Saturday, December 31, 2011

with the exception of the past few days, 2011 was so good to me.

i rang in the new year with a friend of mine who i couldn't be prouder of. a few weeks later, i dropped her off at the airport to watch her soar [literally, yes, but also figuratively].

right off the get go, i saw firsthand how the smallest gesture can make such a huge difference thanks to 'just a CUPel of words'.

in may, i packed all i had into a hockey bag, moved into the attic of some random church downtown toronto and spent my summer bringing awareness to issues such as homelessness, prostitution, and human trafficking. it was here where i had the opportunity to meet some of the greatest youth and leaders in north america, and here where i was connected to one of my favourite places in the whole world: st. francis' table, where i have the honour of serving at on a regular basis to this day.

from there i put my professionalism aside and counselled two consecutive youth camps, saw God miraculously restore a much needed friendship, did youth ministry at a single mom's camp, landed my dream job, and saw a word that was spoken over me years a go come to pass as i flew to kansas speak at a youth retreat.

so here i sit, a few hours away from millions of party favours being blown, lips being kissed [not mine of course], and everyone and their mother yelling "happy new year", and despite the fact that my dad passed away a few days a go [blog to come], i can't help but chalk 2011 up as by far the best year of my life.

2011, i love you. 2012, bring it!I

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

i've tried everything to get into the christmas spirit this year, but to no avail.

i've attended several festive parties. written countless christmas cards. downloaded a buttload of christmas tunes and ordered one too many egg nog chais. i even went as far as to play a few rounds of the christmas edition of angry birds, but even that didn't seem to work. like many others, i'm having a hard time believing christmas is a few days away due to the lack of fluffy white stuff outside.

that, and my heart is much bigger than the amount of money in my wallet.

i hate the fact that i haven't been able to shower my family and friends with gifts this year. i know that christmas isn't about gifts and that you can show the people in your life that you love them in other ways, but man does it ever suck when you have all of these thoughtful present ideas floating around in your head and no way of getting your hands on them.

but here i was belting out a few of my favourite carols in church the other day with a few hundred strangers and - BOOM - the christmas spirit was upon me. i don't know what it was, really. perhaps it was the catchy drum beat, or the fact that i was surrounded by a plethora of red and green paraphernalia - or maybe, just maybe, it was the powerful truth found in the songs that we were singing. songs like 'oh come let us adore him' and 'go tell it on the mountain'...

songs that remind me that the true meaning of christmas isn't about snow, or even presents, but christ.

merry christmas, friends!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

you can learn from those you lead.

here i was serving in a local food bank this summer, dreading the hours i was about to spend walking around a shelving unit while placing cans of food in countless plastic bags. i felt bored within minutes and found myself glancing at the clock every second as if my eyes had the ability to make time go by faster. it didn't take long, though, before one of the students 'i was leading' caught my attention.

"OH!" he said with excitement, "this family's going to love THIS" as he placed a jar of peanut butter in the bag. for the next few hours, i watched in amazement as he put his heart and soul into each bag, keeping the family [who would now have food to eat] in mind with every bag he filled. it didn't take long for me to catch wind of his perspective and heart, either, because, well, you can learn from those you lead.

my sister and i were approached by some rather attractive men in uniform yesterday as we were entering the grocery store. turns out they were handing out paper bags and encouraging everyone to participate in a local food drive by filling their bag with canned goods and the like. i must say, i was happy to oblige in this 'activity' for a few reasons: 1) i thought this was a great idea 2) my family used to utilize the food bank and this was a way in which i could give back and 3) filling a bag would guarantee that i could reconnect with these good looking men on the way out of the grocery store [the latter being of least importance] ;)

at first, we stuck to the list that they gave us, but then i found myself thinking about the potential of a kid going back to school without something as cool as kool aid jammers ... so i threw those in, too. then my sister threw in a package of oreos for the same reason ... and a box of tea for the mom [hello, stereotype] ... and the list goes on.

so here i was applying the lesson a young man from michigan taught me nearly six months a go. instead of just 'throwing food into a bag', i thought about the families who wouldn't have to worry about where their next meal was coming from. instead of just 'going through the motions', i was able to see purpose in what i was doing ... all because, you guessed it -- you can learn from those you lead.

who are YOU leading and what can you learn from them?