"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:29





Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beautiful Things

The more of life I live, the more I realize life doesn't always make sense. Sometimes it is hard to see God's hand and pinpoint what He is doing. The path can look pretty uncertain and the journey can be discouraging.

Thankfully, God has given us His promises that we can rely on when life causes us to doubt.

These songs reminded me of some of those promises we have in Christ.




"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."  -Romans 8:18



"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."  -Philippians 1:6

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Matters of the Heart

"I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases"  Song of Solomon 2:7

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life"  Proverbs 4:23

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”   2 Corinthians 7:1

"If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd"  Elisabeth Elliot

I've been impacted with the idea recently that who and what we give our hearts to is of the utmost importance to God.

Our hearts are extremely valuable and when they get entangled in wrong relationships and sin it can be detrimental to our spiritual health. This is exactly why God has layed out a foundation for how we should live in His Word- so we could avoid the pain, heartache, and shame that comes as a result of walking outside of His plan. Our hearts are the most valuable thing we can give and God asks that He would be our first love. Anything or anyone that takes His place becomes an idol.

I know my heart is given over to many things. Temptations are real and sin can be relentless. I sometimes doubt that God is enough and that He can meet my every need. But I also know that He won't stop until He has my whole heart. He wants it all and I know I will be restless until I surrender it all.

"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."  Psalm 86:11

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Blessings

I think we have all heard the phrase "count your blessings". Pretty simple, right? Yet, if I'm perfectly honest, I often do not recognize how blessed I really am.

I have developed a terrible habit as of late. It is called complaining. I have become a pro at looking at the glass half empty. Everyone's life looks so much more fabulous than my own and I often feel so justified to have a pity party. I can list many things I do not currently have- my own place, the resources to travel, a boyfriend, the certainty of future plans, that puppy I want so badly...you get the picture. And I whine and groan and pretend to be the martyr. However, the reality is I already have so much.

God has such an interesting way of changing our perspective. The job He has given me this summer has put me in contact with so many individuals who are truly suffering. The things I take for granted every single day- like my physical and mental health, a great home life, and countless friends who care about me- are the things these patients long to experience. I could tell story after story of individuals who do not have family or even a supportive community. These things are simply beautiful ideas that seem unrealistic. There are stories of rejection, abuse, and neglect so terrible it is hard to imagine someone could survive all of that pain and live to tell about it. After experiencing this type of brokenness, it is hard not to come home and marvel at the life I have. I have never felt more grateful for what God has given me.

My life is so rich and full. My family, my friends, and my church are gifts that need to be cherished.


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav'nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Praise God the Father who's the source;
Praise God the Son who is the course;
Praise God the Spirit who's the flow;
Praise God, our portion here below! 

  







Yes, I am so very blessed. It is all HIM.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Chance to Die

I am currently reading Amy Carmichael's biography (which happens to be written by my hero, Elisabeth Elliot) and have never been more convicted. Amy truly lived a life dedicated to Christ. She knew her life was not her own and that the time she was given on this earth was short. Because of this, she dared not waste a moment of it.

"Her great longing was to have a 'single eye' for the glory of God. Whatever might blur the vision God had given her of His work, whatever could distract or deceive or tempt others to seek anything but the Lord Jesus Himself she tried to eliminate. Why waste precious time, painful effort, on lesser things? Someone suggested that more girls would be drawn to the meetings if she offered lessons in sewing or embroidery and administered only a mild dose of the Gospel. But these girls worked from five in the morning till half past six in the evening. They had one day off in ten. They hadn't time for foolishness. Furthermore, so far as Amy could see, there was no scriptural warrant for 'consecrated fancywork and chatter,' for 'fleshly things rather than spiritual.' 'I would rather have two who came in earnest than a hundred who came to play,' she said. 'We have no time to toy with souls like this. It is not by ceremonial teamaking and flower arranging, not by wool chrysanthemum-making and foreign sewing-learning, but 'by My Spirit, saith the Lord.'"

"If there were less of what seems like ease in our lives they would tell more for Christ and souls...We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could. I don't wonder apostolic miracles have died. Apostolic living certainly has."

Amy knew life is not about living. It is about dying.

I think that is something so few of us as believers have yet to grasp. It is something my life is far from embodying. Yet, I am encouraged by her example to continually learn what it means to embrace the fullness of life through the death. Crucifying myself daily in order that Christ may be represented through me.

"All along I thought I was learning how to take
How to bend, not how to break
How to live, not how to cry
But really, I've been learning how to die
I've been learning how to die."
-Jon Foreman

Friday, July 1, 2011

Community

Whoa, I haven't written on here in quite awhile. Life has been insanely busy for the last couple of months, but I feel like I am learning so much. I just started my new job at a mental health hospital and, boy, do I have stories! Sometimes I feel like I am on another planet when I am there. The things I have seen already are hard to put words to. Some of it is simply funny, yet, there have been many times I have been fighting back tears. More on that later though. For this entry, I wanted to talk about something the Lord has been stirring in my heart for quite some time now. It has been a journey of almost two years, but God has offered new insights recently that I wanted to share. I've been wrestling with what it looks like to live in community and found an unlikely reminder of how possible it really is.

When I think of a tangible picture of what community is, the first thing that pops into my mind is the drug and alcohol unit at my job. I am aware this sounds completely absurd but, from the moment you step foot onto that decrepit building, you know these people live and breathe community. It is the only way they will survive. In fact, many of the patients will quickly refer to their fellow members as "family". Yes, patients are detoxing and miserable, but they are encouraged by the other members who have detoxed just days earlier that it will get better. I am continually suprised how welcoming the community is to its new comers. They quickly introduce themselves and show them around the rundown facility, making them feel "right at home". The members of the community lead AA and NA groups and remind others to attend. They will shout up and down the halls annoucing group and even wake up their peers, knowing that attendance of the group is in his or her best interest. In almost a funny way, the group looks out for one another, making sure the members are aware when the can go out for a smoke break or have lunch. And, let me tell you, a celebration is had when a member is finally able to go home. Hugs, goodbyes, and reminders to stay in touch are exchanged, as patients are enthusatic to see one of their peers complete the journey.

Now, seeing this type of community firsthand, I am almost ashamed of the community I have often experienced within the church. In my experience, too often our communities are fragmented and function more as individual groups than a "family". We keep to ourselves, smile and nod at the appropriate times, and insert the appropriate Bible verses and Christian lingo to keep up our facade. To be honest, I rarely see the type of oneness, empathy, and celebration that I witnessed in a secular drug and alcohol clinic.

Now, I'm not trying to point fingers or pass the blame. I will be the first to say I am more a part of the problem than the solution. But, all this being said, I can't help but wonder- what are we doing wrong as a church?

I say this because I am not the only one who has felt this way. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had the past couples of years with well-meaning church members who finally revealed the same feeling. Disconnected. Unengaged. Misunderstood. Judged. And every time I left these conversations thinking something about this whole scenario is simply wrong. I mean, if there were any place were individuals should feel accepted and loved for just who they are, shouldn't it be within the church walls? Yet, this is not happening for so many and it breaks my heart.

I am well aware there can be many reasons for this type of disconnect. I understand there is individual responsibility and the church as a whole cannot not take the whole weight of the blame. But, sadly enough what I have found in my personal experiences, is my deepest moments of community often occurred outside of the church.

I am fortunate enough to go to a Christian college and take classes focused specifically on spiritual growth. Amazing. This is where, this past year, my journey for true community took a significant plunge. You see, I was placed in a room with complete strangers and within one year developed the type of bond that is rarely experienced in this life. These classmates cried and laughed with me and called me out in ways people who have known me for years have never even dared. They cecelebrated the smallest of victories in my life and sorrowed over the things that I could not even put tears to. In one year, we developed the type of trust that allowed us to reveal the deepest and darkest secrets we had never spoke about, which enabled healing, joy, and freedom that was beyond imagination.

To be honest, after experiencing that type of community, it is hard to go back to facades and small talk. I can't find myself content with the false togetherness I was once so at home in. You see, it's because I now know there is something deeper to be tasted and experienced. God has so much more for us as a body of believers.

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."  Ephesians 4:15-16

This most likely sounds like a ramble. Which it probably is. But, let me say, this is not to condemn the church. I want to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters that there is so much more to be tasted. I'm not saying it is easy, because I know firsthand how difficult it really is. In fact, diving into true community can be one of the biggest risks you will ever take. However, God created us to be part of a body of believers for a reason. It is one of the vehicles for how we are to experience His love, forgiveness, and healing while we remain on this earth. Ultimately, I believe so many are discontent in the church right now because He is creating a desire in our hearts for something deeper both with Him and each other. It is really up to us- will we enter in?


community at its finest :) these women changed my life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There is no other stream

I just love C.S. Lewis. And Narnia.

Jill got up and looked round her very carefully. There was no sign of the lion; but there were so many trees about that it might easily be quite close without her seeing it. For all she knew, there might be several lions. But her thirst was very bad now, and she plucked up her courage to go and look for that running water. She went on tiptoes, stealing cautiously from tree to tree, and stopping to peer round her at every step.

The wood was so still that it was not difficult to decide where the sound was coming from. It grew clearer every moment and, sooner than she expected, she came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass, running across the turf a stone's throw away from her. But although the sight of the water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn't rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason; just on this side of the stream lay the lion.

It lay with its head raised and its two fore-paws out in front of it, like the lions in Trafalgar Square. She knew at once that it had seen her, for its eyes looked straight into hers for a moment and then turned away - as if it knew her quite well and didn't think much of her.

"If I run away, it'll be after me in a moment," thought Jill. "And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth." Anyway, she couldn't have moved if she had tried, and she couldn't take her eyes off it. How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.

"If you're thirsty, you may drink."

They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again, "If you are thirsty, come and drink," and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realized that it was the lion speaking. Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man's. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way.

"Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.

"I'm dying of thirst," said Jill.

"Then drink," said the Lion.

"May I - could I - would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

"Will you promise not to - do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill.

"I make no promise," said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

"Do you eat girls?" she said.

"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

"I daren't come and drink," said Jill.

"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.

"Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."

"There is no other stream," said the Lion.

It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion - no one who had seen his stern face could do that - and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn't need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once. Before she tasted it she had been intending to make a dash away from the Lion the moment she had finished. Now, she realized that this would be on the whole the most dangerous thing of all. She got up and stood there with her lips still wet from drinking.

"Come here," said the Lion. And she had to. She was almost between its front paws now, looking straight into its face. But she couldn't stand that for long; she dropped her eyes.


“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."    Isaiah 55:1

"But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”   John 4:14

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's All Uncharted

As I have said before, I am not a writer. In fact, I am quite terrible with words and can never arrange them properly to communicate what's going on in my heart and my head. I think this is why I appreciate music so much. It often says exactly what I am thinking or feeling in a way I could never communicate on my own.

This song came on the other day and has resonated with me ever since. I'm pretty sure the artists' intentions for this song and my interpretation completely differ; nevertheless, it seems to put into words where I am at in the journey.



Uncharted

No words
My tears won't make any room for more
And it don't hurt
Like anything I've ever felt before, this is
No broken heart
No familiar scars
This territory goes uncharted

Just me
In a room sunk down in a house in a town, and I
Don't breathe
No I never meant to let it get away from me, now
Too much to hold, everybody has to
Get their hands on gold
And I want uncharted

Stuck under this ceiling I made
I can't help but feeling

I'm going down
Follow if you want
I won't just hang around
Like you'll show me where to go

I'm already out
Of foolproof ideas
So don't ask me how
To get started
It's all uncharted

Each day
Counting up the minutes, till I get alone
Cause I can't stay
In the middle of it all, it's nobody's fault, but I'm
So alone, never knew how much I didn't know
Oh, everything is uncharted

I know I'm getting nowhere
When I only sit and stare like

I'm going down
Follow if you want
I won't just hang around
Like you'll show me where to go

I'm already out
Of foolproof ideas
So don't ask me how
To get started
It's all uncharted

Jump start my kaleidoscope heart
Love to watch the colors fade
They may not make sense
But they sure made me

I won't go as a passenger, no
Waiting for the road to be laid
Though I may be going down
I'm taking flame over burning out

Compare
where you are to where you want to be, and you'll get
Nowhere


In my words, I am covering new territory. Discovering places in my heart I never knew existed. Coming to terms with my sin and depravity. Taking a look at the areas that bring me joy and sorrow. I'm finding out who I really am- the person God intended for me to be before the fall and before sins curse. I'm on the path of redemption. It's all so new and frightening and I often feel frustrated that my world has been turned upside down. But there is an element of excitement in it all because it is uncharted. I have no idea what's ahead but all I know is it's too late to turn back now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beautifully Imperfect

Ok, I'm about to admit something that sounds pretty pathetic. Bear with me.

I used to think I was a really good person. Well, even more so, a really good Christian person. I had the whole Christian walk down to a tea- I said all the right things and stayed away from all the wrong things. I served at church, prayed during lunch, read my Bible faithfully, spent my time with other good kids...you get the picture. And I really thought God was pleased with me. As long as I obeyed all the rules and regulations, I thought I was in and I could look down at all those other people who did not have it together like me. I was the "perfect Christian girl" and that became my identity.

Fast forward to college- my whole perspective of this perfect little Christian world changed. The past several years, God allowed me to experience many trials and circumstances that have revealed how imperfect I really am. In many ways, I feel like I fell flat on my face. I made a lot of mistakes. I hurt people I really cared about and I used circumstances to promote my own gain. I lied, cheated, and slandered others. Spent way too much time being prideful and self-centered. I cried, confessed, asked for forgiveness, and was sincerely humbled time and again. And, you know, the more I grow to understand myself, the more I see how deceitfully wicked my heart and my motives really are. It's quite frightening.

Nevertheless, these past several years, God's grace has become so much sweeter to me. I now understand my own sinfulness and how I can do absolutely nothing apart from Him. I am not a good person on my own. In fact, left to myself, I can do some serious damage. I have had so many friends and family members walk away from Christ or fall into sin recently, it is staggering. And each time, I am shocked and am determined to think that will never be me. Yet, the more I understand of my depravity, I am aware that could easily be me. I could mess up my whole life in an instant. It is only through my connection to Christ that I can have victory over my sin. I am being comepletely naive if I think I can do any good apart from Him.

So, I am finally coming to terms with the fact that I am imperfect. And it is beautiful. Beautiful only because Christ shines through those areas in my life where I am so desperately in need of Him. It is a good thing to know our weakness.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me....For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where is the Love?

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to love someone. And, to clear the air, I'm not talking about that sappy, chick-flick, palm-sweating, heart-pounding, puppy kind of love. I'm talking about the kind of love that requires sacrifice and pursuit. The love that truly "don't come easy" but is worth fighting for. The type of love Christ demonstrated on the cross and calls us in turn to show towards others. Not a fleeting feeling but an obedient act on the part of the lover. A force that defies all odds and breaks all barriers. The type of love that never gives up or fails, chooses forgiveness, celebrates in joy, and weeps in sorrows.

Many of us, myself included, run away from love because it is so very vulnerable and requires so much of us. To truly love one another we must give up the self and be subjected to possible pain. I see this consistent theme throughout the Scriptures- it is only through pain and death to self that one can experience the joy of God's strength and presence. "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it"; "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:" There is a part of the spiritual walk that requires difficulty and pain in order to bring us into Christ-likeness and blessing. Learning to love others seems no different.

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
C.S. Lewis


Much-Afraid shrank back. “I am afraid,” she said. “I have been told that if you really love someone you give that loved one the power to hurt and pain you in a way nothing else can.”

“That is true,” agreed the Shepherd. “To love does mean to put yourself into the power of the loved one and to become very vulnerable to pain, and you are very Much-Afraid of pain, are you not?”

She nodded miserably and then said shamefacedly, “Yes, very much afraid of it.”

“But it is so happy to love,” said the Shepherd  quietly. “It is happy to love even if you are not loved in return. There is pain too, certainly, but Love does not think that very significant.”
Hinds Feet on High Places

I'm learning that loving others is difficult and I cannot do it apart from Christ. It is scary and vulnerable and heart-wrenching. I have been hurt and dissappointed and wanted to simply give up. But it is worth it. God's Word is true and it does not return void. In those painful moments of heart-break, God was faithful and honored my obedience. It has been tested- Love really does conquer all.

"By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."
1 John 4-21

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dead to Sin

"Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life...Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive in Christ Jesus."   Romans 6:4;11

"Paul expresses in the most decisive and emphatic way the truth of our having died with Christ; for burial is the seal set to the fact of death- it is when a man's relatives and friends leave his body in a grave and return home without him that the fact that he no longer shares their life is exposed with inescapable conclusiveness. So the death which we died in baptism was a death ratified and sealed by burial, an altogether unambiguous death."  C.E.B Cranfield

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Beginning

I decided to start a blog.
For what purpose, you may ask. I am asking myself the same question. I am not a wit nor a writer, so I cannot promise many earth-shattering thoughts.

A teacher of mine used to quote C.S. Lewis in saying, "We read to know we are not alone". And, I think, this applies the same to the writer. There is something about the pen and paper (or, in this case, the keyboard and computer screen) that provides solace. A place where we can come and express our inmost thoughts and feelings without being judged or even certain if they are right or wrong. Yet, on the same token, we hope someone may stumble upon our deepest contemplations and somehow relate. That they will connect with us and share in our joy and pain. That our thoughts on the page will be accepted in spite of our words which often are not. Yes, that we will know we are not alone. If I am honest, this is the reason I write. So, here goes...

"Are you lonely?
Are my scars too deep?
Do you have them too?
Or do you only love the ones who look like you?"

-Molly Jenson and Jon Foreman