My name is Michelle Breeze and I was one of Lenna’s previous piano students. From the age of 6, I had been taking piano lessons from her, and throughout my University life, I looked at Lenna as a second Grandmother. So on behalf of myself and my family, I want to share some special moments we had with her.
“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33: 1-4
To begin, I would first like to share of how I heard the news of Lenna’s passing because I feel it is very symbolic. Back in February I had travelled to Robert and Lowrey’s Piano Store in Toronto to rent a piano for a musical ensemble that I was previously a part of. After dropping off the rental agreement I roamed the room gazing at all the beautiful pianos. One of the pianos that had stood out to me in particular was this wooden, hand-carved upright piano; A Heinzman piano. I sat down at the piano and played a song that Lenna herself disliked, due to a long summer of teaching me how to play it: Canon in D. I sat in amazement of all the beautiful pianos, and this Heinzman piano took my breath away. This day reminded me of her, and of how much she admired the piano. How much of an influence she had on my life. Inspiring me to preform, pushing me to my limits, and encouraging me to always do my best even when I felt that I was the worst. Lenna Baker had such an impact on my life, which I am sure she did with many others as well. She was the most kindest, sweetest, and most loving person I ever knew, and it was of great shock to me to hear that she had passed away. In a way, I feel as if though I was meant to be in that piano store before I heard the news. That it was as if I had taken a step into heaven with Lenna, and that I was surrounded by what she loved the most, the piano.
From the young age of 6, I grew up under Lenna’s guidance. I grew up with her cats, her Werther caramels which she INSISTED every lesson to take one, and most importantly, her congratulatory stickers. These stickers were of course, musical stickers, and she would give them to us if we had done a good job, which seemed to be every lesson. Lenna had always congratulated her students, and one way she did that was the recital that was held at the end of every year. Myself, and the rest of her students would get up and preform showing off our progress that was made throughout the year. Many of us were so nervous that we had to stop our hands from shaking, our tempos from accelerating, and tears to stop running down our faces. But despite our nerves, and our songs not always turning out to be as perfect as they were when we practiced, Lenna was still proud of us. The smile that radiated on her face after our song still told us that she was happy. And she always was.
Lenna was an amazing teacher, and one of her best qualities she had was patience. I could never imagine dealing with all the teenagers that she did. The stubborn, hard-headed, and always tired teenagers. I was one of them, and I will admit, I was a hard teenager to deal with, especially when a sheet of music is written as legato and she insisted I played it staccato (because it sounds better that way). I would get frustrated with her, as probably did many of her other students. But Lenna always stayed calm, gave us time to breath, and then got us playing again. Her patience is what got me through piano, and it was her patience for me that led me to be more patient with her.
Many of you may not know this, but Lenna had been a close friend to the Breeze family for quite some time. 90 years actually. Lenna and my grandfather grew up together in Smithfield, and were close family friends. Lenna’s uncle Charlie Tweedle was the caregiver of my grandfather when he came down to Canada from England to work on their farm. The story of Uncle Charlie was frequently brought up by Lenna as she had many fond memories with him. One fond memory she had was of her sitting in the back trunk seat of a car, the first car in Smithfield to be precise. She would tell us stories of how much fun she had growing up in Smithfield, visiting uncle Charlie’s farm on Whites Road, and spending time with her family and friends in Smithfield.
As I had previously mentioned, once I had left for University, Lenna was regarded to me more as a grandmother than she was my piano teacher. I would go and visit her, and on many of the visits she would bring out a book called “Heaven is For Real”. Now, Lenna was a devoted Christian which is what we both shared in common. She would tell me about this book, and I had always caught her rambling on about how amazing this it was and would try to get me to read it. After a few visits, I was finally convinced into reading it. The book was great. A story of how a boy died, went to heaven, and met Jesus. A remarkable story. The next visit I brought up the book to her and she pulled out a photo that one of her previous students had blown up for her. It was a picture of Jesus painted by a 9 year old. She handed me the picture and talked about Jesus and how she couldn’t get over how beautiful He looks. She would tell me that she wanted to just gaze into His eyes, touch His face, and thank Him for everything she’s been given in her life. Lenna was truly blessed by the Lord, and she counted her blessings everyday. I believe that it was the Lord who kept her strong, loving, and alive. It was Him who directed her to music, and inspire others to love music just as much as she did. She inspired me to use my music in University and have to courage to try out for my University’s Musical Ensemble. With my music, I would later take on the roles of Musical Director and Manager of the Glendon Musical Ensemble, and then later expand myself to work as Children Ministries Musical Director at my local church in Toronto. I am sure that much like myself, Lenna inspired us to use music as our comfort blanket. To use it when we are scared, when we are happy, and when we are determined to do great things. Lenna was a blessing to my life, and as I look around today, I can see that Lenna was a blessing to many others. To her family, her friends, and most importantly, her pupils.
I believe that Lenna’s life was like a song. The good and bad moments were her dynamics, and the rhythm that she had played. But most importantly, in Lenna’s life, she was the melody, and the people in her life were her harmony. And I don’t think she would have had it any other way.
Sometimes things in your life just don’t go according to planned, and that’s okay.
It started off like any other normal day. I woke up at 7am to drive my mom for work at 8:30am. As the sun was beginning to awaken the night sky we both headed into the car where our chilly bodies were shaken by the cold -30 degree weather. A freezing cold weather watch was in effect for today so we had the car running for half an hour to get it somewhat warmed up. As we both begun driving along the road my mom tried wiping the wind shield where the wipers inadvertently did not work. Both of us sighing at this fact, mom told me to afterwards stop in at the Auto shop to get them fixed since it was important that they worked today because I was to drive my brother back to his house an hour away. So after dropping off my mom I headed straight over to the Auto shop where I kindly asked them to fix the windshield wipers, no problem. I then sat down in their waiting room where they took a look at the wipers. After 45 minutes of waiting John the mechanic comes in to give me some bad news. “The motor for the wipers have been blown out and we don’t have the parts. We have ordered in a motor for the wipers, however, they won’t be in until 3pm.” I slouched down in sadness… I had to drive my brother Peterborough at 12pm. I stated my case to John and asked if I could use a loaner car. “Of course, we’ll get one out for you.” So he did. I hopped into the car, adjusted the mirrors and seat and drove off. As I begun driving I saw a red light begin to blink, it was a battery sign. Maybe something to do with the battery I guess. All of a sudden the car stopped working. Luckily I was able to pull off onto the side of the road where I then turned off the car and turned it back on. Boom! It was working. Light was off. Good. So I drove off again. As I reached the middle of this deserted highway in the middle of nowhere, 5 minutes away from home, the car stops working. The temperature dial for the car showed that it was overheating. I couldn’t believe it! Now the car wasn’t working at all. I pulled out my cellphone then to give John a call and at my luck, my phone had JUST died. I cried, actually, I wailed. I have never been so upset about a car breaking down in my life. I placed my face to the steering wheel and kept on crying. After a few moments of crying, I shook my head and told myself that crying isn’t going to get me anywhere. I prayed to God that he would help me in this situation. Give me the calmness, the peace, and the determination to not give up hope. Minutes later, I got the car to start! So I quickly drove home and threw myself onto the floor once I reached the carpet of my front entrance. My brother and sister were concerned for me as I was in tears again at the fact that I felt as if my life was crashing down on me. Thankfully my mom called me at that moment and gave me the number to the Auto shop to call John and let him know that his car was a piece of poop. I phoned John and said, “John, your car was a piece of poop! It broke down on me 2 times!” He apologized and sent out 2 of his men to take the car back to the shop bringing me along to get another car. I hopped into the car and exchanged myself into another car, a 2000 chevy. This’ll be interesting.
As I got into the car and drove off I managed to get halfway home driving on the highway when I heard a sound as if a window was down. Who rolls a window down in this cold weather?! I checked all of the windows and nothing, the sound was still there. So I turned my head around. I couldn’t believe it, THE BACK DOOR WAS OPEN!!! It wasn’t open to begin with when I drove off! So I pulled off onto the side of the road and the found out the door wouldn’t close. At this point I didn’t even care, so I tied the seatbelt around the door handle and drove off. When I returned home I told my brother that he needs to hold that door shut when we are driving. I didn’t care obviously.
My brother then packed his bags into the car and I went to go wake up the sleepy boyfriend. My brother then came inside telling me that the door was closed…no way. I went outside to check out this “closed” door. Well wouldn’t you look at that, the door closed. Thanks a lot… Afterwards, we all got into the car, brother, boyfriend and myself and drove off to bring my brother back to Peterborough.
As we arrived in Peterborough I made this great decision to stop and grab lunch. Everyone was for this idea. So we all got out of the car and were instructed by my brother to lock the doors, “We’re in Peterborough” he said. I locked the doors and headed into the restaurant where we had a very nice lunch. Afterwards we came out ready to drop my brother off at his house and then soon head over to my mom’s work to pick her up for 5. I put the key into the key hole and turned. Nothing. The door wouldn’t open, neither door. So, manly as he is, the boyfriend rose up to the occasion to save the day. He turned the key, nothing. The door wouldn’t unlock and it was FREEZING outside! I called John to then ask if we had the right keys. Yep, right keys we have, but maybe the locks are frozen. Thankfully we were right across the road from a Petro Canada where we were able to purchase some lock de-ice. We applied the lock de-icer and waited. It was time to try to unlock the car. And…nothing. The door still wouldn’t open. However, the lock to the trunk was able to unlock, but the back seats couldn’t be moved down. So now I am frustrated, and we’re somewhat stranded. We decide to then call a tow truck. So, we call, and call, and call, and all of the tow trucks are busy. Because of the freezing temperature, many cars couldn’t start, so the tow trucks were not available to us for another 2 hours. I was not willing to wait 2 hours out in the cold, no way. I called John again and told him our dilemma and asked for permission to break the rear passenger window. After hemming and hawing, he gave me permission. All of us are now excited to break open a car window. We’ve seen it be done in movies before and it was now our turn to try. We all jump at the opportunity, but none of us were able to break open the window. I was extremely frustrated and extremely cold that I opened up the trunk door once again, hopped into it, handed the keys to my boyfriend and began kicking like crazy at the back seats. I took all of my frustration out on those seats (those poor seats) and actually broke the hinge which released the seats and brought them forward. I was finally able to get into the car to unlock the door. At this point I yelled at everyone to get into the car, as they did, and drove off to drop my brother off at his house. I said goodbye to my brother and now with only an hour left (4pm) to drive to my mom’s work I rushed onto the 401 to drive quickly in order to pick her up for 5pm.
I drove along the 401 in silence with my boyfriend holding onto my hand. I was so fortunate to have him in this whole situation.
(Here is where he gets some praise). Throughout these frustrating moments of not being able to open the car door, and even having the malfunctioning cars, he was calm for me. Sometimes you need that one person to be calm for you and remind you that it could be worse. Every time he caught me crying he would wrap me into his arms and tell me “It could be worse.” It was reassuring that it wasn’t worse and that the dilemmas that we were in weren’t as bad as I had thought. We weren’t stranded in the middle of nowhere, and most importantly, no one was dead. I wasn’t alone in this, and never am I alone in troubling situations.
God is always there right with you. Sometimes it’s in these kinds of moments where you become so blinded by your frustration and sadness that you forget that God is there reaching out to help. You forget to reach your hand out for help and rely on yourself to clean up the mess. It’s not your job to clean up the mess by yourself, God has out His bucket and mop too. He’s always ready.
Thankfully, throughout this whole mess, we were both able to pick my mom up at 5:05 (5 minutes late) and drive back to the Auto shop where we would pick up our little Honda.
As we reached the Auto Shop we got news that the part they ordered in was the wrong part and we were stuck with this loner car for the whole weekend. Figures.
The funny and ironic part to this whole story is that the main reason we had this dilemma in the first place was due to wiper blades not working. The car in which I had that caused us to be locked out never had working blades eithers. Only the passenger side had functioning wiper blades.
So I guess there is always a funny way to end a story.
In conclusion, it was probably one of the most frustrating, painful, exhausting, and emotional days I have ever had, and I am sure there are many more to come. But reflecting on this day has made me realize how amazing of a God we truly have. Like the boyfriend had mentioned, “It could be worse.” God didn’t allow harm to come upon me or my family. God kept us together. He could have let it been worse, but He didn’t. Proudly I can say that I survived that day, and that this day has given me a future and a hope. I am still alive today, and I have bright hope for tomorrow.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Isaiah 29:11.
To the most amazing, gentle and loving woman I have ever met. Lenna, you will be forever missed, but your music lives on forever.
As I roamed the heavenly showcased room of Robert Lowrey’s Piano Store, I ogled at the Heintzman pianos that I grew up playing on. I viewed a particular stand-up hand-carved wooden piano that reminded me of my piano teacher’s piano that was priced at approximately $31,000. I quietly sat on the piano bench and begun playing it, feeling the beauty of the piano run through my fingertips. I smiled at the thought of my piano teacher and I wondered how she was (since she moved away quickly and at last moment without me being able to say good-bye to her). After viewing the beautiful pianos, I left to catch the bus where I then received a disturbing phone call. It was my mom. Quickly she asked if I was in a class, me responding with a no, she then broke the news to me. Lenna died. At the age of 98, my piano teacher passed away in her sleep peacefully. I instantly broke into tears and begun crying at the fact that one of my favorite and most admired women had left the earth to finally return to her heavenly home.
In this post, I thought I would mention the wonderful stories I have of her.
Since the age of 6, Lenna dealt with my chaotic life style, my energy, and my crazy curly hair. But there was one thing Lenna never did- she never gave up on me.
While taking piano lesson at a young age I was often distracted by the many cats she had in her house, many of which ran away from the terrifying young Michelle. However, Lenna saw in me potential, and she never gave up on teaching me piano.
As I grew older and preadolescence was taking over, Lenna grew more patient every week with me. She pushed me every week with new songs and new scales and best yet, rewarded me with more stickers! Lenna really knew how to make me feel like I did a good job. She had this roll of music note stickers that had this one beautiful treble clef sticker which had music notes running along the staff. Whenever I did a really good job, she rewarded me with this sticker. The stickers that she gave myself and the rest of her students were a wonderful way of congratulating us on a job well done. Her stickers were always the highlight of the lesson.
Then, Lenna adopted two sweet cats that had been rescued by her nephew- Tipper who had his tail amputated from being caught in an ice storm where his tail froze to a tree, and Little Pet who had been abandoned and left to starve to death. Lenna was always loving and sympathetic towards kitties. As previously mentioned, she had many cats that had occupied her home, these two were her last. I recall during my lessons of Tipper coming up to the piano and sitting beside me on the piano bench, a sweet gesture you would think. However, Tipper was a very hyper cat and would watch my fingers and hands move and would try to catch them with his powerful and painful grip. Lenna would then get angry at the cat and pull out the squirt bottle to spray him wet (a classic) and then continue on with the lesson. By this time, you did not want to continue because you were afraid that the cat would soon return to attack your hands again. Little Pet on the other hand was so well fed (VERY WELL FED) that unlike Tipper, he could not nearly jump up on the piano bench. Because of his weight, he would just sit beside Lenna and punch her leg to indicate her that he wanted to be brushed. He was a very well groomed cat. Lenna was such a loving woman, and she had such a large heart for her cats, and especially for her students.
As I grew into a young woman, I grew extremely snobby and began to really dislike piano lessons. I was at the age where my friends were more important than extracurricular activities and I only wanted to be with them, not with an old piano teacher. However my mom did not allow me to quit piano and forced me to continue- that I would say was an extremely smart move on her part (Thank you mom!). At the age of 12 I had received an e-mail from a family friend asking if I would like to play at her wedding that was being held in mid-September. Both my mom and I went to Lenna and asked if this version of Canon in D was possible for me to play. I believe that Lenna had doubt, but she took up the challenge and taught me this complicated song all summer long until the day of the wedding. By the time of the wedding I was ready to preform and Lenna was tired. The day of the wedding came and though I had practiced the song all summer long, it did not show at the wedding. My performance was a disaster! But it was a great experience, plus, who gets a 12 year old to play for a wedding? Now today I have that song perfected so well that I could play it with my eyes closed. That is all thanks to Lenna!
By the time I hit high school I had the desire to join everything music. I joined my school’s concert band and Jazz band which in fact I had to audition for. I played my trumpet for both of these ensembles. I was though extremely nervous about preforming and mainly auditioning for a Jazz band. But, on the first day of high school I came home to my mom and told her that I wanted to try out for this Jazz band called Jazz Eh. My mom thought it was a great idea, yet I am pretty sure that she had doubt that I wouldn’t make the ensemble. My mom went to Lenna to tell her the news that I planned on auditioning for Jazz Eh and both of them were nervous together. That next week after auditioning, I came home with a huge smile on my face. I MADE IT! My mom and Lenna were so proud of me and I’m pretty sure Lenna took some gratification in that her teaching was successful.
Throughout high school I was highly immersed in music and partook in everything music. Lenna was so proud of me that she would tell everyone she knows about me. Still to this day I have people come up to me and say “Oh you’re Michelle. I’ve heard so much about you.”
Now, there is a funny story to this all. When I was younger, I was always envious of one of her pupils, Timothy. Timothy was her best pupil. When I reached a certain age I told my mom that one day I will be Lenna’s favorite and best pupil. Mom laughed at my jealousy. As the years went on though, and I was more immersed in music, I became a better musician and became closer to Lenna. I worked hard at becoming a better musician and at becoming a better student. In the end, Timothy left for school and I took Timothy’s fame to shame. I was her favorite. She never talked about Timothy anymore, and it was very relieving.
Throughout my life in high school Lenna was ALWAYS proud of my accomplishments and I was finally enjoying my time with her. I looked forward to seeing her at piano lessons, that, and her satellite TV. When I left for University I continued on with my music by joining my school’s musical ensemble. Then throughout the years in University I ended up becoming on the directorship of the ensemble and begun leading children’s worship at my church.
When I came home from University I felt an obligation to visit Lenna. Lenna at this point was more looked at as my grandmother than she was my piano teacher- she was family. Every time I visited her she was always so happy to see me and hear about my accomplishments in school.
During my visits she would tell me many stories of her past. Stories of when she was a young girl during the depression, when her family got their first car, their first television, and the stories go on and on. I was always amazed at what she had told me because she had lived almost a century. She got to see everything, and I mean everything. The First and Second World War, the depression, the advancement of technology and the list goes on and on. Lenna was truly an amazing woman.
I remember of many times during my visits when I would sit with her and she would tell me about this book called “Heaven is for Real”. At this time I would just listen and nod, but not ever really take into consideration of what she had to say about this book because I was not a reader myself. But she had talked so fondly of this book that I decided to take a look at it. The book was amazing; A teary, heart filled story of a boy’s death and coming back to life after seeing Jesus. The following visit I told her that I read the book and that it was such a wonderful read. She then pulled out a picture that she had a friend print off for her. It was a picture of Jesus depicted by this talented 9 year old painter who had saw Him. Lenna handed me the picture and talked about Jesus and how she couldn’t get over how beautiful Jesus looks. She wanted to just gaze into His eyes, touch His face, and thank Him for everything she’s been given in her life. This I can happily say has come true. She can finally thank Jesus for all the things He has done for her.
Lenna was always fond of this picture of Jesus though, and during every visit afterwards she would ALWAYS show me it. The picture of Jesus has now been permanently imprinted into my mind.
There are so many more stories that I could share about Lenna but I feel that I would need to write a whole book. She was truly a remarkable woman.
Lenna never talked ill about a person, and she was always kind and so filled with grace. If there was only one word to describe Lenna I would personally say ‘loving’. Though she was constantly dealing with snobby teenage students who would talk poorly to her (sadly I admit I was one of them), she always still loved her students. Through everything she still found the love to show others and that I have to say is such a difficult task. Scripture says that “Let all that you do, be done in love” 1 Corinthians 16:14, and I can proudly say that Lenna Baker lived a loving life. She showed the love that God shows us every day to everyone she met. Her kindness and gentleness radiated her life and that is what made her such a great individual. I have yet to meet someone who is like her, and I doubt that I ever will. Lenna was unique, and she was old, but she was amazing.
It is sad to say that she is gone, and that the world lost such a remarkable human being, but what is most important is that heaven gained what the world lost. Lenna got her wish, to touch and gaze into the face of Christ and that I believe is the most important.
Painting of Jesus by Akiane Kramarik
Since the beginning of the summer I had been growing this wonderful pink gerbera plant. With complete joy, I bought myself this plant at my local flower shop to welcome myself into my new home. During my first two months living at this new place, I watched my plant “Dorothy” (named after Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz- there’s no place like home) grow into this beautiful healthy plant. Every day I made sure to give it just the right amount of water, and made sure that it had enough sunlight throughout the day. Dorothy was beautiful, and I took complete pride in my flower. However, some days with Dorothy were not as great as I had hoped they’d be.
I was living in this house with my absolutely wonderful roommate who liked to close the curtains during the day; I had no problem with that. However, while she was closing the curtains she never noticed that she had knocked over Dorothy onto the ground and left her to lie there all day long. Poor Dorothy was neglected and was quickly dying due to this sudden fall to the carpet. When I had returned home from work, I would check to see how my flower was doing, and there she would be, squished to the ground with some of her soil scattered throughout the carpet. Quickly I would pick Dorothy up, place her back in her appropriate spot, and tend to her- flowers need love too.
One thing I noticed was that I was always upset when I saw my flower fall to the ground. It was as if she felt like I didn’t love her and that I had just wanted her to wilt and die like all of the rest of my previous plants. I never intended on her falling, and I never and STILL DON’T intend on her dying. I believe that my relationship with Dorothy is much like God’s relationship with us.
In this case, God is me, and I am Dorothy. Throughout the years, God has given me just the right amount of nourishment that I need to grow strong. He has given me His light to shine through me, and to brighten my paths that seem ever so dark. God looks at me as His beautiful flower, and He takes complete pride in His flower. But, there are days when His flower falls, and it is not His fault. As a result to sin, I fall. Parts of me become scattered and I feel as if God has abandoned me and has stopped loving me. Why would I fall when I thought someone loves me SO much? Here’s the answer: God doesn’t intend on us falling. By the works of Satan, he lets us fall (not saying my roommate is Satan). Satan wants us to wilt, and he wants us to feel unloved by our wonderful Creator. Satan is the one who closes our curtains, removes us from the light, and leaves us to die. But the wonderful part to this all though is God will ALWAYS save the day. God sees our falls, and He acknowledges them. Carefully, God picks us back up, puts us back into our rightful place, and tends to our wounds. Much like Dorothy, God shows us His love. He lets us know that things will all be okay. And if we trust Him, they will.
Once Dorothy has been picked back up and given the nourishment she needs, I then watch her become healthy again. She begins to grow into something even more beautiful and she amazes me by her beauty. Just like Dorothy, God watches us grow into something even more beautiful than what we were before. Through our falls, we become stronger, more resistant to falling, and turn ourselves to God for rescue.
Falling is just a part of life. It is not God’s intentions for us to fall, but Satan’s. But thankfully through the grace and love that we have through Him, God will ALWAYS pick us up and give us the tender loving care we need.
“So do not fear, for I am with you;do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Dorothy the Gerbera”
God is like the sun.
He is big. He is bright and He is full of love.
On sunny days, He warms the skins of those who stand underneath His light.
On rainy days, He is never gone. The sun still remains there; you just cannot see Him so clearly anymore.
God is ALWAYS there. He will ALWAYS be big. He will ALWAYS be bright; and He will ALWAYS warm you up even when you cannot see Him.
God is my sun.
“God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5
For the past month I have been living in Québec City working for a family as an English-speaking nanny for the summer. I have been once again given this great opportunity to immerse myself in the Québécois culture; eating French cuisine (poutine, wine, fine cheese with fresh baked bread) and speaking the Québécois French “là,là, mais c’est là bas là”. I honestly feel so blessed to be out here because it is giving me the opportunity to become more like a Francophone (since having been born and raised an Anglophone).
Before my departure, I made myself a promise that while I was out in Québec I would become more in touch with God through reading my Bible and daily devotional every day, praying more, and by attending (a Baptist) church who’s sermon was done in French. So far, two out of the three have been fulfilled. Daily I read and meditate on God’s Word. Unfortunately though, I have not been able to find any churches in my area that are not Catholic- it’s a shame really.
As a result of this, my stay out here had made me feel distant from God. I felt that because I am not able to have fellowship with any Christians, it had caused me to feel lonely and sad out here. I had and still do not have anyone to talk to God about. See, back at home, I have many friends that I have a Christian fellowship with. My friends and I help each other on our journeys to becoming strong Christian soldiers. Unfortunately though, due to work, holidays and just the fact of being busy, we are not able to talk as often as we would like. As a result of this, I feel like a lonely sheep travelling with a herd of goats- I am the odd one out.
For a long time I would actually just sit around wallowing in my sadness. I was alone, afraid, and I was missing my friends and family. I had felt as if God had abandoned me. He led me to this city and left me to figure things out for myself, much like if a parent told their child to move out of the house at the age of 14. I had absolutely no guidance- no friends, and no understanding of my surroundings. I was a lost sheep feeling as if my Shepard had abandoned me.
It wasn’t until recently though when I started to view my Québec experience in a different way.
Once I had begun site seeing, I began to feel this presence that I was searching for all this time.
In my travels through the beautiful city of Québec, I began to feel God’s presence. Instead of sitting around wallowing in my loneliness, I opened my eyes to God’s creation. For those who have been to Québec City can completely agree with me that every corner you turn there is this inexplicable beauty. The cobblestone roads, the historic buildings, the large cargo ships travelling down the Saint Lawrence River towards the rolling hills in the distance; Québec City is just filled with jaw-dropping beauty. This is how I felt God.
The sunrises, sunsets, waterfalls, and historic sites are all just proof of His perfect and wonderful creation. Wherever I look, I see God.
I can’t believe that it had taken me this long to realize that God had never abandoned me. Though I believed that He would never leave me, I still felt like the lost sheep in a herd of goats. I was searching for my Shepard, and praise God that I found Him!
Though I am not able to have fellowship with my fellow brothers and sister, I am still able to take in all of God’s creation. I am looking outside of the box- seeing the love God has poured out for us on the earth. I am experiencing His creation.
No longer do I feel sad and lonely, I feel blessed to see God’s hand at work.
I get to take in all of the beauty of God’s hand, and that is what has comforted me. My Shepard led me here to take rest and to see just how truly amazing of a God I serve.
So, for those who feel this kind of sadness and loneliness, take some time to look at the wonderful world that we live in. In a world full of evil, we still see God at work. There is beauty found everywhere, not just here in Québec City! The grass, the trees, even the air we breathe are all signs of God’s perfect and wonderful creation.
Take some time to look at God’s artwork.
IT’S A MASTERPIECE!
Train Bridge in Cap-Rouge
Sunset over looking Saint-Foy
Chateau Frontenac early in the morning
Sun Rise over looking the Saint Lawrence River- 5:25am
"O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom has thou made them all: the earth is full of your riches." Psalm 104:24
As I was reminiscing through my Hotmail tonight, sorting through all of my e-mails (FINALLY), I came across one particular e-mail that had reminded me of how amazing some people are. In this case, Bob Goff the author of “Love Does” is the amazing person whom I am talking about.
Bob Goff is just like any other author. He writes words onto a page and makes money through the sales of his books (His book is actually one of the New York Times Best Sellers list, hurray!!). But unlike some authors, Bob is still human. He responds to his fan’s e-mails. Not many well know authors do this because they are busy writing another book, or just busy with time in general. Bob is different though. He responded to me, and within 12 hours of me sending out an e-mail to him I got a response. Here is what the e-mail looked like:
About 2 months ago I had decided to pick up Love Does because all of my Christian friends were praising this book telling me stories of how amazing and life-changing it really is. So I decided to give Love Does a try and honestly I couldn’t put it down. Everywhere I went, Love Does went with me. Instead of reading my school text books, I was reading about your amazing stories (but I really should have been reading my text books).
Once I finished your book, I fell into this little depression mode; the book was over, what was I going to do with my free time (read my text books? Nah). But at the end of the book you wrote down your phone number so that people ALL OVER THE WORLD could contact you. My friend, you have some courage, and I feel sympathy for your sweet Maria…all those phone calls must drive her crazy!
Bob, I was at first very hesitant to writing you this e-mail because first, I’d be like all of those other Love Does fans who wants to hear back from their beloved author, but second I would be that creep that searched up your e-mail on Google. However, I feel the need of praising and thanking you.
Your book honestly sent goosebumps up my back, and it kept me laughing and crying the whole way through. My favorite story of yours was the car crash, amazing that you are alive from it! But I loved the story and the true meaning behind your message. There has been so many times that I have asked God for forgiveness, and I feel like I need to ask Him every day for this forgiveness. It is as if there is this person inside of me that tells me to plead with God for mercy and make promises with Him that are most impossible to keep. Your story helped me see clearly though that I do not need to ask God for forgiveness all the time. He forgives us, because He is all-loving. Another one I liked was you getting into Law School. When you want something so badly, and you KNOW that is what you want, some times, you just need to break down that door that God hasn’t opened for you and do the things you KNOW you are destined to do. Yet, God hasn’t purposely not opened the door, he’s just put a bit of glue along the edges making the door slightly harder to open, but in the end, He’ll open it for us.
Alright, well anyways Bob. I just want to thank you for the amazing book. I have recommended it to all of my friends, both Christian and non-believers. I highly adored it and it truly opened my eyes to what Love really is. Since the finishing of your book, I have been making sure that Love is an action and not just a saying.
Thanks again Bob.
And if you ever need a place to stay in Canada, you are always welcome, Eh!
And here is his response:
Thanks for your terrific note. I hope I didn’t cost you a test or two in school, but I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. That means a lot to me.
You’re on a terrific adventure. Take lots of notes and let me know what you’re learning along the way. I have a long way to go in understanding who Jesus is and you’re someone who can help me.
I’m in London right now with Sweet Maria on the way back from Uganda and catching a plane. So nice of you to write. I can tell that you just leak encouragement. The world needs plenty so we’re fortunate to have you!
We’ll find each other in Canada some time I bet!
I find it completely amazing to see how some people in the world are born motivators, and obviously Bob Goff is one of them. He is truly an amazing author, and his book is absolutely fantastic (if you haven’t read it…YOU SHOULD!!) His book has helped me on my journey, and Bob has taught me that Love is an action, not just something we say. Love is thrown around in the air all the time but it is rarely ever shown. Our job as Christians is to show the love that Christ has for us. The love He showed the world.
So instead of just saying you love someone/something (hopefully someone), show you that you love them/it. Make love an action.
PS. Bob Goff is TOTALLY awesome :)
Christians travel down a dusty dirty back-road filled with many trials and temptations. Unlike the smooth paved road everyone else is travelling down where everything is “perfect”, we are caught getting dirty, getting frustrated and angry, and hitting the many potholes found scattered along the way. We find it unfair that we are caught driving along this road because unlike those who are driving on the paved surface do not have to worry about their car getting damaged or themselves getting bruised from the tossing and turning coming from inside the car. However, there is always the benefit of driving down the back-road; the sights are always beautiful, there are many shortcuts, and the feeling of reaching the paved road at the end makes the drive so much more worth it.
With this back road, I would like to think that the smooth surface is God’s path and the potholes found in the road are Satan’s. As we drive along this road we find ourselves trying to avoid the potholes and aiming for the smooth surface. We try with all our might to avoid these holes because we know that if we hit them they will damage our car and make us regret ever going down this road to begin with.
In the distance, we then see that the whole road is covered with large potholes that look to be a foot-deep. Because of these upcoming holes we slow down and brace ourselves for the coming troubles we will soon face. We are then caught driving slowly over these holes and driving with extra caution trying not to let these holes destroy the undercarriage of the car. Slowly we make our way through this pothole infested road getting thrown around in your car, swerving around the massive holes and occasionally hitting them which then throw off your car’s tires’ alignment. “Crap!” is all that comes out of your mouth.
This I like to think is the way us Christians go along our paths. We aim towards God’s beautiful smooth surface but occasionally we get thrown off and hit a hole which leaves us bruised and damaged. So instead of accelerating further down the road, we slow down and try to avoid the bumps and holes that are placed in our way by Satan. We try with all our might to not fall into these large holes but because of the way we are travelling, we still manage to fall. Our alignment is then thrown off and it has made our turning that much more difficult. However, though we have fallen and our travels have become much more difficult, the ending is still in our sight and we strive towards the smooth surface which in toll is God’s perfect path.
Most of my life I have found myself travelling down this same road, and more than I would like, I have hit these large holes which have damaged my relationship with God and Christ. These holes have thrown off my alignment with Christ, but it has made me strive to work harder at achieving my future destination, the destination I will one day call home. Though I have made many foolish and regretful mistakes it has made me turn to God and ask Him to guide me down this dirty road that I travel down. Never am I alone and never do I feel alone in my vehicle for I know that Christ is with me 100% of the way. In my travels, Christ is showing me what lies at the end; and even though I am battered and bruised, I know that these will all be worth it one day.
So though there are bumps and holes in my road, and many large potholes that I regret not avoiding, I do not dwell on my past for I know that God forgives me, and He wants to see me reach my future destination- the paved, smooth road which will drive me into eternity with Him.
“But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:13-14.
When you put God first, when you obey His commands, you open the door for His favor—you have the advantage for success! Even if someone has wronged you and it looks like they have the upper hand, even if it looks like things are never going to change, you need to keep reminding yourself, “I have an advantage. God is in control of my destiny. He’s fighting my battles for me. He is my vindicator, and it’s just a matter of time before things change in my favor.
Fear always presents itself much bigger than it really is. It’s always the worst-case scenario. It always tries to get you worried, anxious, uptight and panicked. Fear’s goal is to separate you from God by trying to get you to doubt His Word. But when the spirit of fear comes, recognize that it has no power unless you give it power. Don’t give it power by speaking what fear speaks. Don’t give it power by meditating on it. Instead, let the power of the Word of God rise up within you. Declare what God says; declare that God has given you all authority in heaven and earth. Declare that no weapon formed against you shall prosper.
Remember, no matter how big fear presents itself, it’s no match for the power of Almighty God. When you yield yourself to Him, you tap into His power. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. God is bigger than your problems and bigger than fear. Let faith rise up in your heart because faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Isaiah 41:10