So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, May 13, 2013

always love

Beating hearts, human beings, people
Are the fibers of this world.

We choose what we become and what we make. As friendships form, we interweave ourselves with those we love; when they’re gone, it’s as if someone had ripped a hole in the very fabric of our existence.

Then one friend grows to two, to three, to four, until we have a group. How wonderful it is to see our fabrics and stories pieced together in a quilt; to feel needed and to belong.

Or not to belong. What happens to the person who’s piece of the quilt doesn’t quite fit?

Fibers do not only form soft, friendly blankets.

A rope is made of fiber. One strand wrapped around another, each still needed, each still belonging, but each a part of something far more menacing.

No longer welcoming, no longer friendly. Unlike the quilt, each fiber in this mob loses their identity, rejecting those not fitting, rejecting those not meeting their standards.

And to that piece that doesn’t belong, this exclusive rope may seem the best way to escape.

We have a choice.

We can be the rope that coldly denies friendship and community to any who don’t meet our standards. The rope that in its rejection chokes the life out of those we refuse love and belonging.


We can be the quilt that values every piece in its differences, accepting every one we meet for who they are and loving them as if there were no other way.

Rest in peace Alex.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

God answers prayer: hope

"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."

"...'Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.'"

Right now I'm down in Georgia with my family spending precious last moments with my papa.

For those of you who don't know, he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer at the end of April this year. Throughout this summer we've been coming to visit, but on Friday we received the call to come as fast as we can. Needless to say, it's been pretty hard on my aunts and uncles, and my grandma.

But God is so faithful and SO good. He's really been near to us in this time. He reminded of of that today. Right after particularly rough moment, it barely started to rain outside. My aunt said there was a rainbow. Me, being the sky nerd I am, ran outside to see the most beautiful, one end of the sky to the other rainbow:

Not ten minutes earlier had I prayed telling God I wasn't sure what we needed, but we needed to know He was near, and that His peace would come just like Philippians 4:4-7 says. He came then, but for a little extra boost of assurance sent us a rainbow! What a precious reminder that He's always here <3 font="font">

Monday, February 11, 2013

jeremiah 1: equipped

Jeremiah: prophet gone priest. This doesn't seem like much of a stretch, but just like anyone else God uses, he was called from the life he knew into the one the Lord had planned for him. In the 13th year of Josiah's reign God comes to him, saying:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as prophet to the nations."
(Jer. 1:5)

I think this would make most people's jaw drop. God knew him before he was conceived??? Appointed him and set him apart before he was born??? It seems like one of those verses that would be great on a nursery wall or a child's Bible. Which got me thinking about the ways that God uses every single one of us in a special way for His kingdom. (more on that later :))

Jeremiah's first reaction is one I know I've told God countless times: "I'm too young. I can't talk good." He doesn't really say yes (although we know he must have at some point because we have the book of Jeremiah), but God speaks again anyway, commanding him to go where He says go and speak what He says speak. And for the first time here, we hear these words: "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and I will rescue you."

And then God does the most amazing thing: He puts His hand on Jeremiah's mouth, giving him His words and appointing him "over nations and kingdoms, to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jer. 1:10) Any excuses of being too young, or the countless other things I've used against God as to why I can't do what He's asking me to are hereby invalid. God gave Jeremiah HIS POWER and WORDS. Wow.

Moving on, God shows Jeremiah two symbols; that of the almond tree and that of a boiling pot. About the almond tree, God says: "You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled." The Hebrew for "watching" and "almond tree" sound similar according to a note in my Bible. Pretty cool. God is watching to see that what He has given Jeremiah to complete will be completed, knowing that with His strength he will be fully capable.
About the pot, God proclaims that judgement is coming  on the nation from the north. He will allow kings to come against Judah for they have forsaken Him and served other gods.

So far, God has called Jeremiah, calmed his fears, and given him a mission. In verse 17, He calls and strengthens him once more!

"GET YOURSELF READY! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.
Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.
Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land -against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.
They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,"
declares the Lord.
(Jer. 1:17-19)

What a call. Three different examples God gives of the strength He has given Jeremiah. Thought he is being called to stand against his own nation, fellow priests and citizens, God will be with him, so there's no way to lose.

I find it amazing and humbling that God calls us in the same way. He takes us into something that we could in no way do in our own. It may be something as big as moving to the Amazon as a missionary, but even more often I think it's the little things. At least for me. The every day surrender of myself and my fears over sharing His word and what people will think of me so that I can boldly proclaim who He is to the nations. Just like Jeremiah, God is with us. It gives me peace knowing that I have no reason to reason to fear, for God is my strength.

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Casting Crowns - Until The Whole World Hears from enlacemusical on GodTube.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

the darkest moments and the brightest sunshine

This is what the Lord says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from the place which I carried you into exile."
Jeremiah 29:10-14

Plans. The very word sends my mind into a semi-frantic worry about the future. About where my life is going and whether I'm going to like where I end up. What college should I transfer to? And what should I major in? What about next summer? What if ______ happens? So much has changed in the last year, how am I even to plan for the year to come?

And then there's the realization that no matter what happens, God's will will prevail.

Which should bring peace... but this dreamer heart of mine all too often wants to fight for "my way". Completely forgetting what "my way" has caused before or simply choosing not to care. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, I far too often decide I want what I cannot have. And that just makes everything harder.

Why must I cling so desperately to what I want, thinking that it's best, when deep down inside I know that my spirit is crying out for Him?

"For I know the plans I have for you... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

"For I know..."

And slowly... slowly but surely... like so many times before, all my plans being to fade at His feet. Fade at the realization that all He wants for me is good. Every thing He lets happen to His beloved happen for a reason.

When the Israelites received this prophecy, they were in the middle of a seventy year exile in Babylon. Talk about a dark time. Why in the world would God send His people out of their land?

In Jeremiah 25:3-5, Jeremiah says: "For twenty-three years - from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon until this very day - the word of the Lord has came to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. They said, 'Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your fathers for ever and ever."

It is later in this chapter that God declares the 70 year banishment for His people. To me, it is now much more clear why He sent His people out of the land: they stubbornly and repeatedly disobeyed Him.

And like a little kid who wants to know how everything works and exactly why things are the way they are, I ask for the thousandth time today: "Why? Why not have mercy on them again and let them stay?"

And God, being the good parent He is, has an answer.

He loved them.

He was disciplining those He loved. (Hebrews 12:5 to 6)

But how could such a terrible punishment be completed in love?

Verses 12-13 of chapter twenty-nine say: "Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."

Another piece of the puzzle. After the declaration of the exile, after the promise that it is for their good, comes the why; so that, after all they go through, after 70 years of being foreigners, they may finally seek the Lord.

After 70 years of being away from home, He knew that they would finally return to Him. He knew that this would be best for them. Would glorify Him. And then they would be ready to enjoy the land He had promised to them all along. And when ready, He would gather them home. (v. 14)

There's so many kinds of storms in this life. Some brought about by sin, and some just seem to come out of no where. Both can leave us wondering "Why?"

But day by day, God is teaching me to let go of what I see, to let go of the bitterness and the hurt, and to trust in His love. Just like He loved and planned good things for the Isrealites, so He has good things for us.

I'll humbly admit I struggle with deep-rooted doubt. But what if we, together, started to trust Him more bit by bit, day by day? Let's believe :)

P.S.: I couldn't quite fit these verses in! But they've been on my heart while typing so... here they are! :D
The Lord foils the plans of the nations, he thwarts the purposes of the peoples, but the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:10-11, and )

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the drifting shadows. (James 1:17)

P.P.S.: This song is AMAZING. It was a burst of sunshine in the middle of a dark time this afternoon. I stumbled upon it on Vicki Courtney's blog (which is also amazing) and thought it fit in pretty well here. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


"Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, 'The LORD rebuke you Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?'

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him 'Take off his filthy clothes.'

Then he said to Joshua, 'See I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.'

Then I said, 'Put a clean turban on his head.' So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the Angel of the LORD stood by."
Zechariah 3:1-5

Covered in filthy garments, facing Satan's accusations. I've got a feeling Joshua must have been feeling hopelessly beaten down in this moment.

But with swiftness and power the Lord silences the accusations, declares Joshua chosen and rescued, commands his dirty clothes taken away and promises to clothe him in rich garments.

Suddenly, everything is changed. The stains are gone! What a relief.

A new promise is given:
"The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua "This is what the LORD Almighy says: If you will walk in My ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here."
Zechariah 3:6

A promise of reward and blessing, a place of high standing and the role of governing His courts. If Joshua walked in His ways.

I've got the tendency to think something along of lines of "Oh. Walking in the Lord's ways. I, I'm pretty sure I can't do that. Or govern His house or courts. I've failed so many times before, who says I'll make it this time? It'd probably just be easier to give up."

But His grace always tells a different story. "Who says?" becomes "God says."

"'Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring you My Servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and his fig tree.' declares the LORD Almighty."

Again the LORD promises to take away the sins of the land. To bring them peace. And promises "His Servant, the Branch."

2 Cor. 5:7 tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. In Acts the believers were given His Holy Spirit, a helper. Zechariah 4:6 reminds us that the works of the Lord will be completed "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." This passage may have been talking about Joshua or symbolically about Jerusalem, but in Christ we too are clean. Freed by the power in His great Name. Washed by His blood. Given a second chance...

...not only a new chance, but the strength to make this one count. The assurance that it wouldn't be better to "just give up." The strength to overcome every past failure. After all, those "dirty garments" of past mistakes and weaknesses have been taken away. With this heavy burden lifted we are free to serve the Lord with all our heart.

...a chance that we don't have to chase our tails or worry about blowing. Because in God's grace we fall less. We get up faster. We walk steadier. Day by day more faithful, rebuilt and FREE. The stress is gone, and only love remains. We are free to serve God not out of guilt or in failed attempts to earn salvation, but out of pure thankfulness for all that He has done for us.

I don't know about you, but all too often I am beat to near death by accusations and failures, whether true or false. I often feel just as Joshua must have as he was being accused by Satan. Always worrying about how my actions or words affected someone, the state of my own heart, if I'll be strong enough to love my coworkers or if I'll ever be able to love our Savior enough.

I'm learning more and more that He is my victory, He is enough, and in Him I am new.

Don't be bound anymore by the chains of worry.

in Christ, we are free indeed. <3>