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

“Church”

Loneliness is within her. Wherever she goes, it follows.

She lays in bed too long on Saturday morning. She gets ready and steps outside,  breathing in the icy air, watching the bright sun blind the city. She warms her insides with the city’s best coffee, and spends the last of her “leisure” cash on a syrupy pancake breakfast that’s too much to finish on her own. She walks for hours, taking pictures of anything she finds interesting because it passes the time. She smiles at every stranger who passes her way, wondering if they’re lonely too. She sits on a bus for its whole route and reads from a Book.

She shops for groceries on her own and pretends it’s a performance of how best to look “okay.” She cooks and eats whatever she wants, because it’s dinner for one, again. She throws her socks across the room because there’s no one to object. She wraps in multiple blankets when there’s no one to hold her. She spends the night sitting on the balcony watching the stars, wondering…

Sunday morning she greets the church and feels the best she’s felt all week. The loneliness seems smaller. She remembers Who’s with her. She knows this is temporary. She knows it’s a season.

Peace is within her. Wherever she goes, it follows.

He’s the hope she carries in each step. He’s with her on Saturday morning, in that quiet, undisturbed space, listening to her thoughts. His evidence is in the winter air and blinding sun. He’s the cozy feeling of comfort she gets when she drinks her coffee. He walks with her and smiles at her through strangers’ eyes. He speaks to her through the words of the Book she reads on the bus. He sees through her performance as she attempts to look “okay,” and knows the longing within her. He doesn’t mind what she cooks or how many socks she throws across the room. Unlike the blankets, He holds her all the time. He looks down from his garden of stars and sees exactly where she fits in His plan. And on Sunday, He reminds her she’s not alone.

The Spirit is within her. Wherever He goes, she follows.

Retreating into Goderich

Last year around this time I went with my sister, her boyfriend and his family for a mini-getaway to Goderich. We stayed at Cedar Lodge and spent the day sight seeing and shopping along the main road. The trees were in full blown sunset shades and I was cozy in my warm knit sweater. It was a tough time in my life but this getaway was the beginning of something.

I purchased a thin leather wrap bracelet with the Serenity prayer on it. I tried to memorize it in my head as we watched the sunset and I prayed for healing and peace. One year later I can truthfully say I have that peace I prayed for — my Heavenly Father cradles me safe in His love and promises. Even though I don’t know what the future will bring, He does, so I choose not to fear it but hope for it.

I don’t think it’s naive to be optimistic, or to dream, or to believe in great, powerful things. Focusing on hope leads us to hope. We go where we look. Sometimes life throws unexpected misfortunes at us and often we sink to unbelievable lows, but that’s not the end of the story.

Turn the page :).

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Love Doesn’t Actually Hurt Though

People say love hurts and love is pain but I don’t believe that’s true. Love is the unshakable, unmovable, unstoppable force that drives people to do good, to make sacrifices for the betterment of others and to overcome the most earth-shaking tragedies.

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The reason for this hurt and pain is not love, it’s reality. Life, unfortunately, is not a fairy tale. You don’t always win the heart of your first crush, one mistake can ruin years of friendship, a university degree does not always guarantee a job, buying lottery tickets every week does not guarantee you’ll ever be a millionaire. We’re faced with hurt and pain because evil exists and it’s everywhere. Love is the force that sustains us, keeps us, guards our hearts and gives us hope. Love keeps us believing things can get better, love encourages us when negativity starts to wear us down, love restores, repairs and revives. Love gives new meaning to life when previous ways have failed us.

Don’t allow bitterness from the disappointments of this world to grow inside your heart and don’t let a bad attitude and negative thinking prevent you from experiencing love and joy in your life. Take control of your thoughts, make active choices about who and what you invest yourself into. Remember love is not the criminal; love is the hero. When life gets tough, and it will, remember this: Love is the only thing that will get you through to the end of the road!

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Monster Mind to Care Bear Heart

I always used to be the positive one out of my friends, but one hard part about growing up is losing your innocence and naivety. Today I was thinking negatively about myself. Sometimes my confidence is low and the emotions behind it makes me feel like I’m turning into the Hulk (yes, lol). I try to focus on what calms me down but it’s extremely hard — like wrestling my own soul.

I got home and took a minute to consider how my negative head space could affect the people around me and I realized I had to get back on track. I don’t want to inadvertently bring down the people I love. I want to be consistently joyful but I’m my own worst critic. I want to be THERE: that place where I’m fully confident and I’ve built my character to who I want to be, strong and unafraid so I can give more to others. I want to be perfect but no one is, and I know this in my logical mind, so why do I get moments when I feel like this?

I was looking for some reassurance and comfort and I came across Isaiah 55. One part really helped:

For the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

I imagined this was a letter to me: I am a work in progress that will come to completion when God is done His work in and through me. It’s okay if I’m not perfect because His love for me is and His plan for me will eventually follow through, no matter how strong I think I am at ruining it. I can’t ruin it. It’s His purpose for me and I will get there.

I read on and this passage is what I want to leave you with. It reminds us that we will have joy. We will experience a blissful happiness that comes from knowing our identity based on God’s view of what we’re worth, who we are and what we’re capable of. If God, even in our messes, can still look down on us with compassion and forgiveness, then maybe we should stop being so hard on ourselves.

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
– Isaiah 55:12

God loves us. He created each of us with purpose and a desire to find and accomplish that purpose. We get lost in the disappointment of our failures but if we try to see how God is blessing us each day, we will find the strength and hope to get through those hard days. Sometimes that means stepping back and looking at our lives. When I look at mine I see how God has delivered me out of hurt and disappointment and lead me to overwhelming love and comfort. He gave me double what I prayed for. When I forget that I remind myself that what’s most important isn’t what I think about myself or what others think of me, it’s what He thinks of me… what He thinks of all of us: that we’re worth it.

Active Love and a Renewed State of Mind

The one day this week that the train was on time, I got to the station late because of the snow. But this is why I just let God have His way: I made a new friend! Honestly, why hide yourself in a quiet zone when you can be open and share who you are with strangers? Why not show a genuine interest in the people you see on a daily basis and make new friends everywhere you go? Why ignore our nature to love and be loved, to comfort and inspire, to share and to listen?

I recently had a tragic and sudden loss in the family. On Friday January 31st at 7:10am my mom phoned me as I sat on the train. Crying, she told me granny Sylvia had passed away. Immediately I burst into tears over shock, confusion and desperation. A thousand thoughts ran through my brain…. How did this happen? Why now? We just saw her… I won’t see her again? It all came rushing down and out. It took a few days before I could really find understanding, acceptance and eventually peace. There’s a confidence in my heart of who she was and a reassurance of her return Home that makes this easier to deal with. Despite the immeasurable sadness of her not being in front of my eyes, or no longer hearing her voice or never again getting to holding her hand, there is a joy in my heart that where she is now in the Place where there is no more fear, pain, worry, depression or discomfort. How could I ever express the joy I feel when I imagine her with her biggest Love, her Lord: In His arms and reunited with loved ones, seeing more, feeling more and experiencing more? There is such comfort in that thought. It’s where she lived her whole life in pursuit of — where she always wanted to be.

Considering that and applying it to my life changes my perspective and inspires me to behave differently. Life is short so there is no logic or sense in keeping to yourself, being prideful and selfish, taking your blessings for granted, being unaware of how much you have, mistreating your family and friends, abusing the ones who love you, using people, hating people, complaining, being negative, “ranting,” fighting and arguing, going after what you want without any consideration for how it would affect others, the list will forever go on.

When I walked into work with tears in my eyes that Friday, I could see the sorrow and compassion my team had when they saw me, knowing what had just happened a few hours ago. Without caring about politically correctness or possible embarrassment or anything, one of my team members stood up, walked over, gave me a big hug, and told me “Go home to your family. You don’t need to be here right now.” I will never forget that compassionate gesture. The next few days my Facebook was flooded with kind words, sympathies, words of encouragement, prayers, and support from family who were sharing the same loss and friends who never met her. My family received cards, flowers, and phone calls offering comfort, and my whole church shared our sadness. I am forever grateful for this affection and that’s why I think it’s so important to be loving like that all the time.

There is only time to love, respect, share, learn, listen, honour, cherish, believe, CHANGE for the better, observe and be aware, be gentle, patient, kind, consider others as more valuable than yourself, look ahead but learn from your past so you don’t repeat the same mistakes… and so on.

From the moment I open my eyes in the morning I make the decision to thank God for letting me see another day, I kiss my parents “Good morning,” I fill my mind with positive thoughts and I head out to the day knowing that anything could happen that could shake me but I will never lose hope and I will always do my best to love actively. Not because I expect love in return and not because I want to be more popular. Only because I understand that every individual is valuable and because I know I am strong enough to be the person who doesn’t let the hardships of life turn me into a monster.