Sunday, May 14, 2006

celebrating jonna

some of you may already know that jonna is a special family holiday. it was instituted years ago when b was fed up with halloween, which she understood as extolling ugliness, evil, and death. she wanted to have a holiday that would be the exact opposite — one that honours all that is beautiful and good and full of the life of God. so every year on may 13th (the anniversary of b's baptism, which she counts as her christian birthday), we celebrate jonna. it's a time for b to reflect on her life as a child of God, to consider what he has revealed about himself and how she has grown, and to share her hopes for the coming year. it's also a time for the rest of us to praise God for his continuing faithfulness and generosity.

this year, we went with international friend y to marathon souvlaki, b's favourite restaurant in canada. in between enjoying the garlic toast, souvlaki, fries, and tzatziki, we had the chance to ask b to share about her walk with Jesus. her responses revealed a depth and maturity that delighted and impressed us. here's a taste of what she shared:

what words of God have been an encouragement to you in the past year?

jeremiah 29: 11-14 — for i know the thoughts that i think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. then you will call upon me and go and pray to me, and i will listen to you. and you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. i will be found by you, says the LORD, and i will bring you back from your captivity; i will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where i have driven you, says the LORD, and i will bring you to the place from which i cause you to be carried away captive.

philippians 4:6-7 — be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through christ Jesus.

isaiah 41:10 — fear not, for i am with you; be not dismayed, for i am your God. i will strengthen you, yes, i will help you, i will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

what have been the saddest and happiest things that God has revealed to you over this past year or two?

saddest: learning that i need God. it's not a sad lesson to learn, but all that it took to learn that lesson has been very sad. there's been so much loss and so many painful experiences. before we moved to montreal, i loved God, but i didn't realize that i needed him to live every day. now i do.

happiest: discovering that God knows what is good for me, even better than i do. i didn't think so at first — i thought God was wrecking my life — but he has given things i never would've thought to ask for:
  • my school, which gave me the chance to take advanced placement exams in 10th grade, afforded me a place to compete on the track team, is offering a trip to costa rica next year, features a public awards ceremony and honour roll list, supportive teachers, and so much more. it's a great place to be;
  • international christmas. we were away in a safe place with people from around the world, who were mixing, enjoying one another, sharing their cultures, and becoming friends. it was all the goodness of ethnic diversity without the racism and segregation that so often taint it.
until we moved here, i really thought i knew better; after all, who could know my life and desires better than me? thinking about it, this is still not my favourite place in the world, but i guess something good did come out of coming here. and i never would've expected it.

last year, you mentioned growing in joy and in reading the bible. how are you doing in those areas?

with respect to joy, i know there is a ways to go, but i feel more stable, happier. i sleep more peacefully.

with respect to bible reading, i've read matthew, mark, and luke, and i've read jonah in french, which was a lot of fun.

how do you hope to grow in the coming year?

i hope to trust God more. if i do, i expect to be less anxious and to have more hope that God will cause things to work out for good.


former housemate said...

Jonah in French?! Whaoo!!

It's inspiring: I am trying it in Arabic and hope to email you when I'm done with it :-)

Way to go for a new year full of the goodness and presence of our Lord.
Lately my prefered verse is from Habakkuk: "Look at the nations and watch. and be UTTERLY amazed. I am going to do IN YOUR DAYS something you would not believe, even if you were told."

This comes to mind when I think of a North African country that had nearly no believers 10 years ago, and now has thousands (still small % but astonishing). I pray same will happen to my future country of residence.

Many blessings my friend

Chocolate_Miriam_Missing_You said...

I don't know what to say, my sister - you're simply "I don't know a word for it - marvellous, terrific, incredible, ...". Your words are so deliberated, I'm impressed - may God bless your efforts and continue to work in your life as he is definitely doing it already in a very special and personal way!
May he lead you to Germany, too *lol*
Love you!

Sally said...

Yes, your words are sounding Barry-ish already! Go girl!