Friday, December 23, 2011

the longing of Simeon...

I love the expectation and longing of these verses, and even more so of Simeon's life...

...Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.  Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Luke 2:25-32

Merry Christmas...
Praise God for the hope that He gave us in the birth of His Son Jesus....
May we long for His return even more so as we remember when He first came to us...

Friday, December 2, 2011


yesterday, as i considered the fact that there are only 25 days till christmas (um, YAY!)... i had this thought:  what were people doing 25 days before Jesus was born?  were they even thinking that He could be on earth in 25 short little days? (what a crazy thing that would be to know!)  now, yes, i know that the 25th of december is not the exact day of Christ's birth, but that's really not the point of all this... it was more like, hmmm... what an interesting thought...

just as we wait today for our Jesus to return, individuals way back then were waiting for the Messiah to come and deliver them.  they waited in expectation... we wait in expectation... and i guess that's more along the lines of what i was thinking... what did their expectation look like 25 days before the Messiah's birth?  and what does our expectation look like, not knowing if Christ will return tomorrow or in years and years?  and sometimes i wonder, do we even expect Him to come?  or even more so, are our lives affected by this feeling and motivation of expectation?  are we excited?  do we really long for His return?

i am sure that Jesus' birth was a surprise to many... i mean, we kinda know it was right?  the shock of the shepherds, the erratic and fearful behavior of Herod... so as much as they waited for their King to come, the surprise of His actual coming was shocking and life changing... i guess what i just hope is that our lives are being changed in our expectation of His coming.  yes, i know there will be shock and surprise at the moment Christ returns to save His people, but i do not want to only be affected AT His coming, i wanted to be changed AS I WAIT for His coming.  

i was reading "the Jesus storybook Bible" last night... i love love love this book and there is one part in particular, just in the introduction, that i especially love...

"...the Bible is most of all a Story.  it's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure.  it's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne - everything - to rescue the one he loves.  it's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!  You see, the best thing about this Story is - it's true.  there are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story.  the Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.  it takes the whole Bible to tell this Story.  and at the center of the Story, there is a baby.  every Story in the Bible whispers his name.  he is like the missing piece in a puzzle - the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture."

i LOVE how at the very beginning of this Bible, written for children, such a revolutionary and life changing truth is made clear... the whole Bible, the words of the old and new testaments, some of which people used as their Scriptures before Jesus came as a baby... these words all pointed towards His coming.  and in His coming and in His work, all these stories, all the pieces of the puzzle came together.  i want to view life from such a perspective.  how is the day to day preparing the way for Christ to return?  do i look for the ways God is working to prepare for His return?  how i am acting and working to prepare myself and others to live and wait in expectation?

because... He is coming... He came several thousand years ago... and He will come again...

Emmanuel, God with us, will once again, BE WITH US.

Monday, November 14, 2011 Thou hast been...

as someone who has had a couple homes... and both being quite far apart, sometimes that "feeling" of home is hard to find.  i know that i have mentioned this before, but today as i was thinking about that homey feeling i had such a good time praising God for the "HOME" that He is for me.  it's not just about getting those warm, fuzzy home feelings, it's knowing that in Him I belong... in Him i live and move... in Him i am satisfied... in Him i do not need to seek for anything more, for because in Him i am home and have found everything...

i have always seen God's faithfulness in my life.  there may have been days or moments or weeks or months where this steadfast quality was not as apparent as other points in time, but as it often is, looking back His faithfulness was and is crystal clear.  how is it that so much can change and so many things are wavering in the wind like the last leaves on the tree outside my window... and yet, God is so consistent?  to know this consistency and to see it manifest itself in each moment of the day... this is what i want!  may we not move throughout life's seconds missing it.  i want to pause in the madness of the day and settle in on the clarity of His faithfulness.  and in these "pauses", i am sure that i will find freedom.  freedom from my worries, freedom from demands that i put upon myself... because in these "pauses" i will see Jesus working.  i will notice that His faithfulness has been consistent not to bring me to a place where i can just move on without Him... but instead a place where i can depend on Him in the craziness and not be motivated by anything but Him.

life continues to meander, to places i enjoy and places i fear... and yet, in those places, both good and bad, the faithfulness of God is true and real and steadfast as it has even been.

" Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be..."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

words of the wise...

...a couple of quotes from some old guys long gone...
...who, by the way, are no longer longing for home...

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, 
the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
C. S. Lewis

"We must meet the uncertainties of this world 
with the certainty of the world to come."
A. W. Tozer

Saturday, November 5, 2011


for the last several weeks we've had a few things break.  i mean... it's been a little crazy.  the other night i listed verbally to shawn everything that we have had break and we were both surprised with the amount... nothing really of value, it just seemed like everyday we were finding something else that was broken or messed up... first it was our oven.  it just stopped working.  one day i went in to pull out some potatoes and i was met with a strange cold feeling when i opened up the oven.  next it was the dvd player in our room.  (like i said these things aren't a really big deal, it just started becoming an odd trend...)  more recently we had our carbon monoxide alarm go off (which we thought IT was broken and IT was not... therefore something else was... yes a little crazy, but it's all fixed now... no worries.... mom. :)  the other day i was trying to learn more about photography and somehow encountered a massive virus that, at the moment, i thought destroyed our computer... which it did not... though i don't know if it will ever be it's old, cheery self again.  meanwhile, we have also had our other dvd player break and then the pipes in our house freaked out and decided not to drain.  

needless to say, it has been a lesson in brokenness.  not brokenness of spirit, but brokenness of things.  things that won't last... things that won't even last for my lifetime... things that won't even last for a small part of my lifetime!  and while the consistency of things breaking has at times been quite frustrating, it sure has been a reminder of what i can depend on and what i can not... what is important and what is not... it's also been a lesson in entitlement... when i was frustrated, even with the bigger things, like the CO alarm going off... i was most definitely reminded that many do not have a home to even have a CO alarm go off in... or that i have the safety of an alarm that tells me such things.  i am not entitled to any of the above things that broke.  and as i found myself frustrated, i was quickly reminded that these things are gifts and not needs.  

sometimes it's the little things that bring you back to a place you need to be.  something silly breaking can pull you back to realize that you don't even really need that thing.  and a long list of things breaking or just one thing can remind us that these things should not be invested in.  as we long for home may we truly do so... not longing for things.  these things seem so unimportant as i consider our future with our God.  unimportant is not even the right adjective... more like, irrelevant... expendable... worthless... i do praise God that He continues to pull my heart towards eternity.  moments where i find myself caring less and less about things and more and more about people and moments that are eternal... these are changing my life.  i love the process of God changing us - of seeing how He continues to alter my focus and change hearts of others.  i'll take the broken any day... only to be reminded of the complete wholeness accessible through our Savior Jesus.    

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ode to the normal day...

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.  
Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.  
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.  One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, 
your return.  - Mary Jean Iron

sometimes normal days, i mean like normal normal normal, get me a little down... i know!  crazy, yes, but i think you might know what i'm talking about... as much as i would give anything for just a normal day now and then when life is busy, often when they eventually come along, they just are so..................... normal.  yes, there are great normal days and then there are the normal, normal days where you just wish something exciting would come along... and by exciting i mean "exciting for a normal day", i.e. -  a text message, stepping out the front door, driving the car, talking to someone other than yourself... not quite exciting but in comparison to that "normal" day most definitely riveting!  so you get what i mean... i have found myself having a few of these normal days recently... and most definitely their succession has made them even harder to tolerate... but then i stop and think and wonder why these normal days are so unattractive at some moments and at other moments they are all i want... and i catch myself once again, why do i always want what i don't have... when life is normal i want it to be exciting... when life is exciting and busy i long for the normal... ugh.

i have to challenge myself on these normal days to have a correct perspective.  each day is a day that God has given to me with responsibilities that are anything but normal.  in fact they are quite supernatural and eternal and huge.  in these moments of normalcy i have to remember that i am called by God to use each day to glorify Him and His Son.  and sometimes i think that in the normal, when we are most challenged to follow through with this task, the results can be so much more obvious than in the big, exciting moments.  the most challenging thing for me is to figure out how to make this practical?  any ideas?  how do we live for God in our normal days?  how can we follow through on the tasks that He has given us as His ambassadors?  We have been made new creations, how can we do anything but respond, in the normal or the not so normal...

"...all this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave US the ministry of reconciliation (do you ever wonder what in the world was He thinking, giving US this responsibility?!?); that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are AMBASSADORS for Christ, God making his appeal through US..." 2 Corinthians 5:18-20a.

definitely not what i would define as normal...

so let us embrace the normal, not take it for granted, enjoy the blessings of the normal and use the normal to glorify our Lord and Savior... turning our day into anything but normal.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

my place

i am not a runner.  however, as chicago moves into a colorful collage of yellows and reds, being outside is much more appealing than the stuffy bally down the road.  so yesterday morning i took off, my pink sauconys crunching through the leaves.  on went the ipod and off went all the concerns of the week.  a few minutes into my run a song by leeland came through my headphones and i was reminded of my place... and the place where i should find myself and yet by God's grace, the place where i am not. 

We who were called to be Your people
Struggling sinners and thieves
We’re lifted up from the ashes
And out came the song of the redeemed
The song of the redeemed

We have caught a revelation
That nothing can separate us from
The love we received through salvation
It fills your daughters and your sons
Your daughters and your sons

these words compelled my thoughts and i began to make a mental list of where i should still be...
in a place that is filled with sin and darkness... 
a place of hopelessness and separation... 
confusion and chaos... 
lost and alone... 
cut off, removed, weak, futile... 
unloved and with no chance... 
condemned to die... 
a place of pain.... 
dirty and completely aware of my lack of ability to ever experience freedom... 
a place where God is unknown and unknowable...

and yet, this is not the place where i find myself...
i am in a place where there is freedom and unity with my Savior...
i have been made new, i am accepted and made holy...
i am in a place full of love and unity...
a place where i find healing and am healed...
i am able to MEET WITH GOD...
not only can i meet with God, He has given me a new place in HIS FAMILY...
i am not merely an acquaintance, i am family and have been given the rights that members of a family are given...
i am fully loved and complete...
i am in a place of friendship and peace...
i am new and have been set free from the place i once found myself...
and i will never return.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

sunset in the city...

awe inspiring alaskan sunsets over snow covered mountians... the orange sun sinking over a vast kansas wheatfield... but sunsets in chicago?  i dunno, sometimes they just don't quite compare... however, the other night we found a good one... here's a little peak...

"the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Psalm 19:1.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

in response...

often i find myself longing for home.  when life is long and hard... when things are happening that i just don't quite understand... when my relationship with God seems far and distant... fill in the blank... so many things cause us to long for eternity, but what do we do about it?  i have to admit that frequently this is the extent of my "longing"- i take a few minutes, ponder the thought, maybe even spend some time with the Lord, but then i move on, the day pretty much unaffected by the past moment.  and in response, as i honestly evaluate my actions, i say, "this is so wrong!"  if my "longing for home" does not motivate me to more than a moment, my longing is not so much a longing but a flighty feeling.

so then, what do i do about it?  what should i be motivated to do as a result of a legitimate longing?  for myself, God continually challenges me and presents me with opportunities to give grace.  and i do think... that yes, if i am a person focused on the eternal, a follower of Christ who longs to be with Him, i must give grace.  grace is one of those things God calls us to do that i think is just a little crazy and backwards at times.  hear me out, i fully believe in the power and necessity for us to be people of grace, but doesn't it at times seem a little counterproductive?  i mean the concept of grace is everything that we have been trained as leaders, parents, teachers, etc. NOT to do... people get what they work for... or what they don't work for.  you do something bad, you're punished.  you do something good, you're rewarded.  and then God calls us to be people of grace. i think we water down grace when we look at it from any other perspective.

this is grace... Jesus died for our sins on the cross.  He did this asking nothing from us.  our attitudes, our response, our love for Him do not and did not affect this action of grace.  even though His grace should motivate us to obedience and commitment, it is not dependent on or affected by such responses.  even when grace is given and the giver has an expectation of response by the receiver, this expectation in no way should or does affect the giving of the grace.  it is an action that stands alone.  and this is exactly what we are called to give...

and to this i say, "WHAT?!"  i mean really... ok, so grace, sure i'll forgive someone... i can do that, i can be the bigger person... but grace is definitely more than just simple forgiveness.  yes, forgiveness is an element, but just to forgive... there is so much more.  when i think about Christ's grace that He gave us in the action of His death for our sins, there was so much involved, so much more than we even know... i look at what He did and i see that He took on the repercussions for our sin!  in His grace He took on death.

when we are gracious with people and we forgive, we still have expectations... and these expectations, though they can be hoped for, should not affect our grace (no matter how big or small the action against us).  grace is about our response to someone else, not their response to us.  how could grace be grace if it had repercussions for the receiver of the grace... sure, i'll forgive you if you change... and i think often, all of us, and definitely me, view grace in this light.  however, i see such a beauty and truth in grace that is given with the understanding that there will be repercussions for themselves (the giver) because of the giving of grace. so many times grace is given to someone who does not change... someone who does not respond... someone who belittles the gift... and then the repercussions come... work and pain and results of the sin, that you as the grace giver must deal with as well, or sometimes even more so than the receiver.  to give grace and know this and accept this is huge.  this is grace like Jesus gave to us.

i have so many things i want to communicate and i feel like this post is a little here and there and everywhere... but these are my thoughts.  God's grace for us is unreal, huge and something that we cannot comprehend.  in His Word we are called to be people that give grace.  not a different kind of grace... not a watered down grace... a grace that sometimes seems a little crazy... a grace that many people, including ourselves, do not often give...

so as i long for home, as i see how this should characterize my life, i see that grace is essential in the "longer's" life.  i mean how could it not be?  if i long for home and not this one, i am not entitled to anything.  this includes people not responding to me how they should... (i'm not saying let people walk all over you... but really think about it...)  if i do long for eternity and know that as a follower of Jesus i must be a gracious follower, i am not entitled to people changing when i forgive them... people don't owe me their friendship or their deepest apologies or even the promise "to never do it again"... grace is huge.  i know that God knows that it is huge... He called His Son to this task... and He calls His children to it as well.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a misspent life

"a perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life."
- mary randolph carter

these three books are definitely three of my all time favorites.  i've always loved home design... from the days of creating homes for my "little people" with blocks... til now and trying to put together an inviting, comfortable home.  however, as i do love home design, home decor, etc. etc. etc.... i never want this to become who i am or what i'm known for.  we were talking about our pursuits in church on sunday night and as i've thought about this in the past, it came to mind again.  it is obvious, at least at times, that i am deliberate about investing in my home, but is it obvious that i am deliberate about pursuing my Savior?

i don't know what much else to say, which is amazing since i can definitely be long-winded on here... but i think the concept is simple and obvious.  am i spending my life running after and following God or am i investing in something that will simply pass away with this world?  i do not want to live a misspent life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

missing my first, longing for my last...

so i've decided the two homes i have experienced so far in my lifetime are quite different.  today as i was driving down lawrence i looked ahead and was sure i saw mountains... i mean not sure, i haven't completely lost it, i am aware i live in illinois.  but sometimes the clouds just look like mountains and i like to imagine they are... but of course they don't quite cut it and i always end up missing my first home.  AH! the land of the midnight sun!  i wish i could take a drive down the seward highway today, along the beautiful turnigan arm and soak up the mountains... but once again i find myself surrounded by concrete... so in lieu of mountains and oceans and liberating getaways in the car i will post a few pictures of my first home...

We touched down on the sound at the top of the world 
In the land of the midnight sun
Where the frozen river melts away and breaks into a run
Into the sea, into the mighty waves that waited just to see it
From a long way off that river thawed and the tide ran out to meet it
"Welcome home, unfrozen river, welcome home"

See the quiet hearts of the children of the children of this land
They have stayed alive in the day-long night by the fires that warm their hands
There is a wilderness inside them it is dark and thick and deep
And beside the fire at the heart of that wood is a precious missing sheep
So go on in, hold your torch, let it shine

'Cause all shall be well, all shall be well break the chains of the gates of Hell
Still all manner of things will be well
All shall be well, all shall be well
The Word of God will never fail and all manner of things will be well

I saw the sun go down on a frozen ocean as the man in the moon was rising
And he rode the night all full and bright with his face at the far horizon
And the night can be so long, so long you think you'll never get up again
But listen now, it's a mighty cloud of witnesses around you— they say
"Hold on, just hold on hold on to the end and all shall be well" 

-Andrew Peterson

i love the words of this song... i love it because it talks about my first home and yet causes me to long for my final home.  all shall be well... in a world that can feel like a wilderness... redemption will come through our Savior Jesus Christ and all shall be well.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a more pressing claim...

sunday night was our evening at church to share about our recent trip to kentucky.  i always love these nights, to remember how God worked and what He taught us... and then being able to share this with the people that sent us is so great.  each individual takes about a minute to share.  i decided (out of the many things i could have shared) to share about the sacrificial service that i saw throughout the week.  i saw this among our students, other individuals who served and then through the full time missionaries that work at the camp and mission.  whenever we have had the opportunity to visit missionaries that our church supports i am always blown away by their SACRIFICIAL service.  this is a constant challenged and something that i wanted to share with the church sunday night.  i shared that i was challenged to re-examine how i serve and to make sure that i am serving in a way that is truly sacrificial.

well, monday morning rolls around, i go into work (i.e. - walk across the parking lot :) and then later come home for lunch (back across the parking lot... so so great).  anyways, i'm home at lunch thinking about the coming year, how i will serve at church now that we won't be working with high school and i find myself being totally and way too protective of my life/time.  i was thinking over everything and wondering if i should just really back off... and then i caught myself... well, i'm sure it was more like the Holy Spirit catching me... how do i talk about being sacrificial in my service LAST NIGHT and now, less than 24 hours later, i'm being protective and selfish with my time.  do my words mean anything???

it definitely was a slap in the face and something that put me back on track.  it was one of those moments where God turned my thoughts around and back in the right direction.  today as i was thinking about this i decided to look up the word sacrifice in the dictionary.  i love words, the dictionary and really thinking about what things mean. :)  so anyways, one part of the definition reads like this:

the act of giving up, destroying, permitting injury to, or forgoing something valued for the sake of something having a MORE PRESSING CLAIM

so often i define sacrifice in regards to my service, just as whether or not i'm doing something.  this definition from good ol' webster's leads me to believe i have been defining the word a little incorrectly.  i can be so protective of my time (and i do think there is a place to be careful you are not doing too much, don't get me wrong, but i think it is more often that i tend to lean in the opposite direction) that i do not even come close to serving sacrificially.  we must "give up" our time to serve our God.  i love how it says too, to forgo something valued for something having a more pressing claim... yes, my time, my family, basically all God has given me is VERY VALUED but at the same time i must sacrifice all to follow and serve our Savior.  HE is most definitely a more pressing claim.  again, i say here we must not neglect our families and those that need to be loved by us... if we did so we would not be serving how God wants us to, but at the same time we must not protect too much that we are serving selfishly and only when we want to.  
i struggle with finding the right balance.  being married to a pastor DEFINITELY forces me to do this... God obviously knew my weaknesses and probably had a good chuckle putting me in this marriage with a pastor to challenge me to work on this specific weakness on a very regular basis... and often i fail.  often i have such a rotten attitude.  i wish my service and sacrifice were so much more than they are, that i would consider much more seriously that this is my offering to God... in the moment that i would respond with a sacrificial and selfless attitude.  i must rework my thinking, putting God above all that i pursue, making Him the pressing claim in my life... not to be replaced or overlooked by anything.  i want us to challenge each other with this.  not to be just "nice" friends and tell each other what we want to hear, but to really work on one another to serve as we have been called to serve, sacrificially and selflessly.  i know i need all the help and challenging i can get in this area... :)  i want these following verses to be evident in my life... i want to continue to understand more of what Jesus calls us to in His words...

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Matthew 10:37-39

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."  
Romans 12:1

Thursday, August 25, 2011

30 years young...

i have to tell you i'm kinda embracing this whole 30 years old thing! i know, i can't believe i've been around that long either (at this statement my father would roll his eyes...). and i do have to say there is a certain apprehension with the big jump to 30, but so far i'm loving it. i could list all the reasons why, but i won't cause that's just not the point (though i am super pumped about an exciting new camera i received from my family - watch out world, here i come to take your picture!)...

anyways, as i've decided already to love the 30's just as much as i have the 20's i also had this fantastic thought while washing the dishes today (man i wish i could put footnotes on this blog, i'm definitely a footnote person... anyways...). so i'm washing the dishes, my least favorite household chore that i want to turn into time with God (i.e. - my need for footnotes... one of my favorite inspiring people, brother lawrence, who purposed to spend time with God in the monotony of life such as when he was doing dishes). OH MY GOODNESS, too many side notes.

the point is, i had this great thought... nothing revolutionary here - the more birthdays, the older we get the less time until we get to see our Jesus. like i said, nothing new here, but it was definitely a moment that made me think we should embrace our birthdays with joy and celebration. i know there are downs to the whole getting old thing, but as much as we can we need to focus on the future, once again long for home in our birthdays... each year passed by and inching towards our time and future with our Savior. i've got 30 behind me and who knows how many more (my dear grandpa made it to 97!) but in each year that comes i want to learn to long and grow more to yearn for that time that we will spend with Jesus. so... let's celebrate!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

moments of necessity

sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others,
accompanied by an urge to help

to press upon the attention; present or speak of earnestly and repeatedly;
plead, allege, or advocate strongly; to entreat or plead with;
ask, persuade, or solicit earnestly; press, exhort

the quality or state of being urgent; need for action, haste, etc;
stress or pressure, as of necessity

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

pride and falling...

what a cabin and what a week! we spent our last trip with the high school students in beattyville, kentucky at sunshine camp, a ministry of kentucky mountain mission. the week was challenging, encouraging, uplifting... one of those that tugs at your heart. i felt that "lump in my throat" so many times throughout the week as i saw students care for individuals that need so much help. sunshine camp is a week of camp for individuals that have special needs. most of our students and leaders (including me) were counselors for the week... as a counselor you are assigned to one or two or even three(!) campers for the week. you are responsible to take care of them however they need it. our students did so great and i really did LOVE watching their hearts for God visibly displayed as they were compassionate and caring.

we have gone to sunshine camp two other times but never have i had the opportunity to be a counselor. it was so much fun to be able to be in this role this year. at the same time i really had a week where God challenged my pride and brought it to light in so many different ways. i went into the week with a nasty cold and was pretty worn out from our busy summer. nonetheless, i was ready to jump into the week, at least i told myself i was. so monday comes around, the students do great with their campers and i feel like i am doing such a horrible job with mine. she had some behavioral challenges and i felt like i was failing in every way to figure out how to work with her and help her enjoy camp... to get past those things, to get along, and to have fun... monday was a day of trying new things over and over and over again, to see what worked and to figure out how best to work with her. i kept seeing students and leaders alike, loving and enjoying their campers, doing such a great job, and again, i felt like i was failing at something others were doing great at... others that i should have been setting an example for...

i came to monday night worn out like i never expected. i don't know if it was so much the day but quite possibly a culmination of a full summer that made me feel so tired, physically and emotionally. as we were walking back to our cabin to review that evening's message, i realized that i was in charge of leading this time. however, during the message i had been so involved with trying to figure out how best to help janet (my camper) stay focused that i personally missed the message and all they were talking about. so i had this moment, walking back to the cabin where i just started crying. i felt like i wasn't doing what i should be able to do... what i need to do... what was wrong with me!? i don't do this... just lose it all of a sudden. i'm the leader here, why am i the one that is failing???

in those moments and in the ones to come, i was very humbled. i've never seen myself as a person that struggles with pride (which right there is my first problem!). i mean, i try hard not to be prideful or come across prideful, but for the most part it hasn't been a huge struggle in my life (another footnote... probably just because i hadn't chosen to or been forced to struggle). however, as i realized how much stock i put into being on top of things, keeping things together, being able to handle whatever comes my way on my own, to be a good leader in the group... i realized how much pride there was in my head and in my heart. i had to have help that night and i hated it. someone else had to lead the discussion time, while i brushed away tears that made me feel stupid every time they fell. i wasn't the shoulder for others, they gave me theirs and arms with hugs. i really felt cared for but at the same time i kept telling myself that this should be the other way around.

i had a moment that night where i was trying to get myself ready for the next four days. i thought to myself, "i'll show everyone that this was just a day and when i make it through the next four they'll see who i really am..." yuck. i hate that i had this thought. and i really hated it about a second after i thought it. what was i thinking??? I will make it? hadn't i been telling students to rely on God... to be sustained by him throughout the week? and here i was taking pride in the fact that i could be "self-sustaining".

moments like these where God reveals our ugliness are hard and defeating - something that was hard to take at the end of a long day. but at the same time trusting Him with the next four days (unsurprisingly) gave me much more confidence than resting in my own abilities (that had failed me that very day!). i do feel like even since we have been home this past week God has been bringing to light that pride isn't always just something that is visible on the outside, but definitely a disorder of our hearts and minds. i must not take pride in the things i am able to do or accomplish, even and especially in ministry. i am not the one who accomplishes anything in my life or ministry. over and over we MUST remind ourselves that God is the only reason we are able to move and breathe and accomplish anything!

i know this is getting long but as i read through proverbs it is crazy how often pride is talked about in relation to destruction and how much God hates it. proverbs 16:5 says "everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord..." not someone who is just egotistical in attitudes but someone who has pride in their heart (something that is not always visible to others)... even simply in their thoughts about themselves. i really do want to be a person of humility. may we all work to make sure that pride has no hold on us AT ALL!!! this week in kentucky was a start... but definitely just the beginning of a long journey in reworking my ideas about myself and God and how He is the only one that accomplishes anything through me. kentucky was a fantastic trip and i am so thankful for a week that challenged, blessed and taught.

"for i will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me..."
romans 15:18

Sunday, July 17, 2011

moving along

"don't cry because it's over. smile because it happened."
dr. suess

another senior class moves on, we celebrate our 7th anniversary, shawn starts to move into a new position at church after working with youth since college... life goes by and often i feel like i have been left in the dust to catch up! so often, i am sad because things are over, people are gone, moments have moved by... but lately i have been challenged to simply enjoy now and live sacrificially, while still longing for our future home, for our God now...

very often i have the "grass is greener" mentality about time... for instance, "life was so easy as a child" or "i can't wait until we have a house" or "if only i could step back into this (insert awesome day)"... so i've just been pondering all of this... to not live for moments ahead, or wish i was still living in moments behind, but to open my eyes up to the moments that God has placed me in currently. to find joy and fulfillment in the moments He has given me and BLESSED me with right now. often i miss the blessing and the joy simply by being distracted by past moments... and the thing that catches me every time is when i really try to remember those moments i know that often even in those moments i wasn't always so content. i.e. - everyone remembers wanting to just grow up as a child! so as life moves on i want to move with it... but just that, to not miss only the joy and blessing, but the opportunity. to not live caught up in what i think i'm missing, but to live so that i don't miss what God has called me to NOW.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

give water... give life...

We are super excited about being able to have this opportunity at our church... take a look... :)

myWaterProject - Bethel Community Church Fundraising Page

Thursday, January 20, 2011

hagar and the "horrible"

i have been reading the story of Abraham the last few days. the story is familiar, yes, but this time Hagar's story is something that i have paid closer attention to... i think about Hagar and how she must have felt so cheated, so abandoned and definitely alone. we know the story, Abraham uses Hagar to have a son, because Sarah hadn't conceived a child yet. of course like any normal woman would respond, Sarah is quite upset when the plan actually works. Hagar leaves angry Sarah and goes into the wilderness. here God meets her and tells her to name her son Ishmael, meaning God hears. Hagar goes on to tell the Lord "you are a God of seeing". the two are out of the picture for several chapters and then a little later on come back onto the set. once again, Sarah is upset and tells Abraham that she wants them to leave. when God tells Abraham to do as Sarah said, he does and the two leave. while in the wilderness they run out of water, and once again God provides and tells Hagar that He will make Ishmael into a great nation. God was with them and took care of them, even in the midst of unimaginable circumstances.

i think about this story and i think about how God told Abraham to do what Sarah said she wanted... to get rid of Hagar, to send her away with her young son?! this seems crazy and yet i was reminded of awesome truth while i was reading through this today. i think, no, i know, that sometimes in life, it is really hard to figure out why things are happening. as believers, sometimes it is even harder knowing that God is in control of our lives and circumstances and yet these things are still taking place. things that hurt, things that seem like they would be the exact opposite of what a loving God would set us up with.... i think about Hagar and how her situation was really unbelievable. and then i see the provision of God behind it all and i wonder if i were reading my story thousands of years down the road how i would see the provision and hand of God behind it. i know it would be there... even in this story, attributes of God are proclaimed. He is a God who hears and a God who sees. our broken lives and the hurt that is a part of them is seen and heard by Almighty God. so why is it not all changed... and here i think is the golden nugget in all of this... the hope of God is found in these things... His provision is seen and given in these moments... what i mean by all of this is that we find hope not in what happens here but in what God is ultimately doing. to bring about what needed to be accomplished in Hagar's and Ishmael's lives these things had to happen. i am also reminded that my life is bigger than myself. you see for the promise of God to happen, for the covenant to be fulfilled through Abraham and Isaac these things had to happen. this is so key! my life is bigger than me. do i want God's purposes accomplished or not? this is really what it comes down to! do i trust my Savior or am i not quite sure about really being ok with His plans? will i stand and complain about the ways that God is accomplishing his purposes, for my life and possibly even bigger things than that?

i look at this story and i see a plan and a purpose brought about by our God in the midst of hard circumstances. hope is given in knowing that if i were reading my own story, God's hand and purposes would be overwhelming throughout it as well.