Monday, June 26, 2006


School Situation
My case has been reviewed with the school and although it is too late to undo the mistake that was made by cancelling my funding, they are working with me to try and get a new loan so that I can start more courses in August. This may not work because the student loan provider doesn't take too kindly to students who didn't complete the courses they were supposed to, but I'm writing a letter to them explaining the reason why that happened and telling them to verify with the school that it was not my fault.

In the meantime I'm working hard on my exams. I had one on Saturday that went good and now I'm preparing for my next two (one tomorrow and one on Friday) although it's been really hard because of another situation that's been going on...

Health Situation
For the past two months since my incision healed I have felt pretty good- unfortunately that changed this weekend. Saturday I began experiencing some pretty intense pain, along with a few other symptoms that I experienced last summer before having my cysts removed. I was very fortunate to get in with my doctor today and it turns out that based on my symptoms there is a good chance that I have another cyst. Obviously this is not good news. Right now I'm on a waiting list to get a scan at the hospital that will give a clear picture of what's going on and tomorrow I see the specialist after my exam. My mind is still reeling from the fact that I could be going through something like this again, but deep down I do have a peace about the situation.

But that said I still do covert your prayers for me during this time. Please pray especially that I would be able to do well on my exams and finish up the school work that needs to be finished: it's very hard for me to focus on my school work when I'm in pain like this and taking painkillers only manages to fog my brain further. Also please continue to be in prayer for my Mom and her skin cancer- she's finishing up her treatment this week and in two weeks will be going to the doctor in Toronto to see if it worked.

Thanks friends!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Steel Bars

So this is how it feels at the rock bottom of despair
When the house I built comes crashing down
And this is how it feels when I know the man that I say I am
Is not the man that I am when no one's around
This is how it feels to come alive again
And start fighting back to gain control
And this is how it feels to let freedom in
And break these chains that enslave my soul

Jill Philips- Steel Bars

I heard this song again the other day and did it ever hit me. I don't think there are any other words that can articulate my struggles over the past couple of months better. Even though on the most part I'm a very optimistic person, I did hit the rock bottom of despair and it wasn't a pleasant experience. In a lot of ways I wish I could forget the experience, but I've found myself being reminded of it a lot lately.

The rock bottom hit on a cold Friday night in November. I was in a hospital room by myself, my family had left for the night and I hadn't had any friends visit that week. Physically my energy was nonexistent and the infection still had a scary hold on my body. I don't think I'd ever felt so alone. I flicked the TV on and started channel surfing in an effort to distract myself from the reality that kept trying to creep into the dream world that I had created. But it wasn't long before reality forced its way in and stayed for a pity party.

My condition took a turn for the worst and I started losing blood rapidly. As nurses came in and out of my room, I used the few minutes of silence in between to completely break down. And break down I did.

But if there's one good thing about hitting rock bottom, it's that things can only go up from there. And for the past few months I have been fighting my way upwards. I've been learning what it means to be fully alive and I've been embracing the freedom that is found in Christ. I can't say how grateful I am for the opportunity to do so because the truth of the matter is: just because my heart hit rock bottom didn't mean that my health would start to improve along with my heart. In fact I'm very much aware that things could have turned out much differently. And maybe that's not such a bad thing to be made aware of because it's certainly increased my appreciation of the everyday.

So where Friday brought pain and sorrow, Sunday was a completely different story and in that I had my own little Easter experience. When I woke up for the first time in three weeks without a fever and shakes and looked out of my hospital room window and saw the sun streaming down, I couldn't help but think that maybe this is a small glimpse into what that resurrection moment was like for Jesus: transitioning from despair to hope, from death to life, and from sadness to joy.

And while everything was not perfect from that Sunday morning on and there still were many hard days ahead, I was changed and I was not facing this alone and that was all that really seemed to matter. Even now in my life, that's all that matters. Life is not perfect- I doubt if it ever will be on this earth. But I move forward, day by day, living life to the fullest with my Best Friend: the One who knows my journey from start to finish.

"In this crazy world, there's an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But in the eyes of God, they're never separated. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom." (Henri Nouwen)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Update on the School Situation

On Wednesday I wrote a lengthy letter to the president of the school, explaining the situation and asking for his intervention. He has since responded and has promised to look into the matter. Now it's just a waiting game.

In the meantime I've been looking into other options. One problem that I didn't think about at first was health benefits. If I work part time and am in school part time my benefits will be discontinued. The only way I can have benefits is to either be in school full-time (and thus be covered by the family plan) or be working full-time (and thus be covered by my employers plan).

Health benefits are pretty much essential for me. The medication that I'm on is pricey and if I run into any other problems, I need coverage. Had I not had a health plan this past year I would have been in big trouble (actually one interesting fact for you- I was told by one of my nurses that between the government and my family plan, at least $300,000 shelled out for my care. Isn't that crazy?!?).

So no decisions have been made yet. I'm trying my best to focus on my current school work and not think about the worst-case scenario. I'm very confident that God has a plan for me even in this and I trust that He will reveal that to me in His perfect timing!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My Photo

Almost exactly a year ago I headed out to New Brunswick to attend a radio seminar and afterwards had the opportunity to do some sight-seeing.

Well one of the sights I saw was Dickson Falls in Fundy National Park. A photo I took of the falls is currently featured on (the website of canwest- Global TV, The National Post, etc.).

Check it out here and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just one of those days

Last night a friend emailed me this scripture verse (thanks Byron):

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (James 1:2-4, The Message)

Reading it last night and recalling it today was nothing short of divine. You see today hasn't been a very good day. I received some news regarding my schooling that isn't good and I don't quite know what to do about it.

You see the original plan was for this semester of school to run from January 1st to April 30th. The thought behind this was I was supposed to be healed by January and have enough energy to resume my university studies. When that didn't happen I spoke to people both at the school and at the student loan centre to request an extension on my courses. Between getting treatments every day and having not at whole lot of energy because of the infections I knew that I could not complete my courses by the end of April. As it turned out, my incision only ended up healing then anyways.

Both the school and the student loan centre agreed that this was a valid reason for an extension and granted it, with the promise that my next round of courses would start July 1st and my loan would remain in tact.

Well today I received a message from the school that I'm not allowed to start my next round of courses in July because my student loan has been cancelled for the year. For whatever reason, someone at the school decided that it would be a good idea to do this without my permission and now there is nothing I can do about it except apply again and wait until October to start. This wouldn't be the worst thing in the world except that by cancelling my loan I am no longer eligible for any assistance from here on out.

On top of that, by cancelling my student loan, the school forfeited the grant that I was supposed to receive next month. The grant was worth almost $3000.

So now I'm trying to figure out my options. As it stands they are as follows:

-Quit school, find a job and count my loses.
-Find a job in July and work until November, then re-apply for school and pay for it with my job earnings. Repeat this cycle until I'm finished school.
-Find a part-time job and work while studying at a reduced course load.
-Move to the Cayman islands and live on the beach.

Right now the last option sounds like the most appealing one! ;)

Seriously as of right now I'm just trying not to think about it too much. I still have a lot of work that I need to do to finish up the courses I'm in right now and I don't need the distraction. I'm also determined not too think about it too much because thinking isn't going to help me make a decision, but prayer will.

And at the same time I've been reminded, both through that Bible verse and through my life experiences as of recently, that this is happening for a reason. I may not know the reason, but I do know that God is in control of my life. I'm also very much aware that God is my provider, not the student loan people and if wants me to continue on with this, He will make a way!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Word of Life

Check out this powerful article from James MacDonald:

Words of Life
By Dr. James MacDonald
Proverbs 15:4 “ A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
James 1:26 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

Without exception, all of us know first-hand what a blessing and what a weapon words can be. Throughout Proverbs and James we read that life and death are in the power of the tongue.

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life,” says Proverbs 15:4. Tender, good words, spoken from the heart, at just the right time promotes joyful relationships. But the flip side is also true, “ but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Perverseness means “crooked.” Perverseness is twisting someone’s words so they’re distorted from what they meant. Perverseness brings hurt and harm. Proverbs 15:4 says those kinds of words have the power to break the spirit; it’s painful to admit—we shatter and wound those we love with the words we say.

Maybe you wonder why your spouse keeps their distance. Why can’t I connect with my son? Why am I not close to my friend like I used to be? Ask yourself, “Have I wounded their spirit by something I’ve said to them?” When a person’s spirit is injured, they close themselves off to you. They put up a wall. Ask God to bring to your mind the gentle words to say to them to make it right. Start with these five things:

#1 A word of regret. Go to your loved one and say, “I’m sorry.” Don’t let yourself off with the big catch-all “sorry.” Be specific. Say, “I’m sorry I said this,” “I’m sorry I did that.”

#2 A word of responsibility. “It’s my fault. I have no excuse. Please forgive me.” Sure, others have a role in the conflict, but you can’t fix anyone else. Do your part.

#3 A word of hope. “I’m going to try harder.” Again, be specific. “I’m going to try harder at affection; I’m going to try harder at attention. I’m going to try harder at listening to you.”

#4 A word of commitment. “I’m here for you. We’re going to get through this together. Nothing will change my love for you.” Make sure your loved one knows that. Most people will flourish in that commitment.

#5 A word of affection. “I love you.” Say it sincerely. Say it till it comes easily from your lips. If you didn’t grow up with that kind of affirmation, you might need to work a little harder at this one, but break the chain and be the solution in your family.

Think honestly about the words spoken in your circle of loved ones. Today, you have the power to bless or to hurt them. Choose to plant the tree of life by the words you say.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Must Read Article

We've all been hearing a lot about the AIDS crisis lately and rightly so. There's an epidemic that needs all of our attention, but all too often it becomes easy to sit back and let the words bounce off of our filters that stops things from penetrating our hearts.

But thankfully there are people who are working tirelessly to get our attention on the subject and one of these people is Kay Warren (wife of Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren). Click here to read an article of hers, published on CNN. It's a must read for any follower of Christ!

It's time that we all get disturbed.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I'll Be Happy When ____________

We don't have to look very far to see people who are searching for something. Actually pulling out a mirror could do that for most people. Let's face it: no matter who we are or where we come from, we are all looking for something more.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say I'll be happy when I get a promotion or I'll be happy when I have more in my bank account or I'll be happy when I have a significant other or I'll be happy when ____________ (fill in the blank).

As a result we've become a Starbuck drinking, ipod listening, suv driving, credit card buying generation and we're still not happy. Then we convince ourselves that if only our lives were different, we'd be happy. So we buy lottery tickets and hope for our fifteen minutes of fame and when that doesn't pan out, we still hope because we've convinced ourselves that if only we were rich and famous, then we'd be content.

Well recently I read an interview with someone who put a hole in that theory. Jim Carrey (who happens to be both rich and famous) said: "I wish everyone could get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that's not the answer."

This is coming from someone who lives in a California mansion, who has made more than $25 million for shooting just one film (Bruce Almighty) and who in 2003 was named Hollywood's top-paid actors. Most people would think Jim Carrey would be on top of the world, but he honestly admits that the money, the fame, and even having everything you could dream of is not the answer.

So what is the answer? It may sound simplistic, but really the answer is Jesus.

Jesus is the only One who can complete us (Col. 2:10). Jesus is the only One who can heal us, from both the inside and out (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus is the only One who can give us lasting joy (John 16:22). Jesus is the only One who can give us peace, even in the midst of troubling times (Phil. 4:7). Jesus is the answer to what we are looking for.

And we are looking. In their chart topping song "Meant To Live" Switchfoot sings:

"We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life.
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?"

I believe many of us have lost ourselves but the good news is we can also be found. The same shepherd who left the ninety-nine for the one who wandered off finds us wherever we are. And when we allow Him to, He comes in and changes us from the inside out.

We were meant to live for so much more. Thank God because it would be a pretty depressing world if we weren't.