Sunday, September 23, 2012

my heart is heavy.

my sister and her fiance are currently sitting at the bedside of al's mom, moments after taking her off of life support. just last week, she lost her mom, his grandma.

a family member of mine was just diagnosed with cancer. i can't give much more detail than that at this point, but some people just get dealt a crappy hand in life.

one of my friends just lost her dad, and weeks later, finds herself in a hospital each day fighting for her daughter's life.

another friend is beyond stressed at work, another is going through a messy divorce, and the list goes on.

but here's the thing, friends. we weren't meant to face these things alone. there are far too many 'one another' verses in the bible to make me believe otherwise.

too often we fail to reach out because we're uncomfortable, or 'don't know what to say', when really a lot of the times there isn't anything we can say.

but goodness gracious, there has to be something we can do.

pick up a phone. send an email. show up. cook a meal. clean a house. watch a movie.

just ... do something.

our family and friends needs us. your family and friends need YOU.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

fall has got to be my favourite season hands down. the humidity is replaced with fresh air, the leaves turn into 50 shades of red [not grey], and i get to wear mittons, yes mittons, only to be taken off to enjoy an ever so delicious pumpkin spice latte. [okay, maybe a few pumpkin spice lattes]. i love fall.

whether you're a huge fan of summer or not, there's something to be said about change.

you see, each season has it's purpose. winter exists to keep the emergency rooms busy with frost-bite victims. summer exists so that families can spend more time with each other [or their apple products] and get a nice tan. spring brings new life, and fall keeps us thankful for ours. each season has its purpose.

and so does the one i'm about to enter.

as most of you know, i just spent a week just outside of chicago scoping out a job that has been offered to me. below is the journey of how i got there. straight out of my journal, in fact.

i feel kind of excited today and trust that i will be taken care of if i make this move. it's been two years in the making, after all.

being involved in oasis youth ministry brought healing to me and sparked my interest in youth ministry again, which is where this whole process 'started', i think.

i felt the need to take a step towards getting back into ministry after second cup, which led me to CSM, followed by a series of events that led me to one voice one team. all the while, God was moving me towards youth pastoring. but where? i exhausted all of my options at this point.

scott contacted me about a youth position in january just to get a feel as to where i was at, and to'plant a seed', as he says. knowing i had a contract to fulfill until june 30th, i put it on the back burner.

may approaches and i hear from him again. only this time he seems more serious, and i'm at a place in my life where i can start considering such an offer. after all, it lines up with everything i felt God was speaking to me over the past few years, and the timing couldn't be better.

a few months later, i'm sitting in second cup with a spiritual mother type figure, telling her how i feel like i'm in a season of transition and i how i can't shake this chicago offer. 'coincidentally', i get home only to find an official "i want you to be my youth pastor" invite.

the rest is history, really. i told scott that there would be three things that need to happen in order for this to work, one of which was a pre-acceptance visit, which is why i flew down there this past week.

my observation? i couldn't ask for a better church and staff to be a part of, so i accepted the position effective january, providing two things work out in the meantime: 1) i get a visa. 2) finances 'fall' into place. in the meantime, i will be looking for a job here in port credit, studying, reading, and doing all that i can to prepare myself for the journey i'm about to embark on.

i don't have a huge booming voice telling me that i need to move to chicago and pastor, but what i do have is a lot of 'gentle pushes' that way. and so i sit here excited, choosing to trust in the God that put this desire in my heart in the first place. what more can one do, really?

"trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path" [proverbs 3:5-6]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

today was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. wait, that doesn't make sense. a ray of sunshine in a cloudy week? a bright day? a good day?

whatever. i liked today =)

first, let it be said that waking up at my BFF's house is an automatic plus. being able to cuddle with her adorable kids, one of which greeted me with a hug and a sweet, "i like when you're here", melts my heart, and getting to squeeze them tight as they walk out the door for school melts my heart even more. i love them to pieces. they're adorable, yes, but i can't help but love them simply because they're a part of my friend.

from there i went and hung out with my dear friend, vanessa, who, after spending a good chuck of her morning with me, handed me $100 as we departed. i nearly cried as she had no idea the extent of stress i was under just trying to figure out how i was going to pinch my almost-extinct pennies and try and make them last this week.

then tonight, right after i conveniently found out that i am NOT being paid for the time i spent in honduras, i get a surprise package delivered to my door. and by package i mean my sister's sweet friend [who will remain nameless to protect his identity. you're welcome, ______] ;) [no not THAT kind of package].

this won't come as a surprise to those of you who stalk my facebook statuses [hahaha just kidding], but as if my sister's friend's presence wasn't enough, he came bearing gifts: a letter and journal, $50 canadian, $26 american, and an old navy gift card, all of which were laced with gratitude and encouragement.

this may seem like a weird thing to say after writing five paragraphs, but his kindness, as well as the kindness of others, has left me ... speechless ... and once again in awe of God's provision in my life.

sleep well tonight, friends. i know i will.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

sometimes all you have to hang on to is the promise that things will look up. they always do, after all.

i've been in this 'weird space' ever since i stepped foot on the plane to honduras. and by weird i mean weeeeird. it's as if any confidence i had in myself [and God through me] vanished, leaving me battling a ton of self-hate and feeling unworthy of anyone's love.

not that i battle such thoughts often, but when i do, i'm usually good at combating them. but this time seemed to be different.

i felt angry during honduras, as if the world owed me something. i was extremely sick all week as mentioned in a previous blog, which i'm sure factored into the way i felt, but i remember sitting there and becoming bitter about 'how much i give' and how i always seem to 'get nothing in return', and sooner than later, i became bitter at the fact that i seem to have to initiate all most of of relationships in my life.

i started looking at people - my friends mainly - through this bitter lens, causing me to become blind to the ways in which they would try and reach out.

and sadly, i carried this attitude home with me.

after a disagreement with a friend [and my brother's girlfriend], i came to the conclusion that i, paula castrucci, am unworthy of love. [RIDICULOUS, i know].

but after a good cry last night, some of my walls came crumbling down, and thankfully, i am one step closer to believing the truth, and walking in it once again.

because the truth is, i am loved. the truth is, i'm surrounded by many - and i mean many - people who love me and who serve as a constant reminder that 'love is kind'.

i came home from honduras with $60 to my name [which quickly went down to $40 after a quick grocery run]. knowing that i have bills to pay and a wedding to be in this weekend, i began to feel overwhelmed.

next thing you know, i receive an e-transfer for $50 in my inbox from a friend in BC who wanted to remind me that i am loved. then my mom came and insisted [in true motherly fashion] that i accept the five $20 bills she tried to slip me...then my younger sister bought me the shoes i need for my friend's wedding...then my older sister whipped out her credit card without even thinking twice and covered my $230 seamstress bill [losing weight is costly!]...then my best friend buys me dinner, my favourite mints, and bus tickets...and the list goes on.

the truth is, love is kind, and i am loved.