Monday, January 16, 2017

On the Road in Canada - Week 17

It's my final day in Canada!
4 months of trusting.
125 days of adventure.
9,495.3 miles of connecting with churches.
13 sermons across this beautiful country to share about missions in the UK.
I've experienced every season,
almost every Canadian weather warning,
and concurred my fear of driving in the winter.
There's been times of tears,
times of joy,
times of frustration,
times of laughter,
times of heartache,
times of genuine conversations,
times of miscommunication,
times of reconnection,
times of anger,
times of celebration,
times of disunity,
times of worship,
times of unity,
and times of new beginnings.

This adventure,
this life,
is something to hold dear.
To honour every moment - the good and bad.
To trust, while waiting.
To hope, while searching.
To love, while serving.
And to let go and know that God is God.

"I'll show up and take care of you as I promised... I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." 
Jeremiah 29:10-11

Here is a taste of my seventeenth week in 5 little moments...

1) Exhausting - one thing after another
No surprise, but it's like this past week has seen one thing go bad after another.
8 weeks of having some sort of the plague - here I come new meds!
Banking issues.
Outrageous miscommunications with my new ministry position - it's bound to happen when communicating with 3 different countries in different time zones.
Travel delays and hiccups.
And on and on.

Don't get me wrong,
the bottomline is, these barely reach the devastation that people experience around the world.
And really,
they are only minor,
but cause a little stress,
and a couple sleepless nights - but I have insomnia, so that's just the norm. ;)

Exhausting?
Yes.
Things sorted out?
In process.
Thankful?
YES YES YES!
Moving on...

2) Stretching - training
One of the first things I'll be doing once I land in the UK,
is leading a training program for young missionaries coming over.
This is a training program I have been working on for the last couple of weeks,
all from scratch.
*big sigh*

Not knowing basic details,
like accommodation, food, when people were arriving, etc.
has been an addition to my exhaustion.
This is on top of leaving Canada,
saying my goodbyes,
trying to find a place to live in the UK (keep praying for that),
and trusting that God will provide me with the knowledge, drive and understanding to give the best training I can give.

I'm not wired to take the first step.
I'm wired to take the second.
Once I've seen it, I'm confident and ready to do it.
But this,
requires me to take the first step.
To gather all I've learned over the years and apply it.
To trust that God has prepared me for this position.
And to muster up that courage that I'd normally have when facing the second step,
and put it into the first step.

Stretching isn't about comfort.
It's about expanding the horizons.
To see beyond what is in front of us,
and trust in the vision we hope to see.

3) Surprising - monthly increases
I know I've spent the last 5 years fundraising to do what I do.
But I never cease to be surprised when someone gives.
When someone commits to supporting me monthly.
When someone is passionate about the work I am doing.

Not that I don't believe in what I do.
I 100% believe in it!
And love it!
But,
I feel amazed and honoured by those who want to give.
Who faithfully trust in God's provision for their own lives,
and choose,
out of many other charities,
to give to the charity work God has called me to.

Thank you!
Words are hard to find how grateful I am.

4) Funny - fitness is the death of me
It's only been 2 years this month that I started choosing to take care of myself.
2 years of giving my body proper nutrition.
2 years of strengthening my body.
2 years of lightening the "load."
2 years of learning what it means to care for myself.
And yet,
some days,
I truly believe,
working out is going to be the death of me.
Anyone with me?

I wake up in the morning,
put on my workout clothes,
set the scene (yoga matt, weights, etc.),
and pump up the determination.
2 minutes in...
death.
My body's thoughts, "I'm so done."
My brain's thoughts, "You will thank yourself later."

At the end of the workout,
I sit smiling at myself.
"You did it! And you're not dead!"

Until next time... when I do it all again...

5) Special - savouring every moment
Like I said last week,
saying goodbye is bitter-sweet.
If these last 5 years have taught me anything,
it's to savour every moment.
The short and long chats,
the coffee/dinner dates,
the warm hugs,
the outbursts of laughter,
the calming stillness,
and the amazing moments shared with loved ones.
I can honestly say,
I have savoured so many incredible moments!
Love you all!
So, my friends,
thank you!
Thank you for being on this journey with me.
And now,
it's time for the next adventures.
Here goes nothing... England, here I come!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

On the Road in Canada - Week 16

It's happening people!
My visa has been approved and I fly to the UK in less than 2 weeks!
Thank. You. God.
Here is a taste of my sixteenth week in 5 little moments...

1) Exhausting - the plague continues
After 5 weeks,
5 kleenex boxes,
several hours of rest,
and a weeks worth of prescription meds,
I was on the up and up!
Or so I thought...

4 days of freedom from the plague.
4 DAYS!?
And then... BAM!
I find myself back in bed,
sinus congestion like no other,
and a very frustrated Kaila saying,
"Excuse me?"

I think it's a bit ironic that I got sick the day after my visa arrived.
It's like my body is rebelling against me,
but my determination and faith is fighting!
So, back to the meds,
back to the resting,
and back to the "Please heal me, Lord."
I'm a tough cookie...
This is not going to hold me back!

2) Stretching - the basics
As I prepare to head back to the land of tea and crumpets (stereotypical),
or quality coffee and hipsters (not-so-stereotypical),
I am still in the waiting process.
Not for my flight,
but for the basics back in the UK.
My finances are sitting at 56% in monthly contributors.
(that means I'm lacking 44% every month to cover basic living costs)
And I still don't have a place to live in the UK.

Normally, the overly prepared,
list-making,
forward-thinking self would be panicking a bit.
But if doing missions overseas has taught me anything it's to be flexible.
It's to have patience (still a work in progress).
It's to trust in God's provision.

"You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes." Philippians 4:19-20

I've seen God provide connections when I was an unknown, small-town, shy girl (2011).
I've seen God meet my passion to fight injustice and become a part of a community fighting against human trafficking (2012).
I've stood in awe when someone paid for a flight to Canada when the money wasn't there (2013).
I've seen the provision of housing when I was in an unsafe situation (2013).
I've seen the impossible with visas, made possible (2014).
Me: I want to help run a coffee shop that works with vulnerable people, but my money is running out and my visa has expired with no one to sponsor a new visa. God: Here's a coffee shop, which you will help shape the outreach to vulnerable people. Here is a visa sponsor, who will provide housing, to help with your finances. Me: *speechless*
I've seen God heal me from Chronic Fatigue (2015).
I've seen 3 months of finances extend into a year (2015-2016).

Doubt is normal.
It runs parallel with faith and pushes us to grow in trust.
History has proven that God cares.
I must, and do, have faith in this...
God will supply.

Cheers to some more stretching and leaps-of-faith.

3) Funny - public speaking
I was going through all the paperwork I have here in Canada.
More specifically, I was going through my old sermons.
I sat in disbelief.
There were over 50 sermons?!
I honestly think this is hilarious!
"Why?", you ask.
Well, lets rewind to 2003 when I was in grade 10.
During those youthful moments,
I had dreams of becoming a lawyer!
And there was this moment in class where we were roleplaying a court scene.
To put it bluntly, I completely bombed it.
The minute I got in front of the class, I was paralyzed.
Suddenly, I was conscious of every single insecurity.
I couldn't think.
I couldn't speak.
I was a sweaty, 16-year-old mess.
I remember I cried in the bathroom after the class ended.
I vowed I would never be a lawyer,
and, if I had it my way, I would never speak in front of people again.

Fastforward to 2011,
where I had to speak in front of my church to share about the ministry in the UK I believed God was calling me to.
I remember holding onto the pulpit with all my might.
The minute I finished, I thought, "Never again."

Fastfroward to 2013,
I was asked to be the main speaker at a camp.
A week of speaking to young people ages 12-18,
twice a day.
Everything in me said no, but out of my mouth I said, "Yes."
All the insecurities return,
and I remember thinking while I prepared,
"God, don't make me do this."

Fastforward to the present,
over 50 sermons later and I'm loving it!
I still panic,
get anxious,
have insecurities,
and doubt myself,
but the minute - no the millisecond - I give it all to God,
I feel empowered.
I know that the moment I get up to speak,
it is not about me,
it's not about my insecurities,
it's about Him and everyone else.

Funny what happens when we challenge ourselves,
have a little faith,
and jump,
what wonders we find!
It's taken a while - over 13 years.
Challenge is about overcoming.
So, challenge yourself... you will not regret it!

4) Surprising - winter wonderland
As much as I whine about being cold,
I actually found myself thinking about how I'll miss that snow.
*pause for shock*

It's more to do with the beauty than the temperature.
We had a couple warmer (i.e. -11 degrees) days this past week,
and as I walked to my sister's house,
I looked up and the sun with slightly shining through the clouds.
The snow was glistening.
I just needed to pause and take it all in.
Have you ever had that moment in nature?
You are going about your normal day,
then you look up and are struck by beauty?
This was that moment.
Surprised, as I was,
I had to smile.
13 weeks ago, I freaked out when it was snowing (view blogpost)
and now look at me...
sad to leave the snow.
Oh, how ironic we can be!

5) Special - saying goodbye
This past week started the official goodbyes.
The hardest one was hugging my dad,
and waving goodbye as we started our trek back west.
Though these moments are hard,
I am grateful I have tear-jerking goodbyes.
It's a reminder that I have so many loved ones.
I cannot take that for granted.
I am so thankful.
Thank you, God, for my friends and family all over the world!

So, my friends,
it's time for the next adventures.
Here goes nothing... let the overseas preparations begin!

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

On the Road in Canada - Week 15

Happy New Year friends!
I am currently writing you from the road.
We are on our way back west after Christmas on the family farm.
Who’s looking forward to 2017?
This girl is!
I can almost taste the UK.
My flight has been booked,
my visa application submitted,
and I’ve started saying my goodbyes.
It’s actually bitter-sweet… it always is.
My home will always be in Canada,
but my life and ministry is in the UK.
Saying goodbye to my family,
saying hello to my UK family.
See…
bitter-sweet.

Here is a taste of my fifteenth week in 5 little moments…

1) Exhausting - Christmas for days
Speaking of bitter-sweet,
I forgot how crazy things can be at Christmas when you have family to be with.
The “sweet” definitely outweighs the “bitter”,
but within a week,
I’ve been to 4 family dinners,
at different homes,
across central Canada!? 
I’ve been here, there, and everywhere.

I am far from complaining!
I’ve loved being with my family,
but I forgot how busy it can be.
I think the most sleep I’ve gotten is 5 hours one night.
Food prep.
Eat.
Drink.
Clean up.
Laugh.
Repeat.
Tell me I’m not alone!
Am I right?
Or am I right?
It’s like the new year arrives and we all take a breath for the first time.
If you haven’t reached that point,
the time is now!
Breathe in.
Breathe out.

2) Stretching - remembering Pat
I didn't really know Pat well,
but we grew up together.
When 50 or so youngsters go through elementary school,
the emotions of jr high,
and the highs and lows of high school together,
you’re always connected in a way.

On Friday, the class of 2005 said goodbye to one of our own.
This sudden loss was hard on so many in such a close-knit community.
Pat brought together so many people,
many I hadn’t seen since graduation 11 years ago.
So, together, we celebrated his life. 

Cheers to Pat.

3) Funny - I’ll be home for Christmas… maybe
Would you believe that we drove through the night on Christmas Day?
That’s right, at 8pm,
my brother-in-law, sister, nephew and myself
set out on what we thought was going to be,
a 12 hour drive to be with our families for Christmas.
The journey began with coffee in hand,
Alabama Shakes for tunes,
and a determination to rock this “red eye” trip.
12am - gaze at the northern lights
2am - MacDonalds stop (my nephew needed some nuggets… and we needed coffee…)
4am - wind and snow pick up
6am - road closure due to blizzard
7am - detour on the snow-covered back roads in a mini van… only an hour away from home
7:30am - literally plowing through snow
8am - get stuck in a snow drift
8:10am - a truck drives by and helps us get out
10am - still in snow-covered-road-chaos
11am - ARRIVAL!!!!
11:10am - thaw the ice and snow build-up under the van

Manitoba sure knows how to welcome us home!

4) Surprising - excuse me?
Well, folks, it’s happened.
I’ve blogged about it.
Chatted about it.
Preached about it.
But, finally, it’s happened.
I’m enjoying 
and actually prioritizing rest!
What?!

You are probably thinking,
well it’s about time!
Seriously, 
this has been one of the biggest challenges,
to choose rest over doing.
To slow down,
rather than coast.
To be present,
rather than skipping ahead.

Why is this such a struggle?
Fear of being unprepared.
Fear of stillness.
Fear of not having or doing enough.
Whatever it is,
I know I am not alone in this.
My advice?
If this is you, you are more than likely a person who takes on a challenge.
Well, fight through this challenge!

Don’t give up on rest.
Laziness is one thing,
rest is another.
Avoiding is one thing,
accepting is another.

Rest is about restoration.
Enough said. 
Ps. I’m still learning…

5) Special - blast from the past
To be honest, it was so good to catch up with people from my graduating class.
The circumstances were something we never dreamed of,
saying goodbye to Pat,
but I think he would have enjoyed us all being together.
It’s amazing what can happen in 11 years. 
So, cheers to the graduating class of 2005!
“You get what you fight for.”
I am in the front row, second for the right.
So, my friends,
it’s time for the next adventure.

Here goes nothing… life is a highway, I’m going drive it all night long!

Friday, December 23, 2016

On the Road in Canada - Week 13 & 14

Merry Christmas friends!
It's here.
Let the celebrations begin!
TGIC - Thank God It's Christmas!!!!!
Yep, I went there.
You gotta enjoy some cheesiness at Christmas.
Today is officially Day 100 of being back in Canada?!
Crazy!
I still remember the feeling of certainty when I arrived home,
truly believing I'd be back in the UK within a month,
but God had a different plan.
A plan full of Canada-wide adventures,
faith and trust struggles,
joyful encounters with my handsome nephew,
moments with a family-like-no-other,
and a challenge to wait.

But,
the waiting has ended.
Are you ready?
I've got news!
Week 13 & 14 will forever be remembered as the weeks I stumbled into clarity.
So, without delay,
here is a taste of my thirteenth & fourteenth week in 5 little moments...

1) Exhausting - sick as a dog
Before I get to the news,
first a look at what I'm sure we all have been experiencing.
That dreadful time of year,
when your body aches,
sniffles seem endless,
red noses become a fashion statement (at least we wish they were),
and concentration is impossible (not without effort).
Cold season is upon us,
and not only did I get a head cold,
but a sinus infection,
chest infection,
flu-like nausea,
ear infection,
vertigo,
and huffing-and-puffing fatigue (I swear those 2 steps were 100!?!).
4 weeks of this!
4 weeks?!
But, I'm over it.
"No more!" I say.
With antibiotics in one hand,
oil of oregano in another (yuck!),
this girl is ready for everyone to catch up to my "awesomeness"
and be done with this sickness.
Here's to the antibiotics working wonders!

2) Surprising - swiftness
Now for the news...
After over 3 months of waiting, I received approval to return to the UK!
It seemed surreal when it happened,
like I was in a dream,
and would wake up to reality.
But, it actually happened!

And just as quickly as the approval came,
so did the visa sponsorship and interview!
In the blink of an eye,
I was preparing to return to the UK in the new year.
When things start moving,
they really start moving!
Three words...
God. Is. Good.

3) Stretching - trust & obey
Though the approval to return to the UK has been granted,
the waiting continues.
My finances are only at 56% of what I need monthly.
*big breath*
But, the need for me to be back was greater.
And at the end of the day,
God did not call me to a life of certainty,
but to a life of faith!

God has called me to the UK.
It is not about obligation,
but obedience.
And part of that obedience is trust.
Trust in His provision.
I've seen it time and time again.
Trust and obey.

Are you ready?
It's time to jump again.
The leap of faith is upon us.
Ready?
Set.
Go.

"When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey." 

4) Funny - giggles & goofiness
It was my sister, Quinn's, birthday this past week.
The big 2-5!
It has been years since I was able to celebrate it with her.
When I was home in Canada,
before I moved to the UK,
we spent a lot of time together.
Thicker than thieves, Quinn and I were.
And the goofiness,
the giggles,
my gosh,
we were crazy!

Though there's lots of distance between us,
sisters are bound forever.
And that goofiness,
those giggles,
always resurface.
Where are we in life without laughter?
Bored.
That's where.
So cheers to my brilliant and, yet, daring sister,
who can hands-down make anyone laugh,
and who reminds me that life is for living,
laughing,
and loving.

5) Special - being a granddaughter
I had the opportunity to spend some time with my soon-to-be 91-year-old grandmother.
She shares a birthday with Jesus!
Distance has always been a factor in our relationship,
as she and my grandpa lived far away,
and then I moved half-way across the world!
But,
would you believe,
my grandma writes me letters?
Yes, letters... people still do that!
There is nothing better than opening your mailbox and finding a letter.
Not a bill,
not a statement from the bank,
not another pointless flyer,
but a letter from a loved one.
Seriously,
I get excited about getting the mail,
even though I know that 9 times out of 10,
there won't be a letter,
but that 1 time out of 10...
boy,
that's the moment!

Letters are great.
Presence is better.
I'm thankful for this moment I got to be a granddaughter with my grandmother.
So, my friends,
it's time for the next adventures.
Here goes nothing... let's celebrate Christmas!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

On the Road in Canada - Week 11 & 12

Isn't it funny how when you slow down, you usually end up getting sick?
I feel like our bodies are trying to tell us something.
"You work too hard!"
I wonder what would happen if we started listening to our bodies?
a) We all would probably be healthier,
b) we'd ironically be more efficient with our time,
c) we'd be less anxious,
and d) we'd more than likely be happier.
I'm not a doctor or have any degree that would clarify any of those points as fact,
but I'm pretty sure I'm right!
At least, personal experience has said so...
Yep...
The last couple of weeks have been full of slowing down.
Of waiting.
Of listening.
Of bringing into light what is important.
Here's a taste of my eleventh & twelfth weeks in 5 little moments...

1) Exhausting - communication & acceptance is key
To say that the last couple of weeks have been challenging would be an understatement.
I honestly felt a weight,
a heaviness sitting on my shoulders.
The unknown was choking me.
This limbo of "when will I return to the UK?" had taken it's toll.
I felt alone.
I felt forgotten in my ministry in the UK.
I felt isolated.
And I felt a distance from God that's hard to explain.

But, I kept reading the Bible.
Though I felt no connection with it,
I was trusting that I would find purpose in the words on those pages.
I was relying on my faith in the God I knew, that He would speak to me through His Word.
For days... nothing.
I felt so disconnected with the words, it was like I was reading a text book.
But then Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego happened!
The King was going to have them killed, because of their faith in God.
Their response is what hit me,

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:17-18

Even if things didn't go their way,
even though they had honoured God with their lives,
they would still worship Him.

What I realized is I needed to be okay with what was happening.
Even the frustration I was feeling towards God.
By accepting what was happening,
I was able to move through it all.
FYI, avoidance never helped anyone - it tends to bite you later on and is completely exhausting to keep up with.
I can now say with confidence that I feel like a veil has been lifted.
I feel stronger in my faith,
having allowed myself to voice my frustration.
I still love God.
And though I have not necessarily been happy with what has happened,
I will still worship Him.

2) Stretching - love like Christ loved
I've been completely overwhelmed with God's provision.
When I needed a car, it was provided (seriously!).
When I needed a place to stay, it was provided.
And when I needed a winter jacket for the -30 weather, it was provided.
Sooooooo warm!
Actually, multiple people offered me jackets.
In this moment of gratitude for God's provision,
I felt convicted.
Let me explain, these people rushed to provide for me because they loved me,
they cared for me,
and wanted to make sure I was okay.
In this moment of gratitude,
all I could think of was the millions of people homeless,
starving,
shivering in the cold.
Why don't we show them the same provision?
The same love?
The same care?
The same concern?

This has been where I've felt challenged.
If we raced to care for those around us,
like we would a loved one,
imagine what the world would look like!
One person cannot help everyone,
but you sure can show care,
show love,
to those who come your way.
To love like Christ loved.
That is the challenge.
That is our call.
"Above all, love each other deeply" 1 Peter 4:8

3) Surprising - maternal instinct
To be honest, I'm not that great with kids.
I get anxious,
annoyed easily,
grossed out by their germs,
and fear the "melt down".
But, I chose this past week to put that all aside
and do the most outrageous thing I could imagine...
Take my nephew for the night,
so that my sister and brother-in-law could celebrate their 4th anniversary.
Did I mention that my nephew had a cold?
Did I mention that I also had a cold?
What was I thinking?
I can't do this!

But I was determined to do it!
I think this was the moment I realized I've become a bit stubborn.
Back to the story...
As I worked myself up for the night,
fearing the worst,
would you believe that my nephew was a complete angel?!
No tears,
we just played trucks the WHOLE time.
When I went to get him in the morning,
I opened the bedroom door,
and in his 2-year-old voice said, "Hello!"
Honestly, it was the first time in a long time I thought, "I could do this!"
What?!

I know that there weren't any meltdowns,
which doesn't portray an honest view of what it's like to raise a kid,
but what I didn't mention was that I tossed and turned all night worrying about him.
Worrying about the cough that was inflamed by his asthma,
worrying if I'd sleep through the cries,
worrying if he was warm enough,
worrying if he felt loved.
Everything in me wanted to make sure that little boy was cared for.

On the 9th of December, 2016, Aunty Kaila did it, folks!
But seriously,
who couldn't resist that face?!
4) Funny - solo driving
For most of my travels, I have had someone with me to take turns driving,
to help navigate,
and to keep each other awake.
Well, the last 535.7miles I drove,
it was just me and the open highway.
Cue Rascal Flatts...

"Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long"

And that's exactly what I did,
I cued Rascal Flatts, Bon Jovi, and Creed (anyone remember them?!),
and sang at the top of my lungs!
By the time I hit 200miles,
I was struggling to sing anywhere close to on pitch.
But,
you do what you gotta do to stay awake and alert.
4 stops for coffee,
2 stops for gas,
a must-stop at a gluten-free bakery,
a stop for booster juice,
and a stop to embody my inner grandma and speed-walk around Walmart
To say I rocked that trip would be an understatement.
No pun intended...

"My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said
I did it my way
I just wanna live while I'm alive
It's my life" Bon Jovi

5) Special - coffee shop catch-ups
On one of my pit-stops while traveling,
I got to catch up with two of the most loveliest ladies.
I was their youth leader back in the day,
but we have definitely grown into friends since then.
After too many years to count,
we had such a great time catching up and sharing about what life has been like over the years.
I cannot dish on the mounds of topics we discussed
(you know, girl code)
but I can say that our time together made my week.
I am so grateful to God for the opportunities to see all these people while I am at home.
Their hearts are full of love,
grace,
and goodness,
and I could not be more thankful for them!

So, my friends,
it's time for the next adventures.
Here goes nothing... it's time to finish that Christmas shopping!