One Year in One Post

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So the last year has been pretty crazy.

First off, I’m engaged!

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I started dating Connor on January 29th last year, and almost right off the bat my sister took up a new hobby of photobombing my new man and I at every turn.

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Somehow, though, she managed not to scare him off and now we’re getting married this summer! Honestly he’s the most amazing man I have ever met, and I couldn’t even begin to describe how perfect of a match he is for me.

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I won’t write much on him now, though, because I pretty much guarantee that he will become a topic of conversation in many of my posts and you’ll get to know him through those.

I’m also in my second semester of my 3rd year of university now! My life has changed so much since I moved out almost 2 years ago now–I am more independent, my hair is shorter, I have better control of my money and my health, and still hate how cold it is here in Ottawa above anything else.

School’s getting to be stressful, though. In psychology everything comes down to your last two years pretty much, from what I can tell. Last year was a breeze–study a bit before the midterms and exams and you’re good to go! Not third year. There are tons of projects, research volunteer positions, harder courses, and higher expectations from professors. Of course, I love the challenge, but I’m working on finding a healthy balance of time and emotional energy given to each.

So right now, my life consists of knitting, sewing, school, Connor, wedding, and everything in between. So why not add one more thing to the plate and start writing again?!

So that’s where I am! You’ll hear from me soon :)

Rebecca

The Lost Art of Simplicity

 

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Do you ever feel like you’re being pulled in 20 different directions at once?

Like there’s always so much to do, and so little time to do it in?

As if no matter how hard you work, you’ll never be finished?

Like you forget what it feels like to just stop and b r e a t h e?

I know how that feels. I’ve been realizing lately that my life is overly complicated. That is confounded by the fact that I am an incessant worrier, an over-planner, and an extremely intuitive possibility-seeker. I take on much more than I can handle, have a hard time giving up on things in case something might happen down the road where I need it, get easily overwhelmed by work, and do a horrible job managing time well.

And on top of that, I live in a culture which is dictated by time-wasting, mind-rotting distractions.

We, as a culture, are better off than any other time period. We have internet, electricity, good health care, stable government, more food than we can handle–in fact, our biggest problems health-wise are that we often have too much of something, not that we are deprived of anything.

So, in this world that I live in, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed.

Over and over again in the Bible God tells us to be quiet and listen. To be still, and know that He is God. And I have a hard time with that. I have a very hard time being still. Not doing anything, but just sitting in his presence. And I feel that we, as a Christian community, severely lack that.

So I’m issuing myself a simplification challenge. I am going to systematically purge my life of excess things, emotional baggage, time commitments, messed-up priorities, and the like, so that my life is back to the basics. Back to what I need rather than what I might need. I’m going to try and get back to finding joys in the simple things in life, like taking walks, or writing in my journal

And I’m inviting you to join me.

Here’s my philosophy:

We, as humans, are created with five basic categories: health, spirituality, relations, creativity, and self-actualization. The reason we become disillusioned with life, faith, and each other is that we stray outside of these five basic categories and add others, like opinions of others, media, etc. This doesn’t mean that I think these things are wrong, I just think they need to be kept as sub-categories rather than become a major part of our life.

Let me explain.

Health

Currently, when I want to relax, I generally turn on Netflix. It’s sad, I know.

We were not created to sit around for 16 hours out of a day. We simply weren’t. We, as humans, are still animals, and were created to be active.

I personally find that after I’ve gone for a run, or completed a crazy workout, I feel so relaxed, so calmed, and so free. Endorphins really are God’s gift to us–our body’s natural drug. So why not take full advantage of it? God created us with these amazing bodies that can do such cool things–so I’m going to try and push myself to my limits more and more, and see how far I can get.

I have a hard time living in the moment. I like to plan for the future, and know what’s going to happen. But when I run, or when I’m doing anything active, I’m able to just focus on the here and now, and that is such a therapeutic experience. It’s honestly the best way to relax or release anger in a healthy, helpful way.

Besides, at the end of the day, which are you going to regret–spending that hour and going for a run outside, or spending that hour and watching re-runs of an old TV show?

Relationships

Often I find that we use the internet and various other media inputs to fill a gap that’s been created by our lack of actual communication.

I’m a bit of a text-addict. I’m constantly having a conversation with someone, but the problem with texting or IMing is that it isn’t real conversation. You never really get to know the person–you just learn facts about them. A person is so much more than just which school they go to, who they like, what their favourite movies are–a person is how their voice changes when they’re telling a story, what makes them laugh, how patient they are, what they like to do in their free time, who they are when no one’s watching. None of that you can truly experience over texting.

I’m not saying that all conversations have to be face-to-face. But what I am saying is that I’m going to make more of a conscious effort to engage in more meaningful conversation. More phone calls, coffee dates, and even writing letters to old friends and family members. There is something about real communication that brings a sense of security and intimacy that just chatting never can.

Creativity

God created us in His image. And God is the ultimate creator, so wouldn’t it make sense that we would have this innate desire and need to show our creative side? I’m not saying everyone needs to go buy a watercolour set, but there are so many ways to be creative.

We are losing our creativity. I think one of the major tradeoffs we make when we become consumed by media is that we lose our own creative drive. We’re constantly stimulated, and so we have no reason to try and entertain ourselves anymore. We stop writing, drawing, painting, etc., because we don’t have enough time to just sit down, turn everything else in our life off, and create.

Personally, my creative outlet is writing. I journal about everything. I write prayers, rants, praise, simple accounts of the day–anything that I feel like I need to work through or say. But until recently I have stopped. I went from spending about 30 minutes a day writing to absolutely nothing for two years. So I’m going to try and get back into that, and see how it helps with my relationships, self-awareness, and overall quality of mood.

There’s something so encouraging at looking back on the day and being able to actually see some result. Even if it’s just a 4-page journal entry, a sketch in a notebook, or a random sewing project half-completed. We have an innate desire and need to create, so let’s find it again!

Self-Actualization

There’s a branch of psychology called humanism which pretty much states that the difference between humans and the rest of animals is that we have the possibility and innate need for self-actualization. We need to see that we are improving, as people, and that each of us are becoming the best “us” we can be.

Disillusionment comes when we feel as though we are achieving nothing–like we’re the same as we’ve always been. We see no results, we feel like there’s no hope. And a lot of the time we don’t see the results because we’re wasting so much time on other things.

So I’m going to get back to the heart of the matter. I’m going to study because I want good grades and love to learn. I’m going to practice guitar because it’s something I am good at and can improve in. And I will measure my results and mark my progress.

Spirituality

This is the most important. We are created to worship. We were created to love and serve God, and without that, what else do we have?

So let’s stop focusing on being distracted, and let’s stop turning to things like food and media for instant gratification, and start focusing on Him who sustains, Him who provides, and Him who fulfills.

 

Care to join me?

Rebecca Danielle Gregoire

How to Evangelize to Friends

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Now that I’m in university, there’s a lot of emphasis on bringing people out to church, ministering to friends, and the like. Which is amazing, and I really love! I really don’t have a problem with talking to people about God, which I’m grateful for, but I think that all of us as Christians can be guilty of a few mistakes when we try to evangelize to our friends. So here are some things that I try to keep in mind when I’m talking to my classmates about God, or just in general.

You are not there just to convert them

One of the (many) things I hate is when Christians talk about going out to convert the people they talk to. “I saved 3 people last month” or “I’m trying to convert 7 of my classmates.” People are not just numbers to be added to our “list of good deeds”–they’re people, and people who need someone to show them who God is. If your goal is to convert people, you’ve missed out on a great discipleship opportunity. I see a lot of people who bring classmates out to Christian events but then that’s it! They feel like they’re done, and they stop being a friend to that person because they’re converted. What does that say about Christians, that the only reason we’re talking to someone is because we want to drag them into our religion?

Instead of focusing on converting or saving people, look for opportunities to share your faith. Not convince them why they should accept it, but simply share what you believe. Trust me, sharing has a much bigger impact than teaching does.

Be Respectful

We can often be guilty of ego-centrism; we tend to only see from our perspective. If someone isn’t a Christian, they can’t be expected to act like a Christian! So stop giving them dirty looks, stop being taken aback by what they said, and stop being offended by everything coming out of their mouth.

Even though you don’t believe everything that they do, they have a right to be shown as much respect as you would want to have from them. Don’t immediately attack everything they believe, don’t belittle them, don’t hold them to the same standard you hold yourself. Instead, be respectful that everyone grows up with a different home environment, different family, different friends, and everyone’s a different person for it! So respect those differences. Your friends at school likely have completely different ideas of what’s OK and what isn’t, so when they’re talking about going and partying all weekend, try not to judge, or insert your own opinion. Instead, listen, and then, when asked, present your opinion. It’s just being respectful.

Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want said to you

Would you want someone to tell you that your religion is stupid? No? Then don’t tell people their way of life is stupid. As Christians, I understand that we have rules and guidelines that show us what is sinful and what is not, and none of this applies to talking to people who call themselves believers, but outside of the church there are no rules. If you’re getting to know a lesbian girl in your class, do you really think the best way to show her the love of Jesus is to tell her that she’s living in sin with her girlfriend, who she’s really in love with?

Be very careful that you don’t offend the people you’re trying to help. Their lives are their lives, and you’re not called to change them. You’re called to show them Christ, who then can change them from the inside out.

Just get to know them!

So often we skip this step. And I don’t know why.

I know a lot of Christians who really don’t know anyone in their class, or the people they’re trying to bring to church they don’t really ever hang out with. I’m not saying become best friends with everyone, but why not try to get a bunch of people together for a study group? Why not all go out for coffee after a class sometime? Or why not come to class early to chat with people while you’re waiting for the prof?

If you really want someone to trust you enough to talk to you about their life, then get to know them as a friend. Not as a missionary, but as a friend. People can smell a fake from a mile away, so don’t just be their friend for some ulterior motive, even if that is to bring them to God. Always remember that even if they never come to God, that was not wasted time. It wasn’t wasted effort getting to know that person, because they are precious to God, and you were placed in their life for a reason.

Be confident and secure in your beliefs

When you’re confident in what you believe, people see that. They respect it. What people don’t respect is a wishy-washy Christian. The kind who says one thing and does another.

So prepare yourself for life! Not just for ministry, but for living the kind of life God wants you to live. Read your Bible, read books on theology, talk to your pastor–just make sure you know why you believe what you do. Then, when opportunities arise, you’ll be able to speak up and offer your opinion more effectively.

 

So in short, just be respectful, realistic, and remember that others have feelings and beliefs, too. There is a time for everything, so just pray for opportunities, and that God will show you how to handle them when they come!

Rebecca Gregoire

5 Things To Do Before Leaving Home

 

Man-studying Transition from life at home to life on your own can be hard.

Everything’s different–all of a sudden you’re treated like an adult. You have bills, you have decisions, you have deadlines–everything is different.

To be honest, it can feel like you’re being pushed off the high dive before you’re ready.

But it can be made an easier transition! So now, in January, before you get super busy with the actual “moving out” part of moving out, take these last few months at home and really focus on what’s important. Trust me–do it while you still have time.

Here are the 5 things I think everyone should take some time to sort out before moving out on their own for the first time! I either did these or wish I did–so this is from personal experience.

Enjoy!

1. Get Your Money in Order

Seriously, with all the stresses school has to offer, you really don’t want to worry about money. I don’t mean have enough money, I just mean know exactly how much you do have and how much you’ll need to work to make up the rest of it.

Create a budget for yourself. Be realistic–you’re going to want to go out for lunch with friends, grab coffee with some cute guy from class, and buy new clothes every now and then. So budget that in, but be realistic. I wrote a post more in depth about this earlier–you can find it here: How To Budget Your Money

Before you get to school is the time to do this. You still have time to get a job, save up some money, or watch your spending before you go and blow all your tuition money. If you aren’t sure how much money your parents are helping you out with, sit down and figure out all your finances with them–they’ll likely be impressed you’re actually thinking about it and taking these things seriously.

Lastly on the topic of money, research different scholarship offers. Honestly, you’d be surprised how many strange ones there are out there. Take a day or two and just look up whichever one you are eligible for besides the automatic entrance scholarships, and apply to your heart’s content!

2. Define Your Boundaries

I actually can’t stress this one enough. I know it probably seems obvious at this point because you’ve heard it so much, but when you go to university, your resolve will slip. You may think you are rock solid in your beliefs, and that you know where you stand, but odds are you’ll start to get a little more lenient as the weeks go by in your first semester. You meet some really nice people, but they’re into some really sketchy stuff. But they’re your friends, and can it really be all that bad?

The answer is yep. Yep, it can.

For the first few weeks that I was here, I saw my boundaries kind of disappear in some areas. I never actually did anything, but my opinion on what was acceptable and what wasn’t pretty much disappeared into one giant grey blur. So I had to sit down with my Bible and with God and really wrestle through some things–all of which could have been prevented if I had just thought through what I believed a month or so before starting school.

So figure out where you stand. Be realistic, but find your boundaries and stick with them. Decide whether or not you want to drink, how far you’re willing to go (or not willing to go, which ever way you want to see it) when you get into a relationship–or before you’re in one, too. Decide what your values are, and stick with them. If you feel like you need to tweak your rules a little, by all means do. But change them after you’ve thought about it and prayed about it and researched what the Bible has to say about it. Don’t just change your mind because it seems like the right thing to do at the time–have a reason behind it.

3.Figure Out Your Study Habits

Studying is going to be your number 1 hobby here at school. You’ve got a ton less class time (unless you’re in science–you crazy people), but that’s made up for by the amount of reading and assignments and midterms.

So find what works best for you! Personally I have to either pace while I read aloud, or have a bit of music playing or some other form of white noise while I study. Otherwise my brain goes off in 100 different directions all at once. Some people have to write everything out, some people have to hear it, others have to find ways to connect concepts. Figure out what works for you, and find what is the most time efficient. Trust me, if you can master this, your student life will be 10x easier.

4. Get to Know Your Family

It’s really easy to just coast through life without actually getting to know your parents, siblings, or grandparents.

When you move out, though, and are on your own, they’re really a priceless support system to have. No matter if you’re living with your best friend or on your own, nothing makes you feel better than having a good talk with your mom, getting a word of encouragement from your dad, or listening to your sister rant about the teenage drama at your youth group. It just helps somehow, so make use of the time you still have to actually have some quality time with the people who love you most!

Of course, this carries on into when you’re living on your own–you can’t just drop off the face of the planet when you don’t live in the same house as your family anymore.

I wrote a post about keeping in contact with your family while at school, you can check it out here!

5. Create a Strong Foundation for your Faith

Everyone finds the first few months of living on their own different. Some people don’t have a hard time adjusting, some people find it really hard. Some people don’t find their faith is shaken at all, some people find themselves double-guessing even the most basic parts of their faith.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the statistics about how many teens leave the Christian faith in their first few years of university life, and there’s a reason for that. You can no longer coast through life on your parents’ faith. You’ll be faced with a ton of decisions you’ve never had to make before on your own, and you need to be prepared.

I was lucky enough to not really mess up my first semester in school. I stayed pretty solid, and I don’t have any embarrassing or shameful stories from silly mistakes. I felt my standards drop the first month, and I probably wasn’t the wisest in a lot of ways, but God was really looking out for me. After the first month, I took a week and just figured out my faith and what I actually believe. And it changed my life entirely.

You need to sit down and have an honest conversation with yourself and with God. You need to figure out why you’re a Christian, what you’re doing to foster that relationship with God, and how you can minister to the others around you. Unless you figure these things you’ll drift away from God. Trust me.

So take a few days and just pray, meditate, fast if you need to, and read your Bible. Talk to people you trust, and just figure out what your faith means to you. How is your faith manifesting itself in your life? Is how you live showing God’s love? Or are you living a life you probably shouldn’t be? Be honest with yourself. You’ll be grateful later.

 
So there’s my advice. Those are the 5 things I believe everyone should do before moving out on their own, starting school, wherever you are in life.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of a solid foundation, whether with family, money, or especially faith.

Make sure that when you start your life as an adult you start it on the right foot–it’ll make things so much easier!

Best of luck!

Becca Danielle Gregoire

I had a BIRTHDAY!

So I turned 19 :)

It’s really strange, because at 19, you can literally do whatever you want in Canada (as long as it doesn’t break the law, like murder or anything. Still can’t get away with that.) I can smoke, drink, go clubbing… but that’s not really my scene. My birthday wasn’t nearly that exciting, but I am enjoying the freedom. And honestly, I live like a 25 min bus ride from Quebec. So I could have done all of that last month too if I wanted to. So maybe not quite as exciting as I thought ;)

I was sick on my birthday, unfortunately, but not too sick to go out and do stuff :) My best friend made me a beautiful lunch, French bistro style, with French music, baguettes, white wine, and everything. One of my housemates and her cousin who was visiting even made me cupcakes, topped with purple icing! :) It was so sweet–my love language is acts of service, so it meant so much to me!

After our beautiful luncheon, Hillary and I headed downtown and got a ton of free stuff! :D

See, I had signed up for memberships at a ton of places last semester anticipating this day of freebies. I got free stuff from sephora, starbucks, Orange Julius, and menchies :) We were pretty stuffed by the end of it all :S

Rebecca-Gregoire's-19th-birthday And then there was this wonderfully sassy coupon from Orange Julius:

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So excited to use this today :)

(Btw, if any of you know of any other places to get free stuff, tell me! We’re looking for more for Hillary’s birthday :) )

I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that you don’t need to spend money to have fun. Being a college student, it’s very helpful that I have accepted that worldview as my own. So on my birthday, I really wanted to just have a good time with friends and not go out and burn a ton of cash or anything.

And I think it was more meaningful because of that anyway :)

After getting home from downtown, I headed off to some of my friends’ house for a while, who all kindly put up with me, even though I was lethargic and coughing because of my cold. :) (If any of you are reading this, thanks :) You all made my birthday super fun!)

I’ve been so blessed this last year. The transformation my life has seen over the last 12 months is unreal–I went from being disillusioned, frustrated with life, and completely unmotivated to do anything to feeling like the luckiest girl alive to be living the life that God’s given me. And I have so many hopes for this year too!

I’ve made a list of things I want to accomplish this year, and I thought I’d be daring and share it with you guys :) Maybe if other people see it, I’ll be more likely to get it done.

Becca’s List of Stuff to Do Before she turns 20

Sidenote: HOLY CRAP. I’m turning 20 in a year. That hadn’t really sunk in yet. Yikes. Anyway, back to the list:

1. Become semi-fluent in ASL

2. And Spanish

3. And French ,  Become decently good at French I don’t really like French that much.

4. Learn some sort of dancing. Salsa, hip-hop, anything! Just get some rhythm, for pete’s sake.

5. Write a book. More on that later.

6. Run a marathon (Hopefully August?)

7. Finish the full 60-days of Insanity (Working on it!)

8. Finally learn how to design my dream website. I have the idea in my head, and I just can’t get it to work! I have it all sketched out in a notebook and everything, but I want to do it myself. Pride issue, and stubbornness mixing together. But I will do it this year! Reading week?

9. Take up journalling again–I really miss it, and since I’m such an external processor, it’s really nice to have that outlet.

10. Be able to do the splits (PFFT yeah right. Like that’s going to happen. Is it sad that this is the least likely thing on this list?)

So there you have it. That’s my life this year. I’m so excited to see what happens in the next 12 months, my last 12 as a teenager. God has been so good these last 19 years, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for this next one.

And I hope it has a lot to do with this blog :)

Rebecca Gregoire