#navbar-iframe {display: none !important;}

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Pause

A year-end pause.

What I'm listening to.
Mumford & Sons.
Kari Jobe.
JJ Heller.
Ryan Gosling's band Dead Man's Bones, complete with piano and children's choir.
Phil Wickham, always.

What I'm watching.
Parks and Recreation, Season Two. Amy Poehler is running through my mind.

Sherlock Holmes, A Game of Shadows. A genius film, perfected by the brilliance of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. I left the theatre wishing people still dressed like that (hats? canes? trousers? overcoats? so.cool). I know Sherlock and I would be friends, with his penchant for details and his art of observation. Holmes, you make thinking look so cool.

What I'm reading.
A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first in the Sherlock Holmes collection! Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes have just met - I'm pumped for the adventures to come!

The Only Necessary Thing, a collection of writings on prayer by Henri Nouwen.
"Our ability to think is our greatest gift, but it is also the source of our greatest pain. Do we have to become victims of our unceasing thoughts? No, we can convert our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer by making our inner monologue into a continuing dialogue with our God, who is the source of all love. Let's break out of our isolation and realize that Someone who dwells in the center of our beings wants to listen with love to all that occupies and preoccupies our minds."

Rereading One Thousand Gifts, a treasure by Ann Voskamp.

Exodus. Beginning book two of the Holy Bible.

What I think you should read.
A beautiful blog post a friend wrote on the Hunger Games and the armor of God. Read even if the name Katniss doesn't send chills up your arm. From my friend's beautiful mind to yours - she's a gift. www.werewolfjesus.com

What I'm learning.
What I am learning. whew. It's still processing and unfolding, but it's exciting! I am learning gratitude, that giving thanks is the key to the fullest life in Christ. I am learning to fight, to use the armor of God. I am learning discipline, in all things. I am learning the expanse of a big, big God, an I AM WHO I AM kind of God. It changes everything.

What I'm memorizing.
Psalm 51. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

What I'm remembering.
Our God came. In the form of a tiny baby. He came because He loves us. He loves what He created. What a love.

Take a pause. Then keep going.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sit With Me

Max Braverman, a boy with Asperger's syndrome and a desire to see dinosaurs, takes matters into his own hands. He boards a city bus and goes out on his own to find the museum. Minutes measured in TV time later, he is found wandering the streets and is brought home in the back of a police car to face his worried family. The first thing from his mouth-- can he feed his lizard?

Haddie Braverman, teenage sister, is upset. Max, she calmly says, do you know what happened today? Do you know that you can't just walk off without telling anyone? Max's attention is not holding and he is not caring and Haddie's emotion builds. The things she's held so tight instead force their way out - THIS ISN'T FAIR. We try so hard. It's not fair. She flees the scene crying and her brother is asking for his lizard.

Adam Braverman, father, makes his way into his daughter's room after the chaos of the day. He sits on her bed and hears her apologies. He explains that things are hard for her, she handles a lot, and a causal nod of the head and Haddie says it's fine. An attempt to brush it off, Adam looks at her and says no it's not fine.

I guess it's not fine, but it is the way that it is.
I'm sorry it's hard.
I know it's not his fault, but it just sucks a little.
Yeah. It does.
And with her tear stained eyes, he holds her close.

No reprimand or words to fill silence. An honest look, an honest affirmation, a courageous dive into the scary things we face. A powerful interchange of understanding. You're not alone. I know.

There are the things in our lives we can't control. Even the things we can control. With our gallant efforts, we work so hard! We do our best, we make do, we smile, we nod, and sometimes we snap. We scream, we yell, we cry, we allow ourselves to feel the weight. THIS ISN'T FAIR. In that moment when it hits, that powerful reaction, when we snap, when the facade wears thin, when we're sad, when we're confused, is for someone to say yeah. it does. i know.

The value of someone just sitting with you.

Reading through the book of Job gives you a good sense of what bad community looks like. A best friend and I read through the book last year and it helped us redefine our friendship. Our friendship of sitting with each other. A friendship without empty words or loud encouragement. A friendship of presence. As Job, if all is stripped away and we are left with nothing but our lives in shambles, I know I will look to my right and see her sitting with me. The silence of her presence will mean everything.

So sit with me.
I'll sit with you.
When words aren't enough and advice won't do and you don't know what to do and life is tricky, I'll tell you 'yeah. i know.' And then we'll sit together, sometimes in silence but always in love, and we'll patiently watch the work of God melt our human hearts and point us.

Sit with me.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Life as Worship

I've been David these days. I'm floundering and stumbling after God, misunderstanding Him and grabbing at works. I'm stuck in His grace, frantically looking for an answer - is this really as good as it sounds? My tiny ant brain is forcing itself to define the magnitude of God and when it can't, I strip Him of that power.. because it seems less frightening than grasping that the God that formed man from dust, breathed life into man, guided eternity to salvation, loves me so intimately. Doesn't that take your breath away?

When Moses asks 'who should I say sent me' and God says I AM WHO I AM, I fight to understand. And my sinfulness says, but how do I earn that?

Jesus is a gift, a gift we cannot earn. I read who this mighty, powerful God is and I am moved by the act of taking on flesh. The act of dying a crucifixion death, of coming alive, of the promise of return. And I fumble through my days with lack of discipline, vowing that I can do it all on my own, with eyes bent on making it out on top. Is this really what I offer God in return? I lose sight and it is so frustrating.

I battle. I want to give God perfection. But this unattainable goal only produces mounds of frustration and guilt and the realization that that will never happen. I slip into defining the gift of Christ by worldly standards - you give me a gift, I give one back. You gave me the gift of life? I don't know how to give you anything in return. I am human, sinful, broken, my heart is so ugly sometimes. Will you take that?

And I'm realizing God answers that question with a resounding yes.

From David's heart, he cries in Psalm 51 to be washed in a cleanliness that comes only from the presence of God. 'Create in me a clean heart, O God,' David cries, 'and renew a right spirt within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.' What a beautiful, humbling confession.

My eye catches in verse 17 - 'my sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.'

I flash to Romans where Paul writes of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. I flash to the imperfect lives of the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews, who stumbled and questioned, but who were counted righteous because of their faith. I jump to the Gospels and read the character of Jesus. I wrap my head around the fact that this love is something I will never be able to wrap my head around. But what I do rest in is that I can be thankful. God desires our hearts, our worship.

He knows what He's doing when He loves us unconditionally. He knows our limitations, our humanness, and when we cry out to Him, He is pleased. Scripture says that when we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, that is our spiritual worship. Giving the whole of our lives. I commit to giving God just that, the whole of my life, and I know that I'm not always going to. I know that I'm going to fall short, I know that will make my song sad, I know I'm going to forget God's character. But what a grace! And that I live by, no matter how humanly crazy it sounds.

Not a gift to understand fully, or to shake off nonchalantly, or to march forward defiantly. It is a gift to humbly fall down, to lay crowns at the feet of Jesus, and to live in gratitude. My life as worship. To humbly cry as David 'Lord have mercy!' And to humbly know He hears that cry. Then I begin to replace my vocabulary of 'try', 'harder', 'do your best'.. with 'posture', 'faith', 'worship', 'gratitude'.
My sacrifice is a broken and contrite heart and I transform and mold that, with the help of the Great Perfecter, into worship.

Life as worship.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Jesus did things differently.

He washed feet. He loved his enemies. He ate with tax collectors. He died on a cross. He came as a man and lived as a servant. He showed humility, servility, love in unexpected ways. I think a king on a throne, surrounded by servants at his beck and call, making sure his enemies suffered, that's the picture of influence. Oh but I am wrong.

The Peter in me screams "Jesus! You will never wash my feet! You're getting on hands and knees and washing my feet? You're nailing yourself to a cross for my sin? I can't let you do that. You're a king! Kings don't do that. You're the Messiah - rule this nation with your army!"
The sinner in me shouts, "Love my enemies?? But that's too hard! You must be mistaken. What difference will it make?"

But Jesus taught something radically different. His mission was one of victory over death. On a hill, on a cross, surrounded by thieves. When we serve, when we humble, when we sacrifice, when we rescue, we point to what He did on the cross.

The small choices we make in our day to day fabric produce wildly big, unfathomable results.
Because when Jesus washed feet, He was pointing to the cleansing of souls.
Because when Jesus loved his enemies, He loved us who nailed Him to the cross.

Jesus sacrificed Himself so we could live sacrificial and influential lives. Extend a hand in friendship. Engage with someone who otherwise has no one. Love the unloveable. Choose life. A 5th grader told me that after He accepted Christ, he found that he was nicer to his parents and to his siblings. Jesus had infiltrated to help him live a different kind of life. The living, breathing life changing power of the Gospel.

I am learning that these choices aren't always big and mighty. Instead, there is a choice in everything, big and small. And the choices aren't confusing and numerous. Turn to Jesus in dependency OR turn away. Rescue others or reject them. Serve or be served. Love or hate. Pray or ignore. Invite others or deny. Speak life or death. Trust Jesus or want control.

What our culture teaches is gain a lead, take advantage, push others aside, get control. But Jesus showed a new way, a self-sacrificing way, that led to life fulfilled through death. This big, powerful, mighty, wonderful, majestic, sovereign God who created the oceans and the mountains and the fields and the deserts - He came down, took on flesh, traded righteousness for shame, and died a crucifying death..

because He loves us.
What a love.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Feeling thankful these days! In the spirit of the holiday and in my new discipline of gratitude, I have been blown away by where God has led me, His abundant gifts, what He has taught me, and how patient, loving, kind, gracious, faithful our good Father is.

It leaves me speechless.

As my friend reminded me, WHAT A LOVE.

Counting myself as a grateful, loved, cherished, blessed child of God, I am..

Thankful for Forest Hill Rock Hill community, for my job, for the kids, volunteers, families I see every week. Thankful for my team.
Thankful for seminary and for education.
Thankful for tinys. New, precious, baby tinys.
Thankful for conversations, for words of life. For accountability because without it, I can't imagine where'd I be.
Thankful for the Advance ministry, for students. For high schoolers who love Jesus.
Thankful for coffee. For that Baxter Starbucks patio.
Thankful for music, all kinds of music.
Thankful for books, all kinds of books.
Thankful for my story, that God is a God who wastes nothing, who works all things together for good.
Thankful for corner, for your love, truth, caring for my soul, reminders, encouragement, Christlikeness, vulnerability, availability. For the true life giving power of community.
Grateful that I was created, given life, that I am loved.
Grateful for Jesus Christ, that He came to earth as a man, took on flesh, lived, taught, breathed, and died a sacrificial death. Grateful for His death, His resurrection, for His sacrifice. Grateful that He changes my life and redeems my attitudes, words, actions, thoughts.
Grateful for a God who makes beautiful things, grateful for that ultimate Beautiful Thing.

I am so grateful.
The whole of my life, so grateful.
From the bottom of my heart, so grateful.

Happy day of thanks.

I have more than one thousand gifts and I am so grateful MOST OF ALL for the God who rescues and who makes beautiful things out of the dust. He has been unreasonably gracious to me in all of the above and more. WHAT A LOVE.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Process Part II - Living Grateful

Process is something to be praised. The more I marinate on those words, the more I am convinced of what process actually is. It is less about the passage of time and more about how we use that passage of time. It is less about deadlines, expectations, days, and weeks and more about our choices.

Everything is fast moving. Days dissolve into weeks and time becomes sand in an hourglass. It can be a fast moving train, where are you headed? For someone like me who builds expectations on myself, process is expected to be as quick as time. Life is moving fast, so adjustment and transition should too. Things are happening quickly and I'm hitting the ground running, so I should adapt to change at that same pace. And it should be smooth. Right? Well, no.

Adjustment is chaotic. Transition is tough.
It's beautiful and miraculous.

You can't speed up the process.
But what you can do is choose.

There are a lot of little choices to make that culminate into bigger ones, into bigger ones, until I find I am tackling the choices that at first seemed overwhelming. Trust, openness, vulnerability are all big, abstract concepts that are frightening to fight. But what if trust was broken down into little choices along the way? What if I made God the center of those choices? WHAT IF I CHOSE TO BE GRATEFUL?

Grateful for where I am. Grateful for my corner. Grateful for opportunities. Grateful for grace. Looking at my life through the lens of gratitude and being amazed by what I see. Gratitude is the lifeblood of humility and humility is the lifeblood of gratitude. I cannot fathom the goodness God has bestowed on me. The winding, hilly, up and down, roller coaster journey He has guided me on are full of things I hold as value. I am gratefully overcome.

I hold my hands up and laugh in joy at the chaos. I delight in my story because it is a powerful tool of the Gospel.

There is a new Florence and the Machine song called 'Shake it Out' and I love it because it's dramatic and bold, just like she always delivers. It's a song about carrying things behind us, feeling weighed down, the dark before the dawn, but feeling empowered in choosing to shake that devil off. My favorite line says I am done with my graceless heart, So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart.

Ah I love that.

Take out that gracelessness! Restart with gratitude! Choose! Remember! God is in the process and process is to be praised. And it becomes a divinely beautiful chaos.

I welcome process because I choose to throw away time. I remember that God is good, He is faithful, He sent His Son, and He sees us through.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Heart in a Box

Surgeon Cristina Yang's attending physician tells her to create a list of all the heart surgeries she has ever wanted to do. Cristina pores over books and books and creates a massive list of incredible, impossible surgeries that she is dying to get her hands on. In the meantime, she is asked to watch a heart as it sits in a box. The task to her seems trivial, but begrudgingly, she agrees.

The heart in a box is a heart that is taken out of a human and placed in a glass box, hooked up to a machine, waiting to be transplanted into another viable human body. This heart that exists in the fictional realm of Seattle Grace Hospital, this heart in a box, is beating and pumping and operating without a body. It's a miracle.

And as Cristina is poring over her list and feeding this desire she has to see the impossible and the miraculous, she realizes that what she has in front of her is exactly what she seeks. And she sees that there are very few things that could top this miracle of a heart. What could she ask for that's better than what is right in front of her?

I think a part of us wants God to prove Himself. God, show us the big, the impossible, show us something awesome. God, this life feels mundane, give me something really show-stopping. It's easy to bypass the everyday miracles we have in front us because we just aren't satisfied with them. We want to jump to the big, jump to the end, skip the difficulties, because we just can't see the point. The process of things moves at a pace we don't like. We are impatient beings. We miss seeing God right in front of us.

Every breath we breathe is a gift and a miracle. It is the most beautiful thing we possess. Our everyday lives, the routines, are a powerful example of who God is.

What I find most compelling about the heart in the box is that I miss the power of it too. Our lives are full of breathtaking, astonishing, astounding, incredible, miraculous moments.. and for some reason, we're discontent. We see the heart in the box and we walk past, nod, sigh, and ask for something greater. Is it just me? In this current season of change and process, adjustment and transition, I don't want it to be this way. I distrust that God has His hand in the mundane, the mundane IS His beauty, and that He is working beautiful things through a process. I am dissatisfied and discontent and keep my head down, poring over my lists of what miraculous things I want to see.

But the miraculous is what I'm living!

What we have is God-ordained. We can't speed up the process - we'll miss the power and the beauty. Process is defined as 'a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.' Those actions and steps - I want them to be quick. But we can't miss God in those!

I love meeting with my girl Cicy every week and diving into discipleship and Scripture. I love getting emails from volunteers who are excited about what they do and what is to come. I love reading the books for my Theology class. I love a cup of coffee. I love reading through the Bible in a year with a dear friend. And I am learning to love that these beautiful things, along with the frustrating, are the products of the gifts God has given me in the place that God has put me.

Right in front of me is the day to day. The day to day is our process. God is in the process. Process is to be praised. God is to be praised.

Gratitude is the key.

I started reading a book this summer called 'One Thousand Gifts' that preached thankfulness, joy, in the everyday. Sometimes I think Ann Voskamp wrote that book for me. She writes, "I have lived the runner, panting ahead in worry, pounding back in regrets, terrified to live in the present, because here-time asks me to do the hardest of all: just open wide and receive."

Today, open wide and receive. Not anxiously look ahead to what we spend time worrying about or can't wait to get to. See our everyday and sing praises of gratefulness for them. Today, count each moment. Not look ahead and wonder in frustration why we don't have everything figured out. But see the figuring out as beautiful steps in God's plan. Remember each day that God is always good and I am always loved. This is what our hearts in a box reveal - God is big, He is good, and He wants us to see each moment, each 'small' thing, as something He has crafted. And we are loved. The frustrating, hard, tricky, tiring, slow things are evidences that we are loved because it is through these things that we learn God showers us with good gifts.

God is always good and I am always loved. The changes, the process of learning new things, that's the beauty. The end product, what is the end until we join Christ in the new heaven and new earth, is lovely and beautiful and God-orchestrated. And the details are not like how I see them - chaotic, disorganized, annoying. They are beautiful and special and they are evidence.

In thankfulness, I see that the small picture actually contains the big. The small picture isn't to wade in and get lost. It is to see the heart of God and to take each breath in thankfulness. Being grateful for the death and resurrection of Christ compels me forward.

It's all about the heart. Where our hearts rest in the moment. We can't miss it.

What I have right in front of me is the beauty, the miracle.
What can I ask for that's better than what is right in front of me?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Showered with Good Gifts

One year since I was baptized and it's been a time of reflection. My friend Heidi asked me about my year and what has been my biggest learning. Memories rush to the surface and I am reminded of how faithful God was and still continues to be. I remember Psalm 40 and think on my new song. Dates, times, conversations, come to my mind and I am taken back to places where I have seen God work. I look back and I can see His hand the whole time and I think 'this has all been an asset.'

Another friend wrote me and said this, "He rescued me and He not only rescued, He restored and then He went that much further and showered me with good gifts!"

Rescued. Restored. Showered with good gifts.

I fear saying the same things over and over again make it lose its meaning, so I hope I sound genuine when I say it's been a fruitful and humbling year. A year of flinging my arms wide open and landing flat on my face. A year of remembering who holds me. A year of learning much joy.

There are so many Scriptures that mean a lot to me, but I especially found solace in Romans 8. I'm trying to figure out a way to tattoo all 39 verses on my body. It is so packed full of goodness, of truth, and it's been my comfort to run back to. I am alive because of the Spirit who lives in me. I am adopted as an heir of Christ. Can anything separate me from the love of God? No! Who can be against us when God is for us? He works all things together for good. The Spirit intercedes for us. Our present sufferings are insignificant compared to the future glory of the new heaven and earth. There is so much hope in that.

I learned to identify with the disciple Peter. I saw myself in his denying, questioning, guilt-feeling character of the Gospels. Then Jesus says, 'do you love me? Feed my sheep' and Peter becomes the God-fearing, Gospel preaching, spokesman for the apostles. Jesus responds with love and His grace forgives and purifies. Peter, I can't wait to meet you in heaven because your story is mine.

The process continues. Turn to Jesus in dependency. Confess. Repent. Pray. Remember where hope lies. Memorize Scripture. Be in community. Have accountability. Show truth in love. Serve the least and lost. Love God. Love people. We are the aroma of Christ! Jesus is coming to make all things news!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Power of Our Words

"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.

Words are so powerful.

Words give life, resuscitate the soul, empower truth. They can be used as missiles, as knives to the heart. Our tongues have the power to deceive, defame, deface, praise, affirm, encourage. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing (James 3:10). We can build cities. We can move walls. We can implement change with the words we speak.

I believe that what we say matters. I believe in the words of community, in the life giving words of breaking bread, the prayers we pray. I believe in the power of written words, in the blogs we write, the sermons we preach, the songs we sing, the books we read. I believe we do life together through words.

I believe in the choice that words give us. We choose to be vulnerable, to hide, to speak truth, to share our souls, to invite someone in, to encourage. Every time our mouths open, our tongues move into gear, our pen hits paper, we have the choice to SPEAK LIFE. We are leaving an impression. Letters, syllables, grammar, punctuation make up the fabric of our influence. Do we realize the weight of what this means? Our words are not meaningless or insignificant or empty. We can do so much with them.

Because our words matter, we look to Jesus.

Our model is in the life of Jesus. Throughout the Gospels, He speaks. He says, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.' His words heal. His words give life. He speaks honestly to the Samaritan woman at the well and says that He is the Living Water. He tells Peter three times to 'feed my sheep.' He says from the cross, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' He calls out, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.'

Faithful, loving, He is beautiful.

Jesus didn't just speak truth.. Jesus IS truth. He is perfect and honest and pure and just. I think of his response to sinners. His response to his disciples. His response to the Pharisees. His response to the Father. His Word is ultimate and it is more than just our example. It saves us.

So let your speech be gracious (Colossians 4:6), may you hold fast to the word of life (Philippians 2:16), may the Word of God dwell richly in you (Colossians 3:16), may we encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and may every knee bow and every TONGUE confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 1:23).

Choose your words. Choose life. Choose Jesus.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I remember doing a Beth Moore study with my friend Abbey last year about living free. Moore says the mind is where it all begins, our primary battlefield. Satan wages war there. She says, "If our thoughts aren't like God's, we can bet our ways, paths, and routes won't be either."

Isn't that the truth?

I've been reading a lot of verses in the Scriptures lately about the mind. Our thoughts and how we find peace with them. The writers of our Holy Book are pretty consistent when they say that our God is a God of peace. Over and over again, I came across verse after verse after verse that said 'God has called you to peace,' 'Live in peace,' 'God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.' Over and over again.

I had a moment while meditating on these verses: these aren't just someone's opinions! God didn't at one time appear to someone as peace and we just have to trust that writer's experience : GOD IS PEACE. If I believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God, then I must believe everything that is in it. I must trust that God is who He says He is. He IS the total embodiment of peace and He continues to be who He has always been. When I feel confused and wonder what is truth, all I need to is open up the Bible and that. is. what. is real. What a refreshing truth.

I know we all have our places and things where satan aims to sideline us and mine are my thoughts and the way they grow into lies. What a constant place where I am brought to my knees. I know I have a hyperactive mind to begin with and have genuinely loved the growth that has come from my thoughts. But when I go through changes or experience something new or an unfamiliar situation arises, it is like a nuclear bomb of thoughts goes off up there. Because there are so many rushing by, my lie filter gets lazy and I forget to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ. I analyze and analyze again and before I know it, I can be headed in the complete opposite direction by believing things I know aren't true. Doing it on my own : talk about exhausting.

Enter Scripture.

James 4:7-8 says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to God."

It doesn't say 'Resist the devil and he will quietly slink away from you' or 'Resist the devil and then he'll come up with new ways to attack you.' It says he will FLEE. Flee. Run away in fear. No looking back. Leave. How do we resist the devil? By drawing near to God and humbly submitting to Him. By surrendering, by giving up the fight. By running headlong into the Heavenly Father's embrace. The same power that conquered the grave lives in me. And that is no match for the devil. When Christ is in me, the devil flees.

I learn every day that life is full of choices. All we do, think, speak and how we act, respond, influence are all choices we make. Our choices reflect what we believe and who we're living for. And so I choose life. I choose to hold that Bible tight every night before I lay my head down and I choose to reach for it every morning. I choose to draw near to God. I choose to resist. I choose to believe every single word the Bible says. I choose to trust. I choose to not lose heart and turn towards bitterness in response to my battles. I choose to admit that I need a Savior.

Psalm 139 says, 'O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.'

Psalm 139 also says that there is no place we can go to escape His presence. He is there and He is constant. We don't fight anything that He doesn't know about. The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have the divine power to destroy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). When we use prayer, Scripture, the power of the Holy Spirit, faith, community, we draw near to God. And satan flees.

I choose to believe the power of Christ's death on the cross and His victory over sin.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I've done a lot of stupid things lately. Not anything tragic or life changing, but things that make me look back and say to myself, 'are you for real??'

It makes me so thankful for Jesus.

Until I was 23, I proclaimed to be a Christian and then had everyone bow down to me. I loved making people feel bad. I really liked belittling people and I really thrived on being right. It's embarrassing to think about. I really was so self righteous and God was my afterthought (if even a thought at all). Any time I needed correction, that was a big no. I would either ignore you, get mad and turn it back on you (my favorite response), or manipulate you into thinking I was right the whole time. I take no credit for life change because it is Christ who has redeemed my choices. He has redeemed my responses. He has given me better options. Without Him, what other option do we have? He's made me thankful for the freedom that comes with being wrong. He has changed my response to you and He has changed how I receive your response to me.

And that's grace.

As I make mistakes now, grace comes into the picture. As I am rude and thoughtless and arrogant, I am met with grace. And it blows my mind. On two counts. Grace frees me. Grace is unconditional. My friends who respond with grace : I think back to a time and know hands down, 100%, that I never, ever would have responded that way. I loved when people messed up. It was my chance to shine! To mess up, be rightfully called out, and to be met with grace, forgiveness, and moving forward, is refreshing. Not just refreshing, it's almost a shock to my system.

And that's grace.
It's so good!

When other people respond as Christ, I am freed to respond as Christ. I am freed to think as Christ. I am freed to remember Christ's work.
It's really, really exciting.

I can't really articulate how this makes me feel. I wish all of you could take a jump inside my thoughts. It makes me overjoyed. No, no I am not happy I make mistakes. Gross. It bums me out when I'm thoughtless. I hate sinning. But I am so thankful for Jesus. I am reminded of the victory over sin and death in His cross and resurrection.

I am overjoyed because it is in the little things that I can see my big story. That I can see Christ. The little graces where I am blown away.

I spent half of last night thinking through mistakes, thinking through responses, thinking through story, because that's what I do. I think. For those most faithful to follow, I have most frequently blogged about my thoughts. Taking them captive. My mind. When I'm not disciplined, satan runs around unmarked and unchecked, taking names and wreaking havoc. Satan's thinking becomes my way of life. My instincts reflect his. When I don't practice 2 Corinthians 10:5, I let satan have a field day up there.

But when I do, when I stamp Paul's words on my heart and mind, my mind does a complete reroute. God's Word literally becomes my filter. I have a thought : dismiss it as a lie. I have a thought : call it ridiculous. I have a thought : throw away that shame. I have a thought : yes that's truth! And that's the one I believe. And I am knocked off my feet at how good His grace is.

I am given grace to think new.

What I'm learning is that the practice of filtering and taking thoughts captive is never complete. I'm not going to reach a point of perfection and no longer have to fight satan's lies. I was born a sinful human being. But that doesn't mean the battle hasn't been won. That doesn't take anything away from Christ and His redemption. Refinement is in how quickly I resort to my filter, to Scripture, and how quickly I count truth for what it is. The Spirit does its work and satan talk becomes less and less frequent.

I am joyful because I can look at my story and think 'what a God!' I spent most of today thinking 'if God can save a prideful soul like me, then He can save anyone!'

So if you take anything from this hodgepodge of thoughts, take that away. God loves you. He really, really loves you. No matter how shameful or ugly or gross or prideful your actions and thoughts are, He wants them. All of them. He wants all of you.

And that is grace.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control." Galatians 5:22-23

I just emerged from a two day fast. Going without food is physically draining, almost to the point of hilarity. There were times where my mind felt so foggy. During a conversation I had with a woman I just met, she said her child's name, said his nickname, I asked her again what his name was, five minutes later realized who she was talking about, and on the drive home, I realized the name and nickname were the same person. Holy cow.

I think about that physical draining and I know that time away from God produces the same mental, emotional weakness. I unequivocally, absolutely, 100% need need need time with the Savior. I never grasped the urgency, the necessity, the absolute criticalness of that dependency. I transitioned from doing it because I felt obligated and 'didn't do enough' to 'I love it because I enjoy learning and being in God's presence'. But these last few days, I have understood that I am oh so weak when I am not fueled by Christ. I need it because I need God. And that is pleasing to Him.

Psalm 63 says, "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food." There are no empty comparisons in God being our Daily Bread. Every. Single. Day He is our Sustainer. We don't fill up on food at the beginning of the week and hope it lasts. The same is true of our God and Savior.

I've been reading through Galatians 5 this week. Learning about the desires of the flesh vs. walking by the Spirit. When I choose the Spirit, I live by love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self Control. Doesn't that sound so refreshing? The flesh is in direct contrast with that beauty and when we stiff arm our sinfulness and make a better choice, we accept and live by what the Spirit gives. The Spirit not only fights against sin in defense, but in attack through the creation of Godly character. That blows my mind in gratefulness.

The Apostle Paul reiterates again and again that the only way to conquer flesh is to yield to the Spirit. Relinquish, surrender, cede. Not by doing more, not by reading a theology book, BUT BY THE SPIRIT. Every piece of me apart from the transforming work of the Holy Spirit is sin. It can never be good on its own. But Christ has crucified the flesh and Christians have died with Christ to sin. The old order has passed away and our sinful selves that belonged to that order have crumbled away. I am saved from my flesh.

I'll be honest with you, there are hard days. I don't want to tie a nice ribbon around this blog post and call this battle won. It's an every day, constant, continual dependency. Being in receptive communion with the Spirit every. single. day. I still feel 'fleshy'. I do the very things I hate. To borrow from Paul, I desire to do what is right, but I don't have the ability to carry it out. I don't do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. I still struggle with sanctification not having a finish line. But I am refreshed to know there is Someone working in me to tear that flesh away. I'm not on my own in this process of refinement. I am humbled by the work of Christ.

Yielding to the Spirit, going against the flesh, starts with discipline.

Holy Spirit, lead me.