What Are You Doing?

Have you ever thought “What are these Christians talking about! I have tried everything to grow closer to God and my life doesn’t seem to get better.” You aren’t alone, I think if you ask anyone who has had any growth in their faith they will have been there at some point or another. Sometimes, doubt creates an opportunity for God to show Himself.

God has really used the times in my life when I have had doubt to challenge me and create opportunities for growth. There was a time in my life when I looked up to someone as a leader in my life, and when he began to talk to me about faith and life I took his words as gospel. That is until those people in my life who I admired for their faith and wisdom started to speak the real truth into my life. This caused me to have doubts, I wasn’t sure who or what to believe. However, through this doubting, God opened a door. He made a way for me to discover the truth, squash my doubt and grow closer to Him. I began to earnestly read the Bible in search of specific answers, I turned to those people that I knew had spoken wisdom into my life in the past, and searched tried and true resources on the internet, books and of course in the Bible for answers. When I actively searched for the answers to my doubt, God took that opportunity to grow my faith, reassure me, and give me the truth.

So my question to you is: What is it about your faith or God that you doubt? Once you can clearly identify the “issue” it becomes easier to address it. If you just say I don’t understand Christianity, or I don’t believe in God, that isn’t clear. What don’t you understand, what don’t you believe about God? These are the questions we need clarity on so we can address them. If you know what the doubt is, then you can begin to search out answers. There are so many resources available to us, and the biggest one is the Bible.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7

Seek out the truth that is the Word of God and put a stop to the doubt in your heart so you can begin to grow!

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

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Falling Down… Time to Get Back Up

I have shared this part of my story with a number of people, but not a large majority of people.

Over the past 4 years, I have been on a journey; this journey has not been easy and still isn’t always easy. A lot of the story has only been revealed to me over the last year.

Let’s start in 2014. This is when my life started to change, I think a good place to start is my education. In 2014 the CGA, CMA and CA designations decided to unite under the new designation CPA. Well, I was a student in the CGA program, and when we (me and other students) tried to get information regarding the transition, we were met with answers of we aren’t sure what will all happen, just keep taking courses so that they can transfer. For some reason that I’m not even sure of this really affected me and I began to feel extremely discouraged. I kept taking courses as suggested, but the motivation was gone, and discouragement had taken over. I failed 3 courses in a row. When you are already discouraged, this does nothing but make your self-esteem drop. Let it be known, that I am not trying to blame CGA or CPA for anything, it was just a trigger.

That summer I stopped taking courses, and began to seclude myself, and start up bad old habits like a porn addiction I thought was dealt with. Satan knew my weaknesses and exploited every single one of them. Over the next 2 years, I would find myself sinking lower and lower into this pit.

The next attack came in late 2015/early 2016 when I began to obsess about my body image. I knew I was overweight, and with the added pressure of society constantly showing what the ideal male body should look like I decided I needed to change, not for God, but for me. So my new year’s resolution for 2016 was that I would stop eating sweets for 6 months. It worked! I lost 30lbs by the time my Brothers wedding came around. However, even though I looked healthy on the outside, I was not healthy mentally or spiritually. Looking back, I can remember that on a regular basis (maybe once a week) I would think about driving my car full speed into a hydro pole. I never thought of myself as suicidal and wasn’t even aware I was doing it on a regular basis, until afterward. Living life to be healthy for the sake of being healthy is not ok. Living life to follow God is the only way.

This would be the lesson I would re-learn over the course of 2017. Through all of this, I was still involved in youth ministry and Sunday school, but I had begun to distance myself from the Sunday morning service. I would use excuses like “I was too tired” or “I would watch a sermon at home”. These were lies I was telling myself and others. What was really going on was subconsciously I was too afraid to face those around me that would probably be the ones who could help me. One day though I got caught. As I was leaving Church one Sunday, I got a text from Autumn Dueck, the youth pastor at the time. It read something like “Which Church are you going to?” I replied, “I’m actually going home, I had a long weekend.”. A LIE! But man was this a wake-up call. Later that afternoon I sent an honest response, explaining things as I saw them at that time (my eyes have since been opened to seeing so much more of my story). Starting that week I made a commitment to myself. Be more intentional! I started attending church weekly, with the intention of learning. I started greeting people and actually having conversations and opening up. It has made a tremendous change in my life.

I know now that this was a valley I had to go through to re-ignite my passion for Jesus, Church, people and youth ministry. I’m not perfect and I still make mistakes (secluding myself on occasion) but things are still going up!

Two verses that have really been my internal anthem over 2017 are Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 103 (the whole chapter). I am so thankful for the people that have challenged me and encouraged me through this time, and for an amazing church family. Can I end with a few prayer requests? Please pray that I stay strong in my faith and continue to seek Jesus every day, pray for wisdom as I mentor youth over the next 4 years, and finally for endurance to continue to be intentional every chance I get.

Thanks for reading, this has been a very hard story to write (I had planned to post this months ago)

 

Jordan

Mel, Walter, Jolee, and Kenna: Their story

My Earliest memory of the Friesen family is from the couple of times I went to Winkler Bible Camp. I only met Walter (according to my memory) and all I remember was that he was hilarious! Since that time they have added family members (Jolee and Kenna) and have continued to encourage and inspire me in my walk with God.

Over the past 4 years I have had the amazing opportunity to get to know their family, and they have become like family to me. We joined the Jr. Youth program at Grace Mennonite Church in the same year, and have been working together to inspire youth ever since. Some of my favourite things about this family is that they are honest, loving, crafty, handy and all around awesome people.

Earlier this month I asked Mel and Walter if I could do a blog post about them and they agreed! I created some questions to ask them, and my goal with these questions were to challenge them to think, but also to use the answers to help teach, encourage and inspire the people who read them. See the “interview” below:

Me: What is one word that describes your family?
Family: Crazy, Artistic, Creative, Loving, Special. We couldn’t narrow it down to one.

Me: What is something crazy/funny that has happened to your family?
Family: Trying to have a sleepover in a snow fort in the coldest part of winter, with a windchill between -45 and -50. Mel didn’t try, she just prayed hard. The girls and Walter lasted an hour or two.

The next set of questions are directed towards Mel and Walter.

Me: What was the best and the hardest part of being newlyweds?
Mel: That was 14 years ago so it’s so hard to remember what being a newlywed felt like… I think the best part of being newlyweds was starting our own unit, our own home, meshing our similarities and differences into our home. The hardest part of being a newlywed is we each brought our own baggage/background to the home and had different thoughts on what marriage was, or completely different expectations and selfish motives on what we would “get” out of it.
Walter: The adventure and excitement of a new life together!

Me: What was the best and the hardest part of being new parents:
Mel: The best part of being new parents happened for us 11 years ago. Jolee brought a whole new dynamic to our lives – a family instead of a couple. We were completely scared and excited that we were parents – in charge of this tiny human!! The responsibility made us mature and think beyond ourselves, so that was awesome. The hardest part was feeling so inadequate and finding that others around us place so much pressure in parenting to their expectations and standards. We need to find our own path in the chaos of being new at the whole parenting thing.
Walter: The best part was having a beautiful little baby that you could snuggle with and the excitement of being a family, not just a couple. The hardest part was the scariness of the small life you hold in your hands and the weight of responsibility of bringing up a child.

Me: What was the best and hardest part of the girls starting school?
Mel: Each girl was different. So here goes: THe best part of sending Jolee off to school in Kindergarten was seeing her socialize with other kids her age. We had lived a somewhat sheltered life before that as we were at camp and didn’t join in on the usual parent/child things like soccer/baseball/dance/gymnastics. So seeing her interact with kids was great. The hardest part? Letting go. Walking away from the school, we were both feeling pretty close to tears. Our little girl was growing up! It was hard to trust people other than us to take care of her needs. With Kenna, it was completely different. She is a social bug. She loves doing interactive stuff, she craves it. So the best part of sending her off to school was seeing her become a leader in her class, someone who thrived in the environment and excelled. The hardest part of sending her was it was our last child, the house was empty. No crazy Kenna schemes for a few hours each day.
Walter: The best part would be the girls’ excitement for learning, and the prospect of Mel having a little less stress in her life. The hardest part was trusting others with our precious children, where there’s lots of opportunity to make life difficult for our kids (from teachers/students). teachers may be influencing our kids in areas we don’t want them to be influenced.

Extra note from Mel: When Walter mentioned the stress in my life, I had completely forgotten how stressed out I was with two young and ver different daughters in the house at the same time. They fought a lot back then. I was definitely pulling hairs out, and found myself angry a lot in their earlier years. I’m So glad that God has chiseled some of that away.

Me: What would be one piece of advice you would give a couple about to be married?
Mel: Marriage right now for you is a destination. It’s what you want, crave, and think will be so much easier than dating, but it’s not a destination – it’s a journey. It isn’t temporary, it’s not always awesome (hate to break it to you). Some days you will feel like throwing in the towel, but don’t ever let yourself think it’s even possible. The days that are rough – when they come – will make you a stronger couple if you stand together in the thick of it. When the days of joy come, it will be even sweeter. Love each other through it all.
Walter: Jesus first. When you are first married, it’s easy to be less selfish, but it won’t take long before selfishness wants to creep in. Give selfishness the boot.

Me: What would be one piece of advice you would give a couple soon to be parents?
Mel: Parenting can seem scary. The responsibility towards a little baby to keep them healthy… it can rock your world when you finally hold him/her. First off, enjoy the moments you have now as you wait for your baby to arrive. Sweet moments together as a couple, planning, dreaming, and waiting. When baby arrives, know that things will change and you may be tired in all of the transition, but it’s worth it. Take time for each other as well in the chaos of parenting. Your child will crave seeing his/her parents love each other.
Walter: Don’t be afraid. It’s not as scary as it seems. Pray lots.

Me: Are there a couple of verses that have pulled you through hard times?
Mel: It’s weird to think back on what verses have impacted us in hard times. I can’t remember some of them, but in the moment when we need clarity for a decision or just encouragement to keep going, God has a way of bringing the right verse to mind. Right now with all that has transpired over the last few months (Jolee’s lyme disease and subsequent medical issues), James 1:2-6 has been playing in my head. Pure joy never made sense to me until we went through this trial. Also, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 has been a favourite of mine for several years, reminding me to keep on, know that all that is happening is temporary.
Walter: Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Corinthians 9:24, and Ephesians 4:29.

Me: What is one way you can currently see God moving in your family?
Mel: Right now? I see God changing us, making us more joyful and present in the moment. More compassionate towards those hurting or needing help.
Walter: He’s building our trust in Him, and teaching us to dig deeper in a relationship with Him. Giving us the opportunity for hospitality towards others, and being faithful where He has put us.

The next set of questions are for Jolee and Kenna.

Me: What is one thing you appreciate about each of your family members?
Kenna: I like that Daddy is good at biking, I like that Mommy is good at washing dishes, I like that Jolee draws good.Jolee: I like that Daddy fixes computers, I like that Mommy is crafty, I like that Kenna is funny.

Me: What is one of your favourite things to do with your parents?
Kenna: Go on tripsJolee: I like to walk or ride bike to school with Mommy.

Me: What is your favourite Bible verse?
Kenna: John 3:16
Jolee: 1 Corinthians 13:13

Me: What would you tell someone who is nervous about starting school?
Kenna: You’ll get better at it when you practice it more.Jolee: I’d tell them that they will get used to it and they will have lots of fun.

I love this family and their story. They are always willing to be open with me and have so much more wisdom than can be shared in a blog post. Please take a little time to pray encouraging things for them.

I hope and pray that these answers help someone who is going through a difficult or a new journey in life. As an added bonus, Alyson and Tim Neufeld will be next months focus family!

Jordan Lee Froese

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