I just got this letter...

Rena, have you learned nothing?

How can you expect yourself to feel an instinctual, passionate, abandoned loyalty and love towards the One that you don't spend time with?

If it were a man in your life and you just kept reading things about him, talking about him with friends, listening to what his best friends have to say about him and what kind of guy he is, but never actually spend intimate time with him yourself, you know your level of affection would have a limit... one that is very low... too low to sustain a healthy, interactive relationship.

Furthermore, if you finally really started to spend some time with him, but only talked about yourself, your needs, and your interest in getting to know him, rather than hearing his voice and allowing yourself to experience his heart by listening to him, you would stop caring about him and grow bored. You will grow bored of listening to your own voice complaining and requesting when you already know that he is the one for you.

Stop trying to gain Him, Rena.

Stop trying to experience Him by playing the part that you've learned you should play, reading the instructions on how to live in relationship with Him, but never actually throwing yourself into His arms and letting His embrace warm you from head to toe and change you from the inside out. It's the difference between trying to pick off all of the burnt bits seemingly cemented to the inside of a casserole dish with your fingernails rather than allowing hot water and soap do all of that work overnight while you sleep.

In His own perfect power, and in His own perfect way, it's His love that does the work - not you and your struggle to change.




gluten, i'm sorry but we are so done.

yes, you're delicious, but you're ruining everything. i'm not going to miss you at all. i'm moving on...


if my heart was a compass, You'd be north

the themes of my Christmas break, aside from trying to remind myself the reason we celebrate, are to be simple; to stop & think; to dream and set goals; to try to listen, both to others and myself but more importantly, to god; & just... to really know. i want to pay more attention to the page than the screen, more the pen than the keyboard, more the wind than the radio, more the Him than the me...
throughout some of this quiet time & attempts at reflection, i've finally kind of had an awakening about the path i'm on in my education - specifically, why the program i'm currently in isn't leaving me with the warm fuzzies i was expecting. since i started the BEd program at UBC in early september, i knew there was something missing. i know i love kids, and i know i'm stinking good with them. i know i can be stinking good at teaching them & this is what i've been planning on doing with myself for 6 years now. so why don't i have that same fervency my peers all seem to embody? i know that this isn't about them and that i shouldn't compare, but it stirs concern in me because i've been watching their eager engagement with the curriculum, extracurricular workshops, projects, reflections, class disscussion, etc., and i can't help but feel like i'm just not there. & i know i should be.
this is true for me full stop: i'm not a sport for complacency & i don't take it lightly i've been blessed and fortunate enough to be born in a country and circumstance of opportunity. i believe in finding true joy everyday in something outside of yourself everyday. & if you can get paid for it, that's just an added bonus. & if that something is rejected by society, well... even better:). although i don't always understand them, i admire in the "happy radical" who just relishes in his/her detachment from people-pleasing or fear of rejection.
i don't remember the last time i've felt this estranged: suddenly the career i've had my heart set on since 2006 no longer seems like my happily-ever-after. i knew this for a while but i kind of just compartmentalized it until i had time to sift through a little bit. it's not that i don't love my program. ubc is a great school and they've developed an incredible program for my cohort centered around ethical issues, social justice, diversity, inclusion, and genuine love for our students.
it's not that i don't love my placement. i'm placed with an awesome group of grade 5/6 kids whose teacher (my mentor) is phenomenal at what she does. & she gives the best feedback and guidance i could ever ask for.
it's not that i've discovered i don't love kids. in case anything is unclear: i love love looooove children. of all shapes and sizes. i love their imagination, their joy, their simple, tenderhearted, untainted sense of justice, and their excitement for learning and complete dependance on, and love for, the models in their lives. i love their energy and fragility & they are the pb to my celery. just to be clear.
it's just that my heart is not in teaching. & it was finally my honesty with mom this morning during our typical coffee-chat (that i've missed oh-so-much) that brought about the truth: i just don't love teaching. as i thought back to being a camp counselor, it became so obvious: my least favorite part of the days were teaching instructional activities. why? because it usually gave me little chance to get to know the hearts of the kids. my heart is in hearts - stories, feelings, passions, love, difficulty, social-learning and development. my heart isn't in educating minds; it's in enriching, inspiring, and encouraging hearts. although we are being trained to be involved with our students on an individual basis, our primary responsibilities are to educate, train, and build-up and to meet irp's to ensure that our students are being adequately equipped for the next grade. although i feel this is of incredible worth and value to children's lives, i know it would break my heart to be in front of a classroom teaching to the children and meeting this standards, because i'd want so badly, but simply wouldn't have time, to be sitting in with them, listening to their hearts, & guiding them socially.
when rubber hits the road, i'm not stressed about it because i know who is in control. & though ironic, His plan is also entirely loving. i'm not going to quit this program. i think that i am right where i'm suppose to be because even if being an elementary school teacher isn't exactly the dream job for me, i don't know what is. i believe in my whole heart this will simply be used as another vessel in steering me where i know God wants me. After all, my steps are directed by Him. how then can i understand my own way? (Proverbs 20:24). i believe in His purpose in where i am right now. beyond that, i have no idea, i have no control, & i'm excited to see His purpose in my life unfold.


christmastime: it's good.

things about home that are awesome:

- mom's warm sock collection
- fleece sheets
- bath salts & bubble bath
- baking ingredients!!
- deep-clean-everything
- 3 murray gals under one roof (this is a double-edge sword)
- celeb status everywhere you go
- 5 minutes to get anywhere you could possibly think of going
- the landing (running trail)
- fresh coffee, in the pot, ready to go, e'ry morning.
- real christmas trees
- christmas lights enthusiasm all over town
- piano and guitar
- my own escort
- tripple-ply-toilet-paper
- surround sound
- spring water
- personal alarm service
- bright bathroom lights (i can see my pores!)
- memories all over the walls
- smell of cinnamon and evergreen
- guilt-free heat
- groceries with mom
- devo partner


the fruit of obedience.

Living modestly is something that I can't really boast about doing. I sometimes try to because I don't own that new coat, or that new gadget, or I don't buy real leather. But the truth is, if I was good with my money, I probably would buy those things. I don't own a car, I use an LG Rumor, & the only time I buy articles of clothing unthrifted, they are almost always a really good sale. But I still never have money for anything it seems and there are always things that I am coveting that other people have that I just simply can't afford. So I use this cop-out that I just like to "live more modestly"... so here is my confession.
& the time has come. I knew this day would come ever since I heard that another camp counsellor at Sandy Hill, Lizzie, was doing a fashion-fast - she was going one entire year without purchasing any articles of clothing. When I first heard about that, I thought it was something I could never do. But it was the same thought that gave me the inkling that someday I would be convicted to do the same. You're always convicted to do things that are hard... relatively difficult for you. It reminds me of my catholic friends growing up who would be like "for Lent this year, I'm giving up... BROCCOLI." Like... Joke's. On. You, Jesus.

But today was the day that conviction took a strong hold on my heart. I borrowed Blue Like Jazz (get it!) from my awesome possum Community Group leaders, Scott&Jo-Lee, and the author, Donald Miller, is so much like me it kinda blows my mind. Not in every sense, but in so many, do I feel like he is revealing more layers of me than I've had revealed in so long. It kind stings but in some ways, it is so relieving just because at least now I know someone else understands... that I'm not totally crazy. Today I wrapped up the chapter on Community, and started reading the chapter about Money. I predicted it would be a bad one.
& I was right.
A few weeks ago I took the members class at Westside and of course, on the topic of becoming a member of a church, you have to talk about the T-word... tithing. [insert collar-tugging-tongue-sticking-out-face]. I raised my hand as a challenge to Pastor Chad: "I feel like I'm not really a part of this conversation. As a student, all the money I have is the governments... if I'm not technically making money, how am I suppose to reasonably tithe off of what I'm not making?"
His response was really similar to the response that Donald Miller's pastor had for him when he was struggling with the same thing: "When we do what God wants us to do, we are blessed, we are spiritually healthy. God wants us to give a portion of our money to His work on earth. By setting aside money, you are trusting God to provide."
Essentially, it's not about the amount. It's about the sacrificial attitude. The way Chad said it made my heart sink a little. He brought up the fact that you might buy a few lattes or meals-out throughout the week... you might splurge on yourself a little with a glass of wine with a friend. If you can do that with this money, then you can give to God. If I truly believed that everything I have is ultimately God's anyways, how can I spend another dime on something I don't need?

I know that my $10/week isn't going to make much of any substantial difference in Westside's ministry. Not on the surface anyways. But that $10/week (& I'm just using $10 because it's probably about how much I spend on my extra-hot-no-foam-soy-sugar-free-cinnamon-dolce-americano-misto's... YAP, that's my drink) is going to make so much of a difference in God's kingdom both by how my heart is changed in the process of giving with a thankful heart, and in the way that God's provision can be displayed in our acts of faith towards things like money.
Miller talks about his friend, Penny, who did the year long fashion-fast and it clicked that it was something I needed to do. And I am not posting this for a pat on the back or something. I don't want that at all because I realize that will completely cancel out the purpose behind it - it's for His glory, not mine. It's not some kind of martyrdom... & even if it was, I don't think the martyr wants glory to be given to anyone but the person they are being martyrd for. But, excuse me... I digress. The reason I write this on my public blog is because I want to be held accountable. If I keep it to myself or only a few people, it seems less likely that I will stick to it.

I've learned about discipline in the last 6 weeks giving up gluten and [almost] dairy (okay I cheated on gluten like twice). It's so hard to say no to those wonderful and delicious looking things you're so use to eating. It takes discipline to say no. But I've learned something about discipline - it actually feels really great. It's inspired me to try discipline in other areas.

My point is, I am crap with money. I am on a student loan, and budgeting to the best of my abilities, but my money goes "down the drain" on things I don't need, and they are always things for myself. My giving ability is incredibly limited and I'll be the first to admit it. I feel like I am constantly receiving and never giving and how is this any benefit to the kingdom?
So I am taking this conviction as an opportunity to do something. Starting January 1st (and NO, it's not a new years resolution... it's just a First of the month thing...) I will:
- not buy any article of clothing, including socks, hats, wallets, shoes, jewelry, for SIX-MONTHS (I could try a year but I feel like if my goal is more realistic, I'll be more successful)
- not buy any more espresso drinks for SIX-MONTHS (drip or tea is okay & that's simply because "coffee dates" are important for community and friendship and those drinks are cheaper alternatives)
- give more. to the church, to others, and to the needy. I haven't decided what that will look numerically like but it's in the works.

So here is my declaration. My mom is in complete disbelief. Just to show how reluctant I am to actually do this, after I read this chapter, I went out and bought a pair of pants... haha like in such panic that I am not going to be able to get them after January 1st. I texted mom to tell her about my idea and her exact response: "Hmmm... okai... whateva"
Clearly she's not buying it. And I don't blame her. My past has shown how terrible I am at money. Money, more notably, sacrifice, giving, commitment, and discipline.
So here goes nothing...


CS Lewis, you get me.

As the Ruin Falls

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love --a scholar's parrot may talk Greek--
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

CS Lewis