Sunday, May 31, 2015

'jesus wept' is one of the most well known verses in the whole bible, and yet the purpose of it being in there is often overlooked. to me, this verse holds a lot of weight, because it's through this very verse that we're able to see Christ's ability, and willingness, to associate with our pain.

let me take a brief second to set the story up for you.

a man named lazarus got sick and died, and as expected, his sisters, mary and martha, were in mourning. not only that, but they were frustrated with Christ's, in their opinion, inaction, even though he knew the outcome all along. [check out the story for yourself in john 11:1-44]

let's pick up the story in verse 32.

"when mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

vs 33: "when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled".

and three verses later comes the most overly memorized scripture in the whole bible: "jesus wept".

according to verse four, Christ knew that his sickness wouldn't result in death, so why weep?

because, get this, he was moved by compassion for mary and martha and felt their pain. and you know something? he feels yours, too.

to the robsons, he weeps with you.

to anyone else who is feeling insurmountable pain, or any one of you who find yourself crying yourself to sleep at night for whatever reason, he weeps with you, too.

it doesn't take the pain away, i know. but it helps. at least i hope it does.

and if it doesn't, i'm banking on the below promise for you tonight; i'm banking on it for us.

"God is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" [psalm 34:18]

Monday, May 25, 2015

"okay, grab a piece on construction paper and fold it in half", my teacher said. "now, with the border facing you, write one of your names in bubble letters like this", he said as he showed the visual learners like myself what the heck he was talking about. "now, with the paper still folded, cut your name out, and then unfold the paper. voila - a monster for you to decorate!"

i'll have you know that i had the biggest and baddest constructo-monster ever to step foot in that classroom. so you can imagine my disappointment when i found out what i'm about to share with you when i brought my artwork home that night.

my parents loved my craft and beamed with pride at their personal picasso, after all, this piece was clearly refrigerator worthy.

"that's great, hunny", my dad said, "but who's elizabella?"

"daddddd", i said in a playful tone. "that's my middle name"

he looked at mom. she looked at me.

"what?" i asked, confused.

"your middle name is isabella, not elizabella"

my heart sank. it was as if my whole "mom and dad are such good compromisers that they took their two favourite names and made one name instead of fighting over it or hyphenating both" theory was no longer accurate.

that, and i was embarrassed, and a little ticked that my artwork took longer than it needed to seeing as how elizabella was two letters longer than my newfound middle name.

suffice it to say, i never forgot it again. in part because this whole grade four craft thing left me traumatized; in another, because my parents came up with a little jingle to ensure that i never forgot it again. [i can hear it ringing in my ears even now, "is-a-bell-a necessary for a bicycle?"].

this got me thinking, though. how many of us are walking around with names that we aren't meant to walk around with? labels that we have accepted from others, or ones we have adopted ourselves?

for you, it may be ugly, or fat. maybe you've been called stupid or useless, or have been told you won't amount to anything and walk around as if whoever said that to you was right. whatever it is, whatever false names/labels/identities you've believed about yourself for whatever reason, it's time to exchange your elizabella for your isabella and start believing the truth.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"hey guys", i said as my friends and i approached a group of six people sitting on a bench in a shady [in more ways than one] park on gerrard street east. "would you like some water?"

"uh no", she said. "we have beer".

"that's cool", i said, "would you like some water for later?"

"noooo, we have beer", she repeated. [i think she wanted me to know that she had beer lol].

so i went another route, and started including the others, too. one guy had a sick red new york yankees hat on [minus the yankees part] so naturally i started talking about the jays, which he found humorous, which naturally led me to laugh out loud, which, well, naturally led them to make fun of my crazy laugh. consider the ice broken.

we didn't talk about anything deep this time around, which has never been our agenda any ways, but we did share some more laughs, a few dance moves, and you better believe that my friends and i listened a great deal. one guy was ecstatic that he 'can now get married in ireland', another was blown away that we weren't with any organization and were handing out water 'on our own', and one lady shared of her health struggles and asked me if i had any underwear.

"not on me", i said. "well..uh..i have a pair ON me, but that's not going to help anyone". she rolled her eyes. [tough crowd]. "perhaps i should start an 'operation fruit of the loom' soon in the near future", i thought.

all kidding aside, being asked for underwear reassured me of the fact that there are so many needs out there. water. sandwiches. some change. underwear. a good laugh. you name it. and honestly, when you think about it, it really doesn't cost us much to reach out and help others. two of my friends and i took a couple of hours out of our saturday to do something practical, and the water, thanks to walmart this week, cost us a measly $1.88. helping others doesn't always cost us much, and is more simple than we make it out to be at times, not to mention rewarding.

i'll never forget the face of the older gentlemen whom we gave our last water bottle to. he was lying on the ground on the northwest corner of the infamous dundas square, blending in with the crowd and yet invisible to some.

"good day, sir. would you like some water?" we said.

i tell you no lies - his whole disposition changed in a matter of seconds! his piercing blue eyes popped out of their sockets as he sat up a bit and said, "ohhh yes! thank you" with so much excitement and gratitude in his voice. we honestly couldn't have asked for a better way to end our day.

so thank you, sir. thank you for reminding us of what operation hydration is all about: you.


operation hydration recap:

first outing: just me and 10 water bottles.
second outing: 21 water bottles, two of my friends and i.
what will operation hydration 3 look like? [stay tuned for the deets!]

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

someone recently prayed that 'God would show up and show off in my life'. you better believe that i 'amened' that prayer, but i also added my own, that God would open my eyes to see the ways in which he is active in my life. ["keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence" - psalm 105:4 MSG].

well, this week has been ... cray cray in the 'God showing up and showing off' department.

i've been treated to more dinners than i can count, my brother bought me a sick bike, and a friend, a helmet. doors have been opening like crazy when it comes to the non-profit/ministry that i feel like i am supposed to start, friends rescued me at 12:30a.m. when i was stuck without the buses that were supposed to show up according to miway's bus app, and the list goes on. kindness surrounds me, love is kind, and God is love. [1 john 4:8]

truthfully, i'm used to this kind of provision in my life [i could tell you some crazy stories], but sometimes, God shows up in my life in ways i least expect it, like shutting doors that i thought should have been swung wide open.

i thought i had it all worked out. after a series of events [my mom being given a second chance at life after a long battle with cancer, an inspiring conversations with a friend, my 35th birthday etc.], i left my job in pursuit of my dream of working with the poor.

in my head, it all made sense. i would pick up a part-time serving job to pay my bills. not only would the money be good, but this type of job would provide a flexible enough schedule for me to get crackin on what i was put on earth to do.

so you can imagine how excited i was when i got a phone call for an interview at a local pub just days after i left my job.

i show up in confidence like i always do [i have mad interview skills], had the manager laughing for at least 3/4 of my interview, and walked out convinced that i got the job.

today, however, i wake up to a voicemail telling me that 'i have the best personality, but that he's decided to go another route'.

i felt totally bummed out, and i let myself feel bummed out, because, well, sometimes you just need to let yourself feel bummed out. but then i got up, got ready, and walked to second cup where i've been job hunting and studying homelessness all day. [even in light of disappointment, you have to keep moving forward].

we make all of these plans in our head, you know; plans of how things should work out and what life should look like, and sometimes, the things we imagine for ourselves actually pan out. but sometimes, they don't; sometimes, just sometimes, you have to let the good pass you by in exchange for the best.

"we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps". [proverbs 16:9]

trusting that He'll 'guide me along the BEST pathway for my life' [psalm 32:8] ... and trusting the same for you!

ps. OPERATION HYDRATION 2 going down this weekend. get at me for deets.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

no matter where life finds you, it's imperative that you spend some time doing things that make you feel alive. for me, that's writing letters [or emails and facebook posts] of encouragement, singing at the top of my lungs while using my hammy as a snare drum, going for coffee with a friend, and blogging. [for all 185 of you who read yesterday's post 'sex ed for the win & other tings', thank you].

with 'living life to its full' as my new motto, i promised myself that i would make some changes as i approached 35. not only did i write a list of things that i want to accomplish, as well as fun things i want to do this year, but i made some serious changes. i found myself re-evaluating certain friendships, and leaving the job that has employed me this past year in hopes to look after myself, and pursue my dreams of working with youth and the poor.

as most of you know, i took my first step a few weeks a go and organized my first 'operation hydration', with the second one just being less than two weeks away.

and yesterday, a local youth pastor called me, asked me to speak at his youth group about 'faith in action' and lead an operation hydration, which excites me and assures me that i am on the right track.

in addition to this, i reconnected with an organization by the name of st. francis table [a restaurant for the poor], where teams of youth and i spent a considerable amount of time volunteering a few summers a go, and am taking the trek downtown toronto on Friday to hang out with the crew there and see if i can assist them in any way. [stay tuned for details]. so things are looking promising.

in the meantime, i'm dilligently searching for a job that'll pay my bills, and sending out resumes accordingly.

that being said, if anyone of you are looking for some help, i could use something to do, and/or some cash. [though i am in need of a bike and am willing to work for that, too if you have one laying around]. i'm good at, but not limited to:

- painting [i was actually thinking of starting a company called iPaint uPay]
- cleaning [iClean uLean?]
- writing essays [haha]
- making you laugh
- public speaking
- babysitting
- other

so if you have something for me to do, holla for paula.

[of course, if you really need help and aren't in a place to compensate, i'm sure we can work something out; i have lots of time on my hands and would love to help!]

Monday, May 11, 2015

updates & tings.

1) i quit my job.

without going into too much detail, this is something i had been contemplating for months now. it wasn't a good fit, the commute was killing me, and it was a toxic environment for ME to work in, so after a series of events last week, i made a choice. a choice that doesn't benefit me financially obviously, but benefits my health, and well, mental health > money.

truthfully though, i feel a little lost. everything i've worked for in life has seemingly fallen apart [mainly my career and friendships] and i can't figure out why, which is discouraging in itself.

on top of that, i just moved to brampton and have no idea why. i've lived here before, but in an odd way it still feels foreign to me.

BUT feeling lost isn't always a bad thing, is it? i mean, how i feel today isn't permanent, and fresh starts can be good, and ... fresh, right?

and so i keep moving forward and trusting that God will 'guide me along the BEST pathway for my life" [psalm 32:8], while doing my part to make the most of every day and every opportunity he brings my way. we don't get to choose our lot in life, but we do get to choose what we do with it.

2) it takes next to nothing to make someone's day.

sometimes, i sit on my lovely sun-lit couch at home and get my work done, and others, i 'rent' second cup's wifi with a purchase of a tea, or my absolute fave, a caramel coretto. today would fit into the latter category, and am i ever glad i made the trek here this morning.

the barista lit up as i approached the counter, and said, "hi sweetheart! nice to see you!". i have no idea if she remembered me from months a go, or if she thought i was someone else, but i didn't care; i walked away feeling like a million bucks. [for all of my customer service peeps, never underestimate your ability to light up even the weariest of souls]. small things can make a big difference.

3) sex-ed for the win.

easy for me to say since i don't have children, but from what i've read, i'm all for the new sex ed curriculum. it's informative, and from what i can see, could play a huge role in preventing and/or stopping sexual abuse. teaching students in grade one about body parts, and the right to privacy is key, and informing them that there are different family structures [because there are whether you like it or not] is inclusive. of course there are other issues floating around, like people not wanting their children to know certain positions and the like, but wouldn't you rather have your kids learn these things from a teacher [who we would assume wants the best for your kids also] than from a peer? i don't know; i could be opening a can of worms here. take it or leave it.

either way, parents, the discussions that you have around your table [and the way in which you live your life] will have far more bearing on your child's life than any 60 minute class ever will.

paula out.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

sometimes, you have to take the first step alone.

a few people backed out of operation hydration this week, and another this morning, leaving three of us to hand out water. i filled my bag with bottles and made my way to the GO station to catch the bus downtown. ten minutes into the ride, however, the bus driver came over the loud speaker and announced that the highway was closed and that we would be rerouted to port credit to take the train. knowing that this would put me behind schedule by almost an hour, i contacted the ladies that were participating to fill them in. sadly, and understandably, they were no longer able to participate due to the time delay. so that left ... me, myself, and i.

truthfully, i was disappointed, and a little discouraged at first. this was supposed to be my 'big break', you know? the beginning of my dream!

but then i looked down and noticed the bag full of water bottles sitting at my feet and it hit me. the show must go on. after all, i spent some time praying this morning that God would lead 'us' to those who needed water and some love today, and even though the 'us' part was taken out of the equation, those i spent time praying for weren't, and neither was God.

so instead of turning around and heading back home to sulk, i got on the train and decided to continue with the mission i set out to do, and here's what i learned along the way:

1) roadblocks are inevitable.

ask anyone who you deem successful and they'll tell you the same thing. every president. CEO. any ball player. your favourite author. you name it. anyone who has ever started something can tell you story after story about things they had to overcome to get where they are today.

the same can be said about you, and the same can be said about me.

i wouldn't be fit for this if i let a little inconvenient detour stop me from doing what i set out to do in the first place.

the truth is, roadblocks can stop you and force you to give up, or they can pave the way for comebacks. the choice was mine today, and the choice will be yours next time you face one.

2) as a leader, you can't just talk the talk; you must walk the walk.

i set out to do things like this for three reasons: one, to help people. two, to teach others that we're no different than the ones we isolate, exclude, look down on, and judge, and that everyone has a story, and three, to assure people that they alone can make a difference by showing them how simple it actually is to meet someone else's need.

i could have easily turned around and went back home after i found out that no one else could make it, and quite frankly, i thought about it, but then my words would have no backing; i can't walk around teaching people that one person can make a difference, and refuse to make one myself when no one else shows up.

3) you can't give away what you don't have.

i had just finished handing out a couple of bottles of water to two funny dudes who were chugging back their tall boys on the street corner [that's a whole other blog on its own], and realized that it had been hours since i had drank anything myself. i was thirsty, and the heat was getting to me, so i drank my last bottle of water. now, before you get all judgey judgey on me, there's a valuable lesson to be learned in even this: you can't take care of others if you don't take care of ... you.

[operation hydration 2 deets coming soon].