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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Favorite Camp Rock Story

Last week was Camp Rock week. Such a blast, such an amazing experience.

I want to share my favorite story from the week. Maybe my favorite story ever.
One of the best things I've ever been a part of.

On Thursday morning, all the rising sixth graders and their counselors geared up for a five mile hike up the mountain - two and half up, two and half back. We got our water, got our groups, got pumped up, and started our way up the mountain. The trail was not one bit easy - a lot of the walking was straight up and the terrain was rocky - and it was soon clear that one group was tearing ahead much faster than the other.

I was in the second group.
The Rock Hill crew.
There were about twelve of us.
Through repeated rounds of 'Call Me Maybe,' 'What Makes You Beautiful,' and 'Baby' and back and forth 'whooooaaaaaaa' from Fee's Rise and Sing, we made our journey.

There was one sweet, sweet little boy in our group who was convinced that he couldn't do it. He thought he couldn't climb that mountain so he stopped a lot and said 'can't' a lot, and shed lots of tears. But the group wouldn't settle for that and they encouraged him and pushed him (sometimes literally) and spoke words of life to him and for four hours, got him up and down that mountain.

Four hours.
every step. every stop.
They didn't complain, show selfishness, or were harsh.
They never stopped loving.

What is most powerful to me about that time was the character and the servant leadership and the Christlike attitude of the four teenagers that were with us. The cheers, the words of life, the encouragement, the pep talks. There were several times I saw hands on shoulders, eye contact, you CAN do this. do you hear me? you CAN do this. Through the grueling pace and the frustration I'm sure was there but couldn't see, they walked alongside that boy and they cared and loved him to the top.

And the sixth graders! Our group stayed together! No 'this is too slow, I'll meet you guys there.' There was cheerfulness and NO COMPLAINING and so much encouragement. One boy in our group is an avid Boy Scout and does 15 mile hikes all the time. Before we left, he told me this hike would be a warm up. Yet he was with us, in the back, the whole time - walking beside his friend, stopping beside his friend. the.entire.time.

I saw kids and students rise up and choose to die to self. I saw Jesus. There was no tough love or rough words or behind the back exasperation. There was joy and love. Lots and lots of love.

I've never seen anything like it.
And the more I think on it and the more I process it, I'm not sure exactly how yet, but I think it changed me.

I've been reading a lot of Reggie Joiner lately and he's been writing a lot about engaging people in the mission of the Gospel. Not just telling them the story, but giving them the opportunity to engage. To be a part of the story. And I can't help but think that up and down that mountain, we were engaged in the mission of the Gospel. The caring, the loving, the leading, the life giving, the serving. There. That's where we see the power of Jesus.

Because in trial and in struggle, that's where and when we are made more like Him. You either lie down and turn around or you choose to keep moving forward in dependency and in worship of Jesus. That mountain hike was hard. The pace was grueling. But I saw God there! In the very heart of the struggle. I saw Him in the hearts, words, and actions of those teens and middle schoolers. I saw Him in the dying to self and putting others above themselves. In the trial, their concern was for others.

In trial and struggle, in action, in doing, in experiences, we are given permission to rise up and become more like Jesus.

Leaders don't lead from in front, they lead from among. And I am grateful for the opportunity to witness an incredible group of leaders who loved their brothers and sisters to the top and back down again. They chose to be missional and they chose to serve and they chose to find joy in it all. They chose to sing, to put others first, to care people to Christ. They chose to put love in action.

I am so proud of these people that I love.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Journey of Grace

I find I am so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose future is uncertain.

What a journey this past year has been!
A season of gratitude. Oh did I learn gratitude.
A season of learning prayer. Oh what a constant dependency.
A season of freedom. Oh still learning freedom.

I am grateful for a God who is patient, gracious, kind, and compassionate. He's faithful and gone before us, He leads us and guides us even when we're stubborn and foolish and wander astray.

I'm learning to rise up as a mighty warrior in Him. To be strong and courageous and to heed His call. To shed the old and grasp the new. To move and to move forward! TO LIVE ABUNDANTLY. To grasp moments and choices and the beauty of life. To live and love as the Savior. I am learning that I am worthy. I am made worthy only by His grace - worthy as a daughter of the King.

what a beautiful thing.

I've recently decided to change my master's degree program from counseling to Christian Thought. Recently is a loose word - ha I've been throwing this around for over eight months. It's been a process of deciphering the voice of God, learning what the heck the word calling means, diving headfirst into passions and joys, and understanding the freedom and grace of God. And being alive in Christ - uncovering what it means to come alive in Christ!

And the fear and the uncertainty and the confusion - it really does make for a wonderful, grace filled process. for real. God is oh so glorified when there is trial and struggle and we find Him on our knees.

He's a good God. A good, good God.
You can't read the Scriptures without a grasp for what a good, good Father He is.

So I start something new and fresh and I'm excited!
Greek classes and Church to the Reformation and seminary friends and the Word of God!
This journey is wide open and unknown but I'm free and made alive in Christ and He's given me great passions and the grace to move forward and follow them.

There's no fear when we are made alive in Christ.
There's hope because of His great love.
Choose! yes there's choice.
And He died so we could choose and have abundant life!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


The peace of Jesus is something much deeper than self-help techniques to manage stress. It is deeper than anxiety reduction to make life more pleasant. It is the settled conviction that goes down to the core of your being - to your belly where rivers of living water can flow - that all things are in God's hands. Therefore all things will be well and you can live free of worry, burden, and fear.

There's a story in 'The Me I Want to Be' that John Ortberg tells about his friend named Danny. Danny decided to go spelunking in a cave in Iowa. He was with his guide who lead Danny deeper and deeper into the cave through a passageway and as they continued, the passageway got smaller and smaller. First Danny had to stoop, then he had to crawl on his hands and knees until finally, the only way to move forward was by lying on his back and by pushing his body forward. The ceiling was so low that the only way to move forward was by inhaling, exhaling, and then his chest was low enough to go.
He can't move unless he breathes.

does that not make you crazy with panic? holy.cow.

So Danny is petrified. And he tells his guide that he is going to lose it.
And then his guide says, "Danny, close your eyes and listen to my voice. I will keep talking, calmly, and guide you through this. We will be okay. I have been here before. I will get you to the other side. But you must listen to my voice. It will not work for you to let your thoughts run wild. Just focus on my side."

And then Ortberg writes, "what freed him from panic and fear was not trying hard to quit thinking fearful thoughts. It was listening to another voice."

And for me, I think what is that voice? What is that voice telling me?


That voice is peace and it is strong and it is joy. It laughs at the fear! A literal laugh, out loud, I am laughing at the fear. Because that voice is loud, it is constant, and it is TRUE.

The light, joyful difference it brings almost can't be explained. I don't have to try harder to make new thoughts to quiet the other ones (which never works), I can just listen to another Voice! And life transforms into something new and exciting and an adventure and a most direct worship of the King.

Because can't it be that??
Can't it be a song and a dance and an experience and an adventure?
Why can't it be that?
It can be that!
It can be a song and a dance and a journey of refinement and a jump and a dive into who God made me and how God made me to interact in love with His people.
Can't it be that!?


and the weight is lifted.

Because I am loved. and freed. Because I choose to listen to another voice. And because life is about seeing and tasting and experiencing that God is good! I worship Him when I taste, see, hear, smell, touch, and listen to who He is and what He's done around me. In everything. always. Every thing is discovery and adventure and a taste of God.

Especially the caves! oh especially the caves.

Friday, July 13, 2012


I don't think about hope very often.

It's not usually a part of my vocabulary. I think grace and peace and love and freedom, but hope - I don't really talk about that. Not that I don't have anything I hope for (I have lots of things!), but I don't really ask myself what it is or really cling to it or am grateful for it or really give it much head space.

But lately, I think it's what I've been clinging to.
Lately, I think it's what I've been needing.

These past few days have been oh.so.hard.
Lots of retrieval back into old ways and habits. Lots of forgetfulness of how God has redeemed and delivered. Lots of mind control and trying to take thoughts captive. Lots of palpable fears. I'm cut wide open and I'm letting satan and old me have a good old time.

And then I hear Beth Moore say.

And then my corner brings to me questions she's been asking herself - why get your hopes up when something might not work out?
And then she answers.. but SO WHAT. so you lived in hope.


And then I find an Ann Voskamp blog post about just this very thing. She writes "hope, it is exquisitely fragile and it is an exceptional force and it is essential to faith and you cannot afford to lose it. Lose your fears but never your hope. It isn't the likelihood of your hope that sustains you, but the object of your hope that sustains you."

ah. breathe easy. breathe deep.
all these things. I remember. oh I've been freed.

There is freedom in hope. There is hope in freedom. We are freed and made alive in Christ. And that gives us hope - a tremendous amount. We can hope in change, in new life, in celebration, in moving mountains. When Christ is the ultimate object of all that we hope, then oh we can hope in all that is to come.

we don't HAVE to fear.
there is choice.
we don't HAVE TO FEAR.

{a process. more to come}

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beautiful Freedom. Beautiful Grace.

God's been telling me something about freedom.
Like a season last year when God kept bringing up story and kept saying over and over again 'story' and what I learned and let go and how God was present through mine - what a fruitful time!

And now, since April, I've been hinting and blogging and writing and hearing and living and seeking freedom - and I'm here saying, listening, 'God. you've got my attention. what's up?'

I had lunch with a dear friend yesterday who just became a foster mom of two precious baby girls. And our conversation centered around the work of God and the act of trusting Him and how honestly nothing we do can be done without Him. And I talked about my season and my learnings and how it would feel to have no fear, no worry, to really really trust who God says He is..

and then she said it.
she said, 'that would be FREEDOM.'

brings tears to my eyes.
so beautiful.

And in this journey, in this life, in this constant dependency, I want to free fall into that freedom. To walk in it, live by it, to not fall again into a yoke of slavery. To stand firm and live a Galatians 5 kind of life. To point and trust and to live and love as Christ.

and grace. To live by grace.
and prayer. To thrive through prayer.
to pause on all that is trivial and live for all that is eternal.

I don't know yet what this all will yield, but I know I owe the all and whole of my life to the One who saves. And in the times when I forget, when I stumble, when I'm disobedient and led astray, He welcomes me back. oh He welcomes me back. He's given me a new song to sing, a new story to tell, a new life to live, a new creation to be.

what a most grateful, blessed and holy, set apart existence I have been given the grace to live.

Friday, July 6, 2012


This post was born on the back of a jet ski, grew up on the beaches of Daytona, and was made complete one morning in Tega Cay.

(but let's be honest. this post was born a long time ago and probably won't ever die).


That word, that intangible reality. My soul yearns for it, my heart desires it, my mind grapples with it. Freedom and I - we've climbed mountains together and scaled walls and climbed city heights. He's sometimes run so far ahead I couldn't catch him, couldn't taste him or see him.. and then sometimes we've been the same.

freedom. what are you? what are you made of? what is your consistency?
can you and I live the same, beat the same heartbeat?
can our relationship be permanent, can you and I always stay together? forever? no more of this back and forth, afraid I've lost you?

What I've come to believe - and still believe - is that freedom is not earthly. It's not bungee jumping or sky diving or feeling the thrill of adrenaline. It's not home run hitting or windows down, radio up or living with abandon.

It is exceedingly, abundantly, more powerfully good, wonderful, holy, divine, sacrificially pure and beautiful.

and it's for us. it's ours.

It affects the earthly and makes us reflective of our King.

Matthews 17:20 talks about moving mountains. A father, whose son is possessed by demons, asks Jesus for healing. Jesus' disciples could not do it. After Jesus has rebuked the demon and it has left the boy and the disciples ask Jesus why they could not do it, Jesus says because your faith was little.

Truly, TRULY, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and IT WILL MOVE, and nothing will be impossible for you.

Inhale God's Word as we believe and exhale them as we speak. The power of the spoken word in the name of the Spirit is that it can move mountains! We can renounce, speak out against, with the holy name of Jesus and things, mountains, are moved.

Do I know how free I would be?

Then all the indecisiveness and all the fear and all the change and all the uncertainty - they would mean nothing. Their power would be gone. I am a visual person and my mind paints pictures and I see it. I can see not having to worry and I can see how that would feel. There is victory and we are mighty warriors if we only believed God. The same power that conquered the grave lives in us!

we were never meant for defeat.
that's freedom.

and then, my how this earthly life would change! Challenges would be opportunities. Fear would be reduced to nothing. Worry.. I mean what would that be? God would be glorified through movable mountains. You could see things and do things and experience the day to day in a most abundantly beautiful light. Live life abundantly, to the fullest.

Eyes fixed on the eternal. Believe God to be huge.
Surrender. Live by grace. Live with JOY.
and be free.

Freedom is more than earthly. oh so much more. It is living without condemnation, fear, judgment, or worry. It is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. And then life could be seen through the lens of gift. All of it, a gift. The seasons of good, of bad, of trial, of error - all good, all for the wholly purpose of sanctification, to be made more in His image. We are free to live forgiven, to move, to laugh, to sing, to jump, dance, write, create, worship, be in community, love. All gifts He's given because of His great love.

speak the name of Jesus and move the mountains!
for real. isn't that great news? doesn't that feel free?