A year

It is quite crazy to think that a year ago I was starting my journey in France. Really I had no idea what was in store for me. All I knew was that I had to let go, surrender completely to the will of my Father and trust that He would be faithful.

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First back in Canada selfie

Coming home from such an incredible journey has been challenging. When I first came home people would ask me how I was adjusting and if I was suffering from culture shock, and for the first month I said that there were things I missed, but I wasn’t really culture shocked. However, I was really wrong in that. It definitely took me a good month and a half to actually recognize the fact that I felt like there was a piece of me missing. It’s actually a very frustrating thought for me and what is more frustrating is that there aren’t many people who can understand what I have been going through. There are times where I feel like I am lost in a world that is moving too fast as I try to find a piece of me that will never come back. Honestly I can barely understand my own feelings, so I don’t really expect others to, yet I feel upset by the fact that I can’t explain what I’ve lost.

My time in France enabled me to grow – a lot. I’d say in almost every aspect of my life I grew (except the physical part… I’m still only 5’1”).

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First hike with Champfleuri

The reliance that I had to have on God was a crucial part to this growth. There I was in a country that I didn’t know, low confidence in my language skills (especially when it came to speaking), and really having no idea as to what to expect. Nonetheless, God definitely exceeded all thoughts that I ever had on how my journey would go. I believe that’s why it’s been so difficult returning home. Having had these great God moments and having lived close to their epicentres, moving away from them sometimes makes it easier to forget the amazing things that I have had to go through. Their memory lingers in my thoughts yet they have began to slowly fade and I can’t go to the places to remind myself.

This reminds me of the children of Israel once they had left Egypt. There comes a time where Moses sends out twelve spies to go search the land that the LORD had promised them. Ten of the twelve spies spread lies about what they had seen, which causes many of the Israelites to lose trust in God and his ability to deliver on His promises. In fact, they wanted to overthrow Moses and go back to Egypt! The nation that oppressed them and made them slaves! (Numbers 13-14:4) It didn’t matter that God was continually doing miraculous works for them, the memory of what God had done for them began to fade and they began to see the next challenge as being bigger than the one who freed them from their slavery. And this is the importance of Passover.

“You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:8)

1462613878154Passover commemorates what God did for the children of Israel, in Egypt. There needed to be something to remind the Israelites of God’s faithfulness and might. Our memories aren’t the most amazing things all the time. And realizing that the Israelites would not forever remember what happened in Egypt with the same passion as when they were leaving, God created a week, every year, where the Israelites would spend time reflecting on the miraculous work of the LORD and what He did to free them. (Exodus 13:3-10)

Now unlike the Israelites, I never built a golden calf and started looking to that as my help, but there have been moments where I have began to rely on myself. Since coming home there have been some challenges that I have had to face and in some of those moments I have looked at them as giants instead of remembering the many amazing works that my Father demonstrated to/for me while abroad. However, through these moments I am thankful for the grace He has for me and that He is patient. When I stray a little off side He waits for me to comeback.

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Hillsong Encounter 2016

I am very thankful that I have written many of my experiences from France down because I am able to look back now, and even though I am not around the places where all these wonderful events occurred, I can somewhat relive them. I can remind myself of what a faithful Father God is. No matter how lost I feel at times, I know who goes before me and I know who stands behind.

What a difference a year makes…

Turning a page

Depuis le début de mon aventure à Lyon j’ai été tellement béni. Je me rappelle le premier jour à Lyon ; j’étais accueilli par des super hommes devant l’église et plus tard j’ai rencontré d’autres super hommes et femmes qui m’ont invitée à manger avec eux ! En fait, chaque moment de ce jour-là j’ai vu que Jésus était avec moi et qu’il avait déjà planifié tous mes pas. Je veux vous remercier (toutes ma famille de Hillsong) grâce à Dieu je vous ai trouvé et vous m’avez montré l’amour de Jésus. Vous m’allez manquer beaucoup, beaucoup ! Je ne veux pas dire « au revoir » ou « adieu », non, je dis « à la prochaine. »

Since the beginning of my adventure in Lyon I have been so blessed. I am reminded of my first day in Lyon; some super guys in front of the church welcomed me and later I met other super guys and ladies who invited me to eat with them! Really each moment of that day I saw that Jesus was with me and that he had already planned every step. I want to thank you (all my Hillsong family) thanks to God I found you and you also showed me the love of Jesus. I will miss you a lot! I don’t want to say, “good-bye”, or “adieu”, so I will say, “until the next time.”

HPIM5607Before I came to France I told God that I wanted two things to happen. 1) I wanted God to use me somehow and 2) I wanted God to show me how he was (and is) my provider. Well looking back at my journey I am truly amazed at how he has definitely exceeded all my expectations in answering those two requests. There are really too many stories to recount in my minimal word count, so instead I will tell you about three things that I have learnt (accompanied by some little stories.)

  1. God is faithful to the end.

There were definitely moments where I felt like God had forgot about me. When November had come around and I still had not found I place to live in Lyon I began to panic and felt slightly abandoned. Of course this was not the case. In fact, as always God’s timing is always perfect and with hindsight I see how by not having a place to live when I came to Lyon I was able to be a blessing to a lady that I hold very dear. HPIM6400.JPGHe orchestrated all the pieces so that I could share my faith and relationship with God to her and tell her that she was also a blessing to me. As well, our relationship did not end when I left her Airbnb, but continued for the duration of my stay in Lyon. Even when I had given up some hope and had my doubts on whether God was going to come through, he worked in his own perfect way.

(Joshua 1:9)

  1. God gives opportunity and provides.

When I first came to Hillsong I heard of an opportunity to attend what they call “Evening College.” This particular course had to do with leadership and I really wanted to go, but I didn’t have it in my budget to go. After contemplating the decision I finally just said to

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Some wonderful friends

God, “Alright if you want me to go you are going to have to give me the money somehow.” Not two days later did a new friend from church give me an envelop with the exact amount of money that I needed to take the class. God heard my prayers and not only presented me with the opportunity to go to “Evening College”, but he also provided a way to go.

(Matthew 6:33)

  1. God gave us the gift of a Christian family.

The first Sunday that I arrived at Hillsong will not soon be forgotten. I felt completely lost, alone, and a bit afraid. However, when I walked through the door of Hillsong I felt like I

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My family

was home and surrounded by family. It was really a blessing to have all these people who did not know me, but knew that I had no where to go, come together to help me out like it was their mission. I don’t know what I would’ve done if God had not given me my Christian family – in other words, my family not by blood. God has given us this support system that crosses borders and blood, bonded by the love of Christ.

(John 13:34-35)

Well thank you to all who have been following my adventures and escapades. I hope that I have been able to encourage you all in your own faith walks. It has been a joy to write about my faith and what I am learning. God uses all of our passions.

Be blessed!

Merci à tous qui m’a suivi et mes aventures. J’espère que j’ai été encourageant à votre foi. C’était bien d’écrire à propos de ma foi et ce que j’apprends. Dieu utilise toutes nos passions.

Soyez bénis !

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Bienvenue à la maison!

(Matthew 10:29-31)

For such a time

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Oh the wonderful heroine tale (well more like actual events) of a common girl turned queen, who uses her position to save her people. I do not envy Esther’s position at all. The idea of being a princess is kind of a turn off for my historian self. They find themselves in too many unsettling near death positions (Esther not excluded.) However, God places us right where we need to be, so I guess for me it’s ok that I don’t want to be a princess. Maybe Esther was like me and didn’t want to be queen, but that was the position she found herself in.

Sometimes it’s scary to see where God places us, but there we are. The one thing that we will always have is a choice in how we react or respond to the places where we find ourselves. In the verse above we see Mordecai reminding Esther of that. You see the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that after 70 years of exile God would deliver his people. (Jeremiah 25:12) We know that God always keeps his promises and fulfills his prophecies (2 Corinthians 1:19), in saying that, if Esther had kept silent and had not gone to the king (uninvited) then there would have been someone else that God would have used to deliver the Jews. Still there would have been consequences to her silence, which Mordecai also details. In reading this verse there is something that sticks out to me: the question that we find at the end.

From before we are born God has placed in us a special task that he wants us to complete. Sometimes they are more blatant than others (some we may never be aware of), but the one thing is certain, we have all been placed on this earth for “such a time as this.” Our whole lives God has been preparing us so that when the time comes we are ready to accomplish what we need to. We can see how God prepared Joseph, Moses, David, Paul, and Jesus (just to name a few), we can see where they came from and what they did. We have the hindsight that they didn’t. This should be encouraging for us to know that God is working beside us as he readies us, and the people we find in the Bible are testaments to that – they become our own hindsight to the faithfulness of God.

Reading the story of Esther I saw that God had orchestrated all the events and they worked together so perfectly. God had prepared the way for Esther right up until the moment where she had to choose: fulfill the purpose God had placed on her life even though it could end her life, or stay silent and wait for death. Not really enticing options. * Spoiler alert * In the end she does choose to follow God and she lives as well as saves her people from the impending doom.

When you find yourself in a situation(s) where you have the choice between following God and following your heart know that you were made for such a time as this. God prepares us and places us exactly where we need to be. We are given everything we need to accomplish what he has purposed us for because God equips his children. So I pray that when God says that it’s the moment (or moments) we have been preparing for, I will be able to step forward and do it, even if the stakes are as unstable as what Esther had to face. I know that God is for me and to use the words of Esther, “if I die, I die.” (Esther 4:16)

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Walk towards God and the path will be made straight. God may surprise you in how the path is paved, but you can be sure that it will be there. (Isaiah 43:19, Proverbs 3:6)

*P.S. I’m very cool with being God’s princess because he is a King who will never be dethroned.

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“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)

This last month has been a rollercoaster for my fellow citizens of Alberta. May 1 marked the start of a wildfire that is being labeled the most costly disaster in Canadian history. It has displaced approximately 88 000 people, destroyed more than 2 400 buildings, and approximately 1 900 firefighters have and continue to fight the ongoing inferno. Some people being evacuated had mere minutes to grab something and leave their home. Hearing this made me think, “What would I take if I had only 5 minutes?”

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Smoke looming over the city of Fort McMurray ominously.

“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)

As I thought about all the items I own and which ones I would grab if I had 5 minutes this verse came to mind. I can remember having this verse told to me as a child in Sunday School, I’m not sure I ever perfectly understood it, but after living for such a short time, so far, I see the importance of this verse. We put so much value in stuff that we sometimes forget that it’s all just stuff. Their value lies in the memories we associate with them, and the work and money we put into them – that’s it. Our stuff will never last; even our memories fade. So why would I hold it all as a treasure?

About three years ago I had a conversation with a wonderful lady who has been a great influence in my life. She has since moved away and I don’t know if she realizes the impact that she has had on my life, but there was one thing from this conversation that has stuck with me. Actually it was something that she had learned that week. “Camilla, I need to be in a place where if there comes a time where my husband is no longer with me I can continue to live without him. My reliance needs to be on God, my heart with God, not on my husband.” That struck a chord for me. It is an idea that can cross boundaries, one that is not simply relevant to marital relationships, but all relationships (including the relationships we have with items and possessions.)

It is important to store all that I hold dear with God. What I give to him will not be destroyed, deteriorate, or die. They aren’t physical treasures, they aren’t tangible, but they are real. There needs to be conscious effort to put God first, put him as the only thing on my list of “things to grab if I have 5 minutes”. With him I am provided for, loved, have joy, am alive… Remember “He is; therefore I am.” So when I have him, that’s all that I need. He is what will satisfy.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:21)

You know it can be a hard thing to let our treasures go. I’d say for me that it is people I have a hard time surrendering to God. But in the end I know that if I give God my heart (which I consider to be my treasure), then I know that it will be taken care of. I will be given a greater capacity to love, to forgive, to support, to help, and to have compassion. However, if I hold onto the things of this world, when the stuff or people that I hold as treasures fail me, leave, or die a part of me will go with it. Living with God at the top of the list allows me to be free from the temporariness of this world. I want my heart to desire more of him.

So another question I would like to ask is this, if you had no time to grab anything, if you had to leave everything behind would you be ok with that?

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Matthew 6:33-34

I’m a warrior (pt. 2)

Shield of Faith

Q1: Why a shield? A shield is a tool of interception. It stops the flaming darts before they come in contact with the armour.

Q2: What is faith? “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) By building up this faith in God and trusting that all his promises for me will come to fruition, when I am told that I can’t or that I’m not enough, I can hold onto him. My assurance is in him who I cannot see.

Q3: What does that mean for us? If our faith in God is strong then we can stop anything that the enemy comes at us with before it pierces other pieces of armour. We can move forward knowing where our hope lies and that we can be confident in him.

Helmet of Salvation

Q1: Why a helmet? The purpose of a helmet is to protect the head. The head is usually associated with logic, rationality, and discernment. Injure this and it is easy to render the body immobile.

Q2: What is salvation? The salvation that is named is not the salvation of Christ due to the fact that it is the followers of God who are in his army. By definition salvation means to protect or deliver from harm. For me this refers to protecting our minds from harm, from thinking in circles that stir up skepticism and doubt. (Romans 12:2)

Q3: What does this mean for us? Over-thinking things can become our worst enemy. It can cause us to sew seeds of doubt in our mind. There are times where are doubts allow us to ask questions and grow, but the problem is when we doubt what we already know to be truth. By protecting our thoughts we prevent unnecessary skepticism and doubts, in the end we are able to trust in the promises of God.1441278_528110397284326_1542076766_n

Sword of the Spirit

Q1: Why a sword? A sword isn’t a piece of armour; rather, it’s a weapon. We aren’t only equipped for defense, but also for the offense. Swords are used both to deflect blows and to give blows.

Q2: What is the sword of the Spirit? This is the only article that Paul actually explicitly defines. At the end of verse 12 in Ephesians 6 it states that the sword of the Spirit “is the word of God.” In Hebrews 4:12 it describes the word of God as being sharper than any double-edged sword! Continuing on in Ephesians though, verse 18, Paul tells us to also pray in Spirit (referring to the Holy Spirit.) So to me this means that the sword of the Spirit is a combination of the Bible and the movement of the Holy Spirit in our prayers and when we read the Bible.

Q3: What does that mean for us? Reading the Bible regularly and not only reading, but also memorizing scripture is necessary to keep our swords sharp. In doing this we can overcome temptation (like Jesus Matthew 4:1-11). Every response Jesus gave to Satan was scripture. We can also see the promises of God and hold to them when we go through struggles. Words have power and there is no exception to our prayers and the word of God. The Holy Spirit is power, and it resides in us.

 

So now we see the armour that God has given to us. Because of this we don’t remain helpless children needing God to always fight our battles. He does fight with us and for us, but he also gives us the tools to go forward into battle as well. It is our job to be diligent in maintaining the armour of God so that it will continue to be effective.

Therefore put on the armour of God, knowing that you are the child of one who has already conquered, and with that you are also a conqueror. There is a constant battle raging on, so to arms warriors! Remember who goes before us.

I’m a warrior (pt. 1)

This last week I was at worship practice and during the practice I had this little epiphany: I am not just a child of God – I am a warrior. God has adopted me into his family, which makes me his child. Now there are different levels of being a child. For example, I am not a baby, but I am still my parents’ child. Generally speaking though, a child is usually associated with needing help and needing to be defended. However, I am not defenceless or helpless because God equips and arms his children to be warriors, in his name.

There’s a whole passage in the bible where Paul talks about the armour of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18) In these verses we are given the enemy whom we fight against and what we have been given to equip ourselves to fight. Here’s the rub: God gives us everything that we need, to equip us to fight the battle against “… the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12); however, it does us no good unless we take the armour, put it on, and use it. A gift is no good if you just look at the wrapping and leave it on your shelf.

The Belt of Truth

Q1: Why a belt? For me, in my most 21st century childlike response to this would be that a belt holds things up. Things that are held up by truth won’t fall down.

Q2: What is the truth? Well let’s look at John 14:6.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Q3: What does the truth do for us?

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Jesus is truth. Stay rooted in him and we won’t fall – we will be set free.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Q1: Why a breastplate? A breastplate was a piece of armour used to protect the chest and ultimately the heart.

Q2: What is righteousness? Righteousness is the state of being righteous, which refers to being moral, or “right with God.”

Q3: What does that mean for us? In Proverbs 4:23 we see the importance of protecting our hearts. What happens in our hearts is reflected in our lives.

The Gospel Shoes

Q1: Why shoes? So this piece of armour is a bit different in the sense that it actually says, “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness of the gospel of peace.” It doesn’t say, “put on the shoes of the gospel of peace,” it’s all about the readiness. When I was a child my mom would tell me to put my shoes on to get ready to go. Here Paul tells us to get ready to move.

Q2: What is the gospel of peace? (Philippians 4:6-7) It is easy to become anxious over what and where God calls us. Paul wrote these verses while he was in prison, not a very peaceful time. Yet through this he was able to declare the peace of God, which “transcends our understanding.” The gospel of peace is the revelation of Christ’s peace.

Q3: What does that mean for us? To me the readiness of the gospel of peace is just that, having the beyond comprehensible peace found in Jesus (the Word, John 1:1-2) to be ready to go wherever you are called, whenever it comes. It is not understandable, but it allows us to move forward without hesitation, ready to complete what God has for us.

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Be diligent in maintaining the armour. Without proper care the armour will not be able to fulfill its purpose.

to be continued…

Wait a second… or fifteen

Patience is something I struggle with. You are all shaking your heads in disbelief, I know, but it’s true. Lately this has been a big point of contention in my life. God has deemed it a necessary time to work on this weakness of mine. Waiting periods are not always the most enjoyable; growing pains are just that – a pain.

Going through these times in life where all that is required is patience has made me see that there are a few different ways that we have to be patient. I would like to focus on two in particular: baking a cake patience and planting a flower patience. Baking a cake patience is a passive patience. You put the cake in the oven and do nothing, but continue on with life until the cake is ready. (Hebrews 6:15)

Then there is planting a flower patience, which I like to describe as more active. One can’t simply place a seed in the ground and leave it expecting something to grow. It needs to be nurtured, watered, and have the weeds pulled so that it can flourish and grow. (James 5:7) Sometimes it takes a while before we see any of the fruit of our labour, or before the flower blooms, but we need to continue to nurture it.

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Luke 12:27-28. God takes great care in composing his masterpiece.

At first I was struggling with which patience process I needed to go through. Now, I’m realizing that it doesn’t necessarily matter if I choose which type of patience I need to have at the moment. What is important is that I continue to pursue God and develop this fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) It is not always cut and dry in identifying how I’m supposed to be patient, but serving God is simple.

 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25)

There are many verses in the bible that talk about patience. There are many examples. The one thing that they all have in common is this: take a second to slow down. It is important to be able to take things in stride and not in leaps. Yes there are times where leaps will be necessary; however, there are many more times where we need to take just a few seconds to breathe. Learn to treasure the moment you are in and recognize the blessings that God gives.

I like to remind myself of this: God’s timing is always perfect, never late, and rarely early. So I will take the second or fifteen to breathe in and enjoy the moment I’m in because if I try to rush ahead I will end up missing the blessings of today and not be able to appreciate them. Just breathe.