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Monday, April 30, 2012

April's Huge Love :: Bingo!

This past Saturday, my Advance life group and I did our first huge love!!
(A huge love is our language for impact and service events. Going out in the community and showing love with our peers. We're serving somewhere once a month!).

This month, for April, we headed to Agape Senior Assisted Living in Rock Hill and spent an afternoon hearing stories and playing bingo.


We played several rounds of bingo and at the end of the games, they lingered and thanked us. Some commented on their winnings and said they would share them with their grandchildren. Ms. Louise took some of us back to her room and showed us where she lived. Ms. Mary Louise told us about when she used to be a model and about her travels to New York. I sat at a table with 101 year old Ms. Helen! What a story she must have!

What a rewarding experience. To show love and warmth and to spend time above all else. To listen. To care.

I think, I believe, I am learning that serving happens all.the.time. That we have the opportunity to show love, to be Christ, to think about someone other than ourselves, being identified by Christ - in almost every moment. And the part that collaborates with intentionality is the going out, the seeking of those who most need to hear and be shown the message of their worth. There are those who are lonely or without family and who forget or maybe have never heard that they are graciously and mercifully loved without condition by the great Savior Jesus Christ.

Who needs to hear that message? Let's be honest - we all do. And the more we give it, the more we hear it.

We took an afternoon and we listened. We heard stories and we communicated worth. We communicated importance of a life. And showing love comes in giving away what is most valuable - the message and love of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Today was a hard day.

I think about those roots that dig deep, those roots of pride and perfection and performance and recognition and uncertainty, and I think 'how'd you get to be so much a part of me?'

oh my gosh, those wicked wicked vines of selfish ambition and gain - who am I? do you define me?
the pain in uncovering the parts that scream rebellion, like Aslan and the dragon, the lion's claws that dig deep.
where, oh where, is the joy in the tear?

Tonight I heard a message from one of the best speakers I've heard. I've never heard someone grasp realness, the concept of real community, as well as he spoke. When he said 'we,' he meant him, me, you, the whole community of believers. It was refreshing and relieving, in every sense of the word.

So when he asked 'who are you' and when he began to speak on identity, I'm alone in the room. He is speaking to me. He says that when we read the Sermon the the Mount, we feel overwhelmed. We can't be these things. But this is a picture of the heart of God! These qualities define God - not for us to be overwhelmed at who we are not, but at who God is.

I have good days, I have bad days. I'm on fire for Jesus, I'm overwhelmed the next. I do something nice now, I show the worst version of myself later. It feels undefinable and ugly and shakeable and off balance and questioning and mysterious. Prove yourself, prove yourself, prove yourself, something whispers deep. All this unworthiness - that is what it is - unworthiness.

Let's be honest. it's hard. and there are times I have no idea what I'm doing.

This is who we are. One person, defined by the One who made us.
Our identity.

And then the speaker said we have the choice. Of accepting the Father's love and making it our foundation. We make that choice everyday. And that is a gift.

choice. gift. i'm telling you, this night was for me.

And lastly, most importantly, he said, 'if you humble yourself, you will find God. and your life will be different.'

Humble yourself. And you will be changed.

It's a critical analysis and it is daily. But we are made in the image of God and WE.ARE.FREED. We are freed from proving ourselves, from uncertainty, from perfection, from performance, from recognition, from having to see the fruit of our labor. That's the joy in the tear. Freedom. Releasing yourself from worldly burdens and prideful ambitions and knowing you're created by a Father who died for you.

That's the joy in the pain, the joy in the trial, the joy in the tear.
We are refined and made more beautifully like Him.
We are far worse than we know, but more loved than we realize.
We are identified by His stamp of love on us.

How can it get any better than that!?

breathe easy. breathe deep.
seriously. take a deep breath.
you are loved deeply by the Father.
and THAT is who you are.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reading the Bible for All its Worth

I'm almost finished reading through the Old Testament!

I'm a studier. It takes me for-ev-er to read the Bible (a friend of mine once read through the entire Bible in the time it took me to read the book of Luke). I marinate, I stew, I sit and think and ponder and write. It's a slow process for me. So this whole graduate school -seminary - read through the entire Old Testament in three months was quite a challenge for me. It was really, really hard at first. I couldn't read fast enough, I couldn't grasp it fast enough, it was shaking me down and rocking me.. and then I had to keep going! No sitting and stewing! ahh!

My friend Robbi has always said (and my professor stressed it too) the importance of reading a book of the Bible in one sitting. Reading it as a whole. Big picture. And that's something I've never done. I've always taken chunks, studied pieces, learned people, but never as a part of the big whole of God's redemptive plan.

i mean for real.

I'll be honest - this process has completely moved me. I have been going to church my whole entire existence and all of this was strangely new to me. I knew about Adam and Eve and Abraham and Moses and Jacob and Job and Isaiah- but there was something about reading it like a book, chapter to chapter, verse to verse, and allowing the Spirit to marinate for me - it opened up this whole big story of God's redemption and peeled back layers of Christ that I never even dreamed of knowing. Christ is everywhere in the Old Testament.

what a most valuable time this has been.

I think one of my biggest learnings (I learned so much!) was how to read the Bible in a new way. There are times to study and I know I'll go back and be able to look at it under a microscope, piece by piece. But what a gift to be able to read everything in context, to see through big lenses, to read it like a story and to learn what an unbelievably, extraordinarily faithful God we have. What a gift! The stories and people I grew up learning and reading - I see their context, I see their true importance, I see the utmost character of God.

The whole narrative of redemptive history.

Interwoven between Garden disobedience and golden calf construction and cyclical judge and king wickedness and Jerusalem destruction is a God of great faithfulness and love. Amidst human sin, frailty, wickedness, brokenness is God's promise of a new covenant and new hearts and restoration. And I am Israel and I am broken and I am in ever constant need of the Savior.

it really is amazing.

So my plug here - read your Bible! read.your.Bible. Start somewhere and read because it is the beautiful ALIVE, ever breathing, living Word of God. And it's telling the story of redemption and saving grace and our God's great love for what He's created. Read because through it, there is life. Read because it saves. Read because it's good news! The best news!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Just Some Thoughts

I am in every sense, with all my being, completely fascinated and in love with the Old Testament. What a rich, rich history of God's faithfulness.

Just found out about Trip Lee's new album.. and can't stop. This Lil Wayne sound-a-like has got some holy truth coursing through his raps (listen to One Sixteen : holla mbjolly and tlesh!)

Robbi Fischer was the speaker at Gordon-Conwell's chapel this weekend. What a unexpected, wonderful gift.

I have a game plan to wean myself off cream and sugar and start drinking my coffee black. Wish me luck.

My life group girls for weeks and weeks have been molding each other through the Spirit and been in process of love and service. We are asking ourselves the question of how can we love each day - in huge, big, and little ways. What a powerful, wonderful group of accountability and intentionality and community.

The words of Jesus in John 15:9 says "abide in my love." Abide. Remain. Rest. in the love of Christ.

Continuing to learn gratitude. Continuing to choose gratitude. Continuing to humbly rest in the moments and gifts of the days that God gives. Continuing to understand it's a process with stumbles and falls on the way. But there is so much to be thankful for in each day! And I am learning to unpack that and I am learning to see.

Have I mentioned how much I love the Old Testament?? Being able to see the grand narrative of God's redemption and His plan and love for His people is almost breathtaking. It makes the idea, the presence, the wondrous life, love, and mission of Christ more real and significant. And to think I used to avoid it.

God always honors confession and repentance and the humbling of ourselves.

I finished watching Friday Night Lights (five seasons in one month) and I'm feeling a little bit of a letdown. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose (that's for you, Jenny).

The words we say are of the most eternal importance. We have the choice to point others towards Christ or away, to save or condemn, reconcile or dismiss, to tear down or build up. This redemption is a part of my story and I am most grateful for the opportunity to be mindful of what I say. It's always something I am wrestling with and thinking through. Words as worship.

I was talking to my dad this morning about what he says to his little league team when they face a pressure situation, bases loaded. Life goes on, it's not the end of the world. You'll go home after the game to your house with your family. But in that moment, you have the choice between being tense or feeling relaxed. And when you relax, you are free to do well. Understanding it's just a moment and that life goes on and that there is most definitely a choice to relax, you are free to focus and free to.. get those runners in!

Anyone that wants to help me design my tattoo, feel free to jump on board.

I am so grateful for my church and for this life of ministry.

My dear, sweet friend MA is soon to be married to wonderful, Christ-loving Chance. I'm excited and happy and so so honored to be part of this day of joy and celebration! This friend I have in Mary Austin is one who has shown me the light and love of Christ for which I am most grateful.

Always so grateful for the people in my life who talk through things with me, who talk me to Christ, and who love.

Three thoughts in a row with the word grateful. It's been a life changer.

Christ came to give life and that life is found most fully in the cross.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Love of a Savior

Jesus says in the 16th chapter of John, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the wold you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world."

I have said these things to you..

Jesus is at the Passover feast, the Last Supper, with his disciples. He's washed their feet, he's broken bread, he's predicted a betrayal. He is to be crucified soon. And then he speaks.

Love one another.
How do we know the way to the Father? I am the way, Jesus says.
Abide in me, and I in you. Abide in my love.
I have called you friends.
I chose you, so that you may go and bear fruit.
Love one another.
The Spirit of truth is coming to dwell in you.
Your sorrow will become great joy and your joy will be full.
Love one another.
Love, love, love one another.

so the world may know the name and the mission and the love of Jesus.

The hour is coming, the hour of death and great sorrow. The hour of death on a cross and separation from the Father. Jesus says, take heart, hear me, follow me, abide in me, and you will have peace. I have overcome the world. My death, oh this amazing love, has overcome the world by conquering sin and death. This king has come to bear a cross, not a crown. This overcoming has come through sacrifice and death, not from an army.

Love each other because I have loved you.

Jesus is rewriting love. Love is sacrifice, laying down a life, love as the Father loves the Son. Love isn't secondary or temporary or conditional. Love not as feeling or emotion. Love is to be the distinguishing mark of the disciples. Love is the fuel for obedience. Love is self-sacrificing. Love is the loving kindness of God our Savior. Jesus says, just as I have loved, so you must love one another. Just as I have loved you. Unconditionally, amazing, marvelous, wonderful, divine, sacrificing love.

The love of a Savior nailed to a cross. Oh the deep, deep love of the Savior.
On the altar of our praise, let there be no higher name. Jesus, Son of God.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


We throw them around. We just say things because we can't think of anything else to say, we verbally injure because we know we can, we speak out of what we feel in the moment. And we take down and disarm and disfigure individuality and gifts and the created-in-the-image-of-God-uniqueness that makes every person a loved person of the King.

I am constantly reminded of this. It is a constant conviction, a constant intention. I fall into the deadly trap of thinking words don't matter, they're just words. But if there's something that matters, it's what we say. Because what we say can build or tear down, plant seeds or tear up roots, save or condemn.

I've always aspired to be someone of few words, someone who doesn't waste them. I've lived the life of wasting words - frivolously combining adjectives and nouns and subjects and verbs to create a jumble that doesn't bring any kind of life. But what's true is that wasting words has little to do with the amount of words we say, but the quality of them. And the result is death or the result is life and there is great Gospel truth to be had when we share kindness and encouragement and truth and beauty and positivity.

I speak from a place of great grace and redemption. Christ has put the power of words on my radar and I am constantly in the practice of obedience in speech. And it's hard because pride and instinct and feelings and emotion and sin nature want to cloud out intentionality. It's easier to be reckless. But if we are conscious to the power of our words and if we are conscious to offering Jesus all of our words, truthful words will take over. And your truthful words will be grace, peace, and love.

Part of my sanctification with words has been in writing. Daily, disciplined writing has seasoned me and created in me a true, deep love for words. Only by His great grace, I have been molded through a process to believe that words are life, if we choose, and it is our call as Christians to choose life. Writing, journaling, this blog are my constant reminders and my daily help in choosing life.

So may this be a place where you receive life. I commit to a blog of grace. And if you don't hear it anywhere else, here it here and now :
you are loved.
you are cherished.
you are beautiful.
not because of what you've done, but because of who you are. A child of the King.

Your words matter. Oh, they truly truly matter. They matter when you're unkind and they matter when you're generous. They matter when you're sarcastic and they matter when you're thoughtful. They matter when you lash out and they matter when you encourage. They matter. Because they flow from the abundance of our hearts and they'll overflow with the goodness of Jesus or the evil of self. They matter because we've been on the receiving end and we know. Oh please choose. Choose healing words.

On the cross, Jesus spoke life. He spoke forgiveness and grace and He welcomed repentant sinners into Paradise. That is our charge and we take our verbal cues from the One who truly saves.

Speak the Gospel with every moment, in every breath, in every conversation, in every writing. It saves and it heals.