The Case for Christ | A Movie Review


Movies based on books.  Some of us love it, some of us hate it.  I, personally, have rarely read the book when they get turned into movies, so I’m fine with it.

The Case for Christ is another such example.  When I first became aware of the book, it sounded interesting enough, but I was already firmly a believer in Jesus based on what I’d learned growing up, and as a teenager I felt I had no need to read it…. because there were other things taking up my time.

Fast forward 15-20 years (I can’t really wrap my head around that, gosh…), and here I am, sitting writing a review on the movie version of the book.  Like I said, I haven’t read the book.  But I know many people who have.  I know many people for whom the book was life-changing.  Either that book, or many of Lee Strobel’s other books… perhaps I should read them?

But I digress, I’m here to review the movie.

The quote Strobel makes right at the beginning of the movie really hit me — “The only way to truth is through facts.  Facts are our greatest weapon against superstition, against ignorance, and against tyranny.”  Now, I was aware of the book going into watching the movie, and I knew that the movie was about a journalist’s journey from atheist to believer, and so I saw the quote as fantastic foreshadowing on the part of the writers.

What I didn’t know was that the whole journey — the whole reason Strobel set out to disprove the resurrection of Jesus in the first place — was because his wife had become a Believer after a near-death experience with their daughter, and he thought she’d lost it.  Naturally, since facts and reason are so important, he thought he could reason her out of it.

I learned a lot in this movie — facts I didn’t know existed.  It was very well done, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s proof to me that even the most staunch of objectors can come to faith, and it really highlighted something I’ve believed for years — that it also takes faith to not believe.  If you can look at all the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus, and still not believe that He is who He says He is, then that takes faith too — faith that despite all the evidence suggesting otherwise, this simply isn’t true.  Personally, I’d rather put my faith in Jesus.

I hope you’ve either had a chance to catch this movie in theatres, or that you’ll see it now that it’s been released on video.  No matter where you are in your journey, I believe there’s something in this movie for everyone.

Screener link was provided courtesy of Mongrel Media and Graf-Martin Communication, Inc.

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All Saints | A Movie Review


You can watch the trailer for this movie at http://www.allsaintsmovie.com/.

All Saints is a faith-based film put out by Sony and Provident Films that looks at the inspiring true story of a salesman turned pastor named Michael Spurlock.  He’s assigned to a small church in Smyrna, Tennessee, that has a regular attendance of about a dozen people.  His goal?  To get the building ready to be sold.  The building sits on a prime piece of land that developers would love to get their hands on.

The problem?  When he gets there, he finds that a group of Burmese refugees, along with the dozen or so people already at the church, really need the church, and he struggles with the idea that he has to just shut it down and let it be sold.

If I’m honest (which I try to be…), I’ll admit that I don’t typically enjoy Christian movies.  I often find them pretty cheesy, and not relatable.  But this…. This was a great movie.  It struck a chord with me personally, having been involved in helping Syrian refugees on their arrival in my city, and being someone who believes that profit isn’t everything — especially when it comes to the welfare of fellow human beings.  I think the timing of this movie is poignant — it should be out in theatres in the next couple weeks.  With what’s going on in the news and the world around me lately, it was sure lovely to watch what faith, loving like Jesus, perseverance, persistence, and trust can accomplish.

Maybe I’m just hearkening back to my love of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but I also really enjoy John Corbett as an actor, so when I saw that he had the lead role, I figured it couldn’t be that cheesy.  I was pleasantly surprised, and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

To stay up to date about more Christian films, and when they’re arriving in Canada, check out faithfilms.ca

I was given a screener link to view this film courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.

On Anxiety, Jesus, and the space in between.


Recently, I’ve been struggling a little bit.  It’s been hard to talk about, and I’ve wanted to write about it, but I haven’t felt like I’ve had a lot of positive to say, and I didn’t want to sound like I was griping.  I finally have something positive to say, so here I am.

I also didn’t want to be offered dozens of potential solutions that I’d potentially already tried or that would just make things worse when I tried them and they didn’t work.  I’ve been navigating fairly well with the help of a trusted circle of very close peeps.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Here it goes.

Easter weekend, I did something stupid.  Me, hyper-sensitive to caffeine, whose reaction to it can be measured in the increase in words spoken per minute — I forgot to monitor my caffeine intake throughout the course of the day, and because it was a long weekend, I also didn’t think too much of consuming caffeine past my typical 3 pm cutoff.  It started the evening of Good Friday.  I had a Cherry Pepsi with dinner.  It took me a while to fall asleep, but I’d gotten home late anyway and I didn’t think much of it.  I went for lunch with a friend the next day, and had a great big glass of Dr. Pepper with lunch.  Later, (about 5 pm — I didn’t realize it’d gotten that late) we got iced capps through the Tim Horton’s drive thru.  THEN (because I’m an idiot), I forgot about the caffeine I’d consumed throughout the rest of the day, and I had another Cherry Pepsi with dinner on Saturday night, and dinner wasn’t until about 8 pm.

Well, shocking, I didn’t sleep that night.  At all.  Like I got up Easter Sunday morning and lead worship on precisely zero hours of sleep, and was so out of it that I could hardly put music stands together.  But what I discovered in the midst of the night of no sleep is that caffeine also sends my brain spinning down this spiraling tunnel of anxiety, and while I wasn’t sleeping at all, I was over-processing, hyper-analyzing, and pretty much freaking out.  If I could think about it, I was worrying about it.

Sunday night, I went to go to bed, and was fairly thoroughly convinced I was having a heart attack (turns out that’s pretty much what a panic attack feels like).  Long story short, I ended up in the hospital most of the night only to have a doctor tell me I needed to calm down and relax.

There’s been a lot going on, and I don’t need to get into all of it because that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that since all this has happened, I’ve found myself in a place where I have never relied so heavily on Jesus, even though prior to all of this I would have told you that I did, and now that it’s happening often, I’m able to see the differences that reliance, and that open line of communication makes in my life.  I’ve had a few really cool experiences in the past few weeks, and I firmly believe my deepening relationship with Jesus is the catalyst for that.

I’ve had to learn to pray my way through situations that make me feel like I want to panic.  I haven’t had any major panic issues since Easter, but some minor ones, and I’ve learned that when I lean into Jesus and claim the promises in scripture about fear and anxiety, I can come out the other side of my bouts of anxiety with confidence, knowing I’m never alone, I have not been abandoned in any way, and I am safe.

I’ve had to create a bed time routine.  If you know me personally, you know that I’m someone who likes to fall into bed exhausted, as late as possible while still being able to function, because my best thinking, my best work, and the most fun usually happens later.  I’m a textbook night owl, and having trouble sleeping rocked my foundation.  When you’re only used to getting 6-6.5 hours of sleep a night anyway, because you’ve narrowed down the bare minimum amount you need in order to function like a responsible grown-up on a consistent basis, I found that the second I would have trouble falling asleep, my brain would reel into panic again — because “if I can’t sleep, I can’t drive to work.  That’s not safe.” and other such things that I would tell myself at 3 am when I still wasn’t asleep.

My bed time routine involves writing out scriptures (the month of May was actually focused around anxiety and fear, and it was VERY helpful), journaling gratitude (I have a journal where I’m writing down all the things I’m thankful for from each day as I get ready to go to sleep — 1000 Gifts style, I suppose.), reading my devotional book (I do NOT give myself enough time for this in the morning), praying, and having a bubble bath while I read a theology book of some sort in the tub.  When I start to doze, and start not retaining what I’m reading, I know I’m ready to go to bed.  I then fall asleep fairly quickly, which has been awesome.

Sometimes, though, when I get to the time of night when I’m ready to start this process, I can feel my brain spinning and I know that if I don’t process what’s inside, I’ll have a hard night ahead.  I have a journal where sometimes I write letters to God, sometimes I just write what I’m thinking and process that way, and sometimes I just write out my prayers as if I were speaking them.

And here we are, at the reason I wanted to post today.

A couple of days ago I made it to my bedtime routine and I found just that — my brain was reeling and spinning, and I couldn’t quiet my thoughts down enough to even focus on the scriptures I was reading through and trying to absorb by writing out.  So I went back through my scripture journal, and I wrote a prayer to God claiming all of the truths I’d learned and internalized throughout May about anxiety and fear.  I know whose I am, so I don’t need to be afraid.  I know this deeply now, and it’s become a matter of making sure I remember it in my times of greatest need.

I wanted to share what I wrote down, in hopes that someone would need to read this and that it would be helpful.  When I wrote it, I didn’t include the scripture references to which I was referring, but I have here in case you want to go read the verses themselves to see what I based this on.

Lord, I surrender.  All my fears.  They’re nothing and useless when I hold them to the standard of your love, your care for me, and your grace.  Jesus, right now I honestly don’t even know why I’m feeling anxious and fearful, but I know it isn’t from you.  You don’t elicit fear.  Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). I will fear no evil.  For my God is with me (song — You Never Let Go).  I have not been given a spirit of fear. The Lord is for me.  Who can be against me?

Father I cast all my cares on you.  I release their weight (Psalm 55:22).  I know your yoke is easy and your burden is light (Matthew 11:30).  I know you have not created me to live in this space of anxiety and fear.

I feel like I’m slipping, God, but I know I’m not, because you’re holding me and keeping me steady.  Please help me to trust my rational and logical thoughts. Your comfort gives me renewed hope and cheer (Psalm 94:18-19).

When I lean on my own understanding, sometimes I panic and I don’t even know why!  I choose to trust in you (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 62:8).  You are good.  When there’s nothing good in me.  I’m running to your arms.

David prayed to you in his distress and you set him free. Lord, I am doing the same! You are for me, so I will have no fear.  What can mere people do to me? Yes, you will help me.  You are for me (Psalm 118:5-7).  You work all things together for my good because I love you (Romans 8:28). I see this when I look back at my life’s circumstances and I trust that you stay the same through the ages (Psalm 30:4-5 — also the song Your Love Never Fails), and you will continue to work outside of time to hold my life together according to your plans.

You will never leave me. You will never forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6). You will never abandon me (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Father, I praise you for all these promises and truths, and I rejoice because I know I can trust them. Rest in them. Claim them. Live them (Psalm 56:1-4).

I am pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed. I am perplexed, but not driven to despair. I am never abandoned by you. I get knocked down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

My hope is in you! (Psalm 62:5).  You alone are my rock and salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken (Psalm 62:1-4).

I have all that I need in you. My rest comes from you. My peace comes from you. My strength comes from you. Even when I don’t think I can handle what comes at me, I don’t have to be afraid, because you’re right there with me. You protect and comfort me. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:1-6).

You are always ready to help in times of trouble! (Nahum 1:7, Psalm 46:1-3)

I want to live in the shelter of the Most High so I can find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. You alone are my refuge, my place of safety. You are my God, and I trust you.  You will cover me with your feathers and shelter me with your wings. Your faithful promises are my honour and my protection (Psalm 91:1-6).

You yourself will fight for me.  My job is to stay calm (Exodus 14:14). So I rest in you. I will find my strength in the shadow of your wings (song — My Hope is in You).

 

Anyway — it’s my hope and prayer that these verses find homes in the hearts of those who need to read them, like they have in mine the past couple of months.  In the five days since I wrote that prayer, I’ve reread it three times, and it washes me with peace every time I do.

 

(re)union ~ by Bruxy Cavey


Because I am a book fiend, and because I have a source that hooks me up with books already, I was overjoyed to discover that I had the chance to receive an Advance Reader Copy of Bruxy Cavey’s latest book, (re)union — The good news of Jesus for seekers, saints, and sinners.  I’ve read Bruxy’s other book, The End of Religion, and I loved it, but this takes everything to a whole new level.

I go to the church that Bruxy is the teaching pastor at, The Meeting House, so I can assure you that this book reads very authentically like he’s just speaking to you.  He’s so passionate about spreading the Gospel, and about making sure it’s clearly understood, and that certainly comes across in this book.  Bruxy succeeds at epic levels in making the Gospel clear.  I’ve grown up in the church.  I’ve grown up in this denomination.  But it’s never been laid out more clearly to me than in this book, and it’ll be one I read again (which doesn’t happen often).

What I love most about this book, apart from it being so abundantly clear, is how warm and inviting the call to follow Jesus is from start to finish.  But even while laying out theology, at times fairly heavy theology, Bruxy makes it feel like he’s having a casual conversation that is very easy to understand.  It’s light, it’s funny — It felt like having coffee with Bruxy.  I’ve never done that, so I can’t 100% compare it, but it was a very easy read despite how much it made me think.  My walk with Jesus, even though it’s been a 28ish year walk already, has deepened after reading this book.

I found an almost eerie personal connection while I was reading.  There’s a part in the book that talks about Jesus understanding whatever we’ll go through on this earth, because He came to earth to be human, to be one of us, even though he was also God.  There’s empathy there that I don’t see being possible to claim in any other worldview or religion.  As I was reading, you know how sometimes your eyes dart across to the next page and you’re disappointed because your eyes have skipped chunks?  Well, this book came into my life at a time when I desperately needed it.  If you know me, you get it.  If you don’t, well, you’ll have to trust me, cuz that’s a post for another time.  But I digress.  When Bruxy’s explaining that Jesus empathizes with us, He gets us, and He knows what we’re going through, because He’s experienced it here on earth, he starts to illustrate his point with a story about a woman named Laura.  He says as he’s explaining the story, “You know, Laura, I get you.”  Now, I know that Bruxy was writing, and that he was writing about a different woman named Laura, but I wept.  That Jesus gets me was one of those theological things that I knew, but I didn’t know it.  It hadn’t sunk in past head knowledge and made it to heart knowledge.  (I regret that the English language doesn’t have two different words for knowing, like French does — I wrote a post on that earlier, check it out here — When English Fails ( … or why I got baptized twice)).

In short, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Whether you’re seeking and wonder if Jesus might be the answer, whether you think He’s the answer but you’re not sure you’re good enough, or whether you’ve been walking the road with Jesus for years… or any scenario in between — this book will find you where you’re at and show you the Good News of Jesus in a way that is both concise and informative, and easy to understand, but also innately relational and personal, even though it was written for an audience of many.

Pick up your copy on Amazon, at Chapters, at other bookstores (I’m sure), or, come find us at a Meeting House site, where since it’s just been released, we’ll likely have copies.  We’d love to have you check us out.

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Book has been provided courtesy of Menno Media and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

A Sunday Horse


A Sunday Horse is a movie based on the true story of a girl who just wanted to be with horses.  She’s an accomplished competitive horse jumper, but doesn’t have the money to get into the sport, so to be around the sport and the animals, she’ll do anything — muck stalls, exercise horses, she doesn’t care.  I was given the opportunity to review it by Mongrel Media Inc. in conjunction with Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

When she’s given the opportunity to take a chance on a horse that is worthless to everyone around her, she jumps at it and goes on to surprise everyone with how well she and her horse perform!  She says “if I’d seen a burning bush, I’d have been more inclined to reach for a hose than the voice of God.”  But she found God in a whole new way when she started on her show jumping journey.

A tragic accident leaves her fighting for her life, and unsure of whether she’ll ever be able to ride again, let alone compete.  This is a beautiful story of perseverance, determination, willpower, and the drive to succeed.  Debi Walden believed it was God’s plan for her to compete in horse jumping with second-chance horses, and she pursued that plan with everything in her.  It was heartbreaking through the movie to watch most of the people around her tell her she couldn’t do it, even after she begins to prove them wrong.

She overcomes many obstacles in this movie, and I think it’s an anthem for women everywhere who need to prove that they can do things that only men are supposed to be able to do.

I love movies that are based on a true story.  I love movies with animals, and movies about sports where the underdog rises up to prove everyone wrong.  Overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to accomplish your dreams is an admirable trait, and Debi Walden possessed it in hordes.

I recommend this movie!  The plot was solid (hard not to be when based on real life), and most of the acting was excellent.  The lessons of perseverance, determination, and faith were well portrayed without being over-done and in your face.  William Shatner was weird as usual — I don’t really understand him, or his continuing to be cast in things… but that’s a totally separate issue here.  Nikki Reed and Ryan Merriman did a great job in their roles, Ving Rhames stole the show as Mr. Valentine in my opinion — I loved what he brought to the story — and Linda Hamilton did a beautiful job of showing that the support of a loving mother is deeply impacting in our lives.

Check out the trailer below.  Have you seen it?  What did you think?

Miracles From Heaven


Recently I was provided the opportunity to review the movie Miracles from Heaven.  It’s a movie I’d wanted to see in theatres but haven’t gotten the chance, so to be provided the opportunity on the sole condition that I tell you, the people who diligently read what I write, what I think — I’m down with that.  Thank you Graf-Martin Communications and Sony for this chance!

It’s a heartfelt movie, based on a true story, that tackles some hard issues of faith, belief in God even in the hard times (and what hard times they were!), and miracles.  Not everyone believes in miracles.  Sometimes I have a hard time deciding whether I do or not… deeply, and truly… I mean, I have to on some level because I know that they happen.  But like in this movie, there’ve been many times I’ve prayed for one, and nothing has come of it.  There have also been times I’ve witnessed prayers go up for miracles, and they’re delivered, so I have to believe that they still occur even in this day and age.

Miracles from Heaven was an emotional ride, and it was very well done by all of the actors involved.  I don’t know about the faith of any of the members of the cast, though I have to believe that they would be impacted by portraying such a powerful and moving story, especially since it’s true.

I found that the movie was tastefully done — none of it seemed to me like it was sensationalized for Blockbuster value, which is always something I’m a bit leery of when something is “based on a true story.”  The fact that they used the real Annabelle Beam as a consultant to make sure the story was told properly really speaks to that — the writers, directors, producers — they all wanted to make sure this story was told well, not just that it sold tickets.

It was a beautiful story about faith, hope, and belief in the saving power of Jesus Christ.  I believe that the events of the movie really happened, and that Annabelle Beam really was cured from her disease miraculously.

But as Annabelle herself says in the movie “They may not all believe me, but they’ll come around when they come around.”

I think my favourite part (other than the couple of Third Day appearances — love their new songs!!) was how raw and real Jennifer Garner portrayed the struggle of a mother watching her baby girl suffer, and not even feeling like she could pray any more… not feeling like anything she was doing was working.  That, contrasted by Annabelle’s faith, was a beautiful reminder that God stays with us — right with us — even when we have a hard time seeing it through our pain and struggles.

I highly recommend the movie, though I warn you — grab the Kleenex!

The Road to Becoming


I’m a touch late with this review.  Whoops!  But it was a book I had to make sure I read!  It was so good that for hours on end I found myself not wanting to put it down.

Jenny Simmons used to be in a Christian band called Addison Road, which was apparently pretty well-known, though I guess maybe I’d switched to Country music by that point?  I didn’t know her story.  I didn’t know who she was.  But her book has changed that.

Jenny Simmons has written a delightfully deep, but also enchantingly funny, and heart-warmingly charming book about her life on the road specifically, but about how that led to being able to find God when she felt completely lost.

She talks about being on a road that she feels is going nowhere (and I know I’ve been there before), about barely being able to function some days, and about total meltdowns in grocery stores.  She shares the revelation (though it shouldn’t be a revelation) that God comes to us and speaks to us when we’re still, when we’re listening quietly, and when we’re tuned in to hear His voice… not when we’re clanging about and wanting Him to scream from mountain tops.

I feel like this book has given me permission to own my grief when things go wrong for me.  Many times, I’ve been in a position similar to Jenny’s, though under different circumstances (which she makes abundantly clear will usually be the case), and have felt through those hard times that no one cared, and that I didn’t have a right to be upset over the loss of _____________.  Whether that was a job, a home, a car, a friendship, a relationship, a pet… whatever.  No one gets to tell me how to grieve, and my ability to grieve the way I need to will let me move on when I need to instead of months or years later.

I would encourage anyone who’s ever felt like they were stumbling around through life, not really knowing the path that lies ahead, to check this book out.  It’s so candidly written, it almost feels like I sat down for coffee with Jenny Simmons and we shared our life stories.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

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I received this book in exchange for my honest thoughts as part of a review program from Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. in conjunction with Baker Publishing Group.  I was not required to give a positive review (though I can’t say nice enough things!)

Duck and Cover


It seems to me that every generation has one…. a ridiculous way to placate the masses that they’re all going to be ok when it seems that everything’s absolutely falling to pieces.

When I was in University, I took a course toward my degree called History of the Cold War.  If memory serves correctly, it covered the years 1940-1970.  The range sounds right… anyway, that’s not the point.  I found the course interesting, despite a professor who lacked the ability to hold the attention of a room full of young History majors.

I don’t remember a lot from the course anymore — it’s been a shockingly long time since I sat in a History lecture.  I do remember one afternoon though, when we walked into class and there was a video on the screen, paused and ready to start once lecture started.  Trust me, you think little kids get excited when they find out they’re watching a movie in class?  So do University students.

Especially movies that are going to have them laughing uncontrollably for 9ish minutes.

We’d been talking about the fear that was pervasive about being bombed.  Air raids were a very real threat, and since the world had fairly recently discovered how to go nuclear, it was even more of a fear-inducing possibility.  People built bomb shelters in their yards and basements, ready to run and lock themselves in lead-lined concrete to hide out nuclear winter at a moment’s notice.

Do you remember doing tornado, lock down, and fire drills when you were a kid in elementary school, so that you knew what to do in case of those emergencies?  I know I did, but if you were a kid in 1950s America, you might also remember Duck and Cover drills.

I don’t know.  I wasn’t there.  Maybe this wasn’t a real thing.  But that day that we got so excited about a movie in a 3rd year university lecture, we were given the impression that kids in 1950s America did Duck and Cover drills.

If you have 9 spare minutes, prepare to chuckle at the absurdity of the idea that ducking under your desk and covering your head would save you from a nuclear warhead dropping on your school.

Duck and Cover

But what we talked about in that lecture that day was the false sense of security that this PSA (Public Service Announcement) could offer to those who were panic-stricken.  What if?!?!?!?!?!!?

I went out for dinner with my Grandparents this evening, and they said they remember being concerned about being bombed, and Grandma said she doesn’t feel like it’s much different from the fear of refugees not being safe to let into our countries.

But what my Grandma and I talked about next is what drove me to write this post.  Governments and politicians are always looking for ways to convince people that they’re going to be ok in the face of conflict.  Without that skill, there would likely be chaos.  What gets said to try to instill that confidence depends on the politician.  Justin Trudeau (my Prime Minister) is saying he wants to bring in 10,000 properly vetted and secured refugees by the end of 2015 and another 15,000 throughout 2016.  Donald Trump (hopefully not the President of the US) is saying we shouldn’t take refugees at all, though he’d consider it if they were Christians………. This from the man who thinks Starbucks should be boycotted because their holiday cups are red this year, and not Christmasy enough.  For the love.  Really?  That’s another post entirely.

In the face of this, my grandmother has gone to Chapters and bought an Arabic-English visual dictionary, so that when her church is able to interact with the refugee family they’re sponsoring, she can try to communicate with them.  Even in the face of uncertainty, because what if?  Instead of ducking and covering, she’s stretching out her hands.

I want to be my Grandma when I grow up.  For real.  Through the whole conversation, I was so encouraged that there are still people in this world who want to be the hands, feet, and face of Jesus.  People who don’t want to slam the doors of the safety of this country closed because some extremists did some terrible, horrible things.

I’m reminded many times daily lately of the passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about feeding the hungry and caring for strangers, those who are sick, and those who are in prison.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 

Now, hear me.  I’m not saying fling the doors wide open, don’t do background checks, and leave the due diligence behind.  I’m not saying that.  I don’t believe that would be wise.

But what I am saying — loudly, and as clearly as I can — is that I refuse to let fear tell me to ignore the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the one needing clothes, the sick, or the imprisoned.  I refuse to let fear tell me that because there are risks, I shouldn’t welcome the chance to help a family of refugees start over.  Would I want the same treatment if I were in their position?  Yes.  Do I believe it’s what I’m called to?  Yes.

Is there reason to be fearful?  Probably.  But because I know I’m a child of the King, and because I know fear is not from God, I can safely acknowledge that God isn’t calling me to fear helping those in need.

Am I going to let fear dictate my actions?

No.  The cost of doing so is far too great this time.

Fear can not win.

The Car (In)decision


I’ve just started a new job.  My new job has me driving more than 10 km each direction to work (more than any distance in my entire professional career, and more than any distance ever that I’ve driven to work).  I’m doing English as a Second Language support for 8 different schools all along Lake Erie (which I don’t live that close to), and I have to drive, most days at least 45 minutes each direction.

Mind you, I love my new job.  I’m having a lot of fun, and I’m currently enjoying the drive.  Plus — I’m being paid mileage, which I didn’t know when I applied for the job, but it’s a great perk.  In my first week, I tacked 500 km on my car.  My first mileage claim, which I filed yesterday for the month of September, was for 1120 km.  Insane.  For the last 8 years, I’ve put no more than 100 km per week on my vehicle for work.

Because of this, and the fact that I drive a 10 year old car, it felt like it was time to start car shopping.  My mileage can, of course, cover the payment to buy a new one.

I found though that I couldn’t make a decision, and I didn’t know why.  See, I’ve been driving a Toyota Matrix for a long time, and before that I had a Toyota Matrix, and before that?  A Toyota Corolla.  It would make sense given my record that I’d be able to one-stop-shop by walking into a Toyota dealership.

But part of my consideration in car shopping was that I haaaaate winter driving.  Hate.  So I figured that since I had the money, I could go to something bigger.  Tougher.  Gutsier.  Something that’ll tough its way through the snow a bit better.  Something with AWD, or… even better…. 4×4.  I wanted a Jeep.  I’ve always wanted a Jeep.  And when I started shopping and I saw the new Jeep Renegade, I knew I had to drive one.

I started researching, and I fell in love with the Renegade.  I mean, look at it…

But I also test drove a Chevy Trax, a Nissan Rogue (which I also loved, and probably would have gone with…), a Toyota Rav4 (brand loyalty for the win), a Mazda CX-5, a Honda CRV, and a Honda HRV.

I had pretty much come to a decision.  I was going to buy a Nissan Rogue AWD, and the only thing I was sad about was that it didn’t come in red in the base trim level.  I wanted something flashy.

But….

But……

the niggling feeling that something wasn’t right would not go away.

A week ago, I was out with friends having an extreme brownie night (I have awesome friends!) and a few of us started talking about car accidents.  Three of us had been in pretty serious ones, and we’re all very lucky to be alive.

I don’t know if I’ve ever really laid out how mine made me feel in this location.  It’s been hard for me to talk about to pretty much anyone.  I had two car accidents in 6 months, and they left me pretty much a wreck behind the wheel — the second one in particular.

The first one was an improper left turn on my part, and while I couldn’t see properly, it’s still my fault, because I pulled into traffic making a left turn thinking that I was in the clear.  I looked, I didn’t see anything coming, but when I was promptly T-Boned it was clear that I was wrong.  A combination of factors led to that, but ultimately — my car was written off and I was very upset.  In the second one, I was merging onto the 401 at the end of December, and hit a patch of black ice as I was changing lines.  My back tires slid out from behind me, I fish tailed a few times, and then I don’t remember anything else until I was on my roof skidding to a stop, but both my passenger and the car behind me informed me that I hit the cement median and rolled back into the highway three times before skidding to a stop of the roof.  My brain has obviously censored a chunk of that experience out, and I think I’ll be delighted if I never retrieve that memory.

That second crash left me in a shaky, unsure of myself, out of control mess.  I didn’t feel like I had control of anything, and I couldn’t fall asleep without seeing the sparks of my roof against pavement for months.  I couldn’t merge onto the 401 without hyperventilating for three months after the accident, and I could hardly take care of myself.  My world felt like it was caving in around me (for more reasons than just the accident), but it’s created a marked fear of winter driving in me that I haven’t even consciously acknowledged in years.

It hasn’t occurred to me in years that the reason I hate winter driving so much is because the worst year of my existence started around the time I lost my back end on black ice.

When that thought hit me though, I immediately wondered the question that would ultimately be the undoing of my car decision — am I buying a 30,000 dollar vehicle because it’s the practical and wise decision?  Or am I buying a 30,000 dollar vehicle because I’m scared?

I knew right away that if the answer was that I was scared, I was going to spend 30 grand just to be scared the first time it snowed, and that felt like a really big waste of money.

If the reason was that a ten year old vehicle won’t withstand the piling on of kilometers and all that extra maintenance, well, then it would make sense to make the purchase while my ten year old car still has any trade in value.

But after a lot of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I was scrambling for a new car so that I could feel in control and safe…. and a car can’t give me that level of security.  The following doubts started to creep in:  How much worse would it feel to ditch a 2015 than a 2006?  I’m spending a lot of time on country roads… what if I slide off into a ditch?  What if I damage my new car?  What if I hammer it so hard with kilometers that the life is gone out of it before I’m finished paying for it in 84 months?  How will I ever pay off my line of credit (that I’m doing pretty well at right now) if every time I make more money, I take on a new payment for something else?

Ultimately, after wrestling all those doubts to the ground and praying for direction and wisdom, I decided what to buy.

I am buying good snow tires, new windshield wipers, new headlight bulbs, and I’m getting my headlights polished.  Instead of putting my trust in a 30,000 dollar car, I’m going to put my trust in the only place it belongs, and trust that God has my back, and that maybe, just maybe… this can be the winter that I don’t panic every time I have to drive in the snow.  Maybe.

I discovered while I was car shopping that Toyota no longer makes the Matrix (what I’m driving now), and I found that I was very sad.  If they still made it, I’d likely have signed on the dotted line for an All Wheel Drive Matrix before any of the second thoughts could have set in.  So I guess… thanks, Toyota?

Today, while catching up on some TV I missed the last two days, I saw a commercial for the new Scion iM.

2016 Scion iM

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2006 Toyota Matrix
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Do you see the resemblance?  I think — when I’m finally ready for a car purchase to be the practical decision, and not one that I made out of fear and lack of control — it might be an AWD Scion iM.  Cuz…. pretty!

Or a Nissan Rogue….

Or, who knows, I did enter a contest to win a Jeep…. maybe I’ll get my Renegade after all.


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There’s nothing to fear except, well, everything.


I’ve got a confession to make.  I’ve stared at this blank “new post” screen probably 8 times in the last week.  I sit and I stare at it.  I might write the first paragraph of this post, and then I chicken out and I delete it.  We’ll see where I get today.

I’ve come to the conclusion recently that I am a great big chicken.  In life.  In pretty much everything that I do… I’m just scared.  I’ve been feeling restless and uneasy and it all boils down to this:  I’m terrified of my life.  Maybe not terrified.  Maybe that’s extreme.  I’m generally apprehensive of my life.  That’s better.

I digress.

I know I haven’t been given a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  I get that this does not come from God, and that I should be fighting this with everything in me (partnered WITH God).  But I don’t seem to be able to bring myself to do it.

Know what I’m scared of?

Happy Go Lucky 358
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Everything.  Well, and…. Change.

You see…. things keep changing.  But I want them to stay the same.

My friends get engaged, they get pregnant, they get married, they go back to school, they get into serious relationships, they get new jobs, they move away, we never talk anymore…. these things just happen.

I got a new job.  Now I have to face my fear of driving in the winter because some of the schools I have to go to are 75-80 km away from my house.  Each direction.  And right on Lake Erie.  That means snow storms!  And that means fear.  And I don’t like it.

I’m afraid to follow wholeheartedly after God because I’m afraid of what He might ask me to do.  I just spent an entire summer at Camp where I was supposed to learn and grow, and instead I stayed the same.  I sat in my comfort zone and wouldn’t let myself leave it because… well… it’s scary.

And now I have this new job, and I’ve left my work friends, and I feel a touch like I’m in over my head.  And I don’t know how to process that because in 2014-2015 I was comfortable.  And now I’m not.

I’m afraid to try to play the guitar because what if it’s too hard?  Even though I learned to play the violin as an adult… my skills combined with God’s faithfulness in the past has proven that I legit have nothing to be afraid of, and that fear isn’t worth the effort or the hassle… yet here I am.

I’m afraid to try dating because… well that’s a whole other world of crazy right there.  Every time I do it I seem to end up with nothing but ridiculous stories that would make me more of a successful author than a successful wife.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/celestinechua/10725012123/
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Dorothy Thompson Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live
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Karen Salmansohn When your faith is stronger than your fears, you can make your dream happen
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If you read this blog and you know me personally, please don’t feel like you need to call me and say “I read your blog.”  I am working through this.  But if you know me personally, you also know that I write better than I think or talk (which I don’t understand but whatever), and that this is how I process.  I am processing.  I don’t need to talk about it, because I’m doing the equivalent of that right now.

Fun Fact:  I’m also afraid to hit publish because this feels like a big confession right now… that I’m scared of everything… but it feels kind of like if I don’t hit publish and put it out there for the world to see and comment on (all 18 of you who actually read my posts…) then I’m going to have to pay someone for a therapy session where I sit and fumble my way through explaining this less articulately, when I could have just spat it out in writing on the interwebz and achieved the same result.  (longest sentence ever, man alive… maybe I’m not even a good writer…)

Ok…. time to hit publish save draft and go have a shower.  Cuz…. I might as well mull on this some more.