Friday, January 29, 2010

Wait on Him, Depend on Him, Look to Him

The prayer that is flowing from my heart right now is for us to let go of anything holding us back from You. For when we are ensnared by our own ambitions, desires and dreams, our pursuit for these things keep us from knowing You. We are too busy chasing after temporary escapes, earthly desires and our own glory. When we hold our dreams and desires in our own hands, they distract us from all that You are. If our dreams are thwarted, we become angry. Confused. Crushed. Fearful. Hopeless. Or we chase after them harder. If we hold onto anything for ourselves, our hope is not in You. But, as we strip away our own desires, and lay them at Your feet, NOTHING can stand in our way. For when we place our lives and all that we have in Your hands, our will aligns with Your will. We have nothing to lose and no fear of losing it. There are no footholds. May any bondages and chains be broken; may the walls we have placed between us and You come crashing down. When we are confronted by a trying situation or a broken heart, may we trust the truths of Romans 8:28 and know that You cause everything to work together for our good. May we place the situation in Your hands and see Your sovereignty reign over it.

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that i could gain Christ and become one with Him." -Philippians 3:8-9

As i spent time in prayer and worshipping the Lord, i meditated on James 5:7-8 and it's beautiful promise. Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord's return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. With the changing of seasons and the eager expectation of rains, farmers watch their once barren fields be replenished and fruitful once more. Their fruitfulness is dependent on the Lord's hand and the coming rains. When our life appears empty, barren, dry, arid, can we not trust the Lord to restore us in time?! When we place our hope in Him, even through these times, when we surrender our ambitions and wait on Him, depend on Him, and look to Him, He will provide. He is faithful - the rains are coming. Our time of rejoicing is coming. As the farmers eagerly await the rains, let us eagerly await the Lord's will to be done and allow nothing to stand in our way.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Constant Surrender

How much strength the act of surrendering requires. When the Lord beckons us, instructs us, calls us to surrender, to let something go and yield to Him, it calls for humility and an utter trust in Him. How faithful our Lord is - i don't think anyone will ever be able to fully wrap their minds around how deep His faithfulness truly is. It would certainly take more than a lifetime to understand. Our Lord is faithful. FAITHFUL. Even when we lose sight of His promises, even when we don't understand why something has to be a certain way, even when we turn our backs on Him - He is still faithful.

His faithful love endures forever -Psalm 136

Great is His faithfulness - Lamentations 3:23

The bible speaks so much of the Lord's awesome faithfulness. This thought has been on the forefront of my mind: "For i know, you are faithful, my God". As I repeat this over and over, even when i don't fully find refuge in it, it becomes more real. More recognizable. The Lord is faithful. With this in mind, the act of surrendering just makes sense. When the Lord calls us to surrender, He is faithful. The picture of Abraham willing to sacrifice his son on the altar, simply because the Lord instructed, is SO so humbling. Abraham was willing and ready to give up someone he loved more than anything. And the Lord's faithfulness was apparent through Abraham's willingness. How amazing is that?!

For when we surrender, we are free. When we give up our own lives, we gain a new one. When we hand over our free-will, our independence, do we receive our true freedom. Your will, God, not mine. You are faithful. Surrendering is something i pray becomes a daily commitment. It is so necessary to constantly surrender - our own desires, our own intentions - so that the Lord may do what He wills and use us even more than we could ever imagine.

I'll probably refer to this C.S. Lewis quote from The Four Loves countless times in this blog. But, may the glorious image C.S. Lewis describes fill your minds with a steadfast hope - the Lord is faithful. When we surrender, we become His vessel. May you envision this excerpt and allow it to transform you:

"We have been like bathers who want to keep their feet - or one foot - or one toe - on the bottom, when to lose that foothold would be to surrender themselves to a glorious tumble in the surf. The consequences of parting with our last claim to intrinsic freedom, power, or worth, are real freedom, power and worth, really ours just because God gives them and because we know them to be (in a sense) not "ours"."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Snowflakes, Seventh Graders and a Grateful Heart

"To be aware and alert to the presence of God manifested in a piece of music heard on the car radio, a daffodil, a kiss, an encouraging word from a friend, a thunderstorm, a newborn baby, a sunrise or sunset, a rainbow, or the magnificent lines on the face of an old lobster fisherman requires an inner freedom self created through prayer" - Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust

According to Brennan Maning, being grateful requires us to be in a certain place and allow ourselves to live in a way that embraces gratitude. Being grateful requires prayer, a desire to change, and awareness, as Manning touches on in the preceding excerpt. When we take the time to look at the world around us - to notice the precious details, the simple joys, when we thank God in every circumstance, we are allowing our hearts to experience gratitude.
So, being grateful in today: Clothing wise, I wasn't exactly the most prepared to brave this wintery windy day. Upon stepping out of my cozy apartment, I instantly wished i had grabbed a hat, scarf and other winter accessories. Brrr was it cold! On the way to all my classes, I kicked myself over and over again for not being more prepared. After a long day at work, i headed back to the apartment to pick up a package before my night class. I randomly ran into Sarah, Lauren, and Brenna, a couple dear friends and a new one, who were on their way to Punch to get free pizza! I decided to join them and stand in the line that wrapped all the way around the block. After 20 minutes of standing in the cold, our minds were more fixed on the moment we would get to step into the warmth of the building and brick oven instead of on the free food. But, as we waited in the freezing cold, jumping up and down to stay warm, covering our ears and trying to distract ourselves with conversation, we noticed the snowflakes that were falling. Seriously, I am SO blown away by how intricate snowflakes are. I remember learning that every snowflake is different in a science class some years back, but when you actually see this phenomenon, it puts it into perspective! How beautiful and stunning snowflakes are - the thin, web-like flakes, the thicker more flower-shaped flakes - all intricately created and unique! How breathtaking were these little beauties - they would remain for just a moment: linger on the sleeve of a jacket or the loose wisps of hair - and then melt, only allowing a glimpse of their brilliance. Surely, these snowflakes reminded me of the presence of God. What a brilliant artist and clever Creator we have! He put so much beauty into each tiny snowflake! When we are aware and grateful, as Brennan Manning points out, we are able to find beauty in our everyday life. We are able to marvel at the cold, annoying, yet intricately-designed snowflakes and acknowledge God's omniscient presence. What are you grateful for? What have you noticed God's hand in lately?
Something else i am incredibly grateful for, is the blessing of youth. I was so so blessed to be a part of Hosanna!'s seventh grade retreat this weekend. Spending time with some amazing students - growing in relationship, laughing, playing volleyball, spending time in fellowship and small groups, worshipping our God, witnessing hearts being changed and molded, watching walls come down, and seeing bonds form are just a few areas that point to God and acknowledge His awesome presence. Mmm, i had the privilege to watch a group of girls grow closer together, listen to the struggles and hardships of an amazing young woman who is usually quiet and reserved. How amazing it was to watch her break out of her comfort zone and become more open and talkative. Truly a blessing. I am so grateful for middle and highschoolers - spending time with them and watching their lives transform as they desire to know our all-loving Lord more!

So, this week, i am learning the importance of gratitude and trusting the Lord. This past week, I was letdown by an unfair blow to my 'reputation'. I felt like, after two years, healing had replaced any hard feelings or hardness of heart. I had forgiven, surrendered, and trusted, but apparently the other person has not. How tough it was (and is) for me to accept that there is nothing more i can do. I am very much a "people-pleaser" and very hard on myself when i know i have let someone down. I take criticism personally, which i guess can be good or bad. So, prayer is the only way i can be grateful in this situation. Understanding that the Lord has a good and perfect plan for this summer, for my life, is where i place my hope.
I will also be learning how to be grateful in the wee hours of the morning. My special-education classroom/practicum starts tomorrow. At 7:30 am - bright and early! I am NOT a morning person. Yes, let me hit the snooze button a couple times and give me a couple minutes to drag myself out of bed and i'm usually bright and bubbly, but 7:30?! REALLY?! Why couldn't i have gotten a later start time?! Oh my gosh, will i need to be prayerful and attentive to the Lord's presence, especially at that time! Give me a grateful heart, Lord. Even in the disgusting early hours of the morning :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So in Love

"Am i so in love with Him that i take no thought for where He might lead me?" -Oswald Chambers

Mmm, what words to wake up to this morning, as an uneasy feeling surrounds my heart. This is my prayer. To be hopelessly in love with Him, to lie in ruins before Him. To trust Him wholeheartedly, to surrender my all, so that He may lead and i may follow. Even though the next steps may be into total darkness, i long to follow. If our focus remains on our Lord and His endless love, there's no need to even think about what our next move is. If our hearts remain steadfast on Him and His promises, then He will lead us. I have this image, and yes, it's slightly corny. But all you lovers out there will know what i'm talking about: when you are looking into the eyes of the person you love, doesn't all else fade away? Like, have you ever been so entranced, so mesmerized and fixed on gazing into the eyes you love that nothing else matters? Not the next moment or the next breath? Ah, what a hopeless romantic i am, but this is what i WANT! I want to be so fixed on God, so captivated that all else fades away. So so so so bound to Him, that i won't question where He is leading.

So, i'm holding on to His promises and who God is. In Praise Gathering at NCU yesterday, I meditated on Ecclesiastes 3, and there being a time for everything. More specifically, A time to embrace and a time to turn away and God has made everything beautiful for it's own time -Ecclesiastes 3:11. There truly is a time for everything. Even the pain. But if we are so in love with God, we won't question where He is leading but simply FOLLOW. God is faithful. He loves us. May these promises penetrate our hearts.

I feel like ending this entry with recent joys and blessings. For though this desert has been trying, God has blessed me incredibly. Here are some from the past couple days:
- driving around an amazing group of high school girls last night to distribute postcards and information about the food drive Hosanna! is doing. Though it was COLD, their desire to serve, their excitement and willingness was humbling! And such a joyful experience to witness and be apart of.
- As classes start back up, i am blessed having a dear group of friends in my program and El Ed block! Kristin, Kristina, Kelli, Amanda, Adam, Becki, Ashley, LOVE YOU ALL. Such encouragers and sources of joy.
- My passionate, joyful mentor Brianna and the words of wisdom she provides
- The constant support my best friend, Sarah provides
- Being able to worship my God. Anywhere, anytime. The richness of Praise at NCU and the beauty of worshipping in my room :)
K, random music video. But i love love Lifehouse's lyrics:
Everything i know has let me down,
so i will just let go, let You turn me inside out
Cause i know i'm not sure about anything,
but You wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Beauty of Brokenness

From the darkness of death dawns new life. From the dry, barren desert do rivers and riches eventually form and flow. From a broken and aching heart does reparation lead to restoration and ultimate healing. For isn't this essence of who God is? The one who sent His son to conquer death and bring new life? The one who gives a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. -Isaiah 41:3 The one who truly gives and takes away? Reforms, restructures, refines, repairs.

So here I stand. Reminded more and more of the beauty of death. The lovely hope found amongst brokenness. I have this...reputation, if you will, of being open. Vulnerable, willing to tell you about my life and my journey the moment you meet me. Jodi and Sarah, two of my dearest friends, have been the ones to most recently point this out to me. And while they laugh and find it boarderline crazy (haha), I have found a peace and a hope through sharing my own brokenness and current state. Though it may be a little much at times, i sense that being vulnerable is right were God wants me. If you have known me for more than, you probably know at least a little of where i'm at. I am so so so in AWE of what the Lord is doing as i admit to my brokenness. As i own my brokenness, my shortcomings, my weakness, in a public forum, even, has the Lord placed people in my life that have encouraged me through the sharing of their own brokenness and their overwhelming victories! Just yesterday, i received an inbox message from a beautiful woman i have only met a couple times at church, sharing her heart and what the Lord has done! How much hope did this message give me! A few months ago, at the lowest of lows, I met my dear friend/soul sister, Lindsay. She had felt a similar calling to let go, experienced the pain of letting go at a similar time, and shared with me her heart and a book that pointed even more to God's purpose in this painful journey (Hinds' Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard). My sweet cousin, Lindsey, my dear friend Kim, my mentors Kelly and Brianna, a few married couples (Brenton and Cristy, Ria and Josh), an old youth pastor, Dex, an amazing amazing senior/fellow Avatar lover, Bailey ;), and my Rock brothers and sisters are just some of the amazing people who God has blessed me with. Through the sharing of their own heartbreaks, hope, and encouragement.

While my openness may seem out of place, at times, or a little too personal, I have seen the beauty that comes from sharing and owning our brokenness. Truly, through the death of us, through letting go, through complete and whole surrender, does the Lord live and move us. "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness" -2 Corin 12:9 I came across this verse a few months back, that has become one of my life verses. It honestly seems to be the biggest lesson and God's desire for the season I'm in. From one of my most favorite books in the bible, Song of Songs, the verse is: "Who is this sweeping in from the desert, leaning on her lover?" -Song of Songs 8:5 Do you understand the beauty behind this verse?! The complete and utter reliance on Him?! As i meditated on this verse a couple months back, I pictured myself as I was: a complete wreck - disheveled, bruised, covered in dirt from head to toe, hair all over the place, tears streaming down my face, holding the pieces of my heart in my hands and limping, LEANING - resting on, DEPENDING on, relying on God's arm around me. Without my lover, without my God leading and supporting me, surely i would've been unable to move from the broken and dark area i was in. This is so what the Lord desires - our reliance on Him! And in this time, this beautiful brokenness, i am learning JUST that.

I dedicate this amazing song to Kristin ;)

"And the water is rising quick,
and for years i was scared of it.
We can't be sure when it will subside,
so i won't leave Your side,
no i can't leave Your side.

Hey now, this is my desire,
consume me like a fire,
cause i just want something beautiful to touch me
i know that i'm in reach,
cause i am down on my knees
waiting for something beautiful"

Running, Relief and New Starts

One of my new favorite songs: You are Faithful, sung by Jesus Culture/Kim Walker

Back to school, back to school! At the start of a new semester, I am usually feeling a mixture of things - anxiety, nervousness, excitement, the normal feelings. It's always hard knowing you're leaving a relaxing vacation and the comfort of home to head back to a busy season. But today, as i'm eating lunch and spending time in the word, I'm surprised that i'm not feeling one way or another. It's my last semester as an undergrad, my last first day in a sense. Though i know 20 credits will bring a time of busyness, i feel such a peace that can only come from Him. He has delivered me time and time again; i can only entrust this semester and each day to Him. And my dear roomies (Miss Rachel and Jodi) make it so much easier:

Running has become a new...passion? hobby? activity? of mine. (Not quite sure what to call it yet, as it's only been a few days haha :)) People keep asking me why i got into it or why i started running - mostly out of disbelief, i think. But it's such a release. I am SUCH an overthinker and tend to over analyze situations. Running helps me clear my head. I LOVE LOVE listening to worship as i run. It seriously keeps me going and it's such a way to spend time with our amazing Creator! Though i still think, at this point, that marathon runners who put themselves through that pain and awkward chafing (haha) are still a little extreme, i can understand the beauty and the passion behind runners. I'm hoping hoping to be disciplined enough to run 5 days a week, and continue throughout the semester. Thank you GOD for running - even if i do get winded after a few steps :)
One of my new favorite places: Crystal Lake Boat Launch in Apple Valley/Bville

I can not think of a better way to end such a random post than with the words of the brilliant Oswald Chambers from today's My Utmost: "Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years were a time of discipline, not a period of God's displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hope for Haiti

Image from:

How so many lives have been affected by the earthquake in Haiti. The lives that were lost and the victims that are left in the rubble and the poverty need help. My prayer for the nations, for the country, for YOU reading this, is that we feel convicted, experience a heavy burden and a broken heart for the people of Haiti. As cliche and overused as this phrase is, we can make a difference. Even sitting in our homes thousands of miles away. Please please consider donating money to organizations working in and for Haiti and it's people. Don't even think twice about it - just give. Pray on it - Lord WHAT are you asking me to give up? HOW MUCH can i give? Seriously, in whatever situation you find yourself, the Lord blesses those who give. Even more than they think they can afford to give up. As Francis Chan so eloquently puts in his book Crazy Love, "If you really want to experience God's supernatural provision, then do as He says. Test Him. Give MORE than you can manage, and see how He responds" . Oh, how He will bless you. How He will provide. Give up that cup of coffee every morning for a week. Set aside a night's tips for Haiti. Give up buying that new pair of shoes or jeans. Don't go out to eat for a week and give up that money. Just give. Think of how far a little money can go. Donations and support and prayers are so what Haiti needs. Though their hope may be shattered, how we can help in restoring that hope and that joy by showing them the generous love of God through our time and donations. By blessing them through the gifts and prosperity we have. Please please PLEASE give.

He who gives to the poor will lack nothing - Proverbs 28:27

Some donation sites:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Brutal Honesty from a Broken Heart

God, my confidence is wavering and i am so so confused. I've done what You've instructed, I've cut him out of my life completely, i've abandoned any form of friendship, i've stepped out. I've severed all ties and all contacts. Because that is what You've asked. And though it was and continues to be a painful process, i understand You're trying to protect my heart. Trying to heal it, mend it, render it closer to You. Though his absence is still unbearable at times, it's slowly been getting easier each day as You draw me near. And though I still do not completely understand why it has to be, I accept it and know it is Your will.

So why why why why did i even have to see him last night??? I was growing accustom to the idea of 'out of site, out of mind'. I was accepting it. So why did i refuse to talk to him or look at him if you're healing me? Aren't i supposed to be free from this? Is this always going to haunt me? Always? Is this another layer? Cause i am so weary. I am so tired of this pain. I trust You. Can i say that amongst all this CRAP?! I TRUST YOU. But, oh my goodness, is it HARD. Your will, God. The trust i have in You is the only thing keeping me going. You are worth it. Your plans are infinitely better and whole and more true than mine. I've sensed that this next month is going to be trying.

God, keep me trusting. My broken heart begs for this. I need You. I need You MORE everyday. You won't relent until You have it all. TAKE IT. I caught myself thinking i could try and prove myself to him. Look at how God has grown me, matured me, refined me. But GOD, help me abandon this lie. I do not need to prove anything. I do not need to gain or earn anything. I can not help anymore. I can not aid, i can not love. I CAN'T. I need to be challenged, pursued, loved where i am at, no question. I do not need to try to fix, help and mend. That is of You.

Please, take this away. Reveal Yourself. Come to my rescue.

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming rains of early spring. -Hosea 6:1-3

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rushing the Seasons

(Listen to this song, I Need You More by Kim Walker as you read this.)

Do you ever find yourself wishing you were at a different place or in a different season of life? "God, if only this semester were over" or "God, if only you would call me out of this time of singleness" or "God, i just want to be done with this job" or even "God, i just want this DAY to be over!!" Oh, what a part of human nature it is to rush the season of life we're in. We pray for deliverance, we get bogged down, even question Him. "Why, Lord, WHY have you brought this season upon me? Why must i deal with this sickness or Why must i deal with this loss, suffering, pain, hopelessness, addiction, unemployment, hurt?" Why would our Lord and Savior, who is all good, loving, and merciful allow us to walk through such painful seasons? Why do we have to see loved ones experience pain and loss?

But the Lord truly is ALL GOOD. Never lose sight of that. Have you ever noticed, in those painful seasons of life, even in those "off days", just HOW MUCH you rely on and realize your need for God? If everyday was a good day, smooth sailing, full of joy, i can honestly admit that i wouldn't realize my dire need for the Lord and His character. If i can trust God in the joyful and abundant times, shouldn't i trust Him in the hard times? For one reason or another, the Lord allows pain in our lives. Sometimes, He calls us into painful seasons. Awkward seasons of growth, painful seasons of maturing, refining, and loss. But i'm finding more and more, as i grow in relationship with Him, that He only wants to have us near. When we are hurting, He is right there to comfort us. He holds every tear that has fallen. When He calls us into difficult seasons of life, He is there every step of the way. As it says in Isaiah: When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For i am the Lord, your God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior -Isaiah 43:2-3 The Lord does not say "if" you go through deep waters or if you go through pain, but WHEN we do. Though i may not know exactly why He allows pain, i do know that we learn more about His loving and merciful ways, His all-good character, His love and desire for US.

So, do not rush this season. That is my own prayer and my prayer for any and all who read this. Seek the Lord, trust Him in this season. When you doubt, when darkness surrounds you, cry out to Him. Behold his beauty, His light, His LOVE for us. Look for His beauty and touch in this painful season - how is He growing you? Where is He refining you? In what areas is He blessing you? Let your wishes for another season or your desire to rush through the one you're in be replaced with trust and a steadfast reliance on Him. The Lord knows what you're going through. He has a plan and purpose for you in it.
The Lord is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy
-Psalm 28:7

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
-Isaiah 26:3

Side Notes:
*One of my dearest friends, Kim, made me think about this last night. Though she has gone through loss and pain of her own so recently, it was humbling to hear her find confidence in her own season. Check out her blog and keep up with her as she studies abroad in Australia here.
Photo by Justin Vagle

*I am reading/rereading some amazing books. May i recommend Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning and one of my all-time favorites: Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. Hinds' Feet was a book a dear friend of mine (Lindsay Stadler) recommended in the most painful point of this season I'm in. WOW, I can not tell you what a blessing this book is and i wholeheartedly recommend it. To anyone going through a season they may not understand or may not see God in. Or just to anyone looking for a good read. It's a beautiful allegory of the Song of Songs. I am so excited to have this opportunity to share it with two amazing girls i mentor, Kylie and Emily :) I'll definitely be posting more about this book as the three of us go through it!

*One of the songs of this season: Desert Song by Hillsong

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Wedding

Wedding Dress by Derek Webb - one of my favorite songs :) Listen to it here

I had the absolute honor of being a part of two of my dear friends' wedding day - to share in the day that marked the joining of their lives and being able to rejoice with them! Chana and Zach Johnston, what a beautiful couple and a beautiful wedding day in Jamaica. This couple and their sweet, abundance of love for each other is such a beautiful reminder of how faithful the Lord is. Their love is but a glimpse of how much the Lord's love overflows and surrounds us! Honestly, Chana and Zach's relationship has been such an encouragement to me, especially in my own broken season. How my heart soars and smiles thinking that the two are now one!

Chana and Zach: August 2009

Chan and Zach decided to have a destination wedding and got married on the BEACH in Jamaica this past Thursday. The whole morning was spent in preparation for the wedding - doing our hair, ironing Chana's dress, putting on the make-up, typical wedding stuff. Though we were pushed for time at the end, and Chana so anxiously awaited the moment she could finally meet her lover at the altar, the time spent getting ready was beautiful. Chana is such a lovely bride - i lost it as i watched her getting her hair done! She was and is a vision of beauty and has such a strong love for her husband and serving the Lord. How BLESSED i am to have such a dear friend as her :)!
Chan cried during the entire ceremony - sweet tears of joy and gratitude at how the Lord had provided and given the two to each other. How beautiful were the details of their special day - from the letter Zach had written his future wife when he was 14, Chan's vows to Zach and the fact that Zach was her first and will be her last kiss, the song Zach wrote for his beloved, the moment Zach got to life the veil covering Chana's face and gaze upon his bride. God created such a perfect day weather wise, too - sunny and warm with a light breeze, accompanying the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the beach.
Weddings are such an exquisite representation of the Lord and the church - the bridegroom of Christ. The union, the unconditional love - for better or worse, through sickness, health, sorrow, despair, joy, prosperity, that love everlasting. My prayer for Chana and Zach, as with any married couple, is for their relationship to be rooted in the Lord and his overflowing love. For their marriage to build each other up, to sharpen each other, encourage each other, and teach each other. But most importantly, may their love and marriage point to Christ. May it's sole purpose be to serve Him and His people, to minister to the broken, and reach out to the lost.
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you - Isaiah 62:5
I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. - Hosea 2:19-20
Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it - Song of Songs 8:7

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Songs and Seasons

I am a lover of music. There's nothing better than songs that are so brilliantly written, combining clever lyrics and music - two of my most favorite forms of art. The way they move people, inspire people, evoke emotion, bring people together. I find myself, like many others, identifying with songs that seem such a match for the particular season or place of life I'm in. I cherish those moments when you discover a song - whether on accident, through a friend, or browsing through your music library and rediscovering songs once love - that speak RIGHT TO YOU! Like, someone looked into your heart, saw your struggles, joys, right where you're at, and wrote a song. I get such a thrill looking up lyrics to song, studying them almost, and getting a better grasp on what the song is about or why it was written. And yes, i have been known to replay a song over and over and over and over again...i can not get enough of them!

In this season of life, the time i would refer to as my time in the desert (Hosea 2:14, Song of Songs 8:5), there have been quite a few songs that speak right to my heart. What the Lord is doing in me and around me, is ASTOUNDING. He is taking this sinner's heart, this numb soul and transforming them. Maturing them, refining them. As I'll probably talk about quite of few of this season's songs, I wanted to start by sharing one that not only speaks to where I'm at, but inspires me. Sing my Love by Kim Walker/Jesus Culture (Listen to it here). Oh, what truths does this song speak of. And what PASSION does Kim Walker sing with. I smile every time i hear her laugh in the recordings. She is overflowing with joy. She is singing to our Lord.

Some of the lyrics:
"Words can never say the way He says my name,
He calls me lovely.
No one ever sees, the way He looks at me
He sees me wholly.
Words can never hold this love that burns my soul,
heaven holds me."

But truthfully, do you understand?
The way He sees us? He sees us wholly - everything we are ashamed of and try to hide, the quirky parts of us we're afraid to share with those around us. He sees the whole thing. ALL of us. He sees us for what we are - disgusting and unworthy sinners. And still, STILL He calls us lovely. He looks at us, past the sin and struggles, addictions and strife, and calls us, LOVES us. Does that not just blow your mind?! He chose us, and calls us lovely. Pursues us. And words can not do His astounding love justice.

"You would not believe the way He touches me,
He burns right through me.
and i could not forget, every word He said
He always knew me.
the earth could never hold, this love that burns my soul
heaven holds me."

He always knew us. Always. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him - 1 John 3:1 The earth can not contain this love. It can not hold it, nor can it extinguish this great love.

"Can't hold my love back from You,
I can't hold my love back from You,
I gotta sing, i gotta sing,
sing my love"

Mmm, can't you sense the joy?! I remember driving home a month or so ago from 24 music-less hours, spent in silence and basking in the Lord. This song came to mind, and i sang my heart out, full of the JOY, in awe of just how much the Lord LOVES us. How can we not sing of His love?! How can we not worship Him, dance for Him, sing to Him, pray to Him out of LOVE and admiration?!

"I can't hold my praise back from You,
I gotta shout my praise...
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord
my soul makes, makes it's boast in the Lord"
-Kim Walker

"My soul will boast in the Lord,
let the afflicted hear and rejoice" - Psalm 34:2

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying :
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness" - Jeremiah 31:3

This song reminds me that, no matter what the season, the Lord's love remains. He loves loves LOVES us. How often do we loose sight of this? He loves us more than we could ever imagine. What better way to thank Him than worshipping Him and letting our hearts rest in peace, knowing His marvelous love.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Mm, traveling. One of my most favorite things. My dream is to live simply and spend all my money on seeing the world. Forget the big house, the nice cars, and the "American dream". I want to see the world and stand in awe of the beauty, the people, the different ways of life. Every time i go someplace, i am reminded of the Lord's splendor. His visions, His arts - it's so apparent in the landscapes and places. Anywhere you go! I LOVE standing in front of an ocean, walking along the beach and admiring the vastness - our God is HUGE! I have yet to spend a long period of time in a country, but it is one of my dreams.
My dad has worked for the airlines for years and years, so my family has been blessed with free airline tickets and being able to travel a TON! As the new year began, I was reflecting on the places i had been over the past year alone. My next trip: Jamaica on TUESDAY! Two of my dearest friends are about to start their life together and getting married on the BEACH. Ah, what a blessing it will be to share in their special day! Check out Chana and Zach's blog here.

Here are the places i've been since December 2008:
New Zealand - December 2008 (with the family)

Australia - December 2008

Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo) - March 2009, to visit my best friend, Sarah
Copper Falls & Duluth - July 2009 (with three of my best friends: Allison, Cassie and Kim)
Sanibel Island, Florida - August 2009 (with my brother and dad)
San Francisco, California - October 2009 (with my cousin Lindsey)

Pacem in Terris - December 2009 (a hermitage/retreat center)

Hawaii - December 2009 (with my dad)
Thank you, God for the splendors and sites of this world!

"Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of Your wings!"
-Psalm 36:5-7

Friday, January 1, 2010

Worshipping in the New Year

My one and only New Year's Resolution: Create a blog. More specifically, create a blog that reflects on the blessings, works and wonders of the Lord. How i see Him moving in my life and the lives of others. The questions and uncertainties i have, the mysteries and beauty of faith and life in Him. Ultimately, my New Year's Resolution is to glorify Him over anything and everything else.

What a blessing and honor it was to ring in the New Year, helping lead worship with two lovely women (Amanda Davis and Bryten Reuter) at God's Barn. What an amazing place! It had been about four years since i had visited God's Barn - boy, was i in AWE at how God has worked in that place and in the people. He has given the Leebins an extraordinary gift and hearts so on fire and ready to serve anyone that walks through the doors. I must admit, i was a bit surprised when i walked in, ready to worship, and saw less than 15 people there. I caught myself thinking, 'Alright God, small crowd. What are you planning?' But nonetheless, we worshipped together. We came to the Heart of Worship, sang to our Savior, and brought in the New Year worshipping our Creator! Afterwards, a few people shared their testimonies and how God had broken down hard hearts, healed and forgiven. We had the opportunity to lay hands on and welcome a woman in to knowing and accepting Christ. She kept saying, "I just want MORE." I got this image of a small flame she had once hidden and suppressed with alcohol and temporary escapes, being uncovered and yearning to be fed. She had a craving for MORE, to know Him more. Already, she was aware that the Lord causes everything to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). I am so EXCITED to see where her new passion for Him, this new life and new year will lead her. How her history, her hurt, her struggles and overcoming of addictions will BLESS those around her. This woman is exactly why there were less than 15 people present. The environment was intimate and welcoming and the Lord prompted her to share and receive healing and NEW LIFE!

Mmm, what an amazing start. Though i had apprehension when agreeing to help with worship, i trusted Him. God's Barn is the place, four very short years ago, i had been getting to know and grow in relationship with the man i thought was the love of my life. How haunting memories can be. But, one thing the Lord has been teaching me in the process of healing and letting go, is that when we are obedient to Him, he is able to work and truly blesses us. I went to worship. Instead of being bombarded by painful memories, I saw restoration, healing and beauty in the lives of many! God's Barn isn't just a place i met a wonderful man, it's a place that God works and moves. Heals and refines.

So, welcome 2010. Hello, blog. Here, i will behold the Beloved. Marvel at His works. 2009 has led me to a desert time, where the Lord has been maturing my heart. Teaching me the beauty of obedience, weakness and His relentless, unconditional LOVE.

Since i am a lover of photography, music, and words, I hope to include a song, lyrics, scripture and/or a picture with every post. My prayer for you all, is that you come back to the heart of worship:

"I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus. I'm sorry Lord, for the thing i've made it. When it's all about You, it's all about You."