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  • Writer's pictureJenni Lien

Loves and Learnings Lately

There are six months until my Master’s program is finished and I think my classmates and I are already starting to miss it (because, you know, we talk about how we’re going to miss these days all the time haha). It’s that weird tension between wanting to enjoy every moment, not wanting to miss any moments, wanting to make more moments, and knowing that we will miss so many of the moment’s that we’re having. So in the spirit of wanting to testify/document/remember these precious days, I want to start doing monthly reflections. It’s also always cool to remember how God moves in the various seasons of our lives isn’t it? How quickly we can forget sometimes.

I put together this list of ‘loves and learnings’ for the month of January last weekend (January 28-29) but am now just finding a sliver of time to prep this post… in February. And in the three days since February has kicked off, there are ways in which this month is already so different than January! God is pouring out his teachings lately. 🙂

But before I start diving into February, here are some January reflections.

1. Crying out to God before I sleep

I spoke about this a bit in the latest podcast, but there were multiple nights this month where I arrived home around 10:30pm, got ready for bed, climbed into bed still with thoughts racing and just prayed to God, thinking thoughts like “I’m so excited for these opportunities, there are so many things to do, it feels a little overwhelming, but I know you’re with me and I can rely on you. Will you help me with it all?” And the next morning, I always feel more capable and at peace. And then the reliance on God starts all over again. So while feeling the pressure isn’t always pleasant, I praise God that he gives us these opportunities to practice what we believe. Have you ever said such a prayer before bed?

For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:30)

Prayer: Lord, help me rely on you and do things with you.

Women at University of Waterloo fitness class

2. Affordable exercise classes + gym buddies

Last fall, I really enjoyed my outdoor runs! But then, as this is Canada, it started to snow and I needed to find another option. I realized our on campus gym is not only really modern but a fitness class membership is just $60 per term (four months per term) for unlimited classes. Hooray! So my classmates and I (thankful to have gym buddies) have been trying various dance, strength, barre, spin classes etc. Especially on days when things feel like a lot and we just don’t have time to exercise (usually not true and if it is, maybe some things need to be recalibrated), a short exercise break does wonders for the mind. Are you satisfied with your exercise routine this season — anything you want to do more/less?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Prayer: Lord, help us take care of our bodies, minds, emotions as well as our spirits.

3. New life-giving pop music

I’m currently listening to Colton Dixon’s Build A Boat while typing this blog post. It came on while I was shuffling Spotify’s Top Christian and Gospel playlist a few weeks ago and I just loved it… and still love it. It’s light, poppy, unusual, and so full of truth. I pray the lyrics: “every word you say is going to come true, you will lead me to the promised land… I will build a boat in the sand when they say it never rains… I will build a boat so let it rain.” How great that we can sing/pray/worship and let these truths sink deep into our spirits. What song did you have on repeat in January?

My mouth is filled with Your praise And with Your glory all day long. (Psalm 71:8)

Prayer: Lord, thank you for music! And for Holy Spirit-inspired musicians! I’m thankful for how you minister to us through music — send us more heavenly songs!

Chicken wings at Morty's Pub Waterloo

4. Saucy, freshly-fried chicken wings

I love chicken wings, especially fresh from the fryer and heavily sauced jumbo wings. Morty’s has been a favourite since my undergrad days and I still think they’re the best in town. My classmates and I took an impromptu trip and most of us ordered half honey garlic and half chipotle honey mustard which was an excellent combination. Just so satisfying. (Side note: I’ll always remember this year for our many, many spontaneous adventures. May they continue.) Are you a wing fan — what’s your favourite flavour?

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

Prayer: Lord, thank you for good food, for taste buds, for creative cooking, and for all the relationship building that comes while we enjoy food. May you continue to bless our relationships.

Conrad Grebel University College at University of Waterloo

5. Canadian winter walks

The classmates I’m closest to in the program are work hard/play hard people. I love that we really enjoy being on campus, working in the meeting rooms, reading in the lounge space… and sometimes that means we’re here on Saturdays too! Amidst the hard work, we’ve taken some mid-day walks across campus, taking in the fresh air, snowy scenes, and (at least for me) relishing the true joy of this season. Before this year, I hadn’t had a snowy walk in three years. And taking walks in general was mostly a solo pursuit. (Oh wait, I also took sunset walks with my mom this past summer but she’s not so interested in doing so in the snow!) Talking and walking is such a great way to build relationships. Definitely want to do this more — this season and beyond!

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ephesians 4:9-10)

Prayer: Lord, help us love, care for, and support those you’ve placed in our lives.

6. New opportunities in venture capital and consulting

Venture capital and consulting were two areas that always sounded cool but had nothing to do with my actual life. I’m thankful for opportunities to learn from the local startup scene as an analyst in our campus Student Venture Fund and to be working with Purolator in my consulting course. This is an early thought as much will happen over the next few months — but just a moment to say, Lord, it’s so cool that we can keep learning, growing, being exposed to new areas. Life isn’t always easy but how wonderful that you’re in it with us and have so much for us.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Prayer: We pray for open doors and more excitement in life!

7. Smiles

This month, I’ve noticed more and more people around me smiling. When I order my coffee, the cashier is almost always bright and cheery. When I’m walking to the bathroom and I catch the eye of a random person across the room, they’ll smile and I’ll smile. And my bus drivers! They’re so friendly and such caretakers of those they transport (waiting for those running for the bus, encouraging us to take our time when it’s slippery, even letting people on the bus when they forgot their ID card in the gym bag *ahem me once this week*). Maybe Canadians are an extra friendly bunch? But it’s reminding me of the power of a simple smile, the joy of human connection, the desire to be part of a good community. May we all smile a little more — and offer our smiles first! (Photos = a random selection of happy photos with classmates and fellow social entrepreneurs on campus because... some smiley memories — like the ones mentioned — don't come with photos but are powerful nonetheless!)

A joyful heart is good medicine, (Proverbs 17:22)

Prayer: Lord, help us love and smile, even when it’s not easy. May your love flow through us. May we see how you love those around us.

How was your January? Let me know in the comments, or send a DM/email! Always love connecting and sharing, and seeing glimpses of what God is doing in your lives x


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