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*through the storm, He is Lord

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America,

My heart breaks to see you in such turmoil and upset. I ache for the divisions and disunity breaking across the nation. I have friends rejoicing, friends grieving, friends who are resigned to the next four years, and friends who are just flat out angry.

I don’t post this to brush away how you are feeling, I’m feeling it with you, believe me. Tonight I hurt for my friends of colour who have been told that they are less than. That they have reason to fear – and they are fearful. Tonight I hurt for women everywhere who have just been told that no matter how hard you work, no matter how qualified you are, a man with no experience in your field can still beat you. Tonight I hurt for people across the world who are worried about what this means for their country.

In a moment of solidarity, I wanted to share with you the only words and promises that got me through my country’s “what-the-heck?” election last year. These are the words to the song “Cornerstone” by Hillsong. Just in case you needed to be reminded that there is hope, like I did last year.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.

I’m praying for you, America. I’m waiting for Jesus right along with you. Come, Lord Jesus. Praise God that it’s “When He shall come,” not “if He comes back.” Our God has not given up on us, will not give up on us, and I’m not giving up on you, America.

Don’t joke about fleeing to my country. We’re socialists, remember? You wouldn’t like it that much, and you’ve got a good thing going here. So stand up and fight for it, as you have done for generations. Fight for what is right, for your neighbours, for your freedom. For yourself.

Do better, America. Do good. We’re all watching and waiting for you with baited breath.

Lots of love from this little Canadian. God bless America.

m

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*thoughts from a new jersey dunkin

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I am writing this from a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts in Newark airport. I couldn’t tell you who is more concerned about this, it’s a toss up between my best friend Brooke and my dad. I am eating a pretty pathetic banana that I hope for his sake has seen better days. Because not only is he pathetic looking, he’s also getting eaten, which is a lousy deal all around. I’m basically writing this because I hate the social-highlight-reel that we all get sucked into. I like truth better.

I’ve just finished a three-day trip/adventure to New York City that was, for all intents and purposes, wonderful. But for three days, there were quite a few low moments. The circumstances under which I am writing this probably qualify.

I truly love to travel. I love being bone tired and having my senses absolutely overwhelmed by combinations of sights, sounds, and smells that were completely unknown to me prior to that experience. Probably the best thing in the whole world is making a new friend while travelling. I can now confidently say that I enjoy Nairobi as much as Naples as much as New York City. I just like to go. I don’t really care where.

Being some place new humbles me and teaches me and gives me great cause to worship God. And while I may seem small and inconsequential against the backdrop of the great New York City, my mind still thinks, my heart continues to beat, and my soul cries out for the living God. That is far from insignificant, I believe. Mostly, travelling reminds me to ask a lot of questions I sometimes forget to ask.

Travelling is at best a delightful whirlwind of experiences that leads to great memories and moments of self-revelation that you can look back at and see as a metaphorical growth-spurt. Look mum, I grew three inches! Travelling at its worst is a series of frustrations and unrealized opportunities, and probably a lot of self-revelation you would have rather left unrevealed. Who do you become at your most uncomfortable? That question has led to a lot of me acting horribly and my conscience responding with “Yikes, Mag…”

More than that is the reality that you are alone in this new world you are discovering, and being entirely unknown is a certain kind of thrill. You can be anyone. Try out an accent. Wear weird clothes. Get a piercing. It’s why people make impulsive decisions on vacation – no one is there to tell them who they’ve always been and what they should do according to that persona. There’s a definitive lack of accountability. Something about that not knowing anyone in a sea of faces makes you question whether or not you know yourself. When there is no one around to tell you who you are – no parents or peers or professors – who do you become?

I had always prided myself in my individuality and self-confidence before leaving home. In truth, I was not nearly as independent as I thought. I craved input from others and wanted to be told what decisions to make so that I could dodge responsibility for unsuccessful endeavors… I feared disappointing others, and feared failure in an almost paralyzing sense. Most importantly, I had entirely built an identity around the people in my life instead of rooting my identity in Christ. I had become what people wanted or expected of me rather than who God had created me to be. Without being forcibly disconnected from my family and friends, I’m sure I could have avoided that problem for much longer. (I am like, a professional avoider, thankyouverymuch.) I’m so grateful that travel has a knack for thrusting truth right in your face. Hard to avoid, that.

Watching hundreds of people unknown to me walk by my little bench in Central Park gave me a surge of love and appreciation for the people I have in my life. Being alone in a big city helps me to cherish the people I have the pleasure of returning to when my adventure ends. But those people, as dearly as I hold them in my heart, no longer dictate who I am or what I do. Discovering who I am in Christ has been a 2-year long journey, and I look forward to that journey continuing.

Here’s another thing: not being able to access google maps is slightly terrifying. My phone died at one point and I couldn’t get my data to connect at another. I will say this, I became instantly more aware of my surroundings, and was fairly haunted by the question: where am I actually going? Not just now, but really – What’s next? (PS, props to NYC for having maps literally everywhere, and thank you Mum and also Chicago for forcing me to learn how to read them.)

The fact that we (usually) have, at the touch of our thumb, access to intricate maps of the whole world, has sort of robbed us of actual map reading, hasn’t it? We don’t have to puzzle out which streets to turn onto anymore, Siri will just tell us. It’s easy for me to mirror that attitude elsewhere in life, too. Turn here, say that, wear this. Isn’t it sad that sometimes I have to remind myself to think? Pay attention. Look around you.

All this to say that travelling is not always what it seems. Sometimes you take a weekend excursion to New York City and book a Broadway ticket for the wrong day. OOOOPS. Occasionally you walk the wrong direction for 5 blocks (what counts is that I eventually figured it out, okay). Possibly the trip might entail a sketchy cab driver, a heck of a head cold, a rather uncomfortable couch to sleep on, and getting soaked in freezing cold rain that will ruin most of the things in your backpack, including the book your friend lent you. (Still so sorry, Jacob.)

Also though, you might get to make friends with a German law student at the Top of the Rock. Maybe you will talk for an hour or two while you stare at the Empire State Building. You could brush shoulders with the nicest grounds manager in Central Park, who may help you find the Met and then ask you a hundred questions about Canada. When you’re on the red steps in Times Square, an Argentine man might ask you to take his photo, and then you can speak to him through Google translate about the Andes. Then, of course, ask him to return the favour (see photo below).

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So I didn’t see Broadway, but I did get to marvel/nerd out over an eighth century concordance of the Gospels, remains from the city of Sardis (thank you, hermeneutics), and a sarcophagus of a first century believer. I saw a lot of art created by brilliant artists who are now dead. I bought Neapolitan style pizza from a food truck and cried for the thousands of lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I successfully navigated the subway without google maps, which I am freaking proud of.

Anyway, I am a self-proclaimed total weirdo. I make a lot of wrong turns and I make some poor decisions, but shoot do I ever love this world God has given us to explore. Every place I go becomes a little part of me. What I learned there about God and/or about myself becomes a part of who I am.

In my mind, New York City is no longer just a place for lots of movies to be filmed. Its filled with people, full to overflowing with beautiful image bearers. It’s oddly quieter than Chicago, but a lot dirtier. It feels like a true fusion of past and present. It’s less chaotic than I thought it would be, and pedestrians literally rule the city. Like all cities, it smells like mouth watering food in one instant and straight sewage in the next. It’s massive and looks beautiful in fall.

So you see, travelling is convoluted. It’s weird, bright, fresh, loud, exhilarating, and confusing. You should go somewhere and see what you can learn.

love,

m

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I leave you with Central Park in fall, which is stunning.

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*i want to live

I don’t really know how to categorize this post. Is it about singleness? Is it about being a single woman? Is it about being a single woman who lives in another country? Is it really just about me?

Something that I have been realizing more and more is that I am being catapulted into adulthood on my own, and I like it. Pretty much everyone in my family was married by 20 before my brother Austin plowed ahead without a ring on his finger. (Thank you for that, by the way. So glad I was not the first to break that particular trend.) While I feel a sort of disconnect as a result of this, I also feel a great sense of joy and wonder, like I am exploring uncharted waters. Anyway, here are a few things I have been reflecting on recently regarding the single life.

(Just for context’s sake: this list is compiled from my experiences alone, and I realized about halfway through that I was writing to a younger version of myself. Do not misinterpret this for anti-marriage propaganda or anything weird. Just read, or don’t. Either way, I hope you have a wonderful day.)

One) You will miss out. This continues to be a struggle for me. Two summers ago I missed a family reunion because I was living in Kenya. In March I received texts and photos of all the women in my family who had gathered to celebrate my beautiful grandmother’s birthday – I was in Italy. I’m trying to decide right now whether I will be able to attend a different reunion this coming summer or if I should come back to Chicago to have enough to time to settle in comfortably. So that’s it. To make this lifestyle choice is to continually choose it. I missed those moments. I may get photos and videos after the fact, but will I someday regret choosing this life over those milestones? I don’t know yet. For now, I do know that I wouldn’t trade my experiences in these countries for anything – they have grown me. Grown me as a Christian, as a woman, as an adult human being. I am who I am today because of the world that has been made known to me – and because of how the God of that world has revealed himself to me in my travels.

Two) You will have to choose to act in spite of fear. Being a single woman doesn’t really act in my favour most of the time. I have a gung ho attitude towards travelling. If there is a plane and I have the means to be on it, I will hurtle through the air in those weird metal tubes any chance I get. I think my mum freaks out… Terrorism. Sex trafficking. The reality that our world is fallen and sinful and messy. It’s not unreasonable or unwarranted, but if I let myself down that path I will never recover. So I choose courage. I choose to live fully and completely. Let the Lord take me as he will and how he will. Moving on.

Three) You may feel awkward. Everyone else feels awkward. I’m like, really comfortable doing things by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends. I adore my family. I love spending time with the people I cherish. But also, I like me too.

Unfortunately, this goes against some cultural norms. Maybe those will change, but in the mean time, I still get the “just one??” from the guy who sold me my ticket to the ballet the other night. I receive pitying glances from the older women sitting across from me in the restaurant. People don’t know how to engage me in social settings, and the Church certainly has no clue what to do with me (quick! Let’s put all those awkward single people in a group! They probably have no interest in platonic relationships, discipleship, or in participating in fellowship with families! Sorry. Rant over.)

Here’s the thing. I like to do things by myself. I like to remove the distraction of others and completely engage in what I am doing and the environment around me. I like that it allows me (and forces me) to meet new people because I have no safety net – no friends to turn to when things get awkward. I like how it makes me feel brave. I like that I get to live a life that is my own, that I am not stuck waiting for some guy to make it happen for me, that I am not waiting for my life to start. It has started: God is good. I am here. Let’s go.

Four) Singleness is not a disease you need to be cured of. Seriously y’all. Stop processing every man through the “could-he-be-my-future-husband” filter. Singleness is a gift!

It is such a blessing to me. As aforementioned, I love the freedom. I am grateful that if I want to get on a plane tomorrow, I could. When I have been in relationships in the past they have felt all consuming or at least extremely distracting. The sweetest and most precious part of this freedom is in the fortune I have at this point in my life to focus pretty singularly on God. Fair warning though: just as singleness is not a disease, its also not a cure for your walk with God… but it can certainly help.

Five) Yes, I desire companionship. I’m not some unfeeling robot: I’m a human, I’m a woman, I’m an image bearer. Of course I long to be known and to be loved, and if that happens through a husband someday, well. Hats off to you, Lord. Something I continually learn though – and I don’t know why I’m still surprised when I realize this – is that I don’t need a husband for this desire to be filled. I am known. I am loved. I have a God that created me, knows me, and loves me. And he knows this desire and has filled it himself, and has placed people in my life to fill it too, just for kicks.

So yes, I desire companionship. But I also don’t want to just be waiting for that to happen. Here is what I want:

I want to chase Christ recklessly. I want everything I do to bring glory to my Father, I want to serve and further the kingdom and be faithful. I want to learn about and pursue and love him forever.  

I want to see the world. I want to participate in the global Church anywhere and everywhere. I want to read all the books that I can get my hands on. I want to laugh uncontrollably a minimum of twice a day. I want more tattoos. I want to sing loudly to songs that I like, I want to go to ballets and concerts and whatever strikes my fancy. I want to dance poorly but freely. I want to love fiercely; I want to give of myself until I have nothing left to give. I want only two fears: the fear of mediocrity and the fear of the Lord.

I want, I want, I want. I want to live. 

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xo, mag