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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!