Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Today

1. I woke up an hour and a half before my alarm went off...had extra time for important things.
2. I saw a dear friend from college!!! She intentionally booked her ticket home with a layover in PHX just so she could see me for a bit! Makes me cry. We got to catch up and it blows me away at how easy some friendships are.
3. Had my last one-on-one of my first semester at ASU.
4. Spent time on funding!
5. I visited my grandma and wrapped packages for her. We talked for a good while and she told me how my grandpa prayed for us all when we were in the womb. He prayed that our hearts would pant for God as the deer pant for water. (What an awesome thing it will be to one day understand the mysteries of God and prayers!)
6. Figured out how to make sweet and condensed almond milk for some delectable dairy-free and gluten-free coconut macaroons! OMG. (Praising God, don't worry!)
7. I baked with my cousin and his lovely wife across town. Oh man, I love my family. They are a great couple and it is humbling to see their faith in the midst of a hard year.
8. It rained. My car is clean!

Today, my dear friend, Lauran returns from 8 months away in Chile. It is also her mom's birthday!

And last, but very present on my heart, a dear friend started chemo today.
O Lord, grant her and her family strength. Protect the little babe inside her. We ask for Your healing hand to be upon her. Cover her with Your love, may she sing in the shelter of Your wings.

Monday, October 22, 2012

God has ears, attentive ones!

A year and a half ago or so, a friend and I spent the weekend together babysitting four siblings. It was quite the weekend, and the youngest kiddo was potty training. I was instructed by the parents that at about 5 a.m., their baby would cry out from his bed and for help using the potty. No biggie!

Well, come the first early morning with the kids, my friend nudges me awake, saying, "Liss, Liss, wake up." I am a very heavy sleeper, the youngest cries didn't rouse me. I only heard him yelling for his dad after my friend woke me! I rushed to him too late, his pull-up was wet. [FAIL]

Later that weekend I was sitting in Psalm 34. It may be my favorite psalm, but that's like a girl with a sweet tooth picking a favorite dessert! In light of my recent experience, verse 15 especially hit me. It said, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry." My ears were not attentive to early morning cries, but our heavenly Father's ears are ever attentive to the cries of His children. 

Cry out and He will hear! He will deliver you from all your fears.



About ten days ago, I was wondering what God was going to do. I was wondering what He wanted me to do. I came to God with nothing and in sheer exhaustion. As I waited, He brought to mind 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 

Psalm 27:13-14 also came to mind, and later that night I was reminded of Gideon trusting God for victory over the Midianites with only 300 soldiers.

I went through the weekend with a good friend and her kiddos, still scratching my head about what God had in store. I knew I was simply supposed to trust Him. I knew I was weak, and that He was strong. I wanted to see His goodness in the land of the living. I waited, in His strength and taking heart by His word. He gently kept my eyes on Him in faith, and He delivered. His ears were attentive to my cries. 

More on how He answered later, but for now, rest in this sweet promise and truth, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry."

Lord, thank You for making me righteous in Christ, for I have no righteousness of my own to claim. Thank You for Your great love and faithfulness, for Your Word and how it sustains us. You are good! You are able! You are alone are Father.

Friday, October 5, 2012

happy

When I lived in Long Beach, I would often sit at the light on Atherton Street (near the Parkside dorms) waiting to do a U-turn to head toward Bellflower Boulevard. During my last year in Long Beach, I frequently found myself at that intersection in a blissful state thinking about how thankful I was to be me and to be exactly where God had me.

Today, I had the same thought waiting to turn left in Tempe. (I am an ambiturner, for the record.) And I didn't realize it until today, but it had been such a long while since I felt that way. There were about five different things in my head today that all signified the same thing, I'm really happy again. (I'm normally happy.) Now this year was actually a great year. I have loved being 25 and am gonna milk my last month of it. I had an overall smooth transition to life in Arizona and Jesus was faithful every step of the way, but I guess I had a since of not being settled. This evening I sat in on the end of our S.A.L.T. (Servant and Leader Team) meeting and I realized I had come up for breath. I sighed with relief, the season of "surviving" is over. I survived, now I can thrive as I trust in Him.

I am at home again, and probably not so much is situated in the place, as much as it is in the activities, my role and relationships. I love college students. I do! I love helping women find their identity in Christ. I love making disciples. I love planting, sowing, and watering seeds and helping other people to do it, too! I love freshmen and making them feel loved. And my identity is even further rooted in my sweet Jesus. I am blown away by His love and faithfulness.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness and love. I am so undeserving. Thank You for Your faithful guidance and Presence in my life through Your Spirit. I just am blessed to be Your daughter. May I ever declare You faithful! 


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Here ye, here ye!

Today, October 1, was homemade cookie day. I didn't even know there was such a day until recently, but obviously this was a ridiculous day worthy of celebration.

I decided to make my chocolate chip cookies, but I made a few alterations (one of them was using part oat bran flour). And as the good Lord would have it, I made the best batch of cookies that I have ever made.

I broke off a piece of one of the cookies and as I was tasting it, I was thinking in disbelief, "Is this the best cookie I have ever made?" It was so good, so good that I had to eat the whole cookie. I generally don't eat whole cookies late at night. Well, it was good, and thankfully my brother Luke was nearby to sample one. One bite in, I asked him, "Is this the best cookie I've ever made?" He declared, "This is the best cookie I have ever eaten!" Now Luke is a cookie monster, but I have never seen him savor a cookie, or three cookies, so slowly.

I "snicker doodled" half of the batch by rolling the dough in cinnamon sugar. Luke and I couldn't decide if we liked the plain ones or "snicker doodled" ones better. They were both so good. They were so good that I drove some over to my aunt's house and left them bagged on their doorstep for school tomorrow.

Anyways, hooray for a successful homemade cookie day! Time to write down all of my recipe alterations and keep this one for the years to come. I hope the ladies in Bible study enjoy them tomorrow night.


Monday, September 17, 2012

my Father's hand is gracious to me

A few days ago, I awoke with this phrase in my head: "My Father's hand is gracious to me."  I brushed my teeth and braided my hair, "My Father's hand is gracious to me." Freshly dressed and out the door, "My Father's hand is gracious to me."

And as I sat in the early, misty, Palm Springs morning with my coffee, a dear friend across from me, my journal and Bible, Luke 15 came alive in my soul, specifically the story of the prodigal son.

From the journal:

You see me coming along way off and the love I have known from You bids me come home. Yes, Your measure is generous toward Your children. My Father's hand is gracious to me. And even when I stay home, You say to me, "My child, you are always with me, everything I have is yours." 

O heart, rejoice! There is nothing to fear. My Father's hand is gracious to me

Lord, free me from my anxiety...from my busyness, for in it I squander my inheritance, I choose not the riches of my Father's house and presence. I run about frenetically trying to secure something, but I end up so very hungry, desirous of pig slop, when even the ones who are merely Your servants have food in plenty. 


So I come home, and I'm found in Your embrace before I even make it in the door. You were waiting for me and Your eyes saw me while I was still along way off. You run out to me. You grip me, holding me fast. You kiss me for I am Your beloved child. I was lost, but now am found. Before I utter apology or request forgiveness, You have reconciled me to Yourself. And even as I acknowledge my wrong, I am robed afresh with a fine garment to cover me. You put Your signet ring on my finger; I am family and I have Your authority when I act.  My feet, too, are made ready. And You call others to rejoice with You. "Kill the fattened calf! My child who was dead is ALIVE, though she was lost she is found."

This love is great. It is steadfast and full. Thank You.

O Lord, help me to remember in all situations that my Father's hand is gracious to me. Lord, may I hold fast to the fact that You have covenanted with me unilaterally. This is love. This is faithfulness.




And how my heart still rejoices. Oh, to be robed in righteous that is not my own from the law, but is by faith in Christ, sweet righteousness from God! And to have been given the Spirit, so that our hearts may cry out, "Abba," and we may be equipped with heavenly authority to act on our Father's behalf and for His glory.

Yes, our Father's hand is gracious.

O, that many more would come to know the riches of our Father's presence and His gracious hand!

Monday, August 27, 2012

You should like Andrew Bird.

Monday, August 20, 2012

a delightful, tear inducing day

Today was a wonderful day.

I sat next to my baby brother during church.
I had the joy of seeing a dear sister be baptized.
I got to help plan a NavNite! :)
I celebrated my cousin's birthday with him.
I conversed with my dear friend about her upcoming wedding, which apparently I will be singing in!
I also got a pair of jeans for free and prayed with Alicia.
And prayed Isaiah 54:2-3 most of the day.

AND the brother seems to be taking to memorizing Bible verses with me!!!

Teach him your way, O Lord, and he will walk in Your Truth; give him an undivided heart that he may fear Your name. Hallelujah, You are so good. You are faithful! My eyes are on You.




Saturday, August 11, 2012

It is good to be small

It is good to be small.

I have always loved knowing the meaning of names. I remember my parents telling me early in life that they had spelled my name with an "i" instead of a "y" because they liked the meaning better (and my mom preferred it in cursive with "Williams," too). "Alissa" is derived from Alice, which is derived from the Greek word for truth. My middle name, Ruth, means compassion, hence the url for this blog. I always liked the meaning of my name and desire to be a woman of truth and compassion. Conversely, as a kid I always thought the meaning of my dad's name was LAME-O. His name is Paul and means small. Who wants to be small? (We're not talking waist size.).

But it is good to be small.

To be small is to have an accurate understanding of who and what one is. I am so very small. Sometimes I feel it more keenly than other times. It is freeing.

I am finite, and He is not. All of the Lord's attributes are infinite and pure. He is not limited by time and space. His workings are beyond us, beyond our comprehension. In light of how small I am and how very great my God is, I am left to rest secure in the knowledge of His goodness and graciousness.

It is good to be small, because we can better see God as He is!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good Ol' Abe

This week as I traversed across the country with a good friend, I had the pleasant surprise of getting to see Abe Lincoln's birth place in the Kentucky woods.

I really love Abe Lincoln, so much so that I would marry him. Not really, but really.

I am often struck by the simplicity of much of what Abraham Lincoln said. He was a wise man, a man who valued God's Word and who acted in light of it. He was a man worth following.

“In regards to this great Book [the Bible], I have but to say it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are found portrayed in it.” -Abe Lincoln

The top of the Memorial reads:
Here
Over the log cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born
Destined to preserve the Union and to free the slave
A grateful people have dedicated this memorial
To unity and brotherhood among the States
With malice toward none and charity for all

I left misty eyed and exhorted by his example. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

currently

My favorite song is "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman.

If you don't like it the first time through, put it on repeat until you do.


"For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
10,000 reasons for my heart to find.

So bless the Lord, o my soul,
O my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before, o my soul,
O my soul,
I'll worship Your holy name."




Saturday, July 21, 2012

But our eyes are upon You

I had the joy of visiting the city of my birth, Stockton, California, on Wednesday. There I met with some sweet family friends and shared with their youth group. It was such a joy! There were a handful of kids who were really excited and tracking with me. I shared parts of my testimony and primarily from 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 and Matthew 9:36-38. After I shared there was a time for questions and the same kid (whose last name is Blythe!) asked two questions:

1. If you want to see your campus radically changed for Christ, what is the first thing you would do?

2. What is the greatest act of God you have seen?

I loved that these questions showed his faith, his belief that God could radically change his campus and that God does great acts! Wonderful! Him and his friends were passionate about the gospel. What a joy to see that these are ones who indeed regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though they once regarded Christ in this way, they do so no longer!

Not only was I blessed to be with the youth, but with the adults. The couple that hosted me is in ministry, and for years they have been faithfully plowing the hard soil of Stockton.

Stockton has recently made international news for being the largest city to declare bankruptcy. Stockton is also the second most violent city in the nation, fourth in car theft, and boasts some 73 gangs (all these stats. I heard word of mouth while visiting). The city's bankruptcy particularly has stirred the interest of many other struggling nations, but ultimately there is a whole lot going wrong in this city and a whole lot of attention. It would take nothing short of a miracle of God to bring lasting change to this place.

And that is what my friends are believing He will do. And not just one miracle, but lots of them because every new creation is a miracle in itself.

My friends also shared that Stockton has the largest police chaplain force in the country, which began when his brother was killed in the line of duty many years ago. He shared that they have allowed the chaplains in the schools, and that he got to baptize five youth this spring (at a public high school!).

I am reminded of king of Jehoshophat and the armies ready to wage war against him, and before the people he prayed. His conclusion, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

O, I pray that as the world's eyes are on Stockton, and my friends eyes are on You, that You would move in a mighty way, Lord. Get all the glory! It is Yours to be had! You are so worthy! Thank You for these faithful friends, for these like-hearted lovers of You, for these ones who are willing to come alongside of me in ministry! You blow me away, Lord!  Seriously. Why do You love us so much?


And as if this were not enough? There is so much more! This week God has convinced my heart that He is going to do great things. There is an urgency in the Spirit stirring, a healing He wants to bring. Do not be counted among the luke warm! Repent and believe! And if you are slow to believe, call to Him. "I believe, but help my unbelief." There is a race to be ran with endurance! Oh run out ahead of the others if you must; we've no time to waste!

Spirit, this is Your work! I look to You! I wait for You! Oh I am but a vessel for You to use. I've counted the cost, this life-lost, for the sake of knowing You. Lord, in light of this day's tragedy, in light of this week, I see the battle even more clearly. It is black and white. I hear Your words, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." The war is on, the victory has been won, and the kingdom comes! 


O Lord, may they come and be counted among the living! May they rise up and join the Victor's side. 




Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Bless, O bless, each weak endeavor..."




"I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing."
-John 15:5


"Apart from me you can do nothing,"
Jesus' words to his disciples resound within me,
as though there were a bell in the center of my chest.



Apart from You, Lord, I can do nothing! I can do nothing of significance or eternal value, nothing that will out last this decaying world. All that I see is passing away, but You have appointed us to bear fruit that would last. This work is only possible as we remain in You. O Lord, convince of our sheer need for You. That we would come and esteem You as Lord in our lives. Lord, convince us in our depths that we would do nothing in our strength, but that we would look to You, Spirit. That we would run after You and wait upon You, that we would search out the deeper things, the things that will last, that are beyond time. O Lord, You are Creator and to You a day is like a thousand years, a thousand years are like a day. You are the One Who sees all and knows all, and is beyond all. You have written eternity in our hearts even as You are eternal. O Lord, we seek You, we look to You. We ask You and beseech You to come and move with power. Spirit, stir our hearts, light us a flame, cause us to run after You.


May we not forsake You, but may we delight in You. May we remain in You. May we let You speak to us through Your Word, and may we wait on You in prayer and pray in all things with all kinds of prayers and requests. Lord, I can do nothing apart from You. For in You we live and move and have our being. You are the One before all things and in You all things hold together. O Lord, strengthen Your branches, to bear more fruit that it would be a testimony to the beautiful power of the Vine and the Gardener. 


How worthy You are. How majestic! Your grace is sufficient and Your power is made perfect in our weakness. Apart from You I can do nothing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Alis Volat Propiis

She flies with her own wings,
And in her heart, a song of hope she sings.
And where she is going, she don't know,
But by and by, the wind will bring
Along this girl, and her wings.


Rejoice

Today I am rejoicing simply in the fact that God is the God Who works out the details.

Yes, in the chaos of organizing and orchestrating all that this summer has held, is holding and will hold. I am brought to places of confusion, frustration and exhaustion, but also to places of seeing the Lord meet my needs in perfect, tangible ways. I am left to be awed and amazed at the way He is working things out, and the way that He is blessing my heart.

For example, one of my best friends is getting married in Texas this September. As the maid of honor, I am joyfully responsible for hosting a bridal shower. Alas, the bride lives in Texas and I do not! But God has worked it out. My EDGE teammate, a Texas native, happens to be transferring with The Navigators to Penn State in the fall and she is flying me out to help her make the move cross country. I will be in Texas and the bridal shower has fallen into place with only a few hours of phone calls and emailing. Voila! Thanks, Lord!

Also, I am making a funding trip to California and I get to see so many wonderful people, wonderful people! I also get to celebrate the first birthday party of my friends' twins, in person! :) AND for the trek to NorCal, a beloved friend is able to come along for the journey! It is pretty great.

And as there are many unknowns ahead--big, crazy ones--these simple examples of the Lord's provision and divine providence put my heart at rest.

We serve a great and mighty God, the God Who spoke all creation into being! He is the God that spoke to Abram and gave him promises, that through him all peoples would come to be blessed. The God who protected Abraham's descendants by bringing them into Egypt during famine, and some 400 years later brought them out dividing the Red Sea so His people could cross safely on dry land. The God Who anointed the shepherd boy David. He would defeat Goliath and become Israel's cherished king, and to whom God promised an heir who would be King of a kingdom without end.

The God Who saw fit to send His Son in the flesh to bridge the gap between Him and His creation, the vast chasm created by our sin. Yes, this Son came in the flesh, walked, slept, ate, drank, talked, laughed, wept, and was tempted in every way, but found to be without sin. God's sinless Son was nailed to the cross, submitted to the Father's will, and died on my behalf and yours. He endured God's wrath against me, and with His dying breath said, "It is finished." Jesus, perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect and with the power of the Holy Spirit, rose on the third day conquering death! He sent His Spirit to those who would be called the children of God, making us new creations and ministers of reconciliation.

This is our God. He is great and glorious. He has given us Himself, His Spirit, His Word! How our hearts may rest secure beneath the sweet truth of Romans 8:32, "He Who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him graciously give us all things?"

Yup, and God not only takes care of the big things, but also the little things. A sparrow does not fall apart from His will. Our very hairs are numbered.

"Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. " -Philippians 4:4-7

Friday, July 6, 2012

tomatoes--sin

Tonight I attended a concert with two of my friends. I didn't really know anything about the band, but I had listened to one song and from what Laurel told me, I knew if nothing else it would be an interesting night. While we were driving to the concert she tells me that the album is about the rapture, which led to some interesting conversation about eschatology and science over a quick bite to eat at In-N-Out.

During the concert, I couldn't help but think about the gospel and all the people around me. Was I the only one there who knew Jesus intimately? Man, I hope not! After the band played some wonderfully exciting songs, the lead guy invited us outside where he had prepared a tarp and six, Costco size, cans of stewed tomatoes (the whole tomatoes, not diced). He told us all to participate, so out the 150-200 people there about 10-15% of us did. He told us to wait for his cue, but when he nodded his head to throw the tomatoes at him. I have forgotten to mention that he was dressed in a white, linen like robe during the concert. 


The imagery was pretty powerful, especially for me being one of the most vigorous tomato chuckers in the audience. I picked up tomatoes that had already been used and were thrown from the opposite direction, only to throw them again. We left splattered and splashed in tomatoes, wiping the juice on our clothes. 


As we drove back, the conversation led to the different thoughts that we had about this experience. My mind was clearly drawn to Jesus, the Lamb, worthy to take the scroll because with His blood He purchased men for God. I also thought about how even as I threw the tomatoes at the artist, obeying him, like worship, I wanted others to experience the joy of throwing tomatoes at him too. Most people didn't want to throw tomatoes at him; they didn't want to get messed with tomatoes themselves or just genuinely don't like throwing things at people. 

Lord, it is a mess. We are a mess in our sin. We so desperately needed You to pay for our sins; and as we walk, day by day, in the mess, we desperately need to remember that You have paid for our sins. Instead of being covered in mess, Your blood has washed us white. O come let us reason together, for though our sins were as scarlet, they're white as snow; though they were red as crimson, they are now as wool! Lord, You have dressed us in robes of white! You made Him Who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that in Him- in You, Jesus- we might become the righteousness of God!! We get beauty for ashes, a garment of praise for our heaviness. 

Lord, I doubt that this was the message the artist wanted me to walk away with, but I take it with a joyful heart. The visual was so good for me to see and share with those around me. You orchestrate things in ways I cannot. To You I lift my eyes; to You I yield my will. O Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me! Lord, even as I was stained with tomatoes tonight, Your gospel has stained me, my heart desires those around me to know You, for them to throw their sins at Your feet and bow to You as Lord and Savior. Work in the ways I cannot, O Sovereign Lord. Loosen my lips to speak Your praise! How beautiful You are, how worthy of getting my hands dirty in the work.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

anticipating the harvest

There are moments we anticipate, and often we don't know exactly what it is that we are anticipating until those moments come. We live them and we feel their weight. They are moments of divine intervention. Instances when we see that the hard labor in the field--the sowing, the watering, the weeding-- is having an effect because God is graciously causing the seeds to grow. I had the joy of getting two of those moments today in two different "fields," if you will. I don't know how many days there are until the harvest, but how my heart anticipates that moment, too!

Lord, for these ones who You have given me to love this year, I say thank You! Thank You for giving me a heart of compassion for them. Thank You for their friendship, for the laughs we have shared, for the beautiful truths we have talked about, and for the life we have shared. Thank You for allowing me to be Your ambassador. O Lord, even now I pray that You Spirit would appeal to them to be reconciled to You! Lord, may tomorrow be a day of real freedom. Lord, may Your gospel be revealed in greater depth and fullness. Would You give them eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts and minds to understand Your love for them in Christ!? You are beautiful, Lord. Your thoughts and ways are higher. May I ever anticipate Your grace at work in my life and in the lives of those around me. 

Yes, the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. I look to You, I ask. O Lord, would you raise up workers for Your harvest fields?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

endure

monday we got the keys to our new apartment and began moving stuff over. my brother's bff came all the way from blythe to help us move. what a good friend and fine gent! so by 1 am monday night our old apartment was empty of all the big things: beds, couch, coffee table, table, chairs, book shelves and desks. however, there were still many little things, many little things, and some not so little, to be moved. so i spent the rest of the week packing, moving and cleaning, and unpacking. in all of this i had various thoughts, lots of time to pray, and sing.

thoughts like:
"i haven't been this sore since hiking for four days in russia."
"i haven't been this bruised, ever."
"ice water has never tasted so good."
"i love country music." (i like it much more in the summer!)
"i'm really thankful for the new apartment."
"i never want to move again."
"who can i give this to?"

some of my prayers were about:

the fires in colorado-my heart was also pretty distracted by the fires in colorado and thinking about my navigator friends there. praying that God would do great and mighty things in them and through them during this time, that the navs and the other believers there would be light in the darkness, real and hopeful.

estonia, russia, west asia, holland, china, maldives-the nations are also pretty pressing this time of year, as many of my nav friends and friends from church are away on mission trips. God is God of all the earth! what a great thing to know. all peoples, nations, tribes and tongues are known to Him.

asu-we moved to be closer to asu. praying big things and excited to see what God has in store. praying for generations and laborers. praying for funding to be there. so thankful for the staff team there, so excited to labor with them!

yesterday while we were taking our last full load, there were police all over, outside of our old apartment. they were looking for one of my neighbors. it turns out that he had hit an eleven year old on a bicycle and the boy died. some of our fifth graders turned eleven this year; it just broke my heart. praying for the boy's family and praying for my neighbor.


---


i have been camping in Hebrews 11 and 12 for the last few weeks, maybe even months (actually it may be years! it's a favorite!). last night i took a dry erase marker and i wrote 12:3 on my mirror. God was reminding me to consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that i will not grow weary and lose heart. i pray i won't grow weary. i pray i won't lose heart. endurance and perseverance seem to be the theme of verses God keeps bringing before me. i wrote endure in cursive, as though to match the phonogram with its meaning. this is a season. i don't know how long it will be, i'm hoping it is short. seasons change, and hallelujah, our great, good and beautiful God does not! 


Isaiah 50:7- "Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame."

Jesus, thank You so much for coming in the flesh to pay for my sins, for my bad attitudes, for my griping, for my pride, for my reluctance and fear. thank you for ever being with me and for encouraging me through Your Word and Spirit. how thankful i am for Your words that i have hidden in my heart and for the way that You sweetly call them to my mind. thank You for giving us joy and peace and hope. thank You for being able to work in all things for Your glory. thank You for cups of cool water from kind people, and for my helpful neighbors. thank You for luke. please grow him more and more into Your likeness. Lord, bless this apartment. may all who enter it be refreshed by You. thank You for music and putting it in us to enjoy such a gift!




i leave you with a song. it was hard to pick just one. this was one of my favorites when i was six years old. i still love it and the 90's fashions are pretty laughable. Trisha Yearwood's "She's In Love With The Boy"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The bride is beautiful because the groom deems her to be so.

"...But I am talking about Christ and the church..."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Apple butter from my parent's kitchen

Since I went away to college, the gadgets and gizmos in my parent's kitchen seem to have multiplied and improved significantly. It makes coming home all the more fun. At the start of the new year my parents began eating vegan, mostly for health reasons, they have since reintroduced dairy and eggs into their diet. To enhance the ease of their vegetarian lifestyle they purchased a Vitamix blender. This thing is pretty amazing. Today I used the Vitamix blender to help me make apple butter. Instead of peeling the apples, which is laborious, sticky and time consuming, I just chopped them and blended them, peel and all. At my apartment I have a food processor, so I'm guessing I could have just used that, but this mixer had those apples looking like apple sauce in a matter of seconds. I don't think my food processor would have the same affect. 

Here is the apple butter recipe from today. I like clove a bit more than most; I also think Clove would be a good dog name.

All Day Apple Butter (adapted from allrecipes.com)

12 cups, of whole apple sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups of sugar (you can add a bit more depending on the sweetness of your apples)
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of clove

Prepare apples. (If you don't have a blender/food processor, you can peel, core and dice the apples the old fashion way.) Combine apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and clove in a crock pot. Cook on high heat for about one hour. Reduce the heat and continue to cook it for 9-11 hours. You can freeze it, can it, or store it in the refrigerator. Enjoy!


Friday, June 15, 2012

pretty exciting

Sometimes we come up with horrible, worst case scenarios in our brains. I do this often enough.  I play the "What if?" game. I find some relief in the fact that these scenarios aren't true, but I find more joy, hope and peace in knowing that even if they were true, God and His eternal plan are far greater. The gospel is true and the promise of glory awaits us. He can use all things for His glory! Yes, even on the worst days (which today was definitely not!), we are one day closer to glory! And on the good days, the best is yet to come for those of us who are bound for glory. Pretty exciting...


Also, I'm pretty sure Mr. Rogers will be with us there. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DNA love

The gospel is amazing. 

I love seeing the transforming power of God come to life as we grow in our knowledge of   who God is and what He has made us to be.

It is a wonderful joy! 

I'm so thankful for these women and our time spent together this year in our DNA group. 

I'm excited to see how the Lord continues to work our lives for His glory! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cream Cheese - Greek Yogurt Frosting

I made a summery, blueberry lemon cake; however, the lemon did not have a very distinct flavor. It was still delectable. It needed a frosting, but I didn't want it to be overwhelmingly sweet. I had Greek yogurt in my refrigerator and figured it could be used to make frosting. It worked out really well, so well that I will share it. 

The finished product!
Cream Cheese - Greek Yogurt Frosting
-1 8 oz. package of reduced fat cream cheese 
-1 cup of plain non-fat Greek yogurt
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-2 cups of sifted powdered sugar

Directions: Whip the cream cheese. Add the yogurt and vanilla, mixing to an even consistency. Lastly, add the sifted powdered sugar. 

Note: I used the frosting immediately after making it, however, it was a bit runny. I think that chilling the frosting for an hour in the refrigerator would help it to have a thicker consistency. While the frosting was runny, it stayed on the cake. It mostly ran out from between the stacked layers.

Also, this seems to be my most popular post, and as sweet a frosting made with Greek yogurt is, the love of Christ is sweeter still. And I hope you know that love!

Friday, June 1, 2012

not by sight

"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

I think of my Savior's words on the cross, and I know I'm so desperate for His forgiveness. I'm so thankful I have it.

Today, I was utterly irritated at the fact that I have received compliments about my faith, strength, courage. Lord, can't You call me to something less?

Oh how quickly that rose from my heart. Why would I want less? Just because my human eyes can't see what is ahead or how everything will work out.

O Lord, I want to be a woman who values faith, for you value it; You are pleased with us as we live in faith and You are the Author of it. I want to value the influence You have given me. Thank You for being a good Father and giving perfect gifts even if they come in unexpected packages. Thank You for DNA nights, conversations with Michael, prayer, summer nights in the desert, happy songs at the grocery store, a clean apartment (down to the sheets!), friends all over the world, flowers, and Your promises! Thank You for responsibilities. I believe, help my unbelief.


Fifteen years ago today, my family moved to Blythe--a perfect gift, in a very odd package. Thanks for the reminder, Lord!

"The One who calls You is faithful, and He will do it." -1 Thessalonians 5:24

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blessed Assurance

There are moments in life that impact us so deeply we couldn't shake them if we tried. They are the very moments that compose our stories and shape us in profound ways. Some of these moments are beautiful and sweet, some are painful and biting, some are full of sentiment and simply evocative, some seem to have elements of all of the aforementioned. It seems like these moments, whether easy or hard to walk through, are evidence of God's work in life.

Earlier in the week I had a friend text me about how thankful she was for the blessed assurance she had in Christ during difficult times in her life. The phrase "blessed assurance" creates a seemingly, instant chain reaction in my mind. "Blessed Assurance" is not a mere phrase, but a hymn and not just any hymn to me. It is the hymn that for ten years has induced very real tears whenever I have heard it or tried to sing it.

When I was in seventh grade, my grandpa's health declined rapidly. He was becoming senile and started to neglect his Type 2 Diabetes. The three of us kids came home from school to find that our parents had rushed to Phoenix to see grandpa who had been placed in hospice care. We got a call later that evening that grandpa had gone home to Jesus, while grandma and his kids encircled him in prayer.

Grandpa 'Skip' was my first grandparent to pass away and his memorial service was the first time that I ever saw my older cousins cry. The whole family came together, all six of the Williams' kids were there. They shared different things about their father, and as the guests were able to share about my grandpa's life it was clear that God had used him to impact people with the gospel. As the service ended, my dad and his five siblings made their way to the front of the sanctuary; there, they sang the hymn "Blessed Assurance."

  1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
    Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
    • This is my story, this is my song,
      Praising my Savior all the day long;
      This is my story, this is my song,
      Praising my Savior all the day long.
  2. Perfect submission, perfect delight,
    Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
    Angels, descending, bring from above
    Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
     
      • This is my story, this is my song,
        Praising my Savior all the day long;
        This is my story, this is my song,
        Praising my Savior all the day long.
  3. Perfect submission, all is at rest,
    I in my Savior am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
      • This was dad's story, this was dad's song,
        Praising his Savior all the day long;
        This was dad's story, this was dad's song,
        Praising his Savior all the day long.

On the last time through, in their beautiful voices, they rejoiced that this was their dad's story and this was dad's song. He praised his Savior all the day long. 

What a blessed assurance we had that day, and this day too, one day we will all be joined with our beautiful Savior. Oh even now we watch and wait, we look above, expecting and longing for our great Love! I doubt I will ever hear this song and not think back to this moment. Today as we sang this hymn in worship, I sang with a thankful heart for the truths I was proclaiming, and for the spiritual heritage that my grandpa left his six children, his grandchildren, and the many people who were gathered in attendance that day to celebrate his life.

Thank You, Lord, for the blessed assurance that we have in You. Thank You that as we live in the gospel, we live out of Your story and it becomes our own. Thank You for Your faithfulness through all generations! You are from everlasting to everlasting! May I be a woman who praises my Savior all the day long! I love you, Lord!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fix my eyes

I am so thankful and excited about so many things in my life. We're on the cusp, I tell you! But I also feel dreadful and have questions without answers.

How does it happen? How do we plan and trust? How do we hope and hold our desires with an open hand? Surely, I don't know perfectly, but I will try to hope wholeheartedly. I will look to my sweet Savior; for the joy of my heart is the Maker of heaven and earth.



O Lord, my heart so desires to be freed from the cares of this earth, from the things that make life hard, the things that make me tired. Lord, help me! 

Lord, I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before me! I want to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run! Run with perseverance this race marked out before me. I look to you Jesus, my eyes are fixed upon You, for to You I am running. You are the Author and Perfecter of my faith, in joy You endured the cross, scorning its shame and have sat down at the right hand of our Father. I consider You, for You willfully endured opposition and hate from Your rebellious creation. Lord, may I consider You -Your humility, Your love, Your sacrifice and submission to the Father's will-and not grow weary and lose heart. Rather, would I consider You and have my vision and heart refreshed. 


Thank You for being my Father and for disciplining me in love. Thank You that we can come to You. O Lord, strengthen my feeble arms and weak knees. In You, we have level paths for our feet, O that we may be healed and run after You!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

I don't understand

I don't understand soul patches...

There are plenty of things I don't understand, but soul patches are really bothering me tonight. So dear reader, I share this with you. I'm not saying that they're all bad, I just don't understand them. I never look at someone's clean shaven face (or bearded face) and think, "You know what would really enhance that? A soul patch!"




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today is my cousin Christopher's 17th birthday! It is crazy how time flies. I remember being in the third grade and getting to miss school to go with my mom to meet my new cousin. It was one of the highlights of my childhood. He was one of the first babies that I ever cared for and babysat. Today he is a good foot taller than me and I am ever blessed by the young man that is growing in godliness before me. Last night I got to take him out to dinner and celebrate--it was such a sweet, fun time.

Over the course of the year I have had so many rich conversations with him about God, homework, ministry, dating and other things. He has asked me great questions. He has encouraged me with his kind words and heart. He has also asked me to make him a list of Bible verses to memorize. :)

I have loved getting to spend so much time with my two cousins this year. They are like extra little brothers. I love extra little brothers! I also need extra little brothers to eat my baked goods. I look forward to celebrating the other one's birthday next month.

Lord, thank You for Christopher's life and for his desire to honor You in all aspects of his life. I thank You for his integrity and pray that You would continue to grow him in Your truth and righteousness. I thank You for his friendship and for the ways I see you at work in his life. Thank You for allowing me to have an influence on him this year and for the lively conversations we have had. Lord, give him a heart of understanding for those around him and teach him to love and serve others, even as You did. May he be an oak of righteousness for the display of Your splendor. May he act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with You, O God. Use him in mighty ways to advance Your gospel and kingdom into the nations. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

We are the Family of God

In Tucson, our church building was a ranch house that had been converted. It was on a grapefruit orchard, surrounded by prickly pear and cholla. 'Twas perfect for epic games of hide n' seek, but the best part was that there was a wonderful swimming pool, complete with a Jacuzzi and diving board. I, in fact, learned to swim during a YMCA class in that pool, and a couple years later was baptized in it on an April morn in freezing water! In the summers we would have BBQ's in the back yard and swim. As the sun would set and the fruit bats would swoop over head, we would gather together with fully bellies and wet hair. We would pray, read the Good Book and sing songs that my dad played on his folk guitar.

As I think back, I am thankful for the memories, thankful for the truths that were so long ago imparted, thankful for the song lyrics that even now rise out of my heart, and thankful for the family of God.

I walked into my apartment with a full heart tonight. The first verse and chorus to a song that I learned on that patio came to mind. I've included the rest of the verses for ya.

Go make disciples of all men;
Go tell them my way is true.
Tell them the wonderful story
That they may be one in me, too.

We are the family of God,
Yes, we are the family of God;
And He's brought us together
To be one in Him
That we might bring life to the world.


Let them know life in the making.
Let them know peace from above.
Show them by your own example
Of love in the family of God.

We are the family of God,
Yes, we are the family of God;
And He's brought us together
To be one in Him
That we might bring life to the world.

Bigger and better is my love
That I have bestowed unto you.
And now it's for each one to share of,
That all things might now become new.

We are the family of God,
Yes, we are the family of God;
And He's brought us together
To be one in Him
That we might bring life to the world.

By Jon Byron 1976


Mom and Dad: I love you! Thank you for your faithfulness and realness. Thank you for passing on truths to me, that I so frequently find myself passing on to others. Thank you for living your faith before me so tangibly, for loving God and others, and for showing me love in the family of God.


O Lord, You alone are my Lord. You alone are worthy of our worship. How great You are! What grace is this that You bestow on us love and call us family! My heart rejoices that You created us in Your image and that You have sent Your Son to restore our relationship with You. You are so good to us. Lord, my heart longs for others to know You, even as I know You. Lord, use us for Your glory. May we run in the path of Your commands, for You have set our hearts free! I love You. You are my God, I seek You in earnest. My body longs for You, and how my soul does thirst! You give life, and make streams of abundance flow in the desert. Maranatha!



Friday, April 27, 2012

on a pillow of blue bonnets and a blanket made of stars

I love blue bonnets. Why?

For starters they are gorgeous. My Texan friend just emailed me this photo in a forwarded email from her mom. Gorgeous, right?!

They are my favorite color and look at how well they cover the field. I want to go picnic in a field of them, and bring some books along too.

But my love of blue bonnets was really inspired by the Dixie Chicks and their song "Cowboy Take Me Away."

For your listening enjoyment: Cowboy Take Me Away

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"The reasons we go to war always matter."

In March of 2010 I saw the Green Zone, a Matt Damon war flick. (It didn't really touch the Bourne series, but that is not what I'm posting about.)  I didn't see too many movies that year, which possibly added to the impact that this movie had on me. I often find myself mulling over one of the lines from it, "The reasons we go to war always matter."

Today I substitute taught. Sometimes when I'm teaching it feels like I'm at war. There is this lesson, full of great content that the sweet cherubim before me would greatly benefit in learning; however, they don't want to learn it, or do anything that I want them to do for that matter! Today it seemed as though it was a battle of wills, my will against 27 other wills. Alright, maybe seven of them wanted to learn or at least respect me, so only 20 wills against me. It was exhausting, but the battle was worth fighting. Ironically enough the lesson they were the most naughty during was about the beginning of U.S. Civil War, particularly the motivations for the Union and the Confederacy to enter the war.

This evening I received a phone call from my new boss and in our short conversation he said something about being on the front lines of battle. Yes, since my decision to go back on staff has been made there has been some serious fear and plenty of lies to take captive and make obedient to Christ. O but there is reason enough to engage in the battle, it is war. Yes, "The reasons we go to war always matter." We all pick our battles daily... What part of creation will we try to tame and subdue this day? What wrongs can be made right? How can I be bearer of light in this darkness? Or we may be so overwhelmed, apathetic, desensitized or down right lazy that we refuse to engage in any battle at all? 

I don't know what camp you would find yourself in, but I often feel I'm in the thick of a battle. Yet my heart can be confident as the end of the story has already been told. For on the cross my Savior's heel may have been struck, but with His resurrection, conquering sin and death, the serpent's head was crushed. He is victorious and we, His bride, are certainly safe as we are His. 

You go before me in battle. You are with me and You will never leave me or forsake me. Not only this, but because You live, my labor in You is not in vain. Help me to stand firm and let nothing move me. May I give myself fully to Your work, O Lord. Lord, encourage my heart for the battle. Help me to love in truth. Spirit, I rest before You, utterly dependent.  I look to You, my Shield and Defender.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

expectant

I am so eager for the morning!  O how I just want to shout it, "HE IS RISEN!" What did that angel feel like as the women approached the empty tomb? Getting to be the announcer of such an awesome, world changing truth!! "He is not here; He has risen, just as He said." And this truth is ours too! What will we do with it?

Lord, loosen our lips to proclaim You alive; convince us of this so that our hearts can not contain our joy and hope. Death and sin are defeated, conquered.You are victorious. O Lord, You have arrayed us in garments of salvation, in robes of Your own righteousness; we're adorned like the bride groom and bride, ready for the wedding. You say,"For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."  Lord, we look to You to complete this work. We know that You are with us to the ends of the earth.

My heart is so expectant. 


I so desire to see You revealed, to be with You, to see and know You fully. Lord, You are risen just as You said. You said that You were going to prepare a place for us and that if You were to go, You would come back and take us to be with You. Lord, this too will happen just as You said. Thank You for the richness of Your love! O to fully comprehend Who You are, to be freed from my humanness to worship You in perfect truth. O we are one day closer to glory. Hallelujah!! Hallelujah!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Like a palm tree

When we first moved into my parents current house, there were two palm trees catty corner from each other at the front of the driveway. They were young trees and not much taller than I was at ten. Some friends of ours had some friends who were looking for some palm trees. I guess my dad didn't want to keep the palms, so a plan was devised to uproot the trees and transplant them to a new location. Now there were three men who set about to accomplish this task: my dad was in his forties and the other guys were fit twenty somethings. They had shovels and in case the work was too laborious they were prepared with a chain and pick up truck to pull the trees out.

They went to work, digging at first, but soon (maybe an hour in) realized that their digging wasn't doing the trick. They decided to use the truck and chain. It didn't work so well at first, but about three hours later palm tree number one had been uprooted. The men were exhausted. Tree number two is now at least twice my height in my parents' yard.

We learned a valueable lesson that day about the root systems of palm trees. It made a lot of sense thinking about how they still stand tall after they face high winds. For some reason I can picture news footage of hurricane reports from Florida with palm trees bending, but not breaking or being uprooted, in my head.

 Reading Psalm 92:12 made me think a bit more about palm trees today. Psalm 92:12-15 says: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in their old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'"

 I love this passage! I too want to be like a flourishing palm tree or a great cedar of Lebanon. I have been planted in Christ and want to flourish by walking in the fullness of His Spirit. O to bear fruit in my old age, to be sappy and fresh, full of abundant life-this is my desire. And to proclaim Him, my Lord, the upright One, my Rock for there is no wickedness found in Him. He is the Holy One of heaven! O Lord may it be so until You return or call me home. You are worthy!

[I originally posted this from my phone...please forgive me if I missed any mistakes.]

Saturday, March 31, 2012

marching on

Wasn't March a gloriously full month? It was for me.

God has graciously allowed me to see many of the ways He has been at work in my life and my heart is eagerly expectant as I look ahead. What will God do with tomorrow? this week? this month? this year?! What will He do in my life and the lives of those around me? (In the lives that I don't even know about!) Whatever happens, I pray that I will rejoice through easy and difficult circumstances alike because my God is good and reigns as King. He is my faithful Shepherd. 

It looks like I will be doing staff in training with The Navigators at ASU in the fall. Honestly, I am stoked.

March consisted of:

-Being asked to consider going back on staff with The Navs.
-Spring Break - 
  • Time in Long Beach: I was blown away by the power of the Holy Spirit and blessed to enjoy time with some sweet LB Navs. Also, got to meet Mikey and Jo's babies! I cried (ugly cried) leaving LB. The tears never hit last year, but as I left this time I knew the next time I visited it would be completely different...lots of people will be moving on to different things next year!
  • Finding out my dad didn't have colon cancer :) Hence, this post from January 30 .
  • Time in Blythe: Canoeing with Lauran and enjoying my dear friend before her departure to Chile. Time with the parents was fun/sweet, per usual. 
-Worst Stomach Flu...since I was 8 years old or something. Luke had it too. But I had friends bring me Gatorade, so sweet of them to enter the germ war zone our apartment must have been.
-Deciding to go back on staff with The Navs. (I cannot tell you how sweet the Lord was to me in affirming this decision.)
-Family time in Blythe - What a joy it was to see Michael, Sara, and Owen (13 mos.) for the weekend. What a joy it was to celebrate Luke's 22nd birthday and bake him cake! What hope fills my heart with what God is working in Blythe!
-Today, I went boating and swimming in a lake...in March. God bless, AZ!

And this doesn't include the every day things that God is doing. This month I got some good time with the ladies in the discipleship group and had some really encouraging conversations with my little brother and my sweet cousins. 

"We're marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion,
We're marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God!"

Lord, thank You for this full month and this full heart. How beautiful are Your ways, they are beyond tracing out. You surely do more than I ask and could ever imagine. Lord, may I ever live in light of Your faithfulness and goodness. Lord, may I walk in the fullness of Your Spirit and proclaim You to those around me. Lord, we truly are marching to Zion. Lord, we are blessed to find our strength in You and to have our hearts set on pilgrimage. May I go from strength to strength, til I appear before You. My heart and my flesh cry out for You, o living God! My soul yearns and even faints for Your courts. For how lovely is Your dwelling place, o Lord Almighty?! 


Friday, March 30, 2012

today was a great day

In my opinion, any day that you get to share "The Hand-Word" tool with someone and they reply with a genuine, "Wow!" is a great day.

O Lord, give these sweet friends of mine a hunger for Your Word. May we grow in our love for You as we meditate on Your law day and night. May we bear fruit in season! Thank you for giving us Your Word, may we treasure it and live in light of it. Thanks for today!  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

beneath the shelter of Your wings


You are my God and my King,
Beneath the shelter of Your wings, I sing.
In the stormy gale I will not fear
For You are near, You are near.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah!
O the angel of the Lord encamps around me,
Bringer of my deliverance. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

whatever i do

Ideal Jobs:

- My dad I would start a wildly popular folk band, so wildly popular that my brothers would want in on the fun. (Currently listening to my dad's CD circa 1995 and you know what?! It is awesome!)
- I would open Bliss Bakery near a college, daily serving my newest and best baked good, orange marmalade bread! (OH MY GOODNESS, it is so good!)
- S.I.T. / EDGE Round 2 --> iEDGE, or something like it
- Sara Grove's nanny (I don't think she needs a nanny. She probably really likes being a mom.)
- Personal Assistant and travel buddy to Lauran Quist
- Etsy shop
- Communication professor (more school)
- Free-hand sign painter, which is what a career test told me my freshmen year of college. (How apt, but would it pay the bills?)
-OR something else?!?

Your ways are higher, Your thoughts are too! 
Lord, I rest before You. I'm so very tired. 
May Your peace rule in my heart and may I have a heart of thankfulness. O that Your Word would dwell in me and that I would teach others with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with a grateful heart to You. And whatever I do, whether in word or deed, may I do it all in Your name, Jesus, giving thanks to God, the Father, through You!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Philippians 3:12-4:1

Philippians 3:12-4:1 [NIV]:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.

Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!



I originally ended up in this passage after praying with my older brother over the phone earlier this evening. Verse 16 came to mind, "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." This verse thrills my heart, but the whole chunk- the whole chapter, and all of Philippians, for that matter-really does me in. It always reminds me of my identity in Christ. It reminds me to pursue holiness and Christ fastidiously, as He has already made me holy.

As I read the passage, I got out the Greek and it shed a bit of a different light on the passage. Now, I don't really know Greek, but I took a year of Attic Greek in college and the N.T. is in Koine Greek so it is a little less formal than what I studied. In verse 12, the words that are translated as "to take hold of" and "took hold of me" come from the verb καταλαμβάνω. Now, in Attic κατα is the preposition for 'down' or 'against' (I just taught this root in fifth grade) and λαμβάνω is the verb for 'I take,' combined it would be 'I take down,' though it usually translated as 'I overtake, catch.' It implies a capture. Christ has taken me wholly and for a purpose, and now I must strive to take hold of that, as well. Paul is speaking to our new identity and our promised glory.  The words Paul spoke through the Spirit are words of  bold tenacity and persistent pursuit.  


As the passage continues, Paul speaks with great feeling about those who are not part of the family of God. His words are heart breaking and true. That some "live as enemies of the cross of Christ" with "their mind on earthly things." In contrast, the brothers are to know that their citizenship is in heaven and live in light of it, standing firm. 


A lot of my years have been spent thinking about my identity in Christ, about the lavishness of His love apportioned to me in Him. I don't always think about what I was like before Christ. I don't often think about Christ having to have taken hold of me, or Him overtaking me. I don't always remember that I too once had my mind only on earthly things, that my destiny was destruction, or that by nature I was in fact an object of God's wrath (Eph. 2:3). So many of my favorite passages on my new identity are surrounded by verses about my old self. How my heart rejoices in God's sweet redemption, in the transforming power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! For I was once dead, but now have life! 

Lord, thank You, thank You, thank YOU for the fact that if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come! Lord, thank You that we no longer regard Your cross as foolishness, but to us it is Your wisdom, Your perfect wisdom in providing complete atonement for our sins! Thank You that because of this we are transformed, that we no longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view. Lord, thank You for reconciling us and giving us the ministry of reconciliation. O Lord, may our lives and words implore people to be reconciled to You. Spirit, move in the ways we cannot and draw hearts to Yourself. Lord, overtake them with Your love and mercy. Reveal Yourself in Your holiness that they may see their lack and need for You, Jesus. And Lord, as we eagerly await You, may we stand firm in You. 


Monday, February 20, 2012

tying shoes


I have been tying my own shoelaces for two decades. I can remember learning how as a kindergartener; it was quite the rite of passage. I was no longer dependent on my mother or a merciful passerby to have ready feet for the day. Working at a school this year, I have come across too many young ones who are dependent upon Velcro shoes. Kids seriously don’t know how to tie their own shoes! Perhaps that is why earlier in the week I prayed, “Lord, thank You that I know how to tie shoes.”  

For the believer, disciple making is like tying shoes. It is something that each believer is called to do; it is an elementary and necessary rite of passage.

Matthew 28:18-20:
Then Jesus said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This week a discipleship group is starting up in my missional community and I am pretty excited that I get to help lead it. This year I am busy. This is not new for me, but it is a different kind of busy than the last six years of life. In the midst of this busyness, working full-time and spending time with family and friends, I am so thankful that I am not trying to figure out what it means to make disciples, or how to disciple a person.

Now, I would say that I knew what it meant to make disciples before I went to college, but my time with the Navigators really helped me to hone in on some of the key foundations of discipleship and fine tune my understanding of God’s kingdom vision. My years on EDGE Corps, blessed me even more in my understanding of this. In those two years I found such life-giving joy in disciple making, not only a joy, but also a confidence in making disciples in the Spirit’s power and grace. I learned how to disciple skillfully. Thinking about this makes my heart so thankful, and so excited for the spiritual generations to come! 


Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness to me, for growing my heart for others and teaching me how to make disciples. Thank You for so many godly influences and disciplers in my life, for these saints who have loved and served You so faithfully, ones who have made the most of every opportunity.
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. Lord, how glorious You are. How worthy You are of my life's worship! Lord, that You call us to You and bestow glory and honor upon us, that in Christ we are redeemed is wonderful to me. We are created anew and given the ministry of reconciliation. Lord, how beautiful Your ways are! Lord, I pray for laborers, for the harvest is plentiful. All about me I see those who are harassed and helpless, sheep without a shepherd. Lord, would You raise up skillful laborers for and from the nations? That many would come to know You. How my heart eagerly anticipates worshiping You with every tribe, nation and tongue! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come! Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, for with Your blood You purchased men for God!




Thursday, February 16, 2012

You are Redeemer

A year ago tonight, I was awaken during the middle of the night to my phone ringing. It was 2:12 a.m. and my caller I.D. read, "Michael." My heart leaped with excitement. "Hello." "Sara's water broke and she is in labor." We didn't talk long, but that was all I wanted to hear. I immediately burst into laughter, tears and prayer. I remember thinking how funny a sight I must have been, a sobbing, giggling girl. My joy was so great. And when my emotions were reined in a bit, I wrote this in my journal before going back to sleep:

Sara is in labor.
Lord, You are Redeemer...
Psalm 84 and 34 will be dwelt in this day..."For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You."
This child, his life, is a circumstance of Your redemption; it is easy to see. May this be a year of redemption, oh Lord, for with You there is full redemption.
Psalm 27:14--I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!!



I don't think there will be any such call tonight, but my how thankful I am for my brother, Sara and my sweet nephew!! It has been so awesome to see the way that God has been faithful to them. I look forward to seeing all He will do through and in them in the years to come! What an awesome God we serve! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

thankful for THIS day

I'm not entirely sure why I love Valentine's Day, but it makes me so happy. I think one of the most likely reasons I enjoy this day so thoroughly is because I like hearts. (Hearts and circles are probably my favorite shapes. I really love symmetry). My love for V-day might also have to do with the fact that I love celebrating life and that I have been blessed to live a very loved life-by God, my family and friends. And as Don Allen says, "Loved people, love people." Don't ya love loving people? It is fun!

I'm pretty happy about this Valentine's Day though!

Today is Arizona's centennial. A happy 100 years to my favorite state, the Grand Canyon State! Take that, all you other states with less illustrious canyons. The Great Plains, what is so great about being plain? And no one state can claim you! Anyways... to celebrate this occasion, and to help the fourth graders celebrate an end to their Arizona unit, I baked some cookies with some of my friends tonight. We put hearts on them as we are celebrating "Great Hearts' Day" and the virtue of friendship instead of Valentine's tomorrow at school.


This year, I think my every day thankfulness has reached a new level. In the midst of so many unknowns and changes, I feel like the Lord has been writing His goodness on my heart. He is ever faithful and loving! His promises are true. How this grows my hope and joy! 

Arizona's motto is "Ditat Deus," Latin for "God enriches." I see God enriching my life and my relationship with Him in a lot of ways. I am blessed to wait on Him and seek His face. Our God is good and He reigns. In love, He has paid our ransom. Hallelujah!

"Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." -Psalm 34:8

"The Lord will guide you always, He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen  your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a stream whose waters never fail." -Isaiah 58:11

Monday, February 6, 2012

I love the fifth graders...

In numerous ways the sweet fifth graders have won my heart in the last few months. In this last week the girls have been reminding me of how hard it can be to be a fifth grade girl. The sweet things that these girls say to me and the questions that they ask me at recess, lunch and after school, remind me that I am in a place of great influence. They so deeply desire approval. There are hundreds of hungry and teachable eyes upon me every day, observing the slightest things I do and say, and what I wear. I pray I would be a godly role model for these girls and that I would have choice words in due season. 

Lord, You looked upon the multitudes and had compassion for they were harassed, helpless, sheep without a shepherd. O Lord, You are the good Shepherd. How tenderly You care for and nurture Your flock. Lord, for these sweet ones I ask that Your Spirit would move in mighty ways and that You would bring them to an understanding of Who You are. Lord, from among them would You raise up men and women who would fear You and walk in light of Your holy love all their days? 

Lord, You are so faithful. Thank You for bringing me through fifth grade and thank You for allowing me to remember the tear-filled drama of it all. Help me to move with compassion and wisdom where You have placed me. Spirit, may I walk in You and bear Your fruit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. 

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us-yes, establish the work of our hands for us." -Psalm 90:17

Monday, January 30, 2012

To walk in worry, is to walk in pride...

A few years ago, my dad had a health scare. It was the only Sunday I was home between spring semester and summer camp. During the middle of my dad's sermon he said, "I think I'm going to pass out." So he laid down and the nurse and doctor ran forward, and so did I. As his vitals were being taken, the nurse keeping time with her wrist watch said, "We need to get him to the hospital now. He's going into shock." We all rushed to the E.R. and there the nurses began to hook up I.V.'s, take blood and run a myriad of tests. I remember feeling so helpless, but as I remember there is a sterility of emotion. There was nothing to feel, we just had to watch it play out for that first half hour or so. 

In the week that followed my dad was put on blood pressure medications and he insisted that I follow through with my plans to be away for the summer. His bluntness of, "Even if I died, you'd have to move on with your life," was his encouragement. To which I replied with, "Oh thanks, dad! How reassuring!" But off to camp I went trying to trust and trying to be faithful. 

The first two weeks of camp were just staff. In the midst of training and bonding, there was a lot of work that God was doing on my heart. He was asking me to trust Him with everything, even with my dad's life. Now, if you've read my blogs or know me, you know that I have an awesome dad and love him lots. So being away for the summer, when I could have stayed home and tangibly eased my parents' stress was extremely challenging for me. I found myself in a place of deep and ugly worry. It was all that my mind went to when I was with the Lord. 

About a week into the training, I had a phone call with Don Allen, the wise, kind and beloved Director of LB Navs. He was acting as a reference for an internship I was applying for and as we worked out the details, I filled him in on my dad. Our conversation turned and Don, hearing the worry in my voice, reminded me of 1 Peter 5:7, and of course quoted it to me in the NASB, "casting all Your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." And then Don said something like, "I first memorized that verse as a new believer, part of the T.M.S., but I missed something about this verse for along time until I realized that another T.M.S. verse comes right before it on humility." He then shared verses six and seven together: "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty right hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all Your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." 

This was the truth I needed to hear. I don't think I would have left my worry had it not been pointed out to me, and ever so graciously I might add, that part of being humble and really trusting in God, was casting my burdens upon Him and resting secure in His care. To do otherwise was to be prideful before God, and in blatant sin before God; for pride breeds sin, as much as it is sin itself. With that wisdom, I was pointed to trust God and walk in humility before Him. 

I have often revisited and passed on this lesson in the last four years. And tonight there are two choices before me again. I remind myself that to walk in worry, is to walk in pride and I  know that there is a much sweeter place to abide!

Perfect Father, I don't want to worry about tomorrow. It will not add a single day to my life. I will consider the lily's of the field, or rather of the vase on my kitchen table, even Solomon in all his royal robes was not dressed like one of these! And how intricate a lily is--an insanely awesome plant! How much more do You care for me. How much more do You care for Your precious lambs! You would leave the 99 to rescue the one. You would leave Your heavenly throne to put on flesh, to show us true humility, and to pay the penalty for the debt that we could never pay. Surely, You care. Surely, You are good. Surely, the shelter of Your wings is the place where my heart will sing. I choose humility. Spirit, help me walk humbly. Help me to be patient and to trust You in all things for You are good. Your loving kindness is better than life, therefore my lips will praise You! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

No turning back

I just read an online post from Open Doors about the church in North Korea and the persecution there. The below paragraph particularly struck me. Christ is worth living and dying for, there is joy set before us. Let's hold our brothers and sisters up in prayer that they may find strength in the Spirit and live boldly. I pray their boldness would embolden us, as well.


However, despite decades of intense persecution, the church is more alive than ever. The North Korean Christians assure us there is victory, even when they are tortured and killed. “A friend of mine is being terribly tortured in prison,” says one Christian. “When he came to faith, he made the decision that one day he would die for Christ. Every Christian in North Korea has made that choice. I am convinced he can take the suffering because he constantly reminds himself of the joy that is set before him.”

 You can read the full article here: North Korea

"I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
No turning back, no turning back."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Give me Jesus

I got home from the Civil Wars concert about an hour ago. It was a lot of fun: a good time with new and old friends alike and some sweet folk music. I love folk music and those two are quite the entertainers!

I came home and the song that is in me is "Give Me Jesus" by Jeremy Camp.
"You can have all this world, just give me Jesus."

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." -Matthew 13:44


Here is a great recipe for fresh cranberries, I leave out the nuts. Cranberry Orange Loaf

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

benediction

"May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you.
May the Lord be gracious unto you.
And give You His peace, His protection,
and a good night's sleep. Amen?"

"Amen," was my reply to my father's benediction. And with the answer came my father's kiss to my forehead.
I was officially tucked in.

This was our nighttime ritual growing up. I can still hear the gentle rhythm of my father's voice each night, the words of his blessing and feel the comfort of his protection that brought such peace. To hear my father speak of the Lord so lovingly as he entrusted his precious ones to Him each night, asking for His blessing on our lives, taught me so much of the Lord's goodness. What good words, indeed! The words come to mind and my heart takes joy in their consistency, as the blessing is from the Lord, the unchanging One.

I find myself in an ocean of God's blessing. What a gift it is to have received unmerited favor from the Creator of all, when certain demerit was due! What a blessing it is to have a heart alive in Him, to be awakened to that which is eternal. It makes me think of my father's words, his sweet and faithful words of blessing. How beautiful it is to be so blessed by God that the only response is to rejoice in Him and share the blessing.

There is always more room at my Father's table. Come in, eat with us, and share in the blessing!