Missions: Local

As a child, my idea of a missionary was someone who traveled the world and spread the love of God wherever their travels took them! It was such an exciting concept, living in a strange land surrounded by people you couldn’t understand, and living in conditions that were very different than home. I aspired to do this, to travel the world and see what I could do for God. However, as I got older, it became clear that God had different plans, He started directing my heart towards various local children to teen aged programs. In a very short order my passion changed from travels to staying in Winkler and serving God in through local missions!

Local missions often don’t sound exciting to young people, they are too busy chasing after adventure to notice the adventure God might be calling them to right in their own backyard. Local missions can actually be just as exciting, and perhaps even more challenging than missions in some far off land.

What does local missions look like? It can be anything from helping a homeless person by giving them a couple of bucks, to large operations like Siloam Mission in Winnipeg, it can be as simple as saying a prayer for a strange or as complex as supporting a new family in your city, it can be seen or unseen.

This blog post is not to argue that people shouldn’t do missions far away, but that those that are called to local missions heed their calling, commit to their calling, and plant seeds in their local communities. So what I would like to look at is what does the Bible say about mission, what I see the local church doing correctly in regards to local missions, what I think our local church’s could perhaps improve/include in their local mission work.

I want to start with what the Bible says about missions, as I think the Bible is our ultimate guidance when it comes to living a life committed to God. Mark 16:15, Romans 10:13-15, 1 Chronicles 16:24, and Luke 24:47 are just a few verses where we are called to spread the Gospel and God’s love. They talk about the necessity of Christians spreading the word of God, to bring God’s love to all peoples in all locations across the globe, this means your neighbor and even those who would choose to harm you for your belief. We need to remember that in order to live a life devoted to God, we have to listen to his calling, and not our own selfish desires.

One thing I have always commended our local church’s (in Winkler) for is their ability to put aside their differences, and put on a joint worship service every year for the Harvest Festival. I absolutely love the fact that we are so community minded that we are willing to work together to further our brothers and sisters in their walks with Christ! Some things I admire my own church (Grace Mennonite Church) for is their devotion to our local youth, we put a lot of focus on our youth programs and I think it pays off, we have youth heading into all sorts of different mission fields, whether far away or close to home. I think that our church’s have a great awareness of the hurts in our local community and do a great job encouraging others to support local charities/organizations. I think our church’s as an organization is doing great work.

Where I see faults in the system, is with volunteers, I have found that over the last several years there has been a large decrease in volunteers, our church’s members, don’t seem to understand the value that their time adds, it is not all about money; money can keep a program funded, but without volunteers it won’t run. An example of this is my local church’s Sunday school program, every year we start late or just barely make it in time, because we do not have people volunteering as teachers/activity leaders. The tasks of being a Sunday school teacher are not complex, in fact they are very straight forward, everything is laid out for you and you basically have to show up and talk with the kids about Jesus! How hard is that? and guess what leading an activity station is even easier! This same rule applies to most organizations, the jobs of 90% of volunteers are easy and the only thing they require is time.

Basically, if you feel called to local ministry, don’t shy away from it because you think it won’t be an adventure or because you don’t think you will make a difference. Jump at the chance to serve your local community! God calls us to be a shining light on a hill, we live in a dark world that needs to see the light, and that applies to everyone. Live life as a servant because Matthew 20:26 says: “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”

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Homelessness, Refugees, and Homosexuality

Sometimes I feel that as a church we have this mentality that because someone comes from a different background than you or has different world views than you, we must put them in a different class of humanity and treat them differently than we would another human. I think this is wrong, God created all of us, and our job is to be God’s ambassadors! This means that we love those around us with God’s eternal love, whether or not they are making mistakes in their life, or going through a difficult time.We can show them God’s love and hopefully lead them to Christ who will then take over and start correcting their actions/or life experience.

My personal experience with Homeless people has varied, In grade 10 I took a trip with my senior youth group to Winnipeg, MB. One of the things we had to do was an urban plunge, and during this urban plunge one of our goals was to eat lunch with a homeless person whom we had packed a lunch for. My group wandered around the north end and eventually found someone to share a lunch with, I don’t remember everything that happened, but I remember that we got the chance to talk with this man and to learn about his life. The reason I like this memory is because I made it a point to treat this man as I would treat any other adult, with respect. This has not always been my experience, over the next 2 years of High School I became more shallow and started to judge the homeless people I would see, and if I thought they were too unclean, or not worthy of my time I would walk past them and treat them like garbage. Then we went on another trip, this time to Los Angeles, here I saw a whole new level of homelessness, there were people everywhere that were struggling, whether it was someone truly homeless or someone who struggled to make ends meet. It became clear to me after that trip that I could not continue to treat people like garbage, and that when someone needs my help it is my obligation as a Christian to help to the best of my ability. I try to treat every homeless person I see as an opportunity to show God’s love, and to bless someone, who deserves a blessing as much as the next person!

Recently, Canadians and others around the world have been given an amazing opportunity to bless men, women, and children from Syria with a new place to call home! I have heard many positive things about this, but I have also heard the negative. I would encourage those in the church that feel negatively about this opportunity to read Matthew 25:31-46. It is made very clear that when we help people in need that God is pleased with us! He has entrusted us with sharing his generosity that He has given us with the world.

Finally, our church has been in talks a lot recently about whether or not we will leave our church conference, and the reason we have been doing this is because the conference has been taking a very passive (aka not making a decision) on the subject of homosexuality. This confuses me because there are a number of verses that make it very clear that this is not something that God approves of. First it talks about it in the Old Testament with Leviticus 18:22 and then again in multiple places in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, etc. The New Testament also confirms that marriage is between a man and a woman with Mark 10:6-9. So my stance on this is clear that homosexuality is wrong, but God does not tell us to treat these people different. Yes, what they are doing is wrong, but as a Christian to a non-believer our objective is clear, to love them and lead them to Christ, once that is done Jesus will show himself to these men and women through the Bible and the way other Christians live their life, and hopefully they turn from their sin and repent and ask forgiveness, just like when we sin, we need to repent and allow God to take us back and commit ourselves to God. They are human and need to be treated like any other human being. God looks inside us at what we can be if we choose to follow Him.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. – Anne Frank

I know there will be people that disagree with me and I would love to go out for coffee with anyone to discuss these topics!

Our Sins, Gods Forgiveness

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, you have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Paul fell short of the glory of God.

What do we do with this knowledge that we are all falling short of the glory of God? We can seek forgiveness from the only one who can give it! We have been saved, because “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. ” John 3:16. God gave us a way out of what we deserved as a fallen race. We deserved death, we deserved an eternity in Hell, and we deserve all the consequences in our physical lives, because of the mistakes we have made. 

God is the ultimate judge of our souls, no matter what you have done in your physical life, you are eligible for Gods grace and mercy! You can be a murderer, liar, a thief, a homosexual, an adulterer, or even someone who is constantly jealous and envies their neighbors. What ever you have done in your life if you turn from it you can be brought into right relationship with God, but how do you do this? Well Psalms 51 is the prayer that David prayed after he was confronted about his dealings with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11 if you do not know the story). And I think it shows us exactly how we should approach God with our mistakes.

Be gracious to me, God,
according to Your faithful love;
according to Your abundant compassion,
blot out my rebellion.
Wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I am conscious of my rebellion,
and my sin is always before me.
Against You—You alone—I have sinned
and done this evil in Your sight.
So You are right when You pass sentence;
You are blameless when You judge.
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.

Surely You desire integrity in the inner self,
and You teach me wisdom deep within.
Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones You have crushed rejoice.
Turn Your face away[a] from my sins
and blot out all my guilt.

10 God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast[b] spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,
and give me a willing spirit.[c]
13 Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways,
and sinners will return to You.

14 Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God,
the God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.
15 Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare Your praise.
16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
You are not pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is[d] a broken spirit.
God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.

18 In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper;
build[e] the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on Your altar.

This is the Old Testament, so we do not have to make sacrifices, because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us! One thing that I really love about this passage is that it shows us that we should not be ashamed to bring our troubles and temptations to the Lord. God knows what we have done and just seeks us to ask for His forgiveness and seek to repent from our sins, because God loves us and is willing to take the suffering onto his own shoulders!

God is great! His love moves past our sins and affects the very deepest part of our soul. May God use this passage to attach to the deepest roots inside your heart so that you to will seek Gods grace and His love!

Warning to the Young, Reminder to the Old

Since Adam and Eve disobeyed God the first time, we have had an abundance of sin in our world. Satan uses everything from a simple song, to the leaders of our countries to influence the nations and try to overtake our world. Satan’s goals are to kill and destroy, to make sure as little people follow Jesus as possible, and to condemn us to his home (Hell) for eternity.

Now as a warning this post was brought on by the recent decision of the USA Supreme Court to legalize same sex marriage in the United States, but it is so much bigger than that issue. Satan is creeping into our lives little by little because of the influence he has over the media, social media, the world’s leadership and so much more.

My warning to the younger generation is this. That we do not confuse making our faith our own, with changing the rules. God gave us the Bible which is filled with instructions on how to live a godly life. Making our faith our own is learning how to use this knowledge in everyday life, building a relationship with Jesus, and showing others that love no matter who they are or what they believe. Now I have recently seen this phrase “make your faith your own” be used in a different sense. Someone recently posted on Facebook that “What happened to making my faith my own” which implied “why can’t I be OK with gay marriage?”. Well let me tell you why gay marriage is not ok. The easiest place to look is 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men”. There you have it plain as day that Jesus does not approve of a homosexual lifestyle (don’t worry if you read the rest of the chapter I am using it in the right context). So back to my original point, making your faith your own does not mean changing what the Bible says, so if the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, then that means that a Christian should not in any way support this lifestyle.

Just because we don’t support something does not mean that we should not love the person. God loved everyone from tax collectors who cheated their fellow Jews out of money, to the woman at the well who had, had many husbands, to children who were innocent. So therefore we to need to show love to everyone from every background.

Finally I want to remind people of the older generation, do not doubt what you have believed for so long! God has taught you so much and is still teaching you, but He does not change what He has taught you. I have seen so many of the older generations change what they believe as soon as they are hit with a new task. Remember God has strength enough for you, you just need to ask.

Saving A Christian Can Be Painful, But Rewarding!

God saved us from our sin, and to do so he had to give his one and only Son! (John 3:16) How painful it must have been for Jesus here on Earth, but He endured through the paid to bring us closer to Him! Sometimes, we must also endure pain and hardship in this world to bring someone back to salvation and eternal life. Not only can it be physically painful, but it can be spiritually and emotionally painful to walk with someone when they are so clearly walking away from you and God.

God is love, therefore love is what we need to do when we want to save someone from their sin. (1 Peter 4:8) This sounds easy enough, but how do you tell a fellow Christian that what they are doing is wrong in a loving way, well believe it or not the Bible has instructions on that too! Matthew 18:15-20 tells us that there is a way to tell a fellow Christian that what they are doing is wrong, and it is in love. I would always suggest approaching God first, for strength, endurance, wisdom, and courage. Often this process of helping someone back to God can be a long process, so make sure that you rely on God’s strength and not your own. After you have talked to God, take the person aside and point out their sin. This sounds rude, but as Christians we are called to sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17), this does not mean point out their every fault, but it means that we need to build each other up, if this includes fixing the foundation of their faith, then yes point out the sin.

I have often made the mistake of sending a Facebook message or text message, and this has always back fired on me, I believe that the process mentioned in Matthew 18 needs to be done in person, I believe that this allows God to be present to the both of you, and when is that ever a bad thing.

One thing I have learned over the years, is that God does not work on our schedule. Sometimes, there is a lesson that you or the person you are trying to help needs to learn before this sin can be resolved. God is not here to relieve us of the consequences of our sin, but to save us from the sin itself. Remember, God does not work on your schedule so do not expect.

“Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.’ It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.” —from The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

Aly & Tim Neufeld: Marriage, School, and Life

This post has been a long time coming. I originally planned to have these two as quests on my blog in December, but life has been busy/exhausting these last couple of months. Anyways here is my post about Aly & Tim.

A little background on my relationship with these two. Alyson is my only sister, and we have been through a lot. There were years where we were very close and there were years that we were very far apart. Although our relationship was rocky at times, I believe that we have come out the better for it. I think God used those rough years to teach us both valuable lessons. Tim and I don’t go as far back, but I think we have become good friends in the shorter amount of time. We worked together at McDonald’s for a number of years, and had similar hobbies throughout high school which allowed us to build a strong friendship. I asked Aly & Tim to answer a few questions and here are their responses.

Q: What is one hard thing about being newlyweds
A: I wouldn’t say that there is a hard thing about being newlyweds, it’s a learning experience and it is a lot of fun. I remember lots of people being shocked that we were newlyweds and going to school because they thought it was going to be extremely difficult to do, but it hasn’t been difficult and I am glad that we can help each other out and work together. One thing that isn’t fun about this semester at school is how little we see each other on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that is definitely something we are going to have to work with.
T: Learning to use the word ‘we’ instead of the word ‘I’ is a new change for my vocabulary. As long as we keep our minds open and respect each other, the learning experience Aly mentioned really is a lot of fun. We share a whole life together and we learn to take on the world as a team.

Q: What are some things you guys are currently learning about at Briercrest?
A: A lot. We are learning about all sorts. I am completing a certificate in Biblical studies so I have been taking a lot of bible courses. This semester I am taking Gospels, Intro to Psych II, History of Christianity II, Intro to Christian Theology and General Epistles.
T: Well, I learn Greek, South Asian history, Foundations in youth ministry, Geography (To fill my science requirements), and Exodus. I have taken mostly Bible, History, Theology, and TESOL classes so far.

Q: What have you learned about married life after being married for 9 months?
A: It is a lot of fun, I love being married to my amazing and cute husband. It feels so good to come home to someone you know loves and care for you. I can’t imagine my life without my wonderful husband. Married life is not a piece of cake though, we both have to work through things together and sometimes we have to make difficult decisions.
T: I have learnt that we have created a new family by stepping out of our birth families and uniting into one of our own. I think this is important because it helps us put each other first. I have learnt that married life is great. It is all around a good time. You get to do everything together! Ad she listens to my rambling… which is very important for a rambler like me.

Q: How do you incorporate God in your marriage?
A: We always make sure to pray together and out loud. Often when I am getting frustrated or annoyed I get told to pray or read the Bible. We both find it very important to have God in our marriage and we both try to read the Bible and pray often. In our marriage counseling they talked a lot about communication with the Lord and asking for his guidance on our marriage.
T: Probably one of my favourite times of the day is right before we sleep. For us, this is a time to debrief the day with each other and with God. We encourage and exhort each other to live strong biblical lives, as we are an example to many other couples here who are dating, engaged, or married. We continue to give thanks for the provisions God has granted us, we pray over decisions, and continually ask for guidance in future things.

Q: What are some funny/amusing differences or habits that you learned about each other since being married?
A: I know what Tim is going to say when he answers this question. You will often see us speed walking around Caronport because Tim always like to be on time whenever we go somewhere and I am always okay with being a little late so we often struggle with that difference. For the most part I would say we work with our differences, Tim used to never put away his jacket, now he does, that sort of thing. We are both pretty honest when it comes to things that annoy each other so we work to fix them.
T: First, I don’t think Aly knows how to close a closet door. To her, they must just be holes in the wall. Second, light switches. What are they for? She will never know. Lastly, Aly does not think the action of sitting can be done without another action. This second action can be anything from destroying cup lids to playing with a pencil. We joke about these things, and we have a good time. A wise man told me not to worry about the little things, and he was right. Things go a lot smoother when you just don’t worry about the small stuff.

Q: If you look back on you time that you dated, what are some things you would do differently? the same?
A: Something I really liked about dating is that we spent a lot of time together, I felt like I really got know Tim during this time. While we were dating we also prayed together and read couple’s devotionals together and talked about God and the future a lot. Something I would do differently is do things. We often would watch TV and talk and not do much else. We both did work full time jobs and were pretty tired after a long day’s work and didn’t really want to do much.
T: Aly nailed it with her answer., We were both quite tired after work during that time, but I too wish we would have wasted less time on TV. I think intenionality was a big deal for me, and I made that known. Getting to know someone takes time, so if you want to know someone better, spend more time with them. That part was not rocket science. Sharing dreams and aspirations was something I think is also important. Devotionals, prayer, and spiritual encouragement are great things that worked well for us, and I’d encourage anyone in a strong relationship to do the same.

Q: How have you been reaching out to those around to you to inspire, encourage and love them?
T: Aly & I try to be good examples in how we conduct ourselves in class and among our friends here at Briercrest. We are trying to get more out of our shell this semester and both do some volunteering. Last semester I worked at a local church on Friday nights teaching English and running short bible studies with the immigrants.

Q:Did you have to make any lifestyle changes since moving to Caronport? If so, what and why?
A: Well since we are going to school that is very different from the work lifestyle. I actually have to schedule what my week/dy is going to look like and be disciplined with myu time which I didn’t do at all when I was working because it was the same thing every day. We have a dog so we have learned how to her in our day. We really learned and enhoyed our time here so far and hope to continue doing that.

Q: Are there any verses or words of encouragement that have gotten you through tough times at any point in life or during married life?
A:I have always enjoyed Paul and his letters, especially his letter to the Philippians. His words are encouraging and direct.
Philippians 4:4-9 “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

T:I have five verses right above my computer. They focus me. This smattering of Scripture is to remind me why I am at school, what good my degree will do, how I am going to get it done, and who it is all for.

  1. Micah 6:8 -He has told you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justice, to love kindness,
    And to walk humbly with your God?
  2. Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  3. James 1:5-8 -But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
  4. Philippians 2:13 – For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
  5. Luke 10:2 – And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest that he send out workers into his harvest.

The rules to marriage are simple 1. love God 2. Love each other 3. love others. Marriage is not always simple, but God has provided guidelines in the Bible as to what it should look like. I think Tim and Aly understand these rules and if they follow them they will have a marriage filled with Joy, it won’t always be easy, but it will be joyful!

Matthew: Pray For Our Enemies?

I am going to be starting a new series of posts, my goal with this series is partially selfish, but also not. A couple of Saturday’s ago my church’s two awesome youth pastors Corey and Autumn put on a seminar type thing for youth leaders. It was focused a lot on where we are at and how that affects our youth (or at least that is what it was like for me). One of the questions was “Are you excited about the Gospel? Why or why not?” Wow, what a question, I had not been thinking about that at all, and after praying and taking time to think about it, I came to the disappointing conclusion that no at this point in my life I was not excited or anything about it. So my goal with this new series is to keep me focused on reading through the Gospel and to push me deeper. The other side of it is I want to hopefully help people to understand things in the Bible better, and also to challenge them to go deeper with their time in the Bible. Now onto the actual post!

With everything that has been happening with ISIS and the attacks on Parliament and numerous other things, I have been thinking a lot about the action we take on ISIS, as well as terrorists inside Canada. It has been a hard subject for me to think about, because my initial thoughts are that we need to fight back, that we need to boost security and take action! On the other hand I don’t condone murder. This has been extremely hard to think about as I have been reading through Matthew the last couple of weeks. Matthew 5:43-44 says that we should love and pray for our enemies. When was the last time you prayed for ISIS or the KKK or any other terrorist or extremist group that threatens the safety of both Canada and countries around the world? I can tell you that in my memory I can not remember a single time that I have ever prayed for either of those groups.

When Jesus says that we should pray for our enemies what does He mean? Well, He is not saying that we should pray them out of existence, instead we should pray that they would be changed by the Holy Spirit, and find trust in the Lord. Now obviously this does not mean we stop defending our nation as well as helping nations that are not as developed as Canada, but it does mean that we have to pray for these people. We also need to pray for the leaders of our country as well as the leaders of other nations. We need them to make the right decisions, to not endanger innocents, and to free those being persecuted.

Please join me this coming month and pray for people that are a part of these organizations. That they would have a change of heart, that the Holy Spirit would do a work in their lives like non-before. Is their any better Christmas present for these men and women than to be prayed for and find salvation in Jesus Christ? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 3:23-24

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

The Wide Gate: Did We Walk Through It?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

When I look at the world today it is very easy to see that many will find the path of destruction. The world has seen two things this week that clearly show me that. One is the gunman in Moncton (my prayers go out to all those affected) and the second is the first assisted suicide bill being passed in Quebec. These two things show me that the world is only getting worse as more people choose the path of destruction.

My bigger fear is that we as Christians might find ourselves on that path. Matthew 7:13-14 says that the path to life is narrow and the gate is small, I know in my own life that I have veered from this path and joined the easier path, but because I believe in Jesus and when I take the time to learn more about him I know that he will guide me back to where I belong.

The thing is though that we don’t know where our brothers and sisters in Christ are, we have know way of truly knowing which path they are on( often there are outward signs, but these are not always present). So, I want to ask all of you to join me in a month long challenge of devoting a portion of our prayer time for not only the Christians in our individual churches, but in all the churches. Make sure especially to prayer for church leadership and teachers, that they would get things right and be lantern on the path of life.

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” -C.S. Lewis.

Trust in the Lord

Hey everyone,

It has been a while since I posted anything. I would just like to give everyone a brief overview of what has been happening in my life recently. As some of you know March and April are called  “tax season” for me. This year it was busy at work and with school; hence why I have not posted anything in a while. Basically, my life consisted of work, school and being lazy whenever I had a free moment. Recently I have taken up the hobby of painting, I have always loved art, whether that art is on paper, canvas or in the form of music. This has been a source of inspiration for me, because recently I have been so distracted with many different things. Everyday I realize the new things the Devil tries to distract me with. It is hard to resist sometime, and lately I have found it extremely difficult. Continue reading