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My last Conniethought…

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment

One year ago I opened this blog as a release I needed when my second son was born.  I never really expected too much out of it other than to be able to express all the deep emotions and experiences I’ve had in the last few years.  I never expected it to reach so many diverse groups of people.   I’m forever amazed (and humbled) when I run into someone random who says they read the blog.  Wow.   So I just want to say “thank you” for coming along the ride with me this year.  Its been a blessing to hear your stories back of similar situations you’ve been through.  Hearing your stories has been my favorite part of writing the blog,  .

The great thing is that this isn’t good-bye!  As one blog closes, another opens; one that has similar messages to what I’ve been writing on already.  I invite you to stay on the journey.   There is much to tell, but not right now.  If you would like more info on where to find this new blog, please email me at rcbjakab@shaw.ca

In closing (at least on this blog), I reflect on how crazy life is. I’ve always wanted to write.  It was one of my highlights from school and college.  You just never know what happens when you try something you’ve always wanted to do.   I am thankful for the new writing adventures this year will bring as well as for the opportunity to be a part of an amazing writing community such as Redbud (http://RedbudWritersGuild.com).

All the same, YOU never know what could happen if you step out to do that one thing you’ve thought of doing for awhile.  Why not give it a go?  What’s the worst thing that could happen.  Don’t rob us of your beauty.   You have a story we need to hear.  You have something someone else needs.  To sit around and wait until you feel qualified means you’ll sit forever.  The more people I’ve talked to who have stepped into the great unknown often felt unequipped.   But He is the one who equips.

What’s in your hand?  What is it that brings you passion and joy?  What gifts have you been given?

Now look around.  What do you see?  There are those in need of what’s in your hand.  Go for it.  Live free, live loved.

It’s time to ask God; “What do you see in me?” and live out of His perspective of you!

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Categories: Getting missional

one of my deepest reflections as of late… a thanksgiving thought

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I look up at the night sky and see the moon’s light beaming down on the earth.   I am thankful tonight for all I have been given; a family, a home, a vehicle, clothes to wear, plenty of food…  Yet under this same moon I am aware of those who have not.

 

Under the same moon, in our land of plenty we struggle with dissatisfaction.  Others struggle with not having anything to satisfy their thirst or hunger.

 

Under the same moon, we try to guide our children away from entitlement, while other children would be thrilled to have one toy alone.

 

Under the same moon, we work overtime just so we can have the newest car, i-gadget, holiday, status, that we are often isolated from others, even our own family.  Yet there are others orphaned by the tyranny of aids, war and poverty who would do anything just to have a family.

 

Under the same moon I have a home, while others have no home.  I complain about driving a mini van and not a mustang, while others endure the winter on foot.   While I moan; “I’m broke” and head to Starbucks, there are those who truly have lost everything.

 

Under the same moon, there is enough money and resources for all to live well, but some hoard while others suffer.

 

I’ve become aware that although suffering is not my personal fault, I am responsible for my neighbor who has the same right to live under the same moon as I.

 

There must be more to a self indulgent life that never becomes satisfied.   I need to find those who live in lack.  Under the same moon they are there.  Will I care enough to look for them?  Will I share what I feel entitled to with them?

 

Can I truly feast while they famine?

 

“We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.” – Konrad Adenauer

 

To whom much is given, much is required. – Jesus (Luke 12:48)

Categories: Getting missional

My epic FAIL(S)

September 29, 2011 1 comment

There’s something I love about people who are real and honest about things they’ve totally messed up.  They make me feel right at home.  It’s probably because I just can’t relate to perfection.

I’m a genius at failure.  You name it, I may have tried it…. and failed.   For example, you DO NOT want to see me on a pair of skis….

Beyond just clumsiness, much of my failure status comes naturally by taking the bull by the horns and running free with whatever comes to my mind.  It’s funny to look back on the last 10 years of my life and realize I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded.  Humbling, yes, but I can tell you honestly, I’ve learned much more from my mistakes than I have from my successes.

Here’s the deal; the real and candid deal.  It sucks to fail, especially with others watching.   I don’t know if there’s anything much worse than putting your heart out on a limb, taking a huge risk, investing a huge amount of time and money only to see it all crumble before your eyes.  And if you’re “perfection-driven”, this could really make you crazy.  All of a sudden your incognito perfection has fallen to pieces in front of everyone, leaving your humanity completely exposed.  That sucks.

But you wanna know the good news?  That’s the worst thing that can happen.   In hind-sight, that isn’t so bad.   If you ask me if I’d do it all again, the answer would be, “Yes, yes and YES”.  I’d rather try and fail than sit and do nothing.  The people I most admire are those who have failed time and time again.  I admire their tenacity.  Do I care that they’re not perfect?  Hardly.

A mistake at least proves that somebody stopped talking long enough to do something. – Ian Green

John Maxwell wrote a great book called, “Failing Forward”.  In his book he says when you fail, fail FORWARD….. and when you find yourself on the ground, pick something up while you’re down there!  Love it.

Many are catching on to the idea of “failing”.  Did you know that there are innovative companies that give prizes to ideas that fail the most?  Where do I put in my resume?!   You know why they do this?   They want to create an environment of safe risk-taking.  (isn’t that an oxymoron?)  These companies don’t want the status quo.  They know in order to achieve extraordinary results they will fail a few times before they hit it.

They say a person who steps out to risk makes around two big mistakes a year on average.   They also say that a person who doesn’t step out to risk makes around two big mistakes a year as well…

If you’re not ever failing you’re probably not dreaming big enough… Take a risk!  If its not you then WHO?  If it’s not now, then WHEN?   Failure brings timidity – where we become afraid of stepping out again.   Foolishness.  We need to get over ourselves.   WHO is the one empowering us?  WHO is the one who calls?  WHO equips?   Is it our great ability?   Does it all rest on our charisma and talent?

Hebrews 13:21 says that God Himself equips us with every good thing to do His will.  HE is the one who works in and through us for His purpose to be accomplished.   We could look at that verse and think that’s our ticket out of ever failing!  After all, if the God of the universe is equipping us, should we ever fail?   Yes.

…… because God knows that failure is a very effective teacher.   It teaches us more about character, perseverance, and leaning on God’s grace, more than success could ever instruct.   My heart is full of gratitude for every time failure knocked on my door, because it reminded me; “I’m good…. but I’m not that good”.  It has brought a much-needed humility back to my centre, and a desperate dependance on God.

Will we ever succeed then?  Yes of course!  But I wonder if it will show itself the way we expect it to?   Will we see the fruit of our labour?   Will we be able to see how our efforts tangibly have had an impact on society?  Or will we leave this earth wondering?  We can’t view the lack of “visual fruit” as “failure”.   When you’re doing what God has asked you to do: keep on keeping on.  Don’t grow weary in doing good.  Stay the course until He says otherwise.

Sometimes, He leaves us in this very place because….. well….. I don’t know why He does that.  I can say all the “right sounding” answers like character-building stuff (etc), but the truth is my limited mind will never fully comprehend the reason.  But He does…. and He can… because He’s God.  Maybe it’s only to remind us of that?…   Perhaps He needs us to keep living for something greater than ourselves?  Perhaps empowering  grace would not be at its full use if we didn’t live in this constant dependance?

Perfect failure.  Another oxymoron?  Or a chance to see God move us from our counterfeit perfection to His extraordinary….

Part of spiritual maturity is caring LESS about what people think and MORE about what God thinks. – Mark Hawkes


Categories: Getting missional

I never thought I could….

September 27, 2011 1 comment

I had many thoughts when I ran the 10K race on the weekend.  So many things that spoke to my heart.  Here’s one that gave me a good laugh… and a good “think”.

At about the 7 kilometre mark, there was a girl with a sign that said; “This parade sucks”.  I got a good chuckle out of that which took my mind off the grueling pain I was feeling for a moment….. then that moment ended and it was back to the 45 minute  push-through-the-pain-mark I always get on a run.

 

As witty as it was, I thought about what it would be like to wait for the ONE family member to pass by.  It could seem pretty long seeing the same scene pass by over and over.  “Oh look!  Another runner!”  I’m sure we were all starting to blend in the eyes of the sidelines.

 

But seriously, how boring to be on the sidelines of a race.   I guess if you had some fun people to hang with it could be do-able, but if I had a choice, I’d certainly choose to run rather than watch.

 

Yet, there was a day not so long ago I thought I could NEVER run a 10K, let alone 2K!   I was the chubby girl all my life and the slowest runner in school.  I guess I let that continue to define me even after losing my weight.   I remember in school the fastest runner in my class asked me to race him across the field.  He thought it would be fun to completely humiliate me.  If you know me, you know exactly how I responded; with a big “BRING IT” – even though I knew how ridiculous it was.  I was somehow oblivious to the humiliation I was about to experience… wish I still had that innocence…

 

We started our “race” with him shooting off leaving me in the dust.   All of a sudden, my friend called out; “Connie!  There’s a wasp on you!!”   I was petrified of wasps so off I bolted catching up to my opponent faster than anyone expected.  I had caught up and came in a very close second, much to his (and my) surprise.

 

Perhaps I had it in me?   Maybe all I need is a wasp?…

 

At 30 I trained hard for my first 10K, determined to strip the limitation off of myself.  I became pregnant deterring me from my goal of running the whole race.  With a slight disappointment,  I walked it instead.   A few years later, I would run my first 10K, and it wouldn’t be the last.

 

I wonder what would have happened if I would have stayed on the sidelines?  I would have never known I COULD indeed run a 10K.

 

I wonder how many on the sidelines of the race watch with desire to run as well, but don’t feel they can?

 

What are you watching from the sidelines, wishing you could get involved with?

 

Maybe a 10K is not on your radar, but something is.   Aren’t you tired of watching from the sidelines?   Doesn’t that parade suck?   Why not give it a go?!

 

You’ll never know till you try…..

Categories: Getting missional

I was an orphan….

September 6, 2011 1 comment

I read the book; “Love You More”, by Jennifer Grant in one day.  Yup.  One day.   That’s not a normal occurrence  for me, it was just that compelling.  It took me back to when I was 4 years old; when my dad and mom got married.  I remember being the flower girl, looking up at mom, the bride, looking so beautiful!  I wanted to be her, and I wanted her bouquet…   I was actually upset that she was getting married and I wasn’t!  Funny, four year olds..

From day one my dad would always say that he didn’t just marry my mom, he married our family.   He was just as committed to being my father as he was being my mom’s new husband.  Before him, I had no concept of “dad”.  I hadn’t attended school yet, so I didn’t really realize what I was missing.  My mom tells me the day in kindergarden when I explained to my class what had happened that summer; “Well, my mom married my dad and now we’re a family!”.

We most certainly had a rough-go as a family.  This whole “dad” thing wasn’t all that great at times – especially when he would discipline me.  His British ways were foreign to my sensitive soul.  But I always knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he WANTED to be my dad.  He couldn’t have children so he would often say; “Without you, I’d have no hope of a child”.   Likewise, without him, I’d have no hope of a dad and my life would have been dramatically different.   There was a part of our family that was missing until we found each other.

I too, have a deep yearning in my heart to adopt.  It’s an injustice that so many children are fatherless, left to fend for themselves here in Canada and abroad.   The book, “Love You More” spoke right to that yearning.  I journeyed with the author through her emotions through searching, waiting, to finally meeting her daughter and bringing her home.   She was raw and honest about the whole experience and brought up matters I never would have guessed adoption would bring.  She didn’t candy-coat the experience and was candid about what kind of heart it takes to adopt.   She laid out the reality that wanting to adopt has to encompass so much more than just having a heart for the orphan.   You’ll have to read the book to find out what that is.

I thank God for the adoption He gave me through my earthy father who is now with Jesus.  I’m so thankful that he didn’t just want to marry my mom, but wanted ME too.  One day I hope to fill the hole in my heart knowing that I can be a mother to someone without one; for our family to be completed with whoever that little one is.

Whether you have a heart to adopt yourself or just love a book that will take you through someone’s raw and real experience, this book is a must-read!   It’s content is close to the Father’s heart, echoing His heart for the orphan longing to belong to someone.

 

Categories: Getting missional

Something special about our home

I live in the house my grandparents lived in. Its very special to us because I have many wonderful childhood memories within it. Now that they are gone, we have renovated most of the house to reflect our own family, but there’s one thing I will never rid of; the apple tree in the backyard. It’s a beautiful tree that I used to climb as a child. Grandma would make the most amazing crab apple jelly. My grandpa was very innovative and was able to graft a gala apple branch into the tree. Now the apple tree gives us crab apples and gala apples a plenty every fall.
Walking in our yard today, I could see the apples getting more ready to be picked.  It’s exciting for my son who is always asking, “Are they ready yet?!” Soon our home will be filled with the fresh aroma of apple sauce, jelly and other baked yummies. This apple tree, once small and offering very little fruit when it was first planted, now is a mature tree with branches that can with hold the weight of children that love to climb its limbs, and gives a bountiful amount of apples.

It’s a precious memory of my grandparents. I often think of their love, generosity and care when I look outside at my beautiful tree. It speaks of a value they modelled so well while alive; leaving a legacy. I’m so glad they planted this tree. It’s something to carry on even after they have passed. Just as my mom, then myself enjoyed the tree as children, now my children get to experience that same joy. What a beautiful gift to pass down.

This tree reminds me of a bigger picture above my routine-oriented days with young children at home. It reminds me to live well, love deeply and remember that what I live for is passed down. That even my feelings of “meaningless activity” is all being built together to one day be extended further than my life’s breath.

It reminds me that this legacy goes beyond my own family. Many love to come and pick apples from our tree. We love to share it with others! Just the same, we love to share our lives with others, hopefully encouraging and strengthening others around us. It reminds me that our lives will either sustain or weaken those around us.

Just recently I read an amazing book that I could not put down. It was called “Nurture” by Lisa Bevere. I’d like to quote a few things from the book that jumped out and touched my heart!

“We are not what we do, we are what we pass on. If we selfishly try to protect our personhood, we lose many things that make life worth living. WE CHOOSE WHAT WE PASS ON. Do we want them to inherit regret, pain and mistakes?? We need to decide how we are going to position the next generations. We are the ones who choose what the next generation will inheirit. It will inherit one of two things: God’s promises or our fears. Whether you “signed up” to be an example, you are one. It’s time the older women took back the role as “supermodel”.

I couldn’t have said that better. We live in a generation that is consumed with ourselves. I can’t live my life chasing after my own dreams and ambitions leaving my boys in my dust trail. Likewise, I feel a responsibility to the younger generation; to give them something worth following behind. Something that gives them hope to endure and enough to sustain their strength after I’m gone.

Legacy isn’t grandeur, its following through in the simple, day to day “small things”….. Like planting an apple tree and watering it. Doesn’t look like “legacy” in that moment, but if continued, it is sure to leave something that lasts beyond mortal life for the next generation to enjoy.

Your life matters. Are you living like it?

Categories: Getting missional

Why I don’t call myself a Christian

Last week I mentioned my amazing experience teaching with some of Calgary’s greatest hip hop artists and how they don’t just dance the dance, they LIVE the culture.  Hip hop is a culture, not just dance moves or music.  To love the dance is to engage in the culture of it, not just claim to listen to its music (which most people think is today’s top 40….)

 

When introducing myself to my students, I’m pretty strait-up about where I’m at with hip hop culture.  I tell them of how I came to teach hip hop “by accident”, when I was 22 years old just wanting to get in shape, stumbling upon a hip hop class in Vancouver.  The rest is history.   I joke about how I dress for hip hop in comparison to my normal “mommy clothes” I wear at home.  Or the fact that my favorite store is actually Le Chateau.   I laugh as I mention I drive a mini van – that’s right; gangsta momma in her mini van (“you see me rollin’….”)   When the hip hoppers are cyphering at the club, I’m in bed because it’s past my bed time.   It breaks the ice and gets a few laughs.   I then tell them that to learn from someone who is fully immersed in the culture is an honor.  They’re not just teaching dance moves.  Their passion for what they live is evident and contagious.

 

There’s a big difference between just coming to class and wanting to learn some great moves to show off to friends at a party and, knowing the bigger picture of the history of the move.    There’s a clear contrast between those who just pick up choreography and those who endlessly practice foundation moves found in funk, breaking, popping and locking.  There’s a defining line between one who knows all about hip hop culture and one who lives it.   You can tell those who think they know all about hip hop and those who really know by the type of hip hop music they listen to.  You can see those who know the dedication it takes to master even one of the hip hop dance styles and those who just want enough to “get by”.

 

I was reflecting on this in regards to faith.  Likewise, there’s a big difference between those who go to church, punching in their time, and those who know the bigger picture of the history of what Christ did.  There’s a clear contrast between those who know and use Christian lingo and the odd Bible verse, and those who study it.   There’s a defining line between those who are “down with JC”, and those who have given everything to follow Him.  You can see those who know what it takes to be His follower: to take up their cross daily, and those who just want to do enough to “get by”.

 

I don’t call myself a Christian.  It’s too generic, used too commonly.  I like to call myself a Christ-follower; one who is fully immersed in a new culture of those who know the cost it takes to truly make Him the leader.  Its raw, fresh, radical and truly life-changing.   The life of a disciple is full of adventure and risk.   There’s nothing like living for something greater than yourself.  That’s a culture I don’t want to stand outside of just to observe, or just dab my fingers in bits of it.  I want my whole being saturated with it so hopefully it floods out of my soul onto everyone I meet.

Categories: Getting missional