Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Feel Pretty

Something the majority of teenagers struggle with is body image. We're too fat. We're too skinny. We don't like our hair, or our noses, or the color of our eyes.

When I was in elementary school, I was overweight. When I was in high school, I was overweight. Right now? I'm overweight! Weighed in this morning at just under 200 pounds! It was kind of a crazy revelation, because I've been making such an effort to get fit recently. What I realized was that the weight I've gained this past year hasn't been fat, but muscle! It's kind of exciting. I'm still overweight, and a little on the chubby side, but I'm working through that.

So why am I writing about all of this? It's not to brag about my self-improvement or to encourage people to try and change the way they look. I'm writing this because I figured out that there's something so much more important than being the optimal body weight for your age + height. Now, for health reasons, that stuff is important to keep in mind, but I think what's ultimately more significant is how much you respect yourself and are just able to come to terms with where you're at. We definitely have to take care of our bodies, but it's so much more important to take care of our hearts! And if we hate ourselves because we ate too much pizza this morning or because our genetics left us with a weird, asymmetrical hairline, we aren't loving God enough! We were made in His image, so if we don't like what we see in the mirror, we don't like Him enough! We've gotta be able to look at ourselves through His eyes, and to love ourselves regardless of what the world tells us is 'normal.'

I don't think I have anything else to say about this. Anybody have any self-image horror stories? Any advice for readers out there who are struggling with this stuff? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section! :)
Stay tuned next month as I take part in the 2011 blog challenge!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Don't Bite the Pepper

So this afternoon I realized we had no food for snacks for the youth group, and went over to the Open Door, our church's homeless drop-in centre/soup kitchen, and spoke to one of the guys there. They always have so much extra food and love helping us out when we need groceries and stuff. So I got enough crackers to last us a month and about six cans of fruit. Along with all of these snacks, I was given a single jalapeno pepper.

I'm a huge foodie, so I love interesting flavors and got super excited when he handed me the pepper. He even warned me, with a laugh, that "some of the clients at the Open Door grabbed a bunch of these when we put them out and just started eating them right then and there, and it took them a few minutes before the spice kicked in, so watch out." I told myself that I would eat the pepper at the end of the evening, because I always like to have a little snack after things calm down. Of course, because I'm used to using jalapenos as an ingredient, it didn't really occur to me that I should do anything special with it before eating it.

So I washed it.

Then I took a huge bite.

And it was super delicious! I really love the taste of a good, fresh pepper! God has gifted us with amazing flavors and foods that are just so unique and fun!

Then my mouth was on fire, for a good five/ten minutes, and I can still feel it a little now, two hours later.

The pepper was incredible- it tasted fantastic and was such a great color. Truly a vegetable that was pleasing to the eye and the flesh. And I gave in and just went for it without thinking about it, and I suffered the consequences.

Amazing how a pepper can remind me that I should look before I leap. It's so important to remember to check in with God about things before just jumping at them- even if they might look super fantastic on the outside.

Also, it's so important to remember to take the seeds out if you're going to eat a jalapeno pepper raw...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

10 Things I Love About Youth Ministry

Hey, so I realized earlier this week that I've been kind of lame recently: I've been spending a lot of time feeling bad about myself and not being nearly as trustful of God as I should be. It seems like, even in the midst of amazing things happening around me, I've been really bad at praising God for the good things that are going on because I'm so focused on the things I'm still waiting for Him to deliver.

So I've decided that in order to be actively working against that spirit of unappreciativeness, I'm going to start blogging about things I really love in life! And where better to start than by writing about the top 10 things that I love most about youth ministry?! Definitely leave a comment, I'd love to hear about your experiences too! :)

1. Launch Parties! It's always so amazing at the start of a new year or semester, when everybody comes back and gathers together for the first youth meeting of the year. Our group at Emmaus has begun a little tradition of launching the year with an ice cream party. So we get to eat stupid amounts of dessert AND hang out with amazing people all night? Good deal, if you ask me!

2. Spontaneously Breaking Out Into Song! So I'm having tons of trouble, admittedly, with coming up with an order for these. I guess it's just because I love everything about youth so much. Anyways, our group tends to have a lot of spontaneous musical numbers... Mostly because I'm always breaking out into song, but it helps that we have lots of really cool teens who join in every time.

3. Costume Parties! I love dressing up. For those of you who don't know this, I'm a super theatrical person, so this one and number 2 are biiig items on my list of awesome activities. There's something so amazing about seeing everyone come in costume, able to express their creativity (or sometimes lack thereof) outwardly in a unique way :)

4. Retreats! Definitely a staple of our youth ministry, spending a weekend away with the leaders and teens is always a fantastically rewarding experience. So many intimate moments with God, so many bonding moments with one another, and so much delicious food.

5. Seeing Teens Grow Up! This is one of the ones that always breaks my heart- in the best ways. I've noticed that the longer you know and minister to a group of kids, the crazier it is for you when they're suddenly in high school or start growing facial hair or become taller than you. For me, this is a really significant thing, because I've been working with some of this generation's youth since they were 6 or 7 years old (under a different context, obviously), so when they start growing up it's always really amazing. Partly because I'm so proud of them, and partly because it's a constant reminder that I'm also getting older. Wonder how soon I'll start balding/going gray?

6. Leaders' Meetings! No matter what's happening with the youth, the leaders behind everything are always so great! It's amazing being surrounded by other people who are passionate about sharing the gospel with the next generation! Oftentimes I hear people talking about how you don't really choose your ministry team, and how there can be times when you have nothing in common with the team except for the ministry itself. I've noticed this doesn't tend to be true with our group! Maybe it's just because we're all so good at appreciating a variety of things, but I think it's because God called us together as like-minded Christians so we could work incredibly well together. That's not to say that everyone agrees on everything all the time and we don't argue, but even in those moments of friction we get along to amazingly well! And that's something I definitely appreciate :)

7. The Worship! There's something so amazing about seeing the next generation of believers worshipping God through song together! It's just really amazing being blessed to have the privilege of leading them in it on Friday nights! What's cooler is that some of them even help out from time to time with the leading, which brings me to the next item...

8. The Potential! I get super excited when I think of all the potential the teens have to do amazing things- not just in the future, but right now! It's awesome, because in our group there are so many teens who are incredibly gifted in so many different areas. We have talented musicians, actors, people with such hearts of servitude, compassion, etc, and it's just really amazing seeing all these spiritual giftings coming out and growing in them!

9. The Relationships! This can be taken many ways- I love watching the teens grow in their relationships with God. I also love building up relationships with them and with the other leaders and growing as a community. And I also really love watching all the drama that is guaranteed to play out between any group of teenagers when romantic relationships start developing within the group- it's like watching a soap opera, or an episode of Glee, only usually the conflict resolution is a LOT better and nobody's breaking out into song about it (except me).

10. Those Moments. The big moments. The small moments. Basically, the moments that are really significant for one reason or another. Whether it's a teen accepting the Lord into their heart for the first time, or someone saying something really brilliant and wise beyond their years during a discussion, there's so many cool moments in youth ministry that make me cry 'Toy Story 3' tears. The good kind of tears, about how beautiful God is and how cool it is when people grow up. Not the 'Bambi's Mom' tears, where you're just a puddle of sad.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I've been thinking about baptism a lot recently- not for myself, but about the whole idea of it. We had three infant baptisms at Emmaus last Sunday, and one of the members of my worship team was baptised over the summer. What I find so interesting about baptism is that there are so many different ways of going about it. Whether it's full-immersion or a dip or sprinkling, infant or adult, there's something so cool about the whole thing.

Infant baptism has always been an odd concept to me- having grown up in a non-Christian household, I wasn't baptised at birth, so for me, my baptism really was a thing that happened after, and only after, I was old enough to consciously decide on my own to follow God. For obvious reasons, that's not really how it works with babies, but I wouldn't discount infant baptisms just for that reason. I think what's neat about an infant baptism is that, while it's true it's not a decision the child is making on their own, it's still a vow taken by the family, friends and community of that child to uphold and support them in their childhood and eventually in their walk with Christ.

My friend from the worship team was complaining that, while she has been a believer for a really long time, people looked at her baptism over the summer as her finally deciding to accept Jesus, and made a big deal out of it. While it's true that this kind of attitude is frustrating, I think there's still something really great about a person's baptism, even if (especially if!) they've known and loved Jesus for a long time. For me, my baptism came a little later in life- at 14, if I'm not wrong- and was very much a decision I made for myself when I was ready. I had believed in God for a couple of years before then, but that was around the time that I decided I wanted to live my life for Him, so it was a real defining moment for me.

What's interesting is that, if we look at Jesus' own baptism, it didn't occur until he was an adult, right at the start of His ministry! I think it's really cool, because in some respects, my ministry really started after my baptism too- that was the year that I started teaching kindergarten sunday school, and was one of the first years of my ministry at Inspiritus day camp.

Does anyone out there have any interesting baptism stories? Thoughts about infant baptism? Leave a comment!

Dawson College Peace Garden

This week I had the honor of participating in the opening ceremony of the Dawson College Peace Garden. My voice teacher, Jacinta Luis, wrote and composed a song in honor of the ceremony and had our class perform it at the end of the event.

And I ended up on the front page of the Montreal Gazette! Not as the headline, that was an article about getting druggies out of the gay village, but in a short teaser for the article located a few pages into the first section. But still, a photo on the front page? That's pretty rad! I got excited when my buddy Simon texted me telling me his mom saw me in the newspaper, haha.

Anyways I've linked to the article up on the Gazette's website, take a look at the great shots in the album!

More posts coming later this week, possibly about some really intense stuff! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Too Much Grease

Oh man, I am awful.

So during the summer I did a post here confessing to a horrible habit of mine involving greasy, fatty, unhealthy foods. I said I would take better care of my body this year, and that to start, I would stop eating McDonalds.

Well, I did. For the whole summer. But then school started up again, and the golden arches called me back in with their cheap chicken burgers. Since the 24th of August, I've eaten at least one Junior Chicken sandwich every day that I've had school. They're just too delicious.

This stops now. When I go back to school on Tuesday (hooray for never having class on Mondays!) I'm going to bring extra food from home, and only go to McDonalds for drinks (they still have free refills, which are a beautiful thing when you don't feel like only drinking water) and to steal Wifi.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Worship Hangover

Last night, I got together with a bunch of friends in the Plateau for a worship night, and in the midst of praising God through song, one of the other guys there opens up the Scriptures to 1 Corinthians 13 and starts reading to the group, but in a different context:

"Jesus suffers long and is kind; Jesus does not envy; Jesus does not parade himself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek his own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never fails."

Obviously, the difference here from the original text is that he replaced "love" with "Jesus." Makes sense, when you think about it in the context of "God is love, whoever does not know Him does not know love." It was at that moment that I just felt the overwhelming sense of God's presence in the room. He used my buddy Nathan to reveal himself to us in a new way!

This morning, I woke up with a massive, pounding headache, feeling really exhausted and just generally physically unpleasant. I started chatting with Nathan on facebook, and his first words were "Hey man, how are you doing? Feeling hungover from last night's amazing worship?" I'm paraphrasing a little, but before I even mentioned that I was feeling crappy, he totally pinpointed it- I had such an amazing time soaking in God's presence last night that I woke up this morning with a splitting headache! I had a Worship Hangover. And you know what they say is the best cure for a hangover- drinking more! Of course, in this context, the best cure for a hangover is spending MORE time worshipping God! So I grabbed my guitar, and just spent some time praising Him for His glory.

I guess what I'm trying to get across here is that I really need to get into the habit of waking up and worshipping God first thing in the morning, because right now I feel fantastic and so full of His love! Super excited about proclaiming His glory and just want to encourage all of you to do the same! Take some time today to sit down and pray with Him, thanking Him for how amazing He is and giving the day to Him!



Sunday, September 04, 2011

Emmaus Website!

Hey Blogland!

It is with great excitement that I post today about the new website for Emmaus Anglican Church!

Our church has been meeting for a few years now and it seems like this is a big year for big stuff- we finally got a rector in Keith Ganzer, an awesome guy from Vancouver BC (represent!), and now we have a website! We're also slowly upgrading to wireless audio technology, despite some minor setbacks...

Anyways, the page I'd like to point out here is the Youth page, for the obvious reason that our youth group is really awesome and we start up this Friday night! You can find that page here! I am so stoked at the opportunity the website brings to us to sort of archive our teachings and series and whatnot! So definitely keep checking back there in the weeks to come, and keep checking back here as I will be posting a lot more this month than I did in August (sorry about that) and most of it will be really awesome, I hope.