ville de maniwaki!

i can’t tell you how many times i’ve heard a sentence ended with ‘eh?’ since i arrived here in québec. no moose on the loose or mountie sightings yet, but plenty of ‘eh?’-s! :)

this area of the province is absolutely picturesque. if i’d had a free moment in the past 24 hours to snap any photos, you can be sure i’d have uploaded them. but let me just tell you that there are very few other places in the world that have ever taken my breath away.

the landscape reminds me of the pacific northwest, and the québecois people are diverse (heck, i rode up here to maniwaki from the airport with french-speaking syrians while listening to christian music in arabic.) and kind. i adore the pastor and his sweet family, and my hosts have been taking incredible care of me. this morning, i traveled to the camp where the church‘s youth have stayed at for the past week and helped pack up their traveling kitchen trailer and other supplies. you can’t imagine how beautiful of a setting it was, nestled in a forest of white birches and in front of a massive lake.

tonight, a huge group from tennessee arrives in town to put on a sports camp at the high school for the area’s kiddos next week, and i’m thrilled to meet them and begin serving by their sides. a few days after they return home, another group from kansas will get here to do service evangelism projects, which i have the joy of also assisting with. please bathe these upcoming projects in prayer.

these are going to be an incredible five weeks.

p.s. here are a few fun things about québec that i’ve discovered in the last day:

  • in the supermarkets, iced tea is sold in cartons – not gallon jugs like our dear old red diamond (a.k.a. liquid GOLD).
  • the name for wal-mart’s semi-equivalent here: tiger geant (in english: giant tiger. ha!).
  • despite the fact that they may drive a pick-up truck and are wearing a camo browning hat, these cowboys aren’t like the ones at home. they speak french, and it’s still just too strange to not hear a deep drawl when they speak instead.
  • gas here is sold by the liter, rather than by a gallon. at $1 per liter, it comes to about $4.50 per gallon. holy crap.

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Filed under missions, quebec

cancer schmancer, issue seven.

she’s done.

today marks mom’s very last radiation appointment, and the end of her road of treatment altogether. hallelujah!! in early august, she’ll have a follow-up appointment with her oncologist to do a PET scan and some other tests to confirm what we already know – she’s in remission.

i can’t tell you how proud of her i am, and how brave i believe she is. i wish each of you were lucky enough to know her, but those of you who do will recognize exactly the kind of spirit i’m talking about. :)

if you’ve breathed any sort of prayer on our behalf since november 6th, thank you. if there ever was a day i doubted the power that lies in interceding for another, i’ll never have to wonder again.

please continue to pray for mom as she gets back into the swing of things, especially as a new school year comes around in august. as you can imagine, adjusting to everything that’s been done to her body over the past seven months has been insane. remember her in prayer while we’re still making our way out of the woods. also pray for our dad, that his body would continue to respond to daily meds, and the cancerous cells in his body would disappear.

each of you are a gift that we treasure. We love you.

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leadership with longevity.

let me pause and brag on some people today.

i’ve been thinking a whole lot lately about transitions in ministry and in leadership, on legacies and longevity. when the primary founder of a particular ministry steps down or relocates to another facet of service, the switch to new leadership can strengthen or divide those who are left to continue serving. over the last several weeks, i’ve witnessed two such ‘success’ stories in this realm.

one the youth pastors i’ve been volunteering under at switch is transitioning to a new role at our church‘s oklahoma city campus, where he and his wife will have the privilege of focusing more on ministering to students’ parents and families. it’s such an exciting season in tim and nicole‘s lives! for the past three years, i’ve been equipped and encouraged as a student ministry leader by tim’s guidance. in his years at the edmond campus, he’s built up a solid and faithful core of volunteers who i know won’t miss a beat over these next several months of transition because of his effective leadership.

i’m extremely close with my former pastor from my home church and his family. i love going to their house and spending weekends with them, and i count their daughter as one of my closest friends. before coming to pastor at my home church in southwest oklahoma, they pioneered a wildly successful ministry in small town that has benefitted hugely from their work. they organized a food pantry and free clinic that continues to operate out of the church in a community of roughly 250. loaves ‘n fishes serves over 600 low-in come families throughout the county, and functions solely through donations, volunteers, and God’s provision. jeff and cara’s founding vision of justice and servanthood to the least of these is thriving, several years after handing over leadership to its volunteers. just look at how full this section of the pantry is!

how were tim and nicole able to release the reigns of their student ministry to others, without it crumbling? how has the food pantry that jeff and cara created prospered tenfold since they’ve released leadership to others in the church? for each couple, building up leaders to take ownership of the ministry they volunteer in was essential. jeff said it best, that ministry for the moment never lasts. leadership with longevity, i believe, is one of the keys to success in any ministry. the ability to step down from a leadership position and see it continue to soar in the hands of those you equipped must be one of the most incredible feelings this side of heaven.

when have you seen this exemplified in your ministry or personal life?

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Filed under church, leadership, missions, switch

talk about perfect timing.

the night my sister told me that my mom has cancer, my mind raced in a thousand directions. by that next morning in early november, i wondered what 2010 would have in store and where it would take our family. weeks before, i had began seeking an opportunity to serve in canada during the summer that we’re now in. suddenly, though, i was reevaluating if i should commit to go until we knew what our action plan against the disease would be. there was no way in heck i was going to be in another country while my mama was undergoing chemo or radiaton.

i prayed and i sought, and i asked her what she thought i should do. unwaveringly, my mom encouraged me not to put the plans that God and i had for serving in quebec on hold. her reassurance made me brave, and i applied to work with this faithful congregation for five weeks in the summertime. earlier this month, i realized something pretty incredible: my mom will complete her last radiation treatment – and subsequently her last treatment period – the day before my plane takes off for canada. no more surgeries, no more chemo, no more nothin’. the very day before my bags will be checked and my passport will be stamped. 

could God have sent any clearer of a message? i love it.

when has He smacked you in the forehead and let you know that something was His design?

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Filed under authentic faith, family, fear, missions, quebec

foodie photography.

one of my oldest and dearest friends, jessica, is one talented gal.

don’t we look like sisters? or cousins, at least?

she recently graduated from oklahoma state university (go pokes!) with a degree in advertising, and her deepest passion in that area is photography. i have the pleasure of getting to live with jess and some other lovely ladies in the affectionately termed bennett house this summer before i jet off to quebec. last month, jessica snapped some photos of me for my prayer cards – she did a phenomenal job!

this month, we’ve been trying out some new recipes with one another. the second best part (besides chowing down, of course) is taking pictures of our creations before we dig in. my little digital camera just wouldn’t do these dishes justice, and i have jessica to thank for capturing them with her canon rebel xs. here are a few of her photographs, along with links to their recipes!

behold, i give you baked lemon pasta. this is one of my favorite pioneer woman recipes yet! lemon, parsley, and pasta – it doesn’t get much better.

we also decided to get swanky and eat our scrumptious dinner on the patio. and what outdoor summer supper would be complete without iced tea?

and these, my friends, are pineapple cupcakes. i can’t lie: we did use a boxed mix for the little cakes themselves, but the glaze on top is an entirely homemade concoction from yours truly. what was intended to be a creamier icing evolved into this sweet and fruity glaze, thanks to a minor error on my part. who knew that messing up would turn out so delightfully? our cupcakes were a big hit at last night’s get-together with some girlfriends, and the leftovers have been picked off at our office.

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Filed under photographs, recipes

homemade caramel pie.

according to family legend, my papa used to make homemade caramel similar to this recipe and eat it straight from the can. :O my mouth is watering just thinking about it! besides papa, my brother-in-law is the only other person i know who’s embraced this secret to heaven in a can. he introduced me to making a pie from homemade caramel, and the rest is dessert history.

i uploaded this recipe to the pioneer woman‘s tasty kitchen community, and wanted to also share it with y’all! if you’re also a member of tasty kitchen, add me as a friend and let’s swap recipes. :)

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homemade caramel pie

  • two cans sweetened condensed milk (14 oz. each)
  • one graham cracker pie crust
  • one container whipped topping (8 oz.)

submerge the two unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk in a stockpot full of water, several inches above the cans’ tops. place this pot on top of the stove and boil for four hours. from time to time, it may be necessary to carefully add more water to the pot to keep the cans submerged.

after four hours, use tongs to remove the cans and let them cool. once they have cooled to a safe temperature, open the cans. pour the caramel into the graham cracker pie crust. place the pie into the fridge for three to four hours.

when you are ready to serve it, spread whipped topping on top of the pie, slice, and enjoy!

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Filed under family, recipes

in spirit and in truth.

i love watching other people worship. there are so many means with which we can creatively express gratitude and surrender.

but let me be honest, y’all: it irks me when worship leaders say, “raise your hands” to those standing or sitting before them.

i’ve served in a phenomenal youth ministry for almost three years, and have heard this spoken from the stage from various worship leaders to our students several times. i’ve observed this, of course, in other ecumenical settings as well, but it seems as if it bothers me more in an atmosphere of youth than elsewhere. each instance, it’s a fight with my flesh to keep from letting out a heavy sigh or rolling my eyes. i guess i’m just uncomfortable with someone instructing young worshippers to express something that the Spirit may not be provoking each one to do. i know it’s a completely innocent and well-intended utterance that seems to chap me so, but it’s also loaded phrase. without explaining in detail to students what worship is, and what raising one’s hands means, are we not failing to show them what an authentically worshipful life is? it is more than music, it is more than song. and lifting our hands is just one of a thousand ways to praise Him from our hearts.

which leads me to my next thought: how do you personally worship? i’ve always swayed and moved during worship music, and i love to close my eyes and hold my hands close to my chest while i chew on the words. i also move my right leg in a weird way to the beat. :) during prayer, be it coorporate or alone, i often turn my hands up and open them to heaven. and when studying scripture, i sometimes read passages aloud to speak truth into a situation.

what are your favorite ways to express worship to Him?

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Filed under switch, worship