Saturday, December 15, 2012

Connecticut Shooting - A Different Perspective

Yesterday morning the unthinkable happened- a man entered an elementary school and opened fire, killing 6 adults and 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10. The reality of what happened is so horrifying that it's difficult to grasp. A shooting in any sort of setting is tragic, but the fact that this crime was committed against children makes it even more appalling. Children are vulnerable, and to protect and defend them is almost instinctive. My heart breaks for those families.

As heartbreaking as that is, the sad reality is that somewhere over 3000 children are killed daily, almost unnoticed, in America alone. Yesterday, while the gunman was opening fire, I was standing outside of an abortion clinic, praying quietly. I watched women go by, as I do every week, some laughing with a friend, some cold and indifferent, some appearing nervous. Everywhere around life goes on as usual. People arrive for work at various offices surrounding the clinic. Some acknowledge my smile and wave back, some don't. Children wait for the school bus. Across the street people stop for coffee at Starbucks or McDonalds. But inside that clean, friendly looking building with the lovely tree in front, children are being killed- killed in a "safe, legal procedure."

God's heart is breaking. Why don't we see? Are we so used to hearing about it that we've grown desensitized? Are we too self-centered to care? Are there more pressing matters at hand? These precious lives being knit together by the One who died to give us life are being literally torn to pieces in the place where they should be safest. How can we, as His people, turn the other way? What ought our response to be? That is a question for each of us to prayerfully ask God. Cry out to Him and let Him break your heart. It will look different for each of us, but may we as the church be blind no longer.

Dear Lord, give us eyes to see, a heart to care, and courage and your strength to respond.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Through Calm or Storm

In the Bible there are two accounts which offer an interesting contrast- Jesus calming a storm and Jesus walking on the water. (See Mark 4:35-41 and Matthew 14:22-33) In the first, He brought peace where there was chaos. In the second, He called His disciple out into it. In both, He was right there with His disciples, and in both, their faith is shown to be weak. I face many storms in life, and I cry out to Jesus. I long for Him to speak "peace, be still," over the raging seas. But if He doesn't, if He calls me to step out and walk on water through wind and waves which threaten to overwhelm, isn't He still with me? Isn't He still in control? Isn't He still working to accomplish His purposes? No matter what storms I come to and no matter what His response, may I ever trust the One who has authority over the wind and rain, for He has promised never to leave me or forsake me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Poem- "You Know"

God gave me this poem a few months ago when I was going through something very painful. I didn't share it then because it was too fresh, but I share it now with the prayer that God might use it to minister to someone else as it ministered to me. 

"You Know"
No matter what heartache comes into my life,
No matter what sorrow I bear,
I'll not be shaken, though tears wet my eyes,
My Jesus, my Savior is there.
No matter what darkness hangs over my life,
No matter what suff'ring I face,
I'll rest in Your shelter, held close to Your heart,
And walk in the light of Your grace.
Your love is so great, Your compassion so tender,
Not only because I am Thine,
But because You, my King, were acquainted with grief,
And knew much darker darkness than mine.
You knew what it meant to know sorrow and heartache
While you dwelt here on this earth,
Hated by those whom You came to deliever,
Despised and rejected from birth.
You knew what it meant to lay down something precious;
You followed despite heavy cost.
You gave up Your throne, and the smile of Your Father
In exchange for the shame of the cross.
That which You gave up was wholly more lovely
Than all I can see here below,
And the anguish You suffered, the cup which You drank,
Such sorrow now I'll never know.
So may I not tremble to follow Your footsteps,
Who holds every tear I have cried,
Surrender dear dreams, and trust through the darkness,
And find true, pure joy at Your side.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Of Axe Heads, Birthdays, and Elections

About a week ago, I was reading in 2 Kings 6, and was reminded of a wonderful sermon Eric Ludy gave on that passage while I was at Ellerslie. It was called "The Floating Axe Head", and I highly recommend listening to it. In the first part of 2 Kings 6, a man is chopping wood with a borrowed axe head, which flew off the handle and fell into a lake. Elisha makes the axe head float. The next verses contain a more well known story- Elisha and his servant are surrounded by a Syrian army seeking their destruction, and the servant is terrified. Elisha says, "Don't be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them", and then asks God to open his servant's eyes. The young man looks, and sees a heavenly army surrounding them. It's been nearly a year since I heard it, but I remember Eric making the point that God cares intimately about the small details of our lives, and works in them to build our faith and prepare us for even greater times of need.

Today was the culmination of over a month of planning a surprise birthday party for my brother Zach. We told him that we were making a video for a friends birthday after church, but while he was talking, my brother and another friend came up behind him in ski masks, put a pillow case over his head, tied his hands behind his back, put him in a car and drove him to the park where a big group of friends waited to yell "SURPRISE!" Our plan had so many variables, and I was nervous! I had been praying so hard over every detail, and was blessed to see God answer so many specific prayers. The timing went beautifully, Zach had no idea, God gave me and the other conspirators wisdom to deal with numerous challenges that arose, the party was so special, it didn't rain, we got a picnic shelter, and the list goes on. To say that I am so incredibly thankful is a massive understatement!

On Tuesday, the day after tomorrow, we will know the outcome of the elections which have been looming in our future for so long. I, as do so many others, have strong, prayed over convictions concerning my vote. It is my prayer that we will have men in office who's actions are most in alignment with the truth of God's Word, and it is a temptation to fear and be anxious when I imagine the way things may go.

The God who cares about the details of a birthday party is the same God who is in control of the nations. I trusted Him for the small things, but is He any less in control now? I saw Him work in this, and I've seen His faithfulness and ability so many times in my own life. When (in the natural sense) the course of our nation hangs in the balance, will I tremble and fear? Or, by God's grace, will I trust and rest in Him, knowing that He is in control? Hallelujah, we serve a God who is mighty beyond comprehension, and working His perfect purpose in the ridiculously insignificant and in the global. Pray. Vote. Pray harder. But oh, may we be a people who trust and obey our true King! May I be a sheep who gladly follows her Shepherd through hills and valleys! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Living our Faith

I wrote this quite awhile ago (March, I think). I had a lot of questions floating around in my head, and I did what is always best and what I pray will be more and more my first recourse- I prayed and searched God's Word. The following is the unedited result. I never intended to do anything with it, but I shared it with a friend a few weeks ago and she encouraged me to post it. (I believe her words were something like, "I better see this on your blog within a few weeks, or else!") So here you go.

Holiness. What is it? Some thoughts.
We are called to be holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16) So how does that work exactly? One camp looks at the fact that we are no longer under the law, but grace; the fact that we are accepted and forgiven, as freedom to do whatever we want. The problems with that are obvious. (Romans 6:15) Then on the other end there are those who try to be holy by their own effort, esteeming the commands of God and seeking to follow them on their own. This leads either to prideful self-righteousness or defeat and despair. (also see John 15:5, and look at what Jesus said to the pharisees!) Then things get less black and white. There are those who embrace the idea that holiness can only come from Christ working in us, but then see any form of discipline or pursuit of holy living as legalism. Still others become so focused on holiness that they are afraid to rest in Christ's love, even if they are seeking His strength to follow His pattern.

So where is the balance? You can't deny that we are called to holiness and perfection (Matthew 5:48) Obviously this isn't a perfection we can achieve. Our only hope is the shed blood of Christ to cover our sin. We can't meet the righteous requirements of the law, only Jesus could. (Romans 3:23-24) But this should then alter the way we live. (Romans 6:1-2, 4, 7:4) So on the one hand, the work of the believer is to believe. (John 6:29) But what is this believing? We act on what we believe. If I knew that I had inherited a fortune, wouldn't I take steps to actually possess it? If I knew that a car had been given to me, wouldn't I climb in and drive it? Belief determines action. It is not a passive knowing of fact, but a revolutionary, life-altering understanding of truth. What is it that we're believing exactly? We believe that Jesus has given us everything we need for life and godliness! (2 Peter 1:3) We're believing that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ! (Romans 6:3-4) We believe that it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us! (Galatians 2:20) We believe that if we but abide in Him, we will bear much fruit! (John 15:5) We believe that His grace is sufficient for us! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

This is only a drop in the bucket. I haven't even touched the Psalms. Point being, if we step out and act on our belief it is not self-effort given the very nature of that which we are believing. If we are fully depending on His strength and not ours, we can step out in obedience and know that it is Him enabling and directing! If I make no attempt to live as He has called me, do I really believe that He will enable? It wasn't enough for Peter to say, "Yes Lord, I know You will help me." He had to get out of the boat. I'm not talking only about huge steps in life: a new job, ministry, etc. Yes, it's absolutely that, but so much more! I'm talking about every single daily step we take: choosing His way over our own, doing everything without grumbling or arguing (Philippians 2:14), Rejoicing always and praying continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17), not worrying (Matthew 6:34), and loving God's way (1 Corinthians 13). Again just a drop in the bucket.

Stepping forward isn't legalism- holiness in our own strength. we step forward believing that God does not lie, and believing that as we respond, He will be faithful to rule and reign, to take control as He enables us to yield. Every bit of the process is Him working through us, but we must consent, and step forward. We are not to work in our own strength, but at the same time, God is not going to just suddenly perfect His righteousness in us while we're on the couch watching movies. Paul tells the Philippians to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12b-13) So yes, we work in one sense, believing all the while that it is God working through us, as we submit, for He has promised!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Learning to Sing

My dad is my voice teacher. Today we were working on a song, and he asked me to sing with a nasal voice. I've practiced a good deal over the years learning not to be nasal, so it was a bit challenging to sing in a way that feels so incorrect and isn't particularly lovely. Evidently I'll be doing this for awhile. Part of me wishes I could just sing it nicely right now and enjoy it. Maybe my voice isn't as good as it could be, but isn't it good enough? But I know better.

Dad knows so much more about singing than I do, and I trust his instruction. I know that he's asked this of me with an end goal in mind. He has a purpose in asking me to sing this way, and even though I don't really understand it, I'll do it gladly.

Sometimes God asks me to do things that the fleshly part of me would rather not do. They are uncomfortable, challenging, often painful, and just don't make sense. But God's wisdom is infinitely beyond mine. He desires to accomplish something in me- to shape me more and more into His likeness. Even though I may not understand, and I may never know His reason, I'll gladly obey whatever He asks and trust Him completely, by His grace.

"...Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Poem- "Following"

This poem is the outflow of what God was teaching me during Esther.


Lord, I want to follow You,
But I do not know the way.
Your paths are good; Your plan is perfect,
But in my own strength I can't obey.

The path is full of twists and turns
So dark I cannot see the road.
Confusion and despair surround me,
And crush me with their heavy load.

I am unable, unworthy, and helpless,
But You have said I am Your own.
You are my loving, faithful Shepherd;
I don't have to find my way alone.

In my weakness, You are mighty.
Nothing can thwart Your perfect plan.
You have promised to keep me from stumbling,
And to finish the work which You began.

I'll trust Your promise to lead and guide me;
To take my hand and be my Light;
To make the pathway straight before me,
And to lead the humble in what is right.

Lord, I want to follow You,
But I do not know the way.
I'll fix my eyes on You, my Shepherd, 
And trust Your guidance day by day. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Esther: Chosen for Such a Time As This

This summer I had the joy of being a part of CYT's production of Esther: Chosen for Such a Time As This. God's work is always evident in CYT, but during summer plays even more so, because there is so much to do in such a short amount of time. This play is one of my favorites. During Esther's song "If I Perish, she sings, "I don't know what's before me, but I know Who stands behind me, so I'll walk with growing courage in my heart." That line has become the theme of my life. Backstage we always pray for the audience; that God would prepare their hearts and enable them to receive the message. We also pray the same thing for ourselves! I am so blessed to have so many friends who genuinely love God and seek to please Him, and it was an honor to watch how God worked in the hearts of so many of those I love during these two months.

We had many sweet times of prayer and worship throughout, but Saturday just before the final performance surpassed anything I'd seen in CYT. My friend played the song "Everything" by Lifehouse on his guitar, and soon we were all on our faces before God, praying and repenting. God moved. Friends I had never seen even seen cry were sobbing. We saw our brokenness and were in awe of God's faithfulness, mercy, and love. It was painful, but also an intensely beautiful thing to be a part of. We were barely able to pull it together to start the show.

So what now? What happens now that the show is over, the sets are down, the costumes are being washed and put away, and we're all going back to everyday life? Will we forget and move on? I am resting in Philippians 1:6- "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." What took place was His work, and He promises to finish that which He began! I pray that we will learn to walk with the same level of dependence and prayer which has hallmarked the past two weeks. Our God is mighty, worthy, and so very good! 

Here are a few pictures.

Zach and I got to dance together, and it was so much fun!

My lovely friend Bekah played Esther, and did such a beautiful job! We had lovely times and a good deal of laughter while carpooling, and it was a joy to watch all that God did in her heart.

Meg, Jenna, and Grace were my "children" for one scene. We had a wonderful time working on character development and creating a family dynamic!

Audrey and Megan's friendship is a gift such a gift from God! Their prayers and encouragement mean more than I can say.

Grace, Tori, Stephanie, and me waiting for color. :)

Mom and Dad!

Me and Zach with Patrick, who we have pretty much adopted.

Hannah Rose, my dear Ellerslie friend, who has been a part through prayer from the very start!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lessons From a Spider Web?

God can use the most unlikely things to teach us! Last week I was facing something rather confusing, and I went to sit on the porch swing to pray about it for awhile. As I prayed, a small, beautifully made spider web caught my eye. At that moment I sensed God saying "That's significant", and I knew He wanted to tell me something about it. In the past God has often shown me truth about Himself through His creation, but He has never left me hanging like that before! I wasn't quite sure what to do, so I just waited quietly, asking Him to open my eyes to see what He wanted me to see. This is what He showed me. 

A spider web is a dangerous place, and has been the ruin of many. One wrong step and you're trapped! However, there is a way to move safely on a spider web. The only one who knows the path is the spider, because he is the one who made it. In order to navigate a spider web, you must follow the one who knows the way.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Good and upright is the Lordtherefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Who is the man who fears the LordHim will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lordfor he will pluck my feet out of the net. 
(Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 12-15)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Precious Gifts

Every once in awhile I just stop and realize how richly God has blessed me. Amid all of the struggle and confusion of life, I have so very much to be thankful for. We live in a fallen world, but however imperfect, there is so much beauty to treasure. Here are just a few of the gifts God has given me.

-My family: I love them so much. We are a quirky bunch, and differences lead to clashes at times, but as I've grown in the Lord I've grown to appreciate them more and more. My dad makes me laugh and listens when I want to talk, my mom's wisdom is invaluable, and her walk with the Lord has been an example for mine. My brothers are quite skilled at driving me crazy, but they are also some of my best friends. I pray that God continues to grow us closer together and closer to Him!

-My friends: Where even to start? God has given me friends who are serious in their walk with Him and encourage me in mine. We can laugh, talk and cry together. Honestly, I can't even express how much they mean to me. (Important note: These pictures are NOT all-inclusive! Just because you are not in one of them doesn't mean that I don't love you very much!)

Me, Barbara, Patrick, and Hope

Naomi, Annika, Kaylee, Jonathan, Julia, Zach, Joseph, me, Jamey, Melissa

Kara, me, Rebekah, Delise, Hope, Emma

 Shalea, Brie, me, Dusty, Angela, Hannah Rose, Faith, Karen

Laura, Emma, me

-Christian Youth Theatre (CYT): My second family! I'm not exaggerating when I say that God has used it to change my life. I love the acting, dancing, singing, and I love serving, working backstage, and teaching the kids, but in all of that, the best is how purposefully we seek to glorify Jesus together- to decrease that He might increase. We have such sweet times of prayer and worship, and it is through CYT that God has taught me (among so many other things) to look to Him for strength instead of myself.

Cast of Phantom of the Opera 2011

JESUS! 2011. Life changing.

The Three Bears: Phantom of the Opera 2011

-My church: This one is new. A few weeks ago, I became a member of Sovereign Grace Church. It already feels like home. Through Sunday morning and my home group; through the teaching and fellowship with other believers, I am constantly challenged and encouraged in my walk with Christ!

-Himself: The Gift above all gifts! I could go on and on. He opens my eyes to see all that He is, He fills me with a desperate longing to honor Him and then lives through me to make me more like Himself. He holds me when I hurt, guides me when I'm confused, brings me back when I stray, and loves me too much to leave me the way I am. He died for me, made my blind eyes see, lifted me out of my sin, and now calls me His own! I know with all my heart that even if all that I mentioned before were stripped away, He would be enough, for He has promised and cannot lie.

Thank you Jesus!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sun and Rain

Today I was reading and reflecting on Psalm 84:11a, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield..." I was thinking about all the sun does. It brings life, warmth, and light. It also brings growth. I (alas!) am no gardener, but even I know that plants thrive when they receive the proper amount of sunlight. As I meditated on the implications of those qualities, oddly enough, a line from Les Mis popped into my head: "....and rain will make the flowers grow." 

Sun and rain, both essential for any flower to reach full beauty. Some days are sunny- full of joy and peace. Life is clear, and it's easy to sense God's nearness. But what happens when the rains come? Trials, loss, struggle, feelings of emptiness... We all prefer the sun! But it is through those times that God refines us and grows us more and more into His likeness. (see 1 Peter 1:3-9 and James 1:2-4) He allows the rain of life to cultivate joy, contentment, peace, patience, and trust, to name a very few. 

On a dreary, rainy day, is the sun still there? Of course, and doing exactly what it does on a cloudless day when you can see it clearly. We walk by faith and not by sight! He promises hardship, (John 16:33) but He also promises never to leave us in it, (Isaiah 43:1-2) and to work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28)

What could be greater good than being made more like Him?

God so often uses music to remind me of truth, and this song has blessed me on many rainy days.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Walk for Life

This Sunday I will be participating in the 7th annual Hand of Hope Walk for Life! Two days left, and I am only $160 away from meeting my goal of $1500. Praise God! I would love to ask you to pray about sponsoring me.

Hand of Hope is an amazing crisis pregnancy center dedicated to being a voice for the unborn and sharing Jesus with those who need Him desperately. I am honored to be able to do something to serve them, even in such a small way. Please prayerfully consider whether God would have you give to enable their ministry to continue. Even just a few dollars will make a difference! Also, if you live in the area, come out and join us for the walk! 

God is a Father to the fatherless, and He allows us the privilege of being His hands and feet!

Online donations can be made here.   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Life Update and a Dear Friend

Recently I had the honor of being asked to write a guest post for my dear Ellerslie friend Hannah Rose's blog. We met in Colorado and were excited to discover that we only live only 30 minutes apart! Her friendship is a special gift from God. If you'd like to hear what God has been up to in my life, please take a moment and read the post. While you're on her blog, read her testimony! God is using her in amazing ways.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Poem- "The Exchange"

God place this poem on my heart after an Ellerslie session. (The Costly Gospel, for those who were there.) I long to live daily in light of the cross. (The picture is from a play I was in this past summer. Being a part impacted me deeply. Perhaps I will share more on that in another post. Photo credit:

"The Exchange"

A cross of shame, a sinner's dread
I see on Calvary,
Where deep in anguish, cursed, despised,
My Savior died for me.

Can I to my own life cling
When I Thy suffering see?
Gladly Lord, I all forsake,
For Thou gave all for me.

My Jesus, let me not unmoved
Continue in my ways.
All I am for all Thou art;
A sacrifice of praise.

These empty treasures, once esteemed,
This nothing that was mine,
So long held dear, I now despise,
Exchanging them for Thine.

Thy tender love, Thy precious grace,
My longings all fulfill.
Such depths of mercy hold my heart,
Yet Thou art deeper still.

With joy I bow before Thy throne,
To Thee my all I bring.
A giving up, a laying down,
And in return, my King.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Poem- "My One Desire"

"My One Desire"

I want to love my Jesus more;
To follow Him in all His ways.
My heart His own always and only,
To live my life to bring Him praise.

I want to dwell beneath His wings;
To find my refuge in His arms,
My hope in Him through darkest trials,
And perfect peace through hell's alarms.

I want to know Him in His sorrow;
To cry His tears over the lost;
To bear the burdens He would give me;
To know His heart despite the cost.

I want to dance with joy unmeasured,
Heart set free, before His throne.
I want to sing His song forever;
Delight in Him, and Him alone.

So take me now, my precious Jesus.
Help me Savior, Lover, Friend.
It is enough that you are with me,
With me now until the end.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Paid In Full, So...

"Jesus paid it all..."

Do you see how amazing this is? The debt we could never repay was paid by the blood of Jesus; by what He did on the cross.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (1 Corinthians 5:17)

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13)

"But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)

So how do we respond?

"...All to Him I owe"

If someone bought your house, you wouldn't continue to live there, would you? Of course not! You would move out and make from for the new owner to move in, Why? Well, because they bought it!

John the Baptist said of Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30) He gave His life for us, so how can we not give ours to Him?

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1)

We have been set free, but from what? And to what? In Romans 6:1-2a, Paul says, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!" When we accept new life in Christ, we must lay down ours in return. But do you see what we gain in exchange?

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Philippians 3:8)

My prayer for this year is that Christ would increase in my life. He bought my life with His blood, and He is worthy to receive all of me, every moment of every day!