Reblog: Engaging Young Adults In Faith

As a young adult who happens to still go to church and such, I feel that being connected to a faith community offers the accountability, teaching and challenges that I need to really grapple with my faith. For me, personally, church is not an option, but a part of life because God is a part of my life.
Often, I am asked by people of all ages and backgrounds why I still choose to go to church in the midst of people leaving. I have watched friends leave, I have been in churches where I am one of the few under 50. Honestly, I don’t know. I have left the faith practices in which I was fundamentally raised. I am sure some of my relatives think I am bat crazy for attending an evangelical church and being so in to God. But, that made it real to me, it made Him real to me. Plus, I had a community of people who supported those choices.
People my age aren’t anti-God or anti-faith. But, they are cynical. We live in an evidence based society. Many have had a lot of hurt. They don’t trust the church as an organization.
Lynda MacGibbon, a lovely writer, wrote this post on young adults and the church. She works for the organization, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and was one of the staff that helped guide me and many of my friends through our undergraduate years by both challenging and encouraging us.
She concludes the piece by saying she hopes the Church can welcome and engage young adults, not for the sake of the church, but for the sake of the young adults. And that point rings true to me. We need to be concerned about those people out there, not just the numbers game at the church.
I think people need to admit there is an issue, as the paper she referenced does, in order to find a solution. Young adults are people too and they want to be engaged. Just maybe not in the same traditional Sunday Service ways.
Practical thoughts… As suggested in the post… Maybe invite them to a Bible study.  A good one with opportunity to ask questions.  Or just have an honest discussion.  Or invite people to low pressure events.  But seriously and most importantly, treat people like people, not matter what their past or their attitude.  Friendship goes a long way.

Lynda MacGibbon

Is Christianity becoming irrelevant to Canadian youth?

That’s a big question, and one that I have been interested in for a long time, particularly in the past 10 years, as I’ve worked for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, an organization dedicated to helping young people think about faith.

If I were to answer the question, based on the conversations I’ve been privileged to have with hundreds of high school, college and university students, the best I could offer is that I wonder.

In my experience, young people are still quite interested in engaging in conversations about faith in God and whether it’s relevant to life on this earth. But are they interested in Christianity, spelled with a capital letter and attached to that other big C word, Church?

Not so much, according to the findings of a new report released this month in Canada called Hemorrhaging Faith: Why Canadian Young Adults are…

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It was an eventful Sunday.

So, I will write about something less eventful and quick today.

Sometimes, when I am bored, I like to play game on my phone. One of my favorites, in particular is a game I downloaded before Europe because some friends were playing it on his iPad (all the time!).

The game is Settlers of Catan.

I remember people playing it in mass at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship retreats and such. I was never in to it… It looked boring to me.

Our small group friends (the ones that play all kinds of games) introduced me to the board game version. And then the phone version.

I started to play it in line for customs in London. I figured I could actually learn the rules and such because I quite sucked at the real version.

I became hooked. My goal was to figure out how to win. And then it was to keep winning.

Now, I play it only when I have spare time, but I do enjoy it greatly, though I have a grudge against some of the computer players and their pre programed comments (which is crazy, I know).

I recommend trying the game (real or computer version) at some point to bring out your inner settler. Just beware, you may get hooked.

Have to or want to?

Today in church, the Pastor said something that struck me… “The spirit of religion says, ‘I have to,’ but the spirit of God says, ‘I want to.’”

This is a pretty simple statement.  But, it blew my mind.

You see, I am very much an “I have to” type person.  I am a commitment-holic.  I jump into things with a dedication and fervor, which borders on, well, obsessive.  Once I commit to something, I need to keep going with it.  Even if I hate it.  Or I don’t want to.  That is just how I roll.  And it is not always a bad thing.  In fact, it can be a very good thing, especially in certain seasons of life.  For instance, that is how I survived my surgery rotation.

But, the problem with being a “have to” person is that I get hooked into too many things and get trapped in a “have to” cycle.  Where I “have to” do everything until I get overwhelmed.  There are limits to the “have to” and parts of those limits are stamina and attitude.  Eventually you just want to take the “have to” and shove it.

Patrick worked with someone who really stressed the concept of not doing something because you “have to” unless you really do “have to.”  For instance, stopping at a red light is a legitimate have to, whereas going to an event is generally a “have to” kind of have to.  He did an internship with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and learned quickly that if you do everything just because you think you have to, you quickly burn out and get overwhelmed.

But, there is another side to the whole not doing something because you “have to” argument. You can really use that to stop doing anything you don’t feel like doing.  Though it sounds at face value to be great, it really isn’t fully feasible.

At least it makes for a good screening test.  Especially when my “have to” habit kicks in.

And this is where God comes in.  Or can.

Most people can take this and say it is really your own judgment.  But, realistically there is more to that.  At least I believe there is.

The Holy Spirit was sent to us by God.  He left the Holy Spirit to hang out with us to give us some sort of direction while we wait here on Earth for Jesus to come back and what have you.

Many people think that faith is just a set of rules.  And there are rules.  But, the thing is that we follow them because we want to.  And yes, some people do it because they have to… But that isn’t necessarily true belief.  That is ritual.  But, when you really believe something, you do it because of that belief.  You do it because you want to.

Some people get freaked out by the notion of the Holy Spirit.  I mean, really, it/He (I always get puzzled as to whether or not the Holy Spirit is a He or an it… I guess it is God, so He?) is something (one?) you can’t see or feel in a tactile sort of way.  The Holy Spirit is more abstract than God for me.  And more foreign.  We learn a lot about the Holy Spirit and I feel I have experienced the Holy Spirit, but nonetheless it is puzzling to me and many others.

The thing is, with God in the picture and the Holy Spirit in us, we are changed.  And some of those changes impact our desires.  We act in certain ways because we “want to” not because we “have to.”  I think that has an effect on our overall attitudes and the finer aspects of behavior.

The whole “want to” side of things is not just with the apparent faith based items, but with life.  When you are doing things you enjoy, when you are acting in faith, I think your demeanor changes and the way you do things changes.  For the better.  Because it isn’t just you going through the motions.  And it isn’t just you doing something because of an obligation.  It is doing something because of a deeper desire or drive.

Now, I am not saying I don’t do things because “I have to.”  I think we all do that.  And sometimes you have to do somethings.  But, I think we do need to look at why we do things and our motivation.  And maybe seek motivation from the Holy Spirit.  His direction can impact our attitude and our approach to doing things.  It is definitely easier to do things with help.

Iceberg dead ahead!

Today, Patrick and I took a friend that Patrick made at International Christmas out to lunch (at Cora’s… How Canadian of us).  More on that part of the adventure another time.  While there, we were admiring the view of the harbour and Signal Hill and we discovered that he had never been up to Signal Hill before.  Well, one thing one cannot miss when in town is Signal Hill, so we decided to take him up.

It was a unseasonably beautiful day… Not in temperature.  I lost feeling in my hands almost instantly upon exiting the car.  And the wind was, as usual, blow you off the edge of the cliff if you’re not careful.  But, it was sunny and clear.  

We were in for a special treat.  A few icebergs from last year have recently floated their way near the harbour and were visible from Signal Hill.  Usually this only happens in late summer, so this is a pretty big deal.  Plus, most of the really good ones are usually seen from other parts of the island.  But somehow, a few have floated down near enough that they can be seen from a place that I usually consider the most beautiful in the city.

The icebergs were very small, especially at surface level, but that doesn’t change how amazing they are.  These icebergs made a massive journey from the north.  They have been steadily shrinking.  And yet they are here.  And they are interesting to see, even though at face level they weren’t.  You see, most of the iceberg is under water.  Much like people, we only see the surface, but things go much deeper than that.  And they come from a long history that we often can’t even really imagine.

Icebergs! Woot!

Wee berg.

Despite the cold, the beautiful scenery gave me hope for spring and reminded me of the beauty that comes from a mix of nature and history.  I am glad we got to share it with our new friend from far away.

Community… The Christian kind… Not the TV show.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.  -Acts 2:42-47

The Bible has a lot to say about community.

Do we?

I mean, look at how we live.  Independence is pushed, we have “social networking” but how often do we actually see the people we network with.  We try to go it on our own.  We live in isolation from others except when required at work.  We are taught from a young age to do things on our own.  To not depend on others.

We are taught in the church to be a community, but are we really?  I think sometimes, we think we are being a community.  Sometimes we really are.  But many times we aren’t.  We see one another on Sundays, we greet each other, we tell stories, we pray or eat… But aside from that, do we have genuine relationships?  Is there genuine support?

I have been blessed to be a part of a church that promotes genuine community.  To be able to share honestly.  To be able to receive support without judgment.  To be able to give without obligation, but out of true desire.  To promote community through small groups and with the greater body.

I think the most important part of this community has been becoming connected with a small group or life group or whatever you want to call it.  At least that is what it was for me.

Before moving here, I didn’t see a lot of value in small groups.  I was involved with the campus InterVarsity movement, which valued small groups, but the exec I worked on was my small group.  And for the first few years, the group was so small, it was a small group.  I had many close friends who I went to church with an InterVarsity with and well, everywhere with.  I didn’t need community, I thought.  I had community.   And I did.  Its just it is different from the community I was about to find.

But, upon moving, I lost my community.  I had no Christian peer support.  I had my school friends, sure, but no real “church” friends.  I bit the bullet and contacted a small group at the prompting of Patrick (my then fiancé).  The group I got plugged in was a small group of university-aged women.  All of whom were lovely, and it was led by one of the deacons at the church I attended.  It was not an intentionally all female group (except the man who led it).   He called us the “disciplettes.”  I got to know and love these people.  We shared meals, went to movies and discussed the Bible.  It was the closest thing I had to real community since moving.  Plus, the introduced me to The Princess Bride… Clearly a winner group!

The next year, when Patrick moved here, I told him how great said group was.  But, the church was trying to encourage those of us in this group to start our own groups, as we were mostly capable leaders.  I was rotted.  What were we to do…

Somehow, we got hooked up with another couple who we had never met.  A new med student and his girlfriend.  And another couple who I met once or twice the year before.  We started meeting.  It was awkward.  Yet, over time we became comfortable.  We started inviting people in, pointing out we are not a couples only group, even though we were strangely all couples. Our group has grown.  We are still the core 6.  We went to the med student and his wife’s wedding.  We celebrate birthdays together.  We celebrate exams and new jobs.  We are able to be blatantly honest.  To share our joys and struggles.  To talk about what we fear most or struggle with.   To tell about a great day and our worst nightmares.

Small group family at the wedding of 1/3.

It is a “safe place.”  (This became an inside joke, after one of the studies we did said to promote that the group is a safe place… The phrase became overused and a source of laughter.)

The beauty of such a group is that we always have each others backs.  When I am away, they have Patrick over for meals.  When someone has a bad week, we have extra treats.  We pray for one another through report cards and exams and difficulties with work.  We advise each other in surviving med school or substitute teaching or traveling.   We go on mini-vacations together.  We act as family away from family and have holiday meals together.  We learn more about God and we help each other grow in our faiths.  We encourage each other to read our Bibles, get involved in our community and trust God more and more.

My birthday last year.

We stretch ourselves to reach out.  To invite more people in.  To go beyond our comfort zones.  Growth is difficult.  But, as a group it is easier.  We have been told we are welcoming and that we are a go-to “send people to that small group if they are new in town” group.  As much as new people freak me and the others out, as a whole, the community welcomes and loves and enjoys the growth.

Bird Day!

We are “just babes in the woods.”  (This phrase was brought to use by The Message during a study of Ephesians.  It implied that we need to be growing… But babes in woods are just plain hilarious.)

Tonight, we are having a pizza/games night to celebrate the match.  It is bittersweet.  Patrick and I are leaving in June.  And though I know we will stay in touch, it is changing our community.  We are basically losing our community.  Next year, one of the other couples will also have to move compliments of residency training.  I guess the thing is that communities change and grow.    I know we will find a new community.  That we still have our old community.  But, it is still sad.

The group we have is the most Biblical community I have had.  I am grateful for the experience.  I try to convince everyone I know to become in such a community, as I feel it is valuable.  That it teaches you more about yourself and your faith and the love of Christ.  That is promotes a faith-based lifestyle.  That the support network is invaluable.  Especially when so far from home.

As a result of being so connected with each other, we are more connected with the church as a whole, as we are all involved differently throughout the church.  We have different strengths and ministries and it is neat to see how things play together.  It is interesting to actually know what is happening throughout the church.

I am grateful for community.  For people to share inside jokes with.  For friends who are tone deaf and still play SingStar.  For people who pray for and with you and always have a reason to get food for celebration.  For friends who volunteer to come and visit wherever you move.  For God who brought the group together.

Epic Birthday cake for the most recent small group birthday.

We aren’t a perfect community.  I know we can be more open, more loving, more involved.  But, I love that we can strive to be a community as exemplified in Acts.  I love that God is preparing us a community where we go next.

Being a community is something that needs to be intentional.  You need to seek out others.  You need to seek out God.  You need to trust Him to build up the group.  You need to lead and follow and cooperate.  And have a few good laughs on the way.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  –Hebrews 10:24-25

How is your community?  What are your takes on Christian community in churches or within small groups?

A few of my favourite things

Today, I went to a fabulous little establishment called the Gypsy Tea Room with a few of my school friends. First of all, if you are ever in town and want a great little place to try, this is one I recommend. Indonesian chicken statay… Need I say more?

Seeing old friends is always something that makes me feel good inside. We were attached at the hip our first two years of med school, but with all of the travel that we are now required to do during clerkship, our meetings have sometimes been few and far between. Today was the first time I have seen these two lovely ladies since Christmas and September, respectively. It was exciting. Lots of stories about our CaRMS adventures, families and future plans. We spent half of the time making plans to take our families out for supper during graduation week, brunch plans for Sunday after church and the other half with the stories and yes, eating!

Some things in life provide good comfort. They just make you feel good, no matter what you are feeling.

  • Fleece and flannel. This doesn’t do it for everyone, but I am a big sensory person… If I can feel something soft, I am immediately calmed. If I put it up against my nose (not to smell, to feel), it can still make me fall asleep (I did this when I was a small child… still works).
  • Good music. The right song for the right mood… You know, the perfect song… The one that expresses exactly how you feel or want to feel. Music does, of course calm the savage beast.
  • Good friends. As I said before, spending time with people you really like, especially those with similar experiences is therapeutic. It is great to be able to be yourself and laugh and joke and be brutally honest.
  • Lattes. I like tea. I find it quite tasty and relaxing, but coffee or, even better, a latte can provide comfort beyond what tea can provide. I like the taste and the smell. Plus, I associate lattes with studying or reading (not always relaxing, but the ambience of a café combined with leisurely reading is fabulous).
  • Cuddles. This requires a disclaimer. I do not like being touched by most people. Really don’t like being touched. It overwhelms me. I like my space. But, for some bizarre reason, one of my love languages is apparently touch. I guess I only let people I really like touch me. And I have to really, really like you to let you touch me often. I, however, love spending time on the couch curled up with the spouse reading or watching TV or talking. Never gets old. Always feels good.
  • Food. Patrick claims that food is the way to my heart… Kind of like a man. And it is true. Good food wins me over and makes things better.
  • Peter. Yes, the two books in the Bible. I was assigned these on my days on the executive for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. They purpose was to have each exec member get to know one or two books of the Bible really well and really in depth. Our staff worker picked them out for us quite prayerfully and purposefully. Peter suits me in many ways. We are similar people, me thinks. Anyway, I know the book inside and out. It contains many verses I love. When I get anxious or tired or almost anything, it is my go-to reading point. I must have read the two books fifty times during CaRMS interviews.
  • Good books. I mean really good books. The kind you get lost in. The kind you don’t have to think too hard to read.
  • The ocean (or any large body of water). I love being near the water. I have lived my entire life in coastal communities. When I am away for a while, I miss it. I like the sound, the smell and simply having the option to go down by the water. Plus, I like how being near the water modifies our climate.

These are just some of the things that are strangely comforting and relaxing to me during times of stress, as well as just in every day life. They are especially good in combination, for instance, lattes and food with good friends near the ocean. Perhaps with some background music. And maybe a flannel suit. If only flannel suits were socially acceptable beyond bed time…

Reminds me of a song… I bet you already know the one I am thinking of… From the Sound of Music…

I believe that God gives us gifts that are sometimes so simple and yet provide the most comfort. It is amazing how we can be so caught up in the business of life and how such a simple thing can make us stop and catch our breath. Sometimes, it seems easier to rush on, but really, those simple little things can make everything just a bit better, even when life is going well.

What are some things that you find to be a great comfort or simple pleasure?

Marriage from a distance

I am done week one of long distance marriage.  Another few days to go before we are reunited for a few weeks again.  It has become our routine.  Apart for a few weeks, together for a few, then repeat.  We aren’t the only people who do this.  We have friends who work away for months at a time on boats or construction projects, or who had to move to go to school or get teaching jobs.  That is much more difficult than what we are doing now.  Nonetheless, it is not so much a time.

Medical school is one of those institutions that, well, does not really take into consideration that people are married and possibly have children or lives.  I think it dates back to the old boys club days where the students were expected to be married to their jobs and wives and families came second.  They are working on it and now there are support groups at some schools for spouses and families, and they encourage us having outside interests.  The format of our education, however, can make it difficult to manage.  We are expected to live in the city of a medical school.  That is fine.  Sensible.  However, the fine print… The thing that isn’t as openly talked about is that the local hospitals may not always be able to accommodate you during certain rotations and you could be asked or forced to go elsewhere.  Some rotations have required rural components.  Though you can do almost everything locally, if you want to go to another school for your residency, it is probably a good idea to do some aspect of your training there too, especially if it is a competitive program.  Interviews take you away on adventures too.  In the end, it means, despite efforts to stay close to family, you jump around a fair bit and can spend periods of time away from home.

I opted to selectively schedule things.  So, I am never away for more than four sequential weeks and tried to get rotations closer to my home family during times that Patrick could visit or close to other holidays.  It’s a bit disappointing that I didn’t get to go see all of the programs I may have otherwise wanted to, but I feel it was the better decision for the sake of my sanity and that of Patrick.

We are professional long distance people.  At least that is what we want to think.  We started dating just before Patrick moved away to do an internship with InterVarsity.  He moved back permanently a few months before I started medical school.  We figured marriage would be the time that we would finally be in the same place aside from a few weeks.  It turned out to be more than just a few weeks.  But nonetheless, we have survived.   Actually, since being married the separation stints are much shorter.  Instead of times of anywhere from two to five months it is one to four weeks.  Much better.  The problem is, I am convinced I have become soft.  I feel like I am more sad now when we are apart than I was when we were dating or engaged.  My theory is that we became accustomed to being together.  I know, ridiculous!

When we are going to be apart, I always wake up the first morning with a terrible sinking feeling.  Its strangely familiar and yet disconcerting.  Even when I am home with all of my friends and family, I find myself with that feeling.  Its not the same.  Talking on the phone, Skype, emails, texts… they help.  But they don’t make it better.  Plus, it is very difficult to adjust our schedules accordingly to make time to talk with the time differences and schedule differences.  Quite frustrating at times.  I’m not always the best talker either.  I can talk someone’s face off, but if I am tired or sad or mad… I can shut down.  Suboptimal.

Another part that can suck life out of you is explaining to other people the whereabouts of your significant other.  People care, they want to know.  I would ask, so I appreciate it.  But, it is tough to explain how you have to travel and he has to work.  And when you will be together.  And nod knowingly while people say things like, “wow, that is tough,” or my favorite, “well, that is good for your relationship, tests like this.”  I don’t know what is better to say.  My response when I hear people are in long distance is generally a “that sucks, and I’ll pray for you (where socially acceptable).”

A perk to being apart is that eventually you are back together.  It makes you more grateful for the time you have together.  Also, you get alone time.  I am a flaming introvert, as is Patrick, so having some time without someone else wandering around asking questions or playing music or watching TV is nice for a period of time.  I looked at the time I was away earlier in the fall as a rebuilding time.  I spent a lot of time looking at my relationship with God.  I prayed more, I did my devotions.  I felt like I reconnected with Him more.  And I feel like I have been able to maintain my relationship with God better since doing that.  It helped to readjust my focus.  I feel that is good both for my “me and God” and my “us and God” relationships.

Marriage was intended to be a partnership.  I think we can be partners from a distance.  I think we are more effective when we are in the same place.  Its just not as effective to high five or back seat drive from a distance.  The emotional support is still there, but it doesn’t seem to be as tangible as it is when you get a hug and a kiss to send you off to work.  I can drive singing in the car by myself.  But its much more fun with Patrick playing air piano in the seat next to me.  Phone calls to tell me to quit working/reading and go to bed are not as effective as actually wrestling the book away.  Even when I go to sleep, I miss the extra body heat that keeps me from having to crank the heat that extra notch.

People say, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.”  I suppose.  I could do without the distance, though.  I won’t have to for a few weeks in just a few short days!

I remember things and events from songs and such.  This song is one of my long-distance theme songs (I probably shouldn’t call it a theme song… its not really, but I don’t know what else to call it other than it reminds me of long distance relationship-ing).

Little things

Never worry about numbers.  Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.  ~Mother Teresa

Sometimes little things mean a lot to people.  The small details.  Things you do that you don’t really see making a tangible difference, but they wind up making a big difference to those people sometimes in ways you don’t even see.  Sometimes these sorts of things are helpful, others hurtful.

At work today, I had one patient ask me for her pathology report for her family doctor.  Apparently this physician keeps getting his mail mixed up with another physician of a similar name, and often doesn’t have information he needs or wants in his office.  He didn’t have the report, even though it had been available for weeks.  Other than the obvious system flaws that should be remedied, I was struck by this woman’s helpfulness in offering this service.  This summer, I spent 8 weeks in rural family practice and we were forever missing information, but thankfully had access to an electronic medical record that could fill in some of the gaps.  Here though, there is no such option for physicians out of the city.  We were grateful when people brought us information from specialists.  I can imagine that this physician would, as well.

Another patient today came in bringing some of his left over wound care supplies that he no longer needed.  He was asking if we knew of anyone who could use them, as they would expire in a few months and he did not know what to do with them.  Ironically, in the room next door, someone who had a large tumor removed from his shin and was now dealing with post op wound infections.  He was using some of the same materials this other man had brought in.  He asked the nurse if he could get any extra supplies, as his homecare nurse had not brought enough for this next week.  This saved someone from inconvenience and cost.

Last week, Jag (our car) was in getting fixed and took longer than we had anticipated.  Patrick had to take a taxi to work (which costs a small fortune) and I had to get from the hospital to the car dealership in rush hour the day after a snow storm.  I called a taxi and was told it would be at least 20 minutes.  While waiting, the resident I was working with came out of the hospital and asked what I was still doing there.  I told her I needed to get the car and was waiting for a taxi.  She volunteered to drive me, despite the traffic because it was only a few minutes out of her way.  She saved us $20 and me a bunch of time.

Our small group did a study almost two years ago now (wow, time flies) called “The Good Samaritan.”  It was all about being a good Samaritan based on Biblical principles.   The lessons are universal.  Loving people no matter what.  Doing the big things, but also taking care of the little things.  Not just in your home or work or school.  Not just in your immediate community or country.  Not just with a global focus.  Love is not always evident in our world today.  We see many hurting people.  It is easy to get bogged down with it all.

Patrick and I were talking today about different cities and stereotypes.  Newfoundlanders are prototypically friendly, people from Toronto less so, etcetera.  Those are just stereotypes.  I have met dreadfully mean people from Newfoundland and delightful and joyful individuals from Toronto.  Similarly, professions are stereotyped.  Religions are stereotyped.  We like to put people into boxes.  I love boxes and categories.  Sometimes these boxes and categories prevent us from loving people the same way we should.  Sometimes they distance us or give us a false sense of security.  We need to look beyond stereotypes and guard against actions that hurt people, stereotyping included.

My question in life is how do we truly show love to people?  I have been hurtful in the past and I am sure I will be again in the future.  Lately, I have been reminded that sometimes the little things, the things we don’t even consider can tip the balance.

Sometimes, I feel if I can’t do the big thing, maybe I just shouldn’t be involved.  I will pray, but really, I am not involved otherwise (prayer IS involvement, don’t get me wrong).  But, lately, I am remembering that little acts of service, prayers and even offering a helping hand to those involved in outside ways or with outside things can be a help.

International Christmas ( is an event put on by InterVarsity groups across Canada.  The goal is to bring International students out to camp and have them experience a truly Canadian Christmas complete with trees, a turkey dinner, carols, skating and the true Christmas story.  The main goal, however, really, is to show Christ’s love to students who may not have heard the Christmas story before or who are alone and scared in a new country.  It is a beautiful thing, International Christmas.  Canadian students and volunteers run the program and befriend students.  They have a talent show and an international meal to share cultural norms and dishes.  There is opportunity for conversation and growth and long-term relationships.  It is part of a bigger ministry to international students that seeks to support them emotionally, socially and educationally, to show Christ’s love and to help them truly experience Canadian culture.

I have never actually participated in International Christmas, though I have always wanted to.  Scheduling never really worked.  I have prayed for the event.  This year, Patrick is going to go, as he is stuck here while I am home for a rotation.  It is very exciting.  I wanted to help and didn’t know how.  But then, my opportunity arose.  They decided this year that it would be nice to give each student who participates a gift.  A scarf.  Many students when they come to Canada don’t have appropriate clothing for our winters.  This is practical.  It is also kind of symbolic.  So, I am knitting a scarf.  A lovely brightly colored scarf.  I hope it becomes someone else’s “little thing.”

The scarf 3/4 completed.

On a somewhat unrelated note, the pattern for this scarf is quite easy and available online at: