Soccer, Sewing, and Hanging Out

Working with this family in Calgary is always so exciting because there is never a dull moment.

The first day I arrived, I got to watch Gus and Keira battle it out in a soccer match between parents and players. Gus just happens to be a soccer fanatic and the coach of the team so that made it extra special.

Marnie is a very special family friend who comes over once a week and does really fun activities with the girls. This week was extra fun because we got to make pillow cases and PJ bottoms. I just took an interest in sewing before I came here, so I was so eager to try my hand at actually making something. Pillow cases and PJ bottoms were actually quite easy to make (if you have the right gear and know how to follow a pattern). Luckily for me she had some great equipment and is an expert pattern follower and was willing to show me how it’s done. I think my next purchase (when I have money) will be a really good sewing machine and serger.

Keira had a sleep over that night (it was her birthday the next day!) so I got to take her and her friend Sarah to the park

City Hopping

So, I am in Calgary now. I moved from Halifax to Calgary within a span of 1 1/2 weeks. Crazy eh?

Two years ago I did the Impact mission in Calgary. While I was there, I worked for a family who had a teenage daughter with Guillain Barre Syndrome.  She was left with a pretty severe physical disability. My job was to help with the physical and occupational therapy that she was to do everyday. I would come to their home each day for 4 months to help with this rehabilitation program. It has been one of my favorite jobs because it combined kinesiological content with working intimately with a family.

About two weeks ago, I got a call from this family. I had sent them a news letter about what I was going to be up to this upcoming year with CCO. I mentioned that I would be support raising. She called to offer me a job withe their family for the next 6 weeks, where I can earn money towards my support raising but also can do some support raising at St. Patrick’s parish where I was stationed during Impact.

Our days are jam-packed with fun stories. I will try to update this more often. For now, here are some shots I took while I waited for them in the airport.

Map of Alberta and Calgary in the Calgary International Airport

White Hat volunteers at the Calgary International Airport

“We have cause to be uneasy”….Thoughts on ‘Mere Christianity’

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, is one of the most accessible and widely read works defending the rationality of the Christian faith. Originally published in 1952, and based on a series of talks broadcast over radio during World War II, Lewis makes a powerful case for the rightness of the Christian faith, both intellectually and morally. Mere Christianity seeks, as its title suggests, to present Christianity in its simplest and most cogent form. It takes an ecumenical approach in that it presents what Lewis regards as the central elements of the faith, rather than the Catholic interpretation or the Protestant interpretation, and so on.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I bought this book for my mom for Christmas 5 years ago when I worked at Chapters. This was a time before I was actively involved with my faith, but I had a conversation with a customer about the book and decided my (very faithful) mother would love it.

I spotted the book this past Easter when I went home for a visit and decided, with my new-found faith, that I would give it a shot and read it. The book is not a quick read, I’ve determined. It is meant to be taken slowly, with each of his rational arguments allowed time to marinate and sink in. I’m only 5 chapters in, but this past chapter I found very interesting and I would like to share some of what I read (mostly for myself, so I can figure out what he was saying!).

In earlier chapters, Lewis establishes that there is a “Moral Law” when he suggests that there is somebody or something from beyond our material universe that is getting at us. If you believe that the something behind this moral law is God, and you agree with the account given by Christianity and some other religions that God is ‘good’. Not ‘good’ in a way that he is soft, indulgent, or sympathetic; but ‘good’ in a way that is just.

Lewis then says that if we believe in this absolute goodness, then we are in a strange position. We are on His side and agree with the disapproval of human greed, trickery, and exploitation. But we are not on His side when it applies to us. We are making ourselves enemies of this goodness everyday when we fail to do ‘good’, but we aren’t any likely to do better tomorrow. As he puts it, “We can’t do with it and can’t do without it.” God is the only comfort of this , but he is also the thing to be most scared of: the thing we need the most and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only ally, and we make ourselves His enemies.

Now this is where, in his roundabout way, he comes to making a point about Christianity. Christianity tells people to repent and promises them that they will be forgiven. Christianity does not apply to people who do not know they have done anything wrong and do not feel that they need forgiveness. As Lewis puts it, “It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power being the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power – it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.” Christians offer an explanation of how we got to our present state of simultaneously loving and hating goodness. Of how God can be the impersonal force behind the Moral Law, yet also a Person. Christians tell you how the demands of this law, which we cannot possibly meet all the time, have been met on our behalf and God becomes a man to save man from the disapproval of God. Whew! Chew on that for a second. It makes so much sense. And I have 2 examples to illustrate.

This past semester, I led a faith study with 3 of my friends. At the end of the 6 week faith study, I asked the girls if they wanted to have a personal relationship with God. All but 1 said yes. After meeting with her one-on-one, she said that she didn’t want to go any deeper with God because she felt she was fine, right where she was. She felt she didn’t have any thing to learn from Christianity, that her parents raised her well enough and theirs were the only voice she needed to listen to right now. At first, I didn’t understand her reasoning.  But then, after reading Lewis’ description her reasoning made sense to me. Only when all the pieces of the puzzle align to we really come to believe that we need God.  She is just in a place right now that she does not feel that way.

The next example is myself. My first year here in Halifax I got involved with Catholic Christian Outreach and did a faith study with them. After coming back from the summer vacation of doing anything but acting Christian, I decided I didn’t want anything to do with God or CCO.  I was running away. Christianity had begun to talk to me. I knew I was doing things in my life that were not ‘good’, but I wanted to bury them and pretend they weren’t there. I figured that if I’m never going to be perfect,  why bother? But I came to believe, and still do, that Jesus (the Person) came and died for me  because I can’t stop messing up. He wants me in heaven with Him. How lovely.
Christianity is a thing of dismay, but also of unspeakable comfort.

The “Ultimate Relationship”

At the beginning of the Impact Mission’s 11-week program entitled “Courageous Catholic”, I wasn’t too keen on helping out. Courageous Catholic (CC) is an 11-week faith study for individuals who are actively involved with their parish. It offers practical training and inspiring teaching to engage them in the work of evangelization. It will equip them with powerful tools to be missionary in their sphere of influence. This will be done by teaching them about the church’s missionary identity, to help them identify opportunities for evangelization, and the practical tools to carry it out. The hope is that the course will act as a catalyst in transforming their ministry and inspiring them to bring others into the joy of knowing and loving God.

I was asked to help by being a small group leader. While the course sounded lovely and necessary for the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, I really had envisioned spending my Tuesday evening doing something other than chatting with older adults, most the same age or older than my mom and dad. I was actually quite bitter that I wasn’t going to be doing what I wanted to do.

I would say that my mind changed last Tuesday. I was at a table with 6 older ladies, probably close to or well into their 60’s. They were actually quite a pleasant group, and all seemed to ‘get’ the message that CCO was trying to convey – to bring others back into ‘the church’ through evangelization. I put ‘the church’ into quotations because I don’t literally mean the building, but into a relationship with Jesus and the rest of his followers, which often times leads individuals into the pews of an actual church. They all seemed quite depressed that they have adult children and young grandchildren that have no interest in church, with the youngsters not even know who God is. They were all at a loss, unable to think of a way to reach their kids. They turned to me, and asked how I got to be where I am now. I shared with them how when I was in my first year of university, I met someone from CCO and they invited me to take a faith study. Through the faith study, I learned clear and simply what the Gospel message was. I also met other people who were very interested in faith, but also in living out an authentic Christian life. I had never known people who were so genuinely interested in me, my story, the state of my heart, and encouraging me to be the best I could be. Needless to say, it was contagious and here I am 4 years later very actively involved in living out my faith.

They were all very interested in these faith studies I spoke of. I offered to tell them more about them, and if they were interested, I could teach them how to lead one. They all accepted, and on Tuesday night, 1 hour before CC started, we met and I shared with them how to teach the first lesson of the Discovery faith study. As I was with them, I was having very strong feelings that are hard to pin down. I was grateful that they were so open to learning, that they were so concerned for the spiritual welfare of their kids, and that I was helping them to think of new ways to reach out. Even though I haven’t been doing this ‘missionary’ thing for very long, the branches of my tree are starting to spread out. By equipping these ladies to share the message, who knows who’s lives may be touched through them? What an amazing thought, that one by one, people are learning how to reach out to people.

So…what is this Gospel message, and how simple is it? On Tuesday, we learned what it is.

  1. We (humans) are created for a relationship with God
  2. This relationship is broken through our failures, weaknesses, when we ‘miss the mark’ (aka, sin)
  3. This relationship is restored through Jesus
  4. We can choose to live with God at the centre of our lives and claim this restored relationship by admitting that we mess up sometimes

Man. Is that easy or what? To be Christian, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to admit that you aren’t, and choose to live in a way that you try to consult God in every action, decision, and thought that you make.

They learned how to share this very simple message through the Ultimate Relationship booklet.

The Ultimate Relationship (UR) booklet

3 Graduations!

Hey everyone,

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, it’s been pretty busy on my end! These last 2 weeks have been filled with university graduations, family, and a wedding (that post will come later).

So here we are: Josh, my little brother Brendan, and me! All with fresh degrees in hand!

Josh received the University Medal in Sociology. He also received First Class Distinction in Honours!

Brendan graduated from Commerce. He will be working towards getting his CA in the fall.

I graduated from Kinesiology with Honours. Yay!