Tuesday, October 24, 2006

God In This Moment?

In the song "God In This Moment" Gavin Mikhail sings:

"Until the day you took away from me
The only thing that mattered in my life
Can't you see why I am angry with you?
I'm hating you for all you put me through
And, I don't know why inside this silence is deafening
You know I gave up everything for you
I followed you always, all along ."

Throughout my life and especially during my journey since I surrendered my life to Christ, I've had many God moments: times when I knew beyond all doubt that He was there in this with me and that I was not alone. But for whatever reason there was a time during my illness when I did not have that same assurance.

This was foreign feeling for me. Before during the trials in my life I always knew that God was there and that He had a plan in spite of the storm of life. It didn't matter what it was or how bad things looked, I always knew that God was there and that with Him it was going to be alright. But during part of my illness, perhaps the worst part, I felt just like the writer of "God In This Moment"- wondering if in fact there was a God in this moment and if there was, angry for the deafening silence. And to be honest, feeling a bit betrayed.

You see as bad as the first surgery was for me and as much as I wasn't a happy camper to be going through that, I always had the assurance that I was getting better. Yes I was sliced open, but I knew it would heal. I also knew that each day after surgery you feel a bit better than the day before until eventually you begin to forget the pain. And so from October 19th until October 22nd I could see God in the moment. I could see purpose: I had a medical problem that needed to be dealt with and surgery was the only way to do that. Fine. I wasn't blaming God for the fact that I was born with extra cells that turned into cysts.

But all that changed on October 23th. I was out of the hospital and recuperating at home, anxious for the day that the pain became a distant memory. But I was in for a little surprise: I started a fever. Then violent shakes. And then started losing a whole lot of blood. In the days to come instead of being lead down a road to recovery, I became sicker than I had ever been in my life.

It was in that place that I couldn't see God in those moments. In the moments where through tears I begged God to give me some relief and none came. In the moments where I was being rushed to the ER and prayed to see the right doctor, only to open my eyes and see the wrong one over and over and over again. In the moments where I prayed for healing only to have a higher fever, more violent shakes, and more pouring blood.

And it was those moments that I felt let down from the One who had always been there for me and that was a hard thing to swallow. I mean I thought I had been faithful. I thought that I had given up so much to follow Him- was that worth nothing? It's not like I expected God to be my fairy godmother who would suddenly take a wand and make the world okay again, but I expected at least a bit of hope that God was in those moments. Yet during those horrific seven days, I was coming up empty.

That left me with a choice: I could either believe that this experience was a reflection of both God's character and what our relationship was like or I could believe that even in this very dark place there was a purpose. I chose the later of the two and to borrow from that same Gavin Mikhail song, my prayer became:

"God I hope You're there in this moment
Watching over me
Can you show me you're there in this moment?
Something to make me believe."

And that He did. You see while God didn't send legions of angels or sudden healing, He did send His peace- that same peace that surpasses all human understanding. So when the doctor came in on that Sunday morning and said I was being rushed up to surgery where I would be re-opened and left opened to heal properly, I didn't panic. And when I, Miss I-can't-stand-anything-medical, saw the nurses pull five feet of packing out of me that very night, I didn't freak out. And when even after a second surgery, tons of antibiotics, and enough time later I still wasn't free from infection, I wasn't fretting.

Why? Because God used those very dark days, the days when I didn't feel Him in those moments to prepare me for what was to come.

No, it wasn't pleasant and there are many days, especially when I see my scars in the mirror, that I wish it didn't have to happen. But it did and through my illness I learned something very important: no matter what we go through, God is in every moment. The ones when we feel His presence and the ones when we don't. In the days when we're on spiritual highs and on the days when we are dragging ourselves through spiritual deserts.

The problem is that through our human eyes we only see one perspective. As the quote from Henri Nouwen at the top of this page points out, in the eyes of God there is no distinction between our sorrow and our joy because "where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom."

Our lives on earth, illnesses included, are indeed divine contradictions.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

One year later

One year. That's exactly how long its been since my whole health "adventure" started. I say "adventure" loosely for the lack of a better word. Or maybe there are better words, but "adventure" is the one that is more comfortable to say and hear. I don't know.

Regardless it was exactly one year ago that I was lying in a hospital bed in recovery wishing that I had never ever consented to surgery. The pain was so intense that I literally thought in my drug-induced state that the surgeon had left a knife or something in there. But alas, it was not so!

Looking back on that time is always a weird experience for me. Weird because at the time I didn't fully comprehend what was all going on, which I guess was a good thing. But also weird because one of the big things I learned during this year is that the average person is not comfortable with the idea of illness. We don't talk about it. We don't think about it. And if we are unlucky enough to experience it, we try to forget about it the minute its over.

But I haven't been able to forget as much as I've wanted to and I'm starting to realize that remembering is a blessing in disguise. Because it would be very easy for me to move on and put everything behind me, but in doing so while I wouldn't dwell on an awful lot of bad memories, I also would be dismissing all of the great things that I learned during my illness.

So what did I learn? I'm glad you asked :)

The time of doing nothing during my months of recovery taught me to appreciate and enjoy the simpler pleasures of life. For the first time in 18 years I made a puzzle and actually enjoyed doing so. After I was well enough to move around I learned how to bake and every week would make a different dessert for our family to enjoy at Sunday coffee times. I spent a lot of time in bed and even though it wasn't by choice, I learned the value of rest.

I learned how lucky I am to be alive; to be able to move and walk around freely; to have free health care and professionals who work around the clock to ensure our health.

I learned the beauty of walking in the rain; of stopping to stare at the snow flakes floating down; of spending small moments in prayer with my Father.

I learned the meaning of what it means to have joy that is not dependent of our circumstances; of what it means to be strong; and of when to ask for help.

I learned to appreciate life; both the good days and the bad; the big things and the small.

I learned that healing wasn't what I thought it was; that God is bigger than any problem we face; and that miracles occur everyday, even in the ordinary.

I learned a lot and over the next week or so, I'm going to be sharing different lessons with you that I learned during what was one of the most difficult things that I have ever faced in my life. Why? Because life is a journey and journeys weren't meant to be taken alone. So I'll be sharing what I learned on this little journey in the hopes that it speaks to you in your own.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


An article I recently wrote has been posted on RelevantMagazine.com.

Click here to check it out!

Music Speaks Part Two Continued

When We Know The Story Continued

Here are the other U2 stories behind the songs that I know and promised to post in the comment section of the last post. If you guys know any other stories behind their music or anyone else's, feel free to add it in the comments section!

The song "Bad" from the album The Unforgettable Fire was inspired by a friend of Bono's, who on his 21st birthday was given enough heroin that it could have easily killed him.

"Pride (In The Name of Love)" was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr and is the second most played song live in the bands history.

"The Sweetest Thing" was written by Bono as an apology to his wife- he forgot her birthday while on tour. Being so personal, when the song is played live Bono plays The Edge's piano parts. I guess his wife forgave him because she actually appears in the video for this song!

"Walk On" was written about and dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi. It was U2's effort to praise her for fighting for freedom and her activism in Myanmar where she had been under house arrest since 1989.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Music Speaks Part Two

When We Know The Story
In this second instalment of the "music speaks" series, I'm going to share some stories behind songs that I've learned over the years that have touched my heart and given me a deeper appreciation of the music. If you know a story, feel free to share it in the comments or post an entry on your own blog about it!

Come, Now Is The Time Worship
A well known worship leader and his investors lose more than one million dollars in a failed ministry project. The worship leader loses his home and in an attempt to regroup, moves his family to England. Once there and already depressed from the failures experienced in Canada, he and his wife find out that three of their six children have a condition called "Fragile X Syndrome", which is a form of mental retardation.

With overwhelming circumstances surrounding his life, Brian Doerkson went on a walk to pour out his heart to God. While most of us would use this as an opportunity to vent, question, and search, that wasn't that case for Brian. Over and over he kept being reminded "come now is the time to worship." Minutes later he was back at home and in minutes the song "Come ,Now Is The Time To Worship" was born.

About the song Brian says; "I believe God wants us to come and worship just the way we are, though when true worship happens we don't stay the way we are."

Days of Elijah
Singing it with our little actions at church you wouldn't assume it, but I doubt the writer had a funny grin on his face when the song was first being formed. Why? Because the idea for the song was sparked when Robin Mark was watching 1994's year of review and more specifically the segment about what occurred in Rwanda that year.

After watching the short documentary type show, the writer "found myself despairing about the state of the world and, in prayer, began asking God if He was really in control and what sort of days were we living in. I felt in my spirit that He replied to my prayer by saying that indeed He was very much in control and that the days we were living in were special times when He would require Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal."

And thus the song came to be. Something to think about the next time you hear it in church or on the radio.

Where The Streets Have No Name
The inspiration for this U2 classic comes from a story that Bono heard about Belfast. In Belfast you can tell what someone's religion is and how much money they make based on what street they live on. And the further you go up the street, the more expensive the houses are, and thus, the more money the people living there have. So if someone says what street they live on, that not only tells you what kind of background they have, but you can pinpoint their income based on where on the street they live.

That stuck with Bono and he started to write a song about a place where the streets have no name.

Here is Our King
I would have never guessed where the inspiration for this song came from, but now knowing the story it does it make sense.

"Here Is Our King" was sparked as David Crowder spent two days with his eyes glued to his television set watching the deadly aftermath of the tsunami that struck on Boxing Day 2004. Watching the devastation reminded David of the depth of our fall:

"We know things aren't right, we know that things aren't as they were intended. But here is this thing that comes from the middle of the sea to bring upon us devastation and to take from us our fathers and our mothers and to pull from our hands our children and our friends and our minds cannot fit this in. It is the depth of our fall upon us. Even the ground under our feet is not right. The air we breathe is not right."

But even in the midst of the depth of our fall, we have a glimpse of what is to come:

"Here though, the hope I found in Christ miraculously expands. I believe we are part of a bigger story unfolding. I believe that the rescue of creation has been coming toward us for a long time.... He is coming to set things right. He is coming to set things straight. He is coming and this is tremendously hard to take in, but our hearts swell and this tide of hope groups and father all of this, after this brokenness, after these tears, after this fury, after this tearing that is life...finally, finally. Majesty. Here."

Something to think about the next time you sing:

The ocean is growing
The tide is coming in
Here it is.

Here is our king, here is our love
Here is our God who's come
To bring us back to Him
He is the One, He is Jesus.

Watch for the next post in this series "How The Songs Changed The Writers" coming soon!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Music Speaks Part One

For the first time on this little webspace called "Divine Contradiction" I'm going to be doing a series of posts titled "Music Speaks". Here's the first instalment:

What's Their Story?
Last week at College and Careers we had a time of praise and worship. As I flipped through the song book and took notice of many songs that have met me in different places of my life, I couldn't help but wonder "what's their story?"

Who is Marsha Stevens and what inspired her to write "For Those Tears I Died"?

"You said You'd come and share my sorrows
You said You'd be there for my tomorrows
I came so close to sending You away."

When she wrote this was she sitting alone in a hospital room? At a graveside? What brought on the song? A time of heartbreak? A time of loss? Of pain?

Or how about Craig Musseau? What's his story? When he wrote: "I sing a simple song of love to my Saviour, To my Jesus. I'm grateful for the things You've done."

Was he rejoicing over a blessing? Facing a trial? Remembering the Lord's faithfulness in the past? Or looking towards it in the future?

What was their story?

When I was in Nashville this past April attending GMA Week I attended an event titled the Songwriter Showcase. At this concert, the writers of some of the biggest songs of the year came out and not only performed their music, but they explained the story behind it. Laura Story talked about the drive at night that inspired "Indescribable" (performed by Chris Tomlin). Christa Wells explained the heartbreaking circumstances behind "Held" (performed by Natalie Grant). And for me, somehow knowing the story behind the song adds so much more meaning to it. Not that removing interpretation is the end goal, but when you add the inspiration to your own interpretation, it can be a pretty amazing thing.

Keep checking back for the next post in this series titled "When We Know The Story".

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Why I'm Thankful

Izaak Walton once said: "Blessings we enjoy daily, and for the most of them, because they be so common, men forget to pay their praises." Well today I took a short time out to remember to pay my praises for what I'm thankful for:

I'm thankful for my family
I always knew that I had an amazing family, but I was reminded even more so of that during my illness. They made so many sacrifices for me- I still find it hard to believe. My Mom tossed aside everything else in order to be by my side throughout the entire ordeal. She lost many a night of sleep sitting by my side in the emergency room and she put aside her own feelings of disgust in order to be my "nurse" and take care of me. My brother gave up his room for almost six months because it was easier for me, even though that meant he missed out on many of his beloved NHL games (the TV in his room can pick it up, whereas the downstairs TV can't). My grandfather and aunts paid for me to have a TV in my room in the hospital, which is pretty expensive considering how long I was in the hospital for. My sister gave up her vehicle for many weeks so that my family could visit me and then later so that I could get to all of my doctors appointments and such. And not once did she ask for gas money either!

I'm thankful for my friends
Again during my illness I was reminded once again just how blessed I am to have some of the people in my life that I do. Yes, as I've shared before there was some disappointments during the past year, but you know what? That doesn't matter to me anymore. Big surprises make up for little disappointments and I was very surprised by some very special people. The people who called long distance to check up on me. The friend who trudged through a snowstorm in order to come and see me, just when I need to see somebody! All of the "out of towners" who emailed my sister to get updates on me (you thought I didn't know didn't you? ha!) God has blessed me with many amazing people in my life and if you're reading this, chances are you're one of them!

I'm thankful for my ministries
God has been blessing me so much by allowing me to be involved in a few really awesome things! The radio show is so amazing. College and Careers is a blessing. The new dance ministry is very powerful. The book- all I can say is WOW!

I'm thankful for good music
Music speaks so loudly to me in my life and it's such a precious gift. And during the past year my musical appreciation has deepened and my tastes have widened and I'm thankful for that too. I used to say that I like every type of music but country and gospel. Well after one trip to Nashville that's no longer true.

I'm thankful for God's provision
Over and over I have seen God provide for me and it is amazing and humbling all at the same time. From unexpected checks in the mail to a few really great jobs to working things out with the student loan, God has most definitely provided me with exactly what I need!

I'm thankful for my health
Health is one thing that is way too easy to take advantage of and I've been guilty of doing that. Well I hope that my experiences over the past year stay rooted in my mind for the rest of my life just so that I don't ever forget what a gift it is to be healthy.

I'm thankful for knowing Jesus
Having Him in my life makes each day sweeter, each low higher, and each joy that much richer. He is my sustainer, my savior, and my best friend!

And finally I'm thankful for life
It was close to a year ago that I nearly lost my life and going through something like that reminds you just how precious every day. I'm thankful for every moment that I have, both the good ones and the bad. I'm also thankful that this is not the end. One day we all will make the transition from this life to the next and really that's all it is, a transition!

So what are you thankful for? Leave a comment with your list!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

History is in the making...

Let me start this post with a disclaimer: I am not a dancer. I never have been one and I don't really feel any overwhelming desire to be one now. But years of watching my sister's recitals has taught me something: I may not be a dancer, but I can choreograph.

Sounds strange, I know. How can someone who doesn't know the moves, figure out the dance? I don't know, but I do know that it's happening.

As some of you know, my sister has been involved in organizing dances for different Christian events in and around the Timmins area for the past three years. Well usually I played some sort of small role, like picking the music and operating the sound system. But this time around I've taken on a different role. Just call me Kristen the choreographer.

After choosing the song, this incredible picture came to me of what the dance could look like and the powerful impact that it could make. Scenes flashed across my mind and to my dismay, I actually became really excited about this possibility. So with my family listening, I explained to Erin my idea for the dance and explained the different moves that the background dancers could do while the two main dancers did their thing in the front. And in the words of my brother: "It's surprisingly good."

And so Erin will be leading a group of dancers to do a routine to Matthew West's song "History" for a retreat that will be happening in a couple of months. And this time instead of pressing play and pause on the stereo, I will be helping to put it together. Scary.

It's kind of crazy the way God has teamed up my sister and I because personality wise, we're very different. And the same goes for talents and giftings. But at the same time, we compliment each other and this isn't the first time God has moved us to join forces to do something together for Him and I'm sure it won't be the last.

History by Matthew West
It's been a bad day
You've been looking back
And all you can see is everything you wish you could take back
All your mistakes
A world of regrets
All of those moments you would rather forget
I know it's hard to believe
Let me refresh your memory

Yesterday is history
And history is miles away
So, leave it all behind you
But let it always remind you of the day
The day that love made history

You know you can't stay right where you fell
The hardest part is forgiving yourself
But let's take a walk into today
And don't let your past get in the way

Would you believe that you are history in the making, in the making?
Every choice that you are making
Every step that you are taking
Every chain that you are breaking
History is in the making
Every word that you are saying
Every prayer that you are praying
Every chain that you are breaking
History is in the making