Meeting Jesus in McDonalds

I don’t know about you, but I think reading the Bible can be boring.

Don’t act so shocked! I can’t be the only one who does their “devotions” (Christianese for reading the Bible) off and on. I realized recently that it’s like a relationship… If you and your best friend only did the same thing every single night, wouldn’t you get bored after a while?

We forget that reading the Bible is not supposed to be a religious exercise, but part of our relationship with God. So when we read our one chapter a day, every day, it makes sense that we would become tired of it. We need to shake things up!

I am in no way claiming to be an expert in this, but in the last few months I have been experiencing a lot of freedom and excitement when it comes to reading the Bible and spending time with Jesus! I want to share my findings with you…

Stop trying to read the whole Bible in a year.

I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to do this. It never works. For some people it does, but don’t think you have to be one of them.

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Become Spontaneous and Do Things Differently

Why do we have this idea that in order to have a “proper” devotional time, we need to have sat for at least half an hour and read as many chapters as we can? Quality, not quantity!

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The BEST time I have ever spent with God was last spring sometime. I was driving one evening when I realized the northern lights were especially bright. So I stopped and ended up sitting on the trunk of my car singing and crying and talking to God for more than an hour.

Sometimes I listen to a podcast while I go for a walk. Sometimes I read a good book that encourages me to think about God in new ways. Sometimes I watch a sermon. I am intentionally trying to do it different every day, and this has been helping so much!

Make your time more about hearing from God and less about checking something off your to-do list

I am super guilty of this… I sit down with x amount of time before I need to go to work, so I quickly crack open the Bible and read as fast as I can.

Just last week it occurred to me that I was missing the point, so for the next half hour I sat in silence and asked God to speak to me, and the stuff that He told me was AMAZING. Again, the other day I started reading the Bible and I suddenly felt strongly that  He wanted me to call a friend of mine and talk through some stuff that had come between us… My “devo” time consisted of a really encouraging conversation making things right.

Try coloring.

Not everyone likes to write in their Bible, but I DO. I have come up with a coloring system, and I highlight certain things with pencil crayons. Pink is for sin, red is for God’s commands, etc. I also have symbols that I draw to help me later on find passages on different topics.

Go meet Jesus in Mcdonalds

I try to spend time with Jesus in different locations to help shake it up. In the summer I like to sit on the train bridge close to my house. Now during winter, I go once a week to a local coffee shop to have a cup of tea with Jesus, and one time I had a funny experience in McDonalds…

I was just sitting, minding my own business. Suddenly this 20-something dude sits down at the next table and asks me what I’m reading.

“My Bible,” I smile a small smile, and turn back. He is creepyish.

“Aw, cool! I’ve read the Bible before. It’s like an action book!”

I kid you not, 30 seconds later this nicer looking old man with a huge hipster beard steps up to me and says “Hey, I just wanted you to know that you have a REALLY nice smile. And you’re reading the Bible too! Cool!” He came back a second time to tell me the SAME thing.

LOL.

Not every devo time is filled with such interesting experiences, but often they are!

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I’M SINGLE FOR GOOD

First, some good news: I was accepted to go to Bible School this fall!!!

And you know what has been the number one thing people say when they find out I’m going to Bible School? “Oh, are you going to find a husband?”

Yes, I am twenty and I am single. Never had a boyfriend. Never been kissed.

Today I want to rant a bit about some lies in our culture and in Christian circles.

Singleness is not a problem that needs to be fixed.

The Bible goes so far as to call singleness a gift. By constantly bugging the singles you know and trying to set them up, you are promoting the idea that we are not complete without a significant other.

I will be honest, I don’t often see it as a gift. When I was fifteen I made a commitment to myself and to God that I wouldn’t date until I was done high school. I have never regretted this decision. But now that I’m done high school, and most of my friends are either married or in relationships, I sometimes get discontent and wonder what’s taking so long…

ha

I was listening to a sermon about the whole thing, and Pastor Barry Kimbro said something pretty cool; “As a single person, you are able to image Christ in a way that married people can’t. You are able to give yourself away completely to everyone.”

It’s true. Because I am single, I can use my time and help in ways that married people just can’t.  I don’t have any responsibility to any other person, except Jesus!

Singleness is not hell.

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It hurts my heart to see teens posting about being “forever alone”, going from relationship to relationship, and doing everything they can to get a boyfriend or girlfriend.

I have learned so much about relying on Jesus being single. I have learned to go to Him when I have a bad day. To go to Him for a sense of belonging, or when I feel insufficient or insignificant. To rely on Him when I feel lonely- which is often.

That moment we go to our boyfriend/girlfriend to give us significance or identity or our source of love and affection, we turn that person into an idol.

We are meant to worship Jesus alone. Don’t turn singleness into hell and a boyfriend into a savior.  He won’t able to do that job very well.  Only Jesus can!

 Sex is not God. Sex is not gross. Sex is a gift!

The world tells us sex is just something to do, recreation, casual, something to laugh at, no strings attached. It really does make it into a god.

Christians, reacting to this lie, sometimes give the impression that sex is dirty, something to be ashamed of.

These are both wrong.

When sex is done the way God created it, in marriage between a man and a woman, it is beautiful! He promises that it is worth the wait. I have never met anyone committed to a godly marriage that wishes they would have hooked up or dated around.

You have probably heard the analogy, but it is too good not to share… A fire is beautiful and warm and wonderful in a fire place. But the moment the fire spreads to the rest of the house it gets dangerous! And sex within marriage is safe and good. Outside of marriage it is dangerous.

Purity is a lifestyle. For everyone.

As a Christian, I am trying hard to live a lifestyle of purity. I am not trying to be pure until marriage, as if the moment you get married you have no longer any reason to be pure. That’s not how it works!

I read Every Young Man’s Battle, by Stephen Arterburn, Kenny Luck and Mike Yorkey, and it explained sexual purity this way… “Sexual purity is receiving no sexual gratification from anything or anyone outside of your husband or wife.”

A lifestyle of purity is extremely hard. I am not perfect at it. If you’ve read my testimony, you’ll know that I struggle with lust. It’s an everyday battle that I’m sure you all face. But just because we live in an oversexualized culture doesn’t mean we are off the hook. God calls us to holiness, and only by His Holy Spirit and His grace is this possible!

So to recap and answer the question once and for all:

I want to use my singleness for good. It’s the gift God has given me for now, and I’m choosing to love it and live life to the full. I want to serve Jesus with all of me, including my singleness. And if someday God wants me to serve him as a married person, I will be cool with that too.

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I’m really excited to go to Bible School, but I am not intentionally trying to find someone there. That would be  WAY too expensive a dating service!!!

MY EUROPEAN ADVENTURE IS ALMOST OVER

So me and Becca’s backpacking ended with a wonderful two nights near Insbruck, Austria. We decided to treat ourselves to a hotel with a pool in the mountains, and it was so wonderful. The city itself was kind of a sketchy experience. We arrived on a Saturday evening quite late and decided to take a taxi to the hotel since it wasn’t in the city and we didn’t want to figure out buses late at night. 

 The next day we went back into town to figure out trains and do some shopping, but literally everywhere we walked was closed. We ended up on a street with a bunch of sex shops, so that was uncomfortable… 

    Needless to stay, we booked it out of there back to the hotel and had such a relaxing day, with some really good food at a restaurant close by. Oh, and ice-cream, of course.  

 I found out later that had we gone to another part of the city we would have found it to be a lot better and less sketchy.

We ended back in Switzerland for a few days, and then Becca left to go back to Canada and her grandparents brought me to the next chapter of my Europe adventure… L’Abrie.

L’Abrie is a chalet up in the mountains in the French part of Switzerland. Over twenty of us live in a big beautiful building and do chores and study and do life together. It’s kind of like a informal school, except people can stay as short or as long as they want and there’s no tests or papers. 

I’ve had some cool experiences here and met some awesome people. I went hitch hiking for the first time and learned some Scottish dances. We toured a cheese and chocolate museum, been to a castle, and went on a luge-coaster-like-thing. I got a motorcycle ride from a guy who looked like Jesus. We climbed up a mountain!  I DEFINETLY RECOMMEND GOING TO L’ABRIE!

       

           There’s a lot of folks from the southern States … I love how they say my name “Kindra” and bug me about saying “aboot”.

Now I’m sitting at my second last week in Europe, and it’s crazy to realize it’s almost over!

I’ve met so many cool people, ate amazing new foods, and had so many good, needed God-moments. 

One chapter is ending, and a new one will begin soon. I’m not quite certain what it will look like when I get back to Canada, so that brings some nervous anticipation.

One thing God has taught me is that I had some unrealistic expectations for myself. I realized that in the past, especially in the last year, I would beat myself up any time I messed up. So I wrote out what I expect from myself and found out that I pretty much expect myself to be Jesus… I expect perfection, and nothing less.

It’s brought me a lot of freedom and joy to realize that I am loved by God no matter what, and He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. When He looks at me, He sees His child, adopted, accepted, and loved. Our God’s grace is amazing!

See you guys soon,

-Kendra 

MEMORIES OF ITALY: PIZZA, PASTA, & ICE-CREAM

It has become me and Becca’s tradition to try pizza and ice-cream in every country we visit… Sometimes more than once.
So far, I must say other than the one meal in Paris, Italy has had my FAVOURITE food of life. 

We went to Pisa for two nights. The hostel was really sweet. It had the chillest atmosphere, and you could play their guitar and piano, and play pool and ping pong and buy cheap food from their bar.  

 We met a sweet German gal and hung out with her all day, which was so fun. We walked about the town and saw some sights, and ate scrumptious pasta and ice-cream. 

   

 At another time we tried some pizza, and it was quite strange. First of all, we thought they were personally sized. They were not. They also had very strange toppings. Becca had one with ham, olives, and artichokes. Mine had spicy salami, mushrooms, and “rocket salad”, which once warm tastes quite bitter and gross. 

Next up was Rome. We had another long walking day, seeing the Colosseum and Roman Forum. It was so crazy to be in the city where Paul and Peter were killed, where a book of the Bible was written to, and where it used to be illegal to be a Christian. We had wonderful pasta for lunch, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had for supper, and ice-cream 3 times that day. 😃

   
      We caught a night train that evening. It left at 10pm and arrived in Venice at 6:30am. Let’s just say that night trains are possibly one of the worst things. It is stinkin’ uncomfortable, and honestly I’m surprised I slept as much as I did. I was also not feeling the best, which didn’t help.

Venice before dawn is strange. You walk out of the train station to see the “street” shining in the moonlight… a canal of water.

The wifi didn’t work at the train station, so after the sun came up we walked (mainly over bridges!) until we found a small restaurant and had breakfast and wified. Small side note- they had the best hot chocolate in the entire universe. I had two cups.

  
Later we went on a gondola ride!!! It was such a cool experience. 

   
  

We had pizza in Venice, and it was amazing. We weren’t daring enough to have more crazy toppings, so we just had cheese.

Italy was so fun. Definitely more chaotic and unorganized than Germany/Switzerland. We thought German cities were hard to navigate… Well half the streets in Rome weren’t clearly labelled, which was challenging. And the drivers are maniacs.

The Italian accent is the coolest thing to behold. The movies don’t exaggerate!

A little bit of a plot twist… We decided to stay in Austria for two nights instead of Venice. You can read all about that in the next blog!

PARIS IS OVERRATED & I MISS CANADA

Have you ever had it where your friends tell you about a movie and make it sound gooder than good? Like they tell you that it’s the best movie and make your expectations so high that when you watch it you get a major let down because it’s just not as good as you imagined? That is how Paris was for both Becca and I. 

France was quite wonderful, especially south. Paris, on the other hand, was overrated.

Now understand this: on our trip, we have been to mainly cities. We have been to a few cities that have a small town feel to them (which we love), but we are both getting to the point where we are appreciating Manitoba/Saskatchewan so much more.

I miss wide open spaces, people-free places, familiar faces, one language across a vast area, and “normal” foods. I never thought I would say that I missed Manitoba.

Okay, so we visited 3 cities in France, starting in Paris. Our hostel in Paris was quite sketchy, cramped and ugly, so we didn’t spend a lot of time there. Instead we walked for 9 hours in one day so we could see the sights, including the Eiffel Tower, a chocolate museum, a bunch of palaces and naked statues. I really liked the Notre Dam and the Lock Bridge, and I had a pigeon on my head!

   
  

  

  French cuisine is supposed to be amazing, so in Paris we tried some French Onion Soup and some pasta. It was definitely my FAVOURITE part of Paris and probably one of the best meals I’ve had in Europe.

After Paris we went to Lyon, which we loved! It was so beautiful and had less mobs of tourists, and cleaner as well. Our wonderful hostel was up a very steep hill, but the view was worth it. We tried some random food downtown, and although mine was great, we learned that if a French person says something is “cold meat”, it means RAW. Becca survived and even liked the first 4 pieces. After that my own disgusted experience and probably the realization of what she was eating caught up to her.

We also met our first Christian in Lyon, which was so awesome and encouraging!!!

Nice (pronounced neece) was next, and it was super nifty nice. The hostel we wanted was full so we stayed at a VERY shady looking hostel. The reception guy was so nice and helpful though, and God blessed us with really good sleeps in spite of the raging pub outside and partying roommates.

The best part of Nice was the ocean, which was so gorgeous and so warm and so salty. The worst part of Nice was European men’s swimwear.

Random France things….

-PDA is rampant. I mean, uncomfortably rampant.

-The cities we visited all smell like pee.

-Eye contact is normal, lots and lots of eye contact. 

-Picking your nose in public isn’t a big deal.

-All the hostels we stayed at had unisex showers and bathrooms, which is strange.

-Everywhere, but especially in Paris, the drivers are maniacs, there are tons of insane bicyclers and motorcycles, and pedestrians don’t follow traffic lights. It’s kind of a stressful mess, definitely something to get used to.

Okidoki, that’s it from France! Italy is up next. 😀

TWO CHRISTIAN GIRLS WALK INTO A GERMAN BAR

Backpacking is an interesting experience, especially as a Christian. The majority of backpackers travel in order to experience night life in different cities and drink a lot and see some sights.

At one hostel we were at this week, the girl at the front desk told us, “WHEN you get back past midnight, make sure you have your key…” We smiled, nodded, and laughed about it later, because we have been sleeping by 10pm and getting up at 7am. We have spent 5 days in Germany, and I have to say it has been good, but also different than I expected.

DIFFERENT…

-It’s been a learning experience spending constant time with my best friend. Up until now, our relationship has been mainly camp, where you have only moments together, Skype, and random weekends. So we have been learning more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I definitely didn’t expect it, but it is really cool to get to know someone in a different way.  
-Up until now, I have only ever been on big trips that have been planned for me… Mostly missions trips or family vacations. So now having the complete freedom to go where we want, stay where we want, do what we want… It’s a lot of decisions, and it can seem to be overwhelming. No matter how much planning you do ahead of time, there is always unforeseen stuff coming up.

-In the five days we have been here, we have only heard a small handful of English speakers. Whenever it happens, we feel familiar joy!

-We have observed a huge amount of French speaking people here in Germany.

-We are averaging 4-5

 hours of walking a day.

-The streets are so insane. Not only are they not straight, have crazy long unpronounceable names, and often start off as one name and then change into another name. We get turned around so easily here!

-All the stores have English pop songs playing, and not always are they good ones.

GOOD…

-The first city we stopped in Germany was Freiburg. It was a good city for us to start with, because it was smaller, slower, and it didn’t take us a long time to find our hostel. We went for an amazing stroll by a scenic little river, and then had some overpriced icecream. We tried to find a place to eat, and, seeing the word “pizza”, confidently walked into what we thought was a restaurant. We realized quickly it was not a cute little restaurant, it was a smokey, sketchy bar, with only a table full of old men playing cards. Needless to say, we took our pizza to go, and enjoyed it in our first and only private room so far at the cute little hostel.


-We spent most of Monday at Europapark, and it was SO FUN. We probably got in about 8 or 9 rides, which was good seeing as the lineups were quite long.

-We spent two nights in Frankfurt at a very nice and noisy hostel. The sleep was terrible but the free breakfast was wonderful. We had a great day walking everywhere and saw a lot of beautiful buildings, street performers, weird human statues, and homeless people. Becca has like 200 pictures of flowers from the botanic gardens that we toured.

  (So many camo trees… But I can’t see them)

-On Wednesday we visited the Bach Haus in Eisenach, which I loved. We wanted to stay in Eisenach, but the hostel was full, so we moved on to Koln, another big city. We got lost a bunch but finally found a nice hostel, which turned out being only 5 minutes from the train station.
-The second day in Koln was a day to rest, relax, do laundry, and figure out trains in France, since we found out you have to reserve them all. My favorite memory of the day would have to be eating a GIANT MOUNTAIN of frozen yogurt and laughing in a park for about an hour. I wore shorts all day despite the fact that the locals were bundled up in fall fashionable trench coats and scarves and boots. I am Canadian, I after all.


  

 And that concludes the Germany part of the trip. Tune in next time for France!

IF YOU HAVE NUT ALLERGIES, STAY AWAY FROM SWITZERLAND

Hello friends!
So I have been in Switzerland for just about a week, and everything has been INSANELY AMAZING!! 

  
Yesterday me and Becca traveled on confusing trains into Germany, but for now here are some of my observations and things that I have learned from my time in Switzerland. And some pictures to illustrate.

-Canada could learn from all the quaint buildings and smooth roads

    
-There is NO garbage anywhere!

-There are nuts in everything! Even cheese and meat. Poor Becca has had a bunch of minor allergic reactions, but if you could send some prayers her direction that would be cool.

-Switzerland has won the gene pool lottery! Everywhere there are guys that inspire heartfelt praise to God in our hearts.

-Since the roads are so windy, dangerous, and narrow, people have to be good drivers… Or die. Literally. 

   
 -Two days ago Becca’s Grampa took us up a mountain. What came to mind was what if I was up there enraptured by a puny flower, when all I have to do is look up to see a gorgeous mountain landscape? God taught me that sometimes I do that with Him. I get so caught up on the small picture, when He has so much better in store… He says, “look up!”

   
 -I am so glad Canada is not so OCD. In the province we stayed in, there are laws about how clean your car has to be. (VERY clean.) There is a law that says If you renovate or build a house it has to be traditionally Swiss looking. (Which looks cool, though.) And everyone is very prim and proper and polite. Consequently, that is what Becca likes about Switzerland. 

-It sucks when you are socializing with people you can’t socialize with. I have probably only learned about 5-6 German phrases so far but I am trying.

-It is weird but fun to be able talk about literally anything in front of the hoards of people that know not a lick of English 🙂

-There are bells on cows and in towers, and it is melodious and wonderful!