The Failure of News

I found myself thinking today, “Why is every news platform so whiny and scared about a movie?” Article after article, I watched most mainstream news channels let their writers publish blogs about how “dangerous” an upcoming movie is, and how shameful it is for a large cinema company to allow the screening of it. Excuse me, but last I heard, there have been hundreds of R-rated movies allowed in theatres, so what makes this any different? I answered myself before finishing my sentence–it’s because it doesn’t promote the mainstream view. Because the movie has an opposing perspective on a “hot” topic, it is deemed “dangerous” by news outlets. This is ridiculous, because opposing perspectives are natural and make us challenge our preconceptions and think differently. If we’re not allowed to view material that challenges the mainstream view, isn’t that kind of brainwashing?

Also, why is there so much attention focused on a movie that’s only going to be screened for a few days, in a few theatres, when there are wars, sex trafficking, violence, poverty, all kinds of real injustice happening in the world right now? But a huge focus this week has been on a movie that might “offend” some people. How about we allow people the chance to see it if they want to and judge for themselves. (For real reviews from actual people who saw the movie, click here.)

News is supposed to be objective, not biased, emotionally charged, and written to evoke a certain belief. People should be able to read the news, have safe conversations with each other, and make up their own minds about where they stand. Almost every time I see a news article online about a political or social topic, it’s full of keywords that aren’t meant to share the truth, but help the company get more views and rank higher on Google than their competitors, while they’re all writing the same story. It’s hotter to write about controversial topics than what’s actually happening in the world, but we’re basically being fed garbage so news companies can make more money. As a result, this biased news nonsense makes us see anyone who disagrees with us as our enemy. It’s shaping the way we think and turning people against each other. Entertainment news is poison.

Frankly, I’m ashamed of where journalism has turned and I’m tired of the lazy, one-sided news and negativity. I’m also annoyed that I cannot escape these messages because social media has found purpose (and profit) in sharing these posts and causes despite my disinterest. Who decides what is acceptable and what isn’t? Isn’t tolerance, by definition, the ability and willingness to consider other ideas or actions that we don’t agree with? Or, does that only go one way?

On the bright side, there are other sources of news. International news may prove to be less biased and shed light on what’s happening outside of our bubble. Sources like the Good News Network has made it their mission to share encouraging, positive, uplifting stories.

News isn’t all bad, but there’s a lot of trash getting published online. My encouragement is for us to take a step back every time we read something online, and think, “What perspective is this story coming from? Does this article have bias? Does it reflect my personal views or someone I know? Is it genuine and true? Does it matter in the grand scheme of things?” Or, we can shrug our shoulders, close the tab, and move on.

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Until We Meet Again

On Monday, September 3, 2018, God took his angel back home. He was so merciful to us. Since she took a turn for the worst I prayed until my chest ached and my eyes were swollen and red, that God would give us just one day to see her again. And He did.

Our family arrived in Trinidad Monday morning, spent the day with gramma at the Vitas House hospice, and had many opportunities to tell her how much we love her, sing, read scriptures, and pray for her.

So much love was poured out to gramma over the last few years while she battled cancer. It was beautiful to see that all the love she gave throughout her life was given back to her.

She went through many difficult times in her life. More difficult times than most of us could even imagine. And yet she never sought revenge, spoke evil about anyone, or wished harm on anyone. She treated everyone with love, respect, and kindness. To the very end, she was a bringer of light, hope, love, and gentleness. She truly has a servant heart and I know she is rejoicing as she is at rest with her first love, the Lord.

Patsy Babooram has always been a truly gentle, selfless spirit, and her example will never be forgotten. We are full of wonderful memories, and I am so blessed to be her granddaughter. She was my best friend, we talked every day even though we were far apart, and during her visits we spent a lot of time together, especially the last few years. As heartbroken as I am that she’s gone home, I still feel her with me through being with our family in Trinidad, looking through old pictures, and thinking about our time spent together.

Over 200 people came to her funeral service today. People who knew her and whose lives we’re touched by her. She was so special and had a huge impact on us.

Gramzy, I miss you more than words could ever say. You were my best friend. You’re my role model and my inspiration, and I hope to be like you someday. I will think about you every day, and I won’t say goodbye, but “until we meet again.” Never forget you. Love you forever.

xoxoxo

Incredible Summer

Hey friends,

It’s been a busy summer! I firstly want to say thank you to everyone who stuck around to hear about my stories and keep in touch! It means a lot that you listen to me and send me encouraging messages.

The last time I wrote was in February, in the middle of a tough winter. For months after my move to Ottawa I was terribly homesick, and visiting home filled me so with many emotions that going back to Ottawa felt sorrowful each time. Distance from my family felt like part of my heart got stuck on home and the bus was stretching and tearing it away. But God has done some truly incredible things since then.

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First of all, winter ended, FINALLY. It’s been one of the hottest summers in a long time, and maybe that’s because my place doesn’t have, A/C… but it’s been toasty. I’ve spent the spring and summer going on tons of adventure walks with André, eating at new mom-and-pop restaurants, and experiencing some truly magical days.

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My parents came up for a weekend visit in May and we went for a walk through the Tulip festival. Talk about romantic, breathtaking, and beautiful! My heart was so full going on that double date together. I love my parents so much, so getting to show them around a couple gorgeous parts of the city was really enjoyable. I remember one evening it was raining and we put on a movie, squeezed the four of us to sit on my queen bed, and relaxed. It was probably the only time my apartment felt like a home.

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Then one of my best friends came up for Canada Day weekend, and we had some of the most meaningful talks I’ve had in a long time. My sister and her boyfriend were also visiting so a group of us explored the busy, exciting Byward Market and saw street performers, had a nice lunch at Dunn’s, and then sat in a huge field to watch the fireworks. Those were some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen in my life.

To top it off, my friend, André and I were pleasantly surprised that the park transformed into an EDM show! DJ Miss Shelton came on stage after Charlotte Cardin did her thing before the fireworks, and our sober little trio danced until the concert ended. André even put me up on his shoulders!

I’ll never forget that weekend.

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At the end of July, André and I decided to go to the Calypso Water Park! We had such a blast on a bunch of slides and in the wave pool and lazy river, and got a little sunburned too, despite our frequent sunblock application. That long day in the water was more than I could’ve asked for that day, but then it got even better.

When we got back from the park and went to dinner, the most magical moment happened. After a perfect date night, too beautiful to simplify in type-written words, he proposed. Moon high in the sky, water flowing under the bridge, strangers walking past with huge grins as they realized what was going on.

A ring was on my finger, the love of my life was in my arms, and I suddenly felt a wave of excited peace wash over me as tears of joy poured out of my eyes.

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Everything is falling into place in Ottawa. This move was the scariest, most unlikely thing I’ve ever done, and yet in less than a year, so many wonderful things have developed:

I’m full of gratitude towards the church members here who pray for me, and take an interest in my life and my family.

I’m grateful for the mentors who prepared André and I for such an important decision.

I’m grateful for our families and friends who provided the assurance that everything would work out in time.

I’m grateful for my roommates who make this apartment feel safe and comfortable.

And I’m grateful that I get to walk side by side with André for the rest of our lives, trusting God in all we do, and striving to love each other through His example. What a calling. What an honour and a privilege. What a blessing I do not deserve.

This is what always happens when we surrender to God. He gives us better things than we try to get by ourselves. He protects us when we stray and guides us back to the safety of His arms. He loves us even when we forget about Him and get distracted in superficial things.

And when we’re unsure of what is behind the next door, He surprises us with more grace than we deserve.

xx
Sarah

First Post Since My Move to Ottawa

Hi everyone, wow. It’s been a long time! There’s so much to update you all on, so this post is just to catch up. I moved to Ottawa on December 29th, 2017, and it’s been almost two months but so much has happened!

The first night at my new place I got locked out of my room… no joke. I had to wait outside until 1:30 a.m. for the locksmith to show up and tell me the battery in the automatic lock was dead. Thank you for your $115 service, sir. Anyway, after that whole ordeal things were a lot smoother.

My parents and gramma stuck around my first weekend here and helped me clean my place and set everything up. When they went back to the GTA I did feel a sad but I had quite a few visits back home since then to help push down the homesick feeling I had at the bottom of my stomach.

Visiting home is something I really treasure. The other day I sat and wrote down some things I miss about living at home with my family:

  • Saturday morning breakfasts and dance offs in the kitchen
  • Drives home from my old job with my mom–napping while she drives
  • Mom’s cooking
  • Random walks with mom and dad around the block in the spring and fall
  • The smell of dad’s coffee in the morning and his habit of watching CNN
  • Sunday siestas after lunch
  • Adventures to local parks together
  • Being around those four crazy, loud, amazing people
  • Mom’s candles and music
  • Dad’s greetings when I walk in the front door
  • Jasper (our cat)

Even with missing home, moving out on my own has been a lot easier than I thought. Aside from some minor challenges, I’ve been successful with staying under budget, cooking healthy food, getting enough sleep, being productive with work, and motivated by spiritual goals. Especially for the spiritual/emotional/personal goals part, having my boyfriend in the neighbourhood has really helped me. Aside from the church members here, he’s pretty much my only friend in the city, and he’s been so vital to my happiness, being so far away from everything I know. Thinking about this now, I’m really excited for winter to end and spring to arrive–there are so many beautiful places to see in Ottawa. I’ll be spending so much time outside… I can’t wait!

There are so many exciting things coming up! Concerts, trying out new restaurants, going for long adventures in local parks, and checking out city events… I’m so grateful for everything this move has already brought me, and excited for all the things ahead.

Without God’s provision and direction, I wouldn’t have transitioned to Ottawa this easily. He’s blessed me with so many supportive friends, and my family, to help me adjust to the change. He’s blessed me with a great job that is so flexible to allow me to work remotely. He’s blessed me with good health so I could make this move (although since I’ve been in Ottawa I’ve already had the flu three times, yikes!). He’s blessed me with an encouraging, supportive, loving, generous, considerate friend who’s become so much more than that, and makes it so I never feel alone here. Moving to a new city has been a great experience so far, and I’m still challenging myself to be more confident in who I am. The purpose of this move is a work in progress but with Christ all things are possible, and hope can always be found.

Well, that’s my update! I hope your 2018 is off to a good start too 🙂 What have you been up to?

Love, Sarah xoxo

Bittersweet Goodbyes

That’s it. Tonight is the last night I’ll be sleeping in this room like it’s mine. My home is going to be a new, strange place, and it’s finally hitting me. I won’t wake up to hear my parents talking in the kitchen, or smell dad’s coffee as I walk down the stairs. I won’t be there when Gramma has a funny joke she wants to share that she saw on the Internet. When mom comes home after work and wants to watch The Voice, I won’t be there to sit beside her and hum along or critique the performances. I won’t be there to check in on my sister as she sits on her legs in her room in that cute way she does, and vent to her about my day. I won’t get to hear my brother’s clever daily insults that are really so brilliant that I can’t even be mad. I won’t be there to watch my cat do stupid things and look adorable the whole time.

So many things are going to be different when I wake up… My life may never be the same. While excitement is my dominating emotion, there’s a small part of me that feels sad to leave this part of my life behind. I’m the home girl. I’m the last one we thought would leave the nest. I’m the one who gets homesick first. Yet here I go, moving five hours away to be my own person.

But I have peace in all of it because I know God has provided me with this opportunity, and He’s got something incredible for me to learn, see, and experience. Maybe He’s got a big challenge for me too, or a few, but He’s in control and I’m free to flow with His plan.

Goodbyes are never easy, even if it’s not so far, and never for too long. This could be the hardest thing I’ve done, or it could be the greatest accomplishment I’ve ever made. But I’m never alone and preparing for this move has revealed to me just how many people support and care about me. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the love and appreciation shown to me… I could cry but I’m keeping it together. For now.

Whatever this change brings, whatever 2018 brings, I know that with God, and these incredible people in my life, everything will be better than okay. So, although this is my last official night here, with this being my only home space, I’ll never forget the safety, love, and joy I’ve felt in this home. And I’ll carry that light with me to my new one. And if home is where the heart is, I’ll always be home when I think about the ones I love.

So, goodnight homebody life. Tomorrow it’s time for something new. You’re ready.

12/24/17

For the first time in several months I had a moment of frustration. I’ve been on a really amazing run of peace in all my circumstances, joy and hope about my future, and excitement for the opportunities God has been providing for me. But this evening, an unfortunate consequence of a poor decision I made a few years ago seemed to be haunting me again, bringing fear back into my mind. I worried that if this situation wasn’t handled the way I thought it logically should, that I would have to bear the weight of this inconvenience for a while longer. That feeling of frustration started boiling within me and as it was coming to the surface I could almost feel a spring of hot tears burning behind my eyes.

I knew that if I let myself go down that spiral, it would ruin my Christmas Eve night with my family, and would put me in a mood that might even carry into tomorrow. Recognizing this, I went for a moment alone. I needed something positive to fill my mind with, that would replace these negative thoughts and redirect my perspective.

I turned to Matthew 5 and 6 where Jesus talks about dealing with anger and loving your enemies. While I don’t necessarily have enemies, the principle was valuable. In these chapters he talks about not even thinking of someone else as a fool, and not allowing anger to grow in your heart towards another person. It also says we shouldn’t repay anyone evil, if they do unkind or evil things to us.

These ways of dealing with conflict don’t come naturally. Evidently, they tend to go against our nature, as our first instinct is usually to put up our dukes and defend ourselves. But we never find peace dealing with conflict that way, and I want peace. So, I let those words of wisdom sink in and began to pray. I prayed that I would find peace in my circumstances, that God would help me deal with whatever the consequences would be, and guide me through it so that everything would be okay. And I also asked Him to shape my attitude to make me full of grace, forgiving, patient, and free, so that this situation wouldn’t frustrate me or make me anxious anymore.

It was like the weight immediately lifted off my chest.

Sometimes we are faced with challenging and frustrating situations that we cannot control. In these times, our mental and emotional peace can turn into uncertainty and pain. Although we may not be able to escape our consequences, we can always change the way we perceive them. Sometimes that means seeking wisdom, so we have a light to guide us back to positivity and peace. Prayer is a helpful tool that can help us to release those negative feelings, and get us to a state of serenity. To me, that’s incredible, because although nothing changed from the moment that got me frustrated until now, my perspective did.

How My Life Got Better When I Let Go and Let God

Why do we feel like we always need to be in control? What do we get out of making sure things always go our way? I used to want control to the point where I would get anxiety about the future. I would worry that if things didn’t work out the way I planned, that my whole life would fall apart. I’ve learned an important lesson lately, about why this kind of thinking is both unhealthy and impractical, and why surrendering control is the most liberating feeling one can have.

Control Is an Illusion

“… yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) The truth is, we don’t have control. We can control our actions, and guide our thoughts, but we cannot make our own futures. Sometimes things happen that we do not expect or plan for, and if we hold onto the desire to control, we won’t be able to solve those problems, or handle the disappointments. Surrendering was a scary thing to do, but it brought me a feeling of acceptance at peace, that quickly led to more deep joy than I could’ve ever tried to attain on my own.

God’s Will Is Better than Ours

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) For years, I took matters into my own hands, trying to grasp the things I wanted and thought I needed. I even framed my prayers in a way that essentially asked God to make my will His own. It’s taken me a while but I’ve finally reached this huge milestone in my spiritual life. I realized and accepted that I do not have control over my life, and that’s okay, because God’s plan is better than mine. It will produce more growth in me, grant me wisdom through the challenges I face, and shape me into a person who reflects God’s love. It’s also helped me shed some of my selfishness, which was getting in the way of me serving others.

Loving God Leads to Contentment

“But godliness with contentment is great gain,” (1 Timothy 6:6) Through surrender, God has granted me the desires of my heart in such a short period of time. I cannot even express how perfectly everything I prayed for the last few months are lining up. One thing, after the next.

It didn’t feel this way at first. The first feeling after letting go was an overwhelming hollowness. All the things I tried to gather up and focus my life on, I let go of. And in the place of all of that was emptiness, and my own inadequacy to fulfill myself. All my plans vanished. All the visions of my future became blurry. It felt like there was nothing ahead for me to grasp on that I could be sure of. I willingly have up my will so that I could be led by God, but was still scared about my future.

But sure enough, God broke through that vision and redirected me to a different path for my life. He provided opportunity after opportunity, and allowed me to have many of the things I had been desiring in my heart: stability, adventure, a clean slate, forgiveness, peace with the past, hope for the future, love, security, encouragement…

God Will Give You a New Way to Use Your Gifts

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” (1 Peter 4:10) All through my life I’ve wanted to love people. Sometimes I feel like that’s my purpose and calling in life: to encourage, help, support, love, sacrifice, and give to someone else. Changing my approach to certain things in my personal life also took away some of that “work” I was doing. I felt useless, purposeless, and hollow. I didn’t like being by myself. I wanted someone or something to devote my attention, love, and efforts to. So, I went to the only places that I knew would give me that opportunity in a safe way, where my efforts would grow in someone else’s heart.

I spent a lot of time alone, meditating, praying, refocusing. Shedding my old ways of thinking and spending quality time with God. I started thinking of ways I could serve the church and really dug into the problems with myself that I had to grow out of. So, in that seemingly empty space, I began to see God create a new plan for me that would still allow me to use my gifts. He directed my attention to people who needed love, so I could keep serving. He filled me with a renewed hope for my future, peace in my present circumstances, and more genuine love began to grow within my heart. Selfless love. I wanted to give love even if I got nothing in return. And then my prayers started to be answered.

God Reveals Himself if You Take the Time to Look

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Some people say, “You can’t know that God exists because you can’t see Him.” I may not be able to see Him physically with my eyes but I can clearly see His work in my life. Looking at where I am now is absolutely mind-blowing, considering where I was mentally, and emotionally a few months ago. There is no way I could’ve ever reached this point through my own efforts. I’ll be the first to admit that. I’m not wise enough, strong enough, or insightful enough to do this alone.

Surrendering Seems Reckless, but Actually Brings You Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Surrendering to God and waiting for Him to move gave me the peace I needed to fully trust Him with the direction of my life and my future. That actually healed me of my anxiety. It’s surreal. Secondly, surrendering to God taught me patience. Yes, I’m excited about my future. Yes, I don’t want to sit around and waste any time. Yes, I wanna DO things with my life, go on adventures, make a positive impact, and give with all my heart. But I’m learning how to wait for the right way, time, people, and places, with every decision. I’m learning to go through every decision with prayer at the beginning, through the middle, and at the end in gratitude for whatever the outcome.

While We Wait, God Works

“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides You, who acts for those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4) I believe that while we wait, God works behind the scenes, carefully moving and setting things into motion that we cannot imagine or see. I wish I could shout from the mountaintops in gratitude for how God has always had my back despite all my poor decisions and disobedience. I have experienced that God is real, that He loves us and watches over us, and if we take the time and effort to devote our lives to Him, and ask, seek, and knock, wisdom will come to us. Everything in our lives is going to be so much better than anything we could’ve tried to make happen on our own, when we trust and follow Him.

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honour.”

Proverbs 21:21