far back as two or three years old, when they start to talk. It makes sense, then, to connect language learning with cognitive recognition, as if the two go hand in hand. Without the ability to speak, it is much harder to be able to remember and retain things.

We also discussed how a person who is both deaf and blind would have a hard time communicating with people, because their existence would not consist of much communication at all. Helen Keller was definitely an amazing case of overcoming those communication barriers.

On another note, I was reading in Galatians tonight, and while reading a commentary was exposed to some great insights. You wouldn't think you could get much out of five verses (Gal. 1:1-5), which happen to be the introductory paragraph of Paul's letter to the Galatians, but you can. After reading the commentary, it really opened and broadened the scope of my understanding. A few things stuck out to me. First of all, Paul's opening statement reinforces to everyone that he is a messenger sent by God, not by man. This alone gives him credibility in what he has to say. Secondly, the next couple verses solidify the whole salvation message of how God sent Jesus to rescue us from our sins. Paul also states Jesus as being the Lord of all, a bold statement for someone who came out of Judaism. Lastly, it's interesting to note how he addresses the multiple "churches" of Galatia, rather than simple a specific "church" as he does in his other letters.
In v. 6-10, rather than expressing thankfulness to God for the Galatians, he delves right into their problems. He tells them they are on the verge of apostasy from Christ who called them and saved them. He charges them to remember the truth, and proclaims a double curse (anathos) on anyone who tries to teach them otherwise. I think I am really going to enjoy learning Galatians on a deeper level. It's one of my favourite books of the Bible right now

Jake and I were taken out to dinner by my good friends the Torries tonight. They were on their annual trip down to the Gulf Coast to work with Mennonite Disaster Service. It was nice to visit with them and catch up, and I am glad Jake could come too!

Well, that was a long one today, and definitely the first time I have worked on a blog throughout the day. And what a lovely day it was. I could not get enough of the weather, so sunny and warm. I wish spring was just around the corner, instead of 2 or 3 months away...



A Beautiful Smile...

I got on the bus after running for about 3 minutes to catch it, and while I was fumbling for my transfer, a lady standing near the door looked at me and said, "You have a beautiful smile!" I was taken aback, because my face was probably flushed from the exertion, and my huffing and puffing would have made any dragon proud. I definitely had not been expecting a compliment!

Another time on the bus, this lady came and sat down beside me. She had been rather loud and overly cheerful with the driver upon boarding, which made me wonder if she was a little bit developmentally challenged. I felt so awful for thinking that, however, when she pulled out her lottery stubs and started teaching me how to play bingo. She was just the friendliest of people, and here I was judging her before I even got to know her.

Last week, I was frightful because there was a man who was developmentally challenged sitting on the seat in front of me (and I hope I am saying this as politically correct as possible. Correct me if I'm wrong, Katie!) He was rocking back and forth, and I thought he was going to fall over. I was also concerned about what people thought of him. However, as I continued to watch him, I realized he was having the time of his life. Whenever the bus driver would move forward, he would rock back and forth like he was enjoying the simplicity of the ride that I had taken for granted.

I would love to have my own car. However, I know I would learn nothing about life from an empty backseat, whereas I learn so much from the people on the city bus. Thank you, Lord, for the little lessons you teach me through another person's beautiful smile!



Registration Day...

I am taking three classes at school this semester, and today was the registration. I feel so blessed, because God has been working in everything!! I am overwhelmed at His guidance through this past week in some major decisions, and just how everything seems to be working out so perfectly.

I am feeling very good right about now :)

Thank you, Lord!



In the palm of His hands...

This morning Pastor Dave was preaching from John 10: 24-42. He has been making his way through John for the past 6 months or so. In this passage, the Jews were asking Jesus to tell them again who He was, as if He hadn't told them a million and one times before. He told them that they did not believe because they were not His, they did not belong to Him.

John 10:27-29 :
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is great than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.

Pastor Dave brought two major points out of these verses:

1.)If I am a believer, Satan wants to snatch me from God's hand. There is no doubt about it. We, as believers, are constantly going to be attacked by Satan because we stand for everything he is against. This means that we have to take our Christian walk seriously, and get into God's Word to surround ourselves with thoughts of Him.


2.) If I know that Jesus knows me, and God is greater than all, including Satan, then I can go into any circumstance with boldness and know that no one is going to snatch me from His hand!! Just IMAGINE what a testimony our lives could be for God if we weren't afraid of witnessing to people, or putting ourselves in a dangerous situation for the sake of the Gospel??

We have so much freedom in knowing that. I think we get so caught up in our fears which debilitate us and keep us from doing all that God has in store for us. I feel so good in knowing that I can do anything without worrying that I will be taken away from God. He chose me, and He wants me to be His follower.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He CHOSE us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
-Eph. 1: 3-6

My desire is that I will let God lead me and use me, and that I will continue to grow in Him every day and become a more godly woman and a light to the people around me!

O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice; Not in your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.
-Jeremiah 10:23-24



Crisp like an apple...

I went for a walk this afternoon. I had been watching the sun from my window all day, it seemed, and finally decided to get out and enjoy it. The air was crisp, and cool, and dare I say, refreshing. I don't enjoy winter much, but the past few days I have been experiencing it in a different way. I breathed in the cold and felt it rushing into my lungs, filling them up with life. The cold is invigorating in a way that the heat simply is not, and it makes you want to enjoy life to the fullest. On Thursday, Jake and I were chasing and throwing snow at each other, and I felt so alive! The frigidity seemed to reach all the way to my fingertips and toes, but I could still feel the oxygen flowing through my veins. I felt like a child running around like that; I also felt like a woman in love, and my heart was almost exploding with love for the man chasing me.

I have seen God in so much lately, and have a lot to be thankful for. Even though most of the time it seems as if my world is crashing down around me, I still see God right there, holding up the foundation. He is providing my daily bread, and all I can do is wait on him to continue to show me every day the path I should take.

He is the one who gives the life to my every breath. The cold air accentuates that breath, and makes me want to breathe even deeper and experience the rush of cold to the depths of my lungs.

Breathe God in. Breathe in His Word. The Word of Life. It will satiate you in a way nothing else has or ever will!



Through the Lens of my blog...

Sometimes life seems so much easier in a virtual reality. I decided to close down my Facebook account for a little while, so that I can focus without wasting time.


I need you more than ever....

I can finally see
That you're right there beside me
I am not my own
For I have been made new
Please don't let me go
I desperately need you

I am not my own
For I have been made new
Please don't let me go
I desperately need you

-Meteor Shower by Owl city-

However short these lyrics may seem, they mean the world to me right now.



New Year's Reflection...

When I look back on 2009, I am amazed at how God has been at work in our lives. A lot of what He has done seemed subtle at the time, but now I can see that it was all a part of his greater plan. I remember being excited to go back to school in January after taking a semester off. I had no idea what God had in store for me. He blessed me with a part-time job at a tuxedo shop a month into the semester. He definitely taught me a thing or two there, not only with the people I worked with but also about myself. It was in that place that I collapsed and my heart stopped on April 4th. I know it was traumatic for my family and friends who stood by helpless and unsure, but God worked through that to reach out to people and to get their attention. After being released from my two and a half week stay in the hospital with no answers about why it happened and an implantable cardio-verter defibrillator bulging from my chest, I was about ready to scream in frustration and confusion. Even still I don’t know the reason why this happened. However, I know that God healed me and He has some purpose for this that we may not realize until years from now. God has been doing some implanting of his own in people, as we have seen a large population of students at Heritage College come to the school with a heart for missions. This has been a huge testament to how God is moving within us and within churches all over Ontario and beyond. On another note, I have seen my Oma go through a dangerous brain surgery to remove a tumour behind her left ear, and come through unscathed. Only God kept her safe and brought her back to us so that she may bless even more people through her testimony. He has blessed our family and given us protection, and even though there will be many trials ahead, I know that our God is stronger! May 2010 be the year we see how God is the author of life!

Love, Ash

Movie Review...

Avatar. Where do I begin? I first heard about this movie through a preview when I was at the movies with Jake in November. It was minimal at best, and was definitely a teaser. I didn’t know what to make of it, specifically because of the blue people. However, I was intrigued and needless to say was eager to see it. Since my cousins told me it was a great movie, the interest solidified and I went to see it in theater three days later. I knew that if I had to choose which movie to see, I needed to pick this one, since it’s grandeur was something to behold. I was not disappointed. It was an epic movie, and was breathtaking as a cinematic experience. I was simply awestruck by the imagination of the writers and production team.

The movie, for those of you who haven’t seen it or have no desire to see it, is about a man who travels to another planet, where people there are trying to excavate a rare variety of rock. However, there is a race of people, the Na’vi, who live right on top of the highest deposit of the rock. In order to persuade them to move, scientists created Avatars, or a being that has a mix of Na’vi and human DNA, which were controlled by the human counterpart. Jake’s avatar was chosen to become part of the tribe, and he gains their trust. Jake soon realizes that the people do not want to move from their home, and he must choose whether to stand for or against the militant group that want to destroy the tribe.* The forest where the Na’vi live is lush, vibrant, and pleasantly colourful, particularly at night. I enjoyed watching the ground light up at the touch of a foot, and the spinning light bugs were amusing and beautiful. As a friend of mine said, one couldn’t help but think about the beauty of the creation, and how wonderful God has created our own world. Of course I noticed the swear words, and there were many, for the atmosphere was militant in nature. However, I seemed to look past the religious and spiritual aspect, since I was so enraptured with the film itself. The colours and scenery drew me in.

Upon my second viewing, this time in 3D, I was distracted by the amazing digital effects, how the bugs in the forest seemed to surround me too, and how it seemed like I was right there. Despite my fascination, I noticed the spiritual aspect much more, and it bothered me more than it had the first time. It disturbed me how the leader of the tribe tasted Jake’s blood, and how the people worshiped their deity humming and chanting in a catatonic state. I am well aware that this type of worship happens today in tribes and religions around the world. Yet as I was sitting there in that movie theater, watching them sway and their eyes roll back into their heads, I felt very oppressed, and knew that this movie had a deeper spiritual undertone than we were prepared for.

My sister said that instead of paying attention to their own deity, she substituted God for every reference of their deity and pretended it was to him they worship. I suppose that would help someone get through the movie. However, it was quite clear it was not God they were worshiping, as their deity was a type of Mother Earth figure. The references to “her” were everywhere, and were not at all subtle the second time around. I can’t help but think about how many people would be disturbed by references to worship. It may have been subtle to others, but since I noticed it, I felt surrounded by their devotion, wrong though it may be.

I am not saying the movie was bad, and I think everyone should see it at least once, especially in theater. However, think about it in a critical vein. It definitely helped to solidify what I believe in God, and how He relates to us. Yes, He wants us to pray to him to heal the sick, but he doesn’t expect us to go into a trance in the process. Yes, He wants us to appreciate and care for nature as His creation, but not to the point of worshiping what He has created.

When I came home from my first viewing, my Dad asked me whether the movie made me a better Christian. I thought this question to be unfair, since you could ask that about practically anything. Yet, it did give me pause and something important to think about. As a Christian I should be very critical about what I am viewing, listening to, and reading. If it does not honour God, or even promote Godly values, it is a little hard to see the point of exposing oneself to it, isn't it?

* For more details on the movie, head on over to the Plugged In website.