My Open Letter to Justin Bourque-
I have never met you and to be honest, I didn’t even know who you were until you appeared on my tv on the nightly news last night. I wish I heard about you in different circumstances, but I didn’t. I met you through a television screen while sitting on my couch drinking hot chocolate. I wish I didn’t have to tremble when I hear your name thinking about the officers lives you took. I wish it didn’t happen. I wish it wasn’t still happening. But it did, and it still is. And as much as you think you have to do this to “go out with a bang”, you don’t.
My first question to you is ‘Why? What made you do this?” I always wonder about these things because I know that the shootings weren’t out of nowhere. I begin to think about what your home situation was like when you were growing up, and what how your 5 other siblings treated you. I wonder if you had people in your life who inspired you to be better, who challenged you, who called you out when you were being stupid.
I wonder if you grew up truly knowing that you were and are loved.
As one human being to another, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that while others are being encouraged to change the world, you were being ignored. If I could tell you one thing, I would want you to know that you are loved. And despite what others may say, you do matter and that you have a place in this world. That place however, doesn’t have to include voicing what’s been bottled up inside for so long through violence.
Your story is aching to be heard.
I want to hear your story.
Tell me your story.
As I go to bed with a heavy heart for Moncton and a heavy heart for you, I realize that you’re camped out, hidden in a bush; filled with you, your over-consuming thoughts, and two guns.
You need to know that there are people rooting you on from the sidelines, pushing for you to stop. To take a breath. To realize that there’s a bigger picture than the rage built up inside of you.
You need to stop.
You need to know that there is hope and that there is healing. And the hope and healing doesn’t start after you’ve taken the amount of lives that you’ve calculated in your head to be right, because that’s not where it starts. It starts by admitting that just like the rest of us, you have fears and dreams that go beyond your violent actions. Go beyond your actions.
My prayer for you tonight is that you surrender; that you process that you’ve taken 3 peoples lives and that their families are now without dads, sons, uncles.
My prayer is that you don’t take your own life tonight.
My heart mourns over the losses. My heart goes out to the families affected. My heart just wants to grip a hold of yours and tell you ‘stop. I’m here to listen. You can’t take back what you’ve done in the last 24 hours, but you can change what is about to happen in the next’.
a dream of mine is coming true right as we speak.
i’ve always been about love + hope + believing that we were meant for a bigger purpose than we give ourselves credit for.
and i made a tank top about it.
it’s only $13.
it can ship anywhere in the world.
i’m only making 20. they’re all pre-orders and the site ships them out themselves! (perfect for summer!)
you want one? let’s do this!
(only 14 left!)
i’m becoming a pastor-
i know what you’re thinking, "well, there goes another one.."
i get it. you’ve had a bad experience with church when you were four and you thought the priest or monk or pastor was scary and terrifying and you begged your mother to never make you go back.
or maybe you are someone who doesn’t believe in a higher power, or that when we die we’re either dead-dead or come back as a monkey or flamingo or something.
i’m not getting into that.
i grew up in the church, but it wasn’t until grade 11 when i started to really love people. my mom always told me that ever since i was walking i was making friends whether it was playing soccer in the summers sitting down during the game picking dandelions with someone from the opposite team or going to camp every summer. i’ve always had this knack for meeting people but i’ve always been scared of getting to be known.
i didn’t want to ever let people in my life but i wanted to get into everyone else’s.
what’s the point of this story?
well, i’m a dreamer and a believer in humanity. i love people. i love writing and creating and i spend my days saying ‘IMAGINE?”. i’ve always had a thing for hearing stories and laughing when people laugh and crying when people cry. i’ve always loved travelling and playing dress-up and pretending to be a celebrity.
perez hilton was my favourite person circa 2009.
i know, i can’t take back that year as much as i try.
so, years later i’m slowly figuring out what tugs my heart strings and makes my eyes pop. i’ve always wanted to make sure people know that they are loved and that they carry a purpose that is all their own.
despite everything, i’m becoming a pastor.
and whatever your feelings are towards the church, i believe that there’s a way we can change things up. and maybe i’m going to be one of those leaders who believe that there really is a possibility to walk into a church and have people believe that it’s okay to not be okay; to have people walk out knowing that they are loved and that they are called.
my dream is for people to understand that at the end of the day, you don’t have to act a certain way or dress in certain things in order to be accepted or valued. my dream is for everyone to find out what makes their heart tug and what makes their eyes pop.
my dream is for people to not let their lives go to waste.
i hope you know how loved you are. i hope you know that maybe today hasn’t worked out for you, but certainly tomorrow holds a new chance. know that there are brighter tomorrow’s. your life matters and your dreams need to become reality.
you need to respect your dreams enough to never let them go.
when the what ifs take over your now-
more often than not i find myself stuck in an unrealistic reality; faced with the “what’s currently happening” phase and the “ah, imagine if..” counterpart. i’ve always found myself stuck in all these imaginary dreams that i hold tightly in my “i can do anything and anything can happen” pocket in my brain while i’m always conflicted with the reality of the now.
what happens when you get stuck living in the “what could happen” as oppose to what you’re facing now? what happens when you get so wrapped up in all the possibilities that you forget to deal with and be excited over the now?
the weirdest tension.
i’ll be honest and tell you i’ve passed up pretty incredible opportunities because i “feel like there’s going to be something better”. but i’ve also taken opportunities because “maybe there isn’t anything better”.
i imagine more situations than i probably should because of one word, “IMAGINE?”. i believe that anything and everything is possible because of that one word, but i also second guess more because of the what if’s.
i scare myself out of things because i’m nervous of the things that might happen. i doubt my capabilities because of the “well, there’s someone out there that is better. funnier. nicer. kinder. more loving. more creative.”
i lose myself in moments because i’m “too busy caught up in the what ifs of ten minutes from now, tomorrow, or two years”, but i also find clinging to possibilities, dreams, and the plans of the hope for a brighter tomorrow.
i find myself in the hopeful and the hopeless, the dreams turned reality and the slightly cracked, broken window kinda dreams. i find myself digging for answers in solid pavement when i should be in the garden, and asking questions when i already know the answer. i find myself questioning God’s plans just because i’m too stubborn to admit that i actually can’t do things on my own, and i lack trust somedays because “if i can’t do it, who can?”
whatever you’re dealing with now, possibilities, hurt, lies, dreams bigger than you (and what could seem like bigger ones than God’s planned for your life), i promise you that if you focus on your present condition knowing that life is a process, things will get better.
you work and you heal.
you break and you mend.
your life was meant for more.
when God just doesn’t understand-
there are more moments than i’d like to admit where i’ve felt defeated, tired, or just ready to give up. there’s been moments of confusion, doubt, and uncertainty. i’ve been placed in situations that seem way bigger than they actually are in the big grand scheme of things. those are the moments where i just want to say God doesn’t understand.
time and time again i’ve seen God’s handiwork. in mexico, on tour, in a church, on the streets, in the grocery story, in the little cafe down the street and in my home. i’ve seen God continue to bring me out of terrible situations only to reward me with another challenge to get me to appreciate the little things He does for me.
often i question if God actually knows what I’m going through. i know it’s silly, and i know that He cares and would never abandon me, but do you ever feel like He does?
those are the moments that you need to trust He’s placed you on the sidelines so He can be on the front lines for you.
it’s like a football game. there’s moments when you’re on the field and your coach is on the sidelines either cheering you on or trying to yell at you with where you should go or what you should do next.
but, there’s other times where maybe your coach is on the field demonstrating while you’re on the sidelines watching, learning, observing.
sometimes in life you may feel like God just “doesn’t understand” when in actuality you’re the one on the sideline forgetting to watch or hear what you’re supposed to do because you’re caught up in the fact you’re not playing.
you need to know that God is with you, that he loves you, and that he’s not done coaching you. He does in fact understand what you’re going through and he’s walking alongside you; rooting you on.
your struggle is real. whatever you’re going through matters. know that you’re not alone. know that you haven’t been given up on.
: part of last nights late night writing sesh.
#worldvisioncup and my Brasil Top 10
On May 8th, my best friend and I (who met in the DR 5 years ago and have only seen each other once in those 5 years) left to embark on a trip of a lifetime to Recife, Brasil to participate in the World Vision Cup.
160 youth representing 12 countries across the world came together to participate in presentations, a 3 day soccer tournament, a “letter to Recife” presented to a member of the UN on our last day, and just overall awareness of youth violence, human trafficking, poverty, education and health across the world. I was able to be the female leader of our 11 person Team Canada team and was so thankful of the chance to help lead in the experience of a lifetime.
Because so much happened in so little time, I’m giving you a TOP 10.
(there’s no order of importance- I promise!)
10. Getting to Brasil was an experience. Our 20 hour “Ottawa-Detroit-Sao Paulo-Recife” flights changed to a 40+ hour ” Cracked windshield mid-flight from Ottawa (that ended up on CNN) that had to stop in Toronto that made us miss all of our connecting flights, had to stay overnight and re-book our entire trip and made us go through US customs 3 times in 2 days to Atlanta-Brasilia-Recife”. Our Brasilia flight made us change plans after an 1 waiting on board because it was broken. A Brasil soccer team joined our flight. It was wicked.
9. The Canadian girls shared a cabin with the Ethiopian girls. It was their first time in a swimming pool and I got to teach 2 of the girls how to swim for the very first time. It was incredible to see their faces and thoughts towards it. (I’ve always wanted to adopt from Ethiopia too so it was incredible to be able to hang out with people from there!)
8. Because of the many countries/languages present, I was speaking at least 4 languages at any given time. One night I was the only english speaking person in a crowd of about 40. I forced myself to stay in the situation despite how my instincts were to run away and find comfort. I ended up in a circle discussing David Beckham and chirping a bunch of 15 year old Brazilian boys. It was great.
7. After our first friendly tournament on the first day, my cleats got stolen for the rest of the week. Thankful for another Canadian to lend me hers during the soccer tournament (there were 2 canadian teams).
8. My team (2 canadians + 4 Australians) played both of our games against Team Mongolia. We ended up putting one of the girls in a sling the last game. The next day, the Mongolia team played in the semi-finals and needed a sub for the girl who we put in the sling. THEY ASKED ME OUT OF EVERYONE TO PLAY FOR THEM. I’m sorry, but this wins as favourite moment ever. We ended up losing to Brasil 7-5.
7. During the cultural presentations, South Korea went up and danced ‘Gangnam Style” by Psy. I went up. I DANCED WITH KOREANS DOING GANGNAM STYLE. seriously, the best.
6. I made a best friend from Korea. Her name is Damy and speaks little, little english. At the end of the week, she ended up writing on a South Korean postcard in english to me. I’m keeping this for the rest of my life. If you’ve ever seen Lilo and Stitch, she’s Lilo.
5. Camp food was awful. They took corn flakes literally and gave us corn shredded up as flakes for breakfast. HOWEVER THEY GAVE US CHOCOLATE CAKE ONE MORNING AND THEY SAID IT WAS NORMAL. BEST. DAY. EVER.
4. The 12 countries collectively got together and wrote a “Letter to Recife”; in hopes that some things can change and be better for the youth there and all around the world. Our last day included a press conference with many big names, including a member of the UN. We presented the letter to them.
3. A lot of the kids there were former World Vision sponsor children. Coming from Canada, the only North American country present, it was interesting to see that we are the ones who sponsor, and they are the ones receiving. Really cool.
2. I made Brasil Television while we were visiting the FIFA World Cup Stadium.
1. My favourite moment? (Okay, I did have favourites). I got to hear stories and different family situations in broken portuguese/spanish/korean/french/etc. My heart goes out for every single story I heard and even for the ones I didn’t. These kids are some of the coolest I’ve met and have such beautiful hearts towards life and people.
I’m humbled + grateful for the opportunity to go. This was honestly a trip of a lifetime and knowing that so many people jumped on board to donate (and had the entire trip raised in 6 days!) makes me incredibly thankful. I love people + will always tell God to bring me where He needs me. I’ve learned that nothing is ‘random’ (as much as this trip was!) and will continue to walk + work + believe for things unseen (and to continue to meet people and hear their stories).
you are loved.
you are chosen.
your story will continue.
lots of love,
i’m going to get wrecked. again.
the truth is, is that in 17 days i’ll be boarding a plane (only to board three more planes) to land in a foreign place i’ve never been before- brazil.
i’ll admit it’s random. i’ll admit that i never had my eyes set on brazil (or even south america for that matter). i’m terrified for a 20 hour some flight. i’m scared that i’ll get lost and not be found. i’ll admit that i’m actually nervous.
i’m nervous that i might leave a piece of my heart there.
everywhere i go i leave a little piece.
and another one.
and another one.
and soon enough, my heart will be left scattered in all these different places with all these different people.
i’ll be left with everyone else’s little pieces of their hearts in place of where mine was.
my heart isn’t mine.
it’s a combination of places and people and emotions and struggles that i’ve seen everywhere i’ve been. my heart is filled with compassion and a yearning for others happiness. it’s an ache to make the people i meet know that they are loved and that they hold a purpose.
in their struggle. in their context. in the unlucky drawing of where they ended up.
and maybe that’s what life is supposed to be like.
i know that as soon as i step into recife, my heart will sink and start breaking, but be filled so quickly with hope and joy and happiness.
i’m going to get wrecked.
after mexico, i downplayed short term trips. i thought that because i’ve already lived somewhere else for a longer period of time that i couldn’t get to really know the culture in just a few days.
and it’s true.
but i will get a glimpse.
i’ll hear languages i struggle to understand (portuguese is nothing like spanish. seriously, this really english-kinda-can-speak-spanish- girl is dying). i’ll hear laughter and giggles and be reminded of how the importance to learn about social justice and all of the injustices that are happening around the world are crucial.
i’m going to cry. i’m going to be reminded of why i began a journey dedicated to others back in 2009 when my heart first got wrecked on a 10-day trip to the dominican republic.
i’m going to want to go back.
and that’s one of those blessings and curses when you are always going and always seeing. you don’t want to leave. and when you do leave, you figure out when you can go back. but what happens if you never do?
you carry it in your heart.
you remind yourself of the things seen, experienced, and learned.
you try to share and you try to show with the one’s around you knowing that as much as you try, they won’t fully understand how much of an impact they have had on you. and it’s hard and you’ll get frustrated. but at the end of the day this is a part of your story. to learn and grow and experience.
brazil, i’m ready to get wrecked.
: i NEED your HELP!
currently brainstorming for a future project and need your input!
embracing your flaws + admitting you’re human-
last night i was having a conversation with a good friend and we ended up talking about a “power couple” who are starting to take my IG feed, twitter feed, and the blog world by storm.
their pictures are always perfect and with words so genuine of how much they love each other, we got talking about how fake they seemed.
we ended up talking about how in the real world context, relationships aren’t as perfect as all those IG pictures seem, and neither are people.
at what point do we stop trying to obtain the idea of perfect and just be happy with ourselves, embrace our flaws, and admit we’re human?
every single day is full of these tiny little surprises. surprises that could make us extremely happy, sad, angry, upset. and the beauty of that? we’re allowed to feel those things. we’re allowed to embrace the emotions that we feel. we’re always allowed to feel what we’re feeling.
the idea of trying to portray that we’re perfect seems like a waste of time to me. if we’re constantly believing that we’re perfect + lead the perfect life, what happens when you realize you’re not? what happens when the little girl comes up to you saying that she “wants to be like you when she grows up” and then a year later she notices that you aren’t as perfect as she thought you were?
it’s annoying that we as living, breathing, human beings have placed an unspoken expectation on each other that screams, “have it all together”.
is it okay to open up? is it okay to tell someone that you had a bad day or that you “can’t even deal” right now?
are you scared that people aren’t going to think you’re perfect?
: what my friday nights consist of- trying out my wood burner!
learning to surrender + a word to the (un)wise
ever since i was a bit shorter than i am now, i’ve had this ideal in my head that i could do anything that i ever imagined. i always knew that their was as much evil as there was good out there, but i always reminded myself that if i wanted to do something, evil would stand no chance against anything i wanted to do or could. and guess what?
i still believe that.
as i sit back in my dorm room for the very first time in over a month, the tension between the what was and the what is is a little overwhelming. in the chaos i’ve lost my drive. i’ve lost my drive for what’s important because i’m caught up in my present reality.
i’m caught up in others more than i’m caught up in myself.
and although we need to care and look out for people, we need to start taking care of ourselves too.
i’m 21. i have dreams + goals + more ambitions than the average 5 year old wanting to become a princess and ride a tiger into her marshmallow castle.
there was a point in my life where i was so certain that the person i wanted to become is now the person i can’t even picture in my life anyone. someone in the background once told me, "that’s not who you are". when in actuality, they knew me as one person but didn’t understand that i’m growing and learning and becoming.
i’m figuring out new things about myself.
every. single. day.
and to be quite honest, i don’t believe that at such a young age (or ever) you should be stuck in your ways and tell yourself that “this is how it’s going to be the rest of your life”. because let me tell you,
don’t sell yourself short believing that just because you like something or you listen to something now, that this is the way it always has to be because you need to show people that you are independent and know where you’re heading in life.
make mistakes. grow. learn. experience. fail and fail hard.
don’t let yourself fall short of your surroundings, the words spoken over you, or even the false expectations that cloud over you.
be you, and be okay with that.
constantly i’m reminding myself that in order to keep going and doing, i need to surrender, (and that’s as hard as it sounds).
the tension between reality + expectations loosens when you realize that 97% of the time your expectations are false. your reality can also be skewed depending on your own made up opinions of that person or that thing.
get over it.
get over everything you’ve ever thought and realize that because you’re growing and learning and failing, others are too.
surrendering + loving while also believing your dreams + certainties can change in an instant.
give grace + mercy + love + acceptance,
(especially to yourself).