Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's okay to ask why.

For the last six days, the United States has been reeling with grief after the slaughter of twenty precious children and six adults, many of whom died as heroes.

I've shed many tears this week and asked many questions of the Lord about why things like this happen.  I have been reminded of how much Christ loves children and how He is also grieving over the callousness and brokenness of this world in which we live.  In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  God loved every single child and every victim of the shooting in Connecticut last week. 

December 15 was the five-year anniversary of the death of a sweet friend of mine.  Remembering Gatlin and still hurting over the decision that he made to end his own life while watching the world weep over the loss of twenty first-graders made this week a time of both grief and further understanding of the Lord's faithfulness.

Job 1:21
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

Psalm 62:5
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 27:13
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord.

As long as we live in a broken world, there will be death.  There will be grief.  There will be great sorrow.  These are the unfortunate consequences of being broken people surrounded by our own sin.  But there is hope

The love of God is bigger than tragedy, bigger than grief, bigger than terror.  His love conquers death.  He holds victory over the enemy.  He extends grace to the broken.  He comforts the hurting.  He gives rest to the weary.

The love of our God is bigger than the shooting in Connecticut.  The love of our God is bigger than the destitution and poverty in Africa.  The love of our God is bigger than the brokenness of this world.  And because He is bigger, there is hope.

He is faithful.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Before the Mediator

You have probably heard the story of Job.  He was a righteous man blessed greatly by God until Satan asked for permission to afflict him.  He took away Job's family, his servants, his wealth, and finally even his health.  Job 2:7-10 says, "So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.  Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.  His wife said to him, "Are you still maintaining your integrity?  Curse God and die!"  He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman.  Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?""

Eventually, a few of Job's best friends came to visit him.  They wept at the sight of their dear friend in a near-death state, grieving over his losses and in terrible pain, but their pity soon turned to accusations, and they harshly told Job that his sufferings were punishments from God because of his wickedness.  Job was clearly in a state of terrible emotional and physical pain.  He didn't understand why he suffered so greatly after trying so hard to live a righteous life.  He questioned God in frustration and sorrow, asking Him to give reason for what happened, but until the end of the book, Job encountered only silence.

Job yearned for something that reached beyond the covenant of his time, beyond the sacrifices and legalism and religion that he had followed so devoutly his entire life.  In Job 9:32-35, he said about God, "He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer Him, that we might not confront each other in court.  If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that His terror would frighten me no more.  Then I would speak up without fear of Him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot."

This was before the coming of Jesus, before God extended His grace upon us so that we only need to place faith in His Son in order to receive right standing before Him.  Job was a man of the Lord.  He loved God in such a pure and righteous way that he could clearly identify His glory and might... and he also identified what he was missing in his relationship with the Lord.  A mediator. 

As humans, we have broken God's law and fallen from right standing with Him.  If we were taken to court, there is no way we could stand on our own.  God is a just judge and we deserve to be punished.  This is why Jesus died for us and took our place, taking our sins upon Himself.  Three days later, He came back to life, and now if we put our faith in Him, we will be saved.  This is the Gospel. 

Job, through his pain and grief, could see the value and necessity of a mediator.  He knew the old covenant needed to change.  He sought a relationship with God, not as only a servant, but as a son.

Eventually, as the story goes, God answered Job, reminding him that His plans are so much bigger than what we can ever grasp.  Although He was angry with Job's judgmental friends, He had mercy on them and forgave them.  He replenished Job's blessings and allowed him to have more wealth than he ever had before and many more precious children.  Clearly, even before Jesus came to earth, God was a compassionate, loving God.  He is unchanging through the old testament and the new.

Although Job was able to talk to God and was extended compassion, he longed for what was to come: a Mediator who would stand for us in love and strength and bring us to a place of purity and righteousness before the Lord.  What a beautiful gift the Gospel is.  We serve a mighty, compassionate God of love who delights in having a strong relationship with His children.

And even when we face troubles that are difficult to bear, the Lord is holding us close.  He is still compassionate.  And still He loves us.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Biggest Attack Against Christians

I once read that Satan's greatest tool against Christians is isolation.

We were never meant to bear burdens on our own. Isolation, suffering in silence, and feeling as if no one understands are all lies from the enemy.

Before I gave my life to Christ, I felt entirely and completely alone, like there was no one on this earth who could understand what I was going through. In reality, there were several people around me who would have eagerly embraced me and been there for me while I struggled, but as I stood falteringly and stubbornly on my pedestal of isolation, I blinded myself to the fact that I was not alone.

As a senior in high school, I confessed to my best friend for the first time that I struggled with self-injury for all of junior high. She had no idea. I expected her to take the news in stride, since it had been so many years. However, my friend was angry with me and began to cry real tears at the depth of my hidden struggles. "You should have opened up to me," she said. "I would have been there for you."

Hebrews 10:23-25 says, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another."

One way to isolate yourself is to become too busy. Beth Moore wisely said, "Insisting on being ten places at once for twenty hours a day for weeks on end will ultimately make aloneness almost intolerable." When you fill up your schedule in order to keep from facing the reality of your problems when you are alone or the vulnerability of one-on-one conversations with friends and during quiet times with the Lord, you will lose track of the meaning and value of rest. Your burdens will become unbearable; you will ache to feel the Lord's nearness and feel confused when you cannot find it because you continue to push Him out of your schedule.

Rest is a gift from the Lord. If our own Creator took a full day out of the week to rest, how can we expect to live a healthy and joyful life without doing the same? When we force ourselves to become too busy to spend quiet time with our Savior, to face our problems with strength and courage in the Lord, and to unite with a community that has been given to us, we are missing out on the fullness of life.

One of my very favorite verses is Matthew 11:28-30, which says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

We were not made for loneliness. We were not made to bear heavy burdens alone. Jesus is eager and willing to take our burdens from us and give us a new hope in Him. We have been given a beautiful community of brothers and sisters so that we can pray for each other and experience the joy of unity and fellowship.

Instead of packing your schedule to the point of exhaustion and no sleep, trust that the Lord will multiply your efforts and reward you for resting and putting faith in Him. Deliberately set aside time each morning to have one-on-one conversation with your Father. One of my favorite quotes is by Martin Luther, who says, "Work, work, from morning until late at night. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer."

Rejoice in the community around you. Be vulnerable. Be filled with truth. Soak in communion with the Lord, who longs to hold you and daily carry your burdens, as Psalm 68:19 says.

You are not alone. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just love.

I read a blog post today that absolutely touched my heart.  It's called "Want to change the world in 3.2 seconds?"  I'll share part of this below.

Usain Bolt is a Jamaican Olympian who has won gold medals.  
How do you change the world in 3.2 seconds?

You do something kind that is unnecessary and unexpected.

Which is exactly what Usain Bolt did.

Before one of his races, he walked to the start line. He was on the verge of something he’d been preparing for his entire life. In a matter of seconds, a gun would sound that launched him and every one of his competitors around the track in a mad dash toward gold.

What did he do?

He turned around and fist bumped the lane official.

A guy most racers thought was invisible.

A guy most television cameras completely skipped over.

A guy that is so far into the background of the moment that he’s not even an “extra” in the scene.
Usain turned and did something unnecessary and unexpected. He didn’t need to do that. No one would have criticized him for ignoring the race official. That sort of gesture was not necessary or expected, but he made it anyway.

What was the result?


Pure, unabashed, unashamed joy.

This is precious.  Look at the reaction of the lane official.  He is about to explode with excitement because one of his heroes, one of the fastest men on the planet, took the time to simply acknowledge him.  The simplest gesture of kindness brought that fantastic smile.   

It is so easy to forget our calling of kindness.  When we wander about, focused on work and school and stress, it's really not difficult at all to completely zone out and forget to acknowledge the people struggling alongside us.  The purpose of our lives on this earth is not to make it through life on this earth.  It's to love God and to love people, even when it means sacrificing our own comfort.

Kindness is so very important.

Colossians 3:12 says, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

We are called to consistently strive to love people, not ignore them, not brush them off, not snap at them when things don't go our way.  Will we mess this up?  Of course.  We're broken, so very broken, and thankfully God's grace is so much bigger than our imperfections.  However, we must try, asking the Lord to shine through us even on our worst of days.

We are called to love. 

Say thank you and mean it.  Tip your waitress, even if she messes up your order.  Smile at people walking by.  Sacrifice time, energy, money, comfort, if that's what needs to happen in order to spread kindness and make somebody else feel loved.

One of my favorite verses of all times (it's referenced in my header), is Matthew 5:14, which says, "You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden."  When people look at you, they should not only see you.  They should see Christ.  They should see light.  They should see love.

Matthew 5:14 is my life verse in a lot of ways, not because I fulfill it so strikingly, but rather because I am so far from what it describes.  It is what I daily plead with the Lord to grow me to be.  I yearn so much to be a light for Christ, a trail of stardust leading to the sun that He is, the sand that is a simple and lovely reminder that there is a beautiful ocean within reach.  And I am learning.

Whether it's a fist bump, a cup of coffee, or the friendliest smile you could possibly hope to muster on a rough day, take the time to make someone remember that Someone loves them.

The same God who made thunderstorms and nebulas and flowers and mountains made each person on this planet in His own image and desires to adopt us as His own children.  This is something people deserve to know. 

Just love.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More than a rose.

Once upon a time, there was a Gardener.  He owned a beautiful garden filled with the loveliest of flowers.  On a small plot in this garden, he planted a single rosebush seed.  The plant quickly sprang to life.  Each morning, the Gardener came to water and sing to the rosebush.  He loved her and she felt it with all of her being.

One day, a neighborhood boy climbed over the fence uninvited.  He stood in the garden and gazed around him at the splendor and beauty the Gardener had created and longed to take some of this beauty for himself.  The rosebush hoped he would sing to her just like the Gardener did, but instead of singing, he pulled a pocketknife from the depth of his overalls and clipped a flower right off the rosebush.

She recoiled in pain and shock, astonished that he would take from her so carelessly.  The boy did not seem to realize that the rosebush was more than just her flowers, that there was so much more of her beneath the ground.  The petals of the stolen flower would soon wither into husks, but the boy did not mind.  He quickly climbed back over the fence so the Gardener would not see what he had done.

But the Gardener did see.

A few weeks later, another neighborhood boy sneaked into the garden, clearing the white picket fence and taking in the beauty of the flowers around him.  He paused at the sight of the lovely rosebush.  He felt desire, so he reached down and began to tear her right out of the ground.  The boy saw the Gardener standing watch nearby and fled, leaving the rosebush torn almost to pieces.  Her petals were trampled into the dirt, her roots laid bare under the scorching sun.  

The Gardener stood over her, tears running down his weathered cheeks.  "I've hurt like this before," he said.  "You were beautiful when you were only a seed and you are beautiful now, as you are."  And he carefully planted the rosebush back into the ground, pruning her in ways that hurt and healed, singing in a voice that felt more loving than it ever had before.  The song that the Gardener whispered over her was one of beauty and grace.

It took more than a few days, but the rosebush began to grow again.  Timidly and falteringly, she allowed new flowers to open to the sun.  With each morning, with each new song sung over her, she began to smile at the Gardener as freely as she once had before.  And she was daily reminded that she was created beautiful.

One day, a new boy entered the garden, although this one entered through the gate.  He knelt next to the rosebush, but he simply admired the beauty that the Gardener had created in her.  After a while, he began to sing.  His voice was not as rich as the Gardener's, but it was kind.  The boy soon explained, "The Gardener has adopted me and made me his son.  He has been teaching me what it means to care for a garden, how to cherish without destroying, how to love what he has made beautiful.  He asked me to care for a small plot of land in his garden, and he told me I could place you there."

Gently and carefully, the boy used a spade to unearth the little rosebush.  The Gardener had shown him just how to raise a garden, how there was so much more to a rosebush than her pretty flowers.  The boy placed the rosebush into a plot right in the center of the Gardener's land, right beside his own cottage.  "I will sing to you every day," he told her.

The Gardener continued to visit the rosebush each morning.  After all, he had grown her from a seed, he had restored her when she had been tread into the dirt, when her flowers had been stripped away.  She was precious to him.  And his voice was precious to the rosebush; she knew it well.  She began to also recognize and love the voice of the Gardener's son.  He sang to her joyfully and saw the rosebush as truly beautiful, just as the Gardener had made her.

The boy saw more than a rose.  He saw her heart.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I lie awake and wonder.
There is much I do not know:
How to love all people
And where my life will go.
People ask me questions
And answer them, I try.
Why were we created?
What happens when we die?
Sometimes bad things happen,
Things that break my heart.
How can I keep my mind
Around life when it's so hard?
And how can I explain it,
That God is bigger still?
He seeks and finds the broken.
The empty cup He fills.
Of many things, I wonder,
But I have seen His love.
He cherishes us endlessly.
His presence is enough.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Father, Come

I wrote a new song a few days ago.  It's called "Father, Come."  I went ahead and posted it on YouTube, so feel free to check it out, even though the sound quality isn't the best. 

Father, Come

I yearn for You, Your sweet touch,
The fire in those eyes that scream out love.
Radiance, God above, restore me to You.
Cleanse me in Your truth.

Father, Healer, You light up my world and bring me joy.
Daddy, Beloved, bring me from this place where I have run.
Let Your Spirit always be eough.
Father, Father, come.

I break to pieces under Your gaze.
You make me whole again. I'm unafraid.
Precious Lamb, You died for me.
So I'll dance under the stars,
Praising everything You are.


I cling to You, Daddy, like a child, like a child.
I run, heart abandoned. I'm Your bride. I'm Your bride.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Broken Words

I still miss him.

It's funny; okay, it isn't funny at all.  It's strange, I mean, that nearly five years have passed and I still think about him all the time.  I suppose I can't know if I was one of his best friends, but he was certainly one of mine, especially in seventh and eighth grade.  We were close friends as young teenagers, still a little lost and struggling to discover exactly who we were. 

And sometimes things were so very hard. 

I would talk to him in broken words, and cry with real tears and say, "I want to give up."  And he would stand stronger than me. 

Some days he would write me, hurting, and I would try my best to make things better.  He said it helped.  I hope it did.  

We were friends, he and I.  He was one of my best friends at the time; I didn't have many friends.  He had more than he realized.  That was made evident at his funeral, by the tears and the flowers and the hundreds of students that gathered to remember his life and grieve over his death.

It was his choice, his death.  That's what makes it still hard.  I couldn't understand why someone so loved and so talented and so special would take his own life like he did.  He was my friend; I was his friend.  How was that not enough?  In my darkest moments, even a single friend was enough to keep me strong.  He had friends even closer to him than I was.  His family was precious.  How did that not keep him from making his choice? 

I still dream about him.  I still regret not finding help for him.  I still regret not finding the strength to risk our friendship and talk to an adult.  Mistakes were made.  So many mistakes.  And he is gone.

I still miss him.

Today would have been his twentieth birthday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Using your voice this Election Day.

Everyone seems to be posting about the election on Facebook and Twitter.  Every single news outlet is exploding.  Politics has to be one of the easiest way to raise conflict.  Mention a few trigger subjects: abortion, gay marriage, racism, feminism, the economy, and everyone seems to feel an overwhelming compulsion to share their personal opinion.  The American people have been given a voice and we certainly like to use it.

Today I am asking you to use your voice beyond Facebook and beyond even your vote.  Before you turn to a word war on a social media site, before you call a friend and complain about the state of our nation, before you engage in one of the thousands of heated conversations about politics and who you're voting for (a conversation that most people will probably have today), I challenge you to spend time using your voice in prayer.

If you have not spent time on your face today pleading with God to place His hand on the election, then you are doing something terribly wrong.  Kneel with me in prayer right now and ask God to:
  1. Bring wisdom and discernment to the heart of every voter
  2. To allow the candidate who will best govern our nation be elected as president (and to bring the much-needed truth of the Gospel into the lives of both candidates)
  3. That the Lord will help His people reflect a love and respect so foreign to this election process that everyone will wonder what makes us different so that the Gospel will be spread to every corner of our nation.
Spend time in prayer today, not in useless arguments.  Titus 3:8-9 says, "I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.  ...But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless."   

1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect."  

Remember that the focus of today should not be the election or being right in a debate or pledging allegiance to a nation.  The focus of today is to share the Gospel, to serve Christ, and to love others.  In the frenzy of election day, don't forget that. 

Regardless of the outcome of this election, we can rest in the assurance that our God is sovereign.  Our God is good.  Our God will provide for us.  Everything will be okay because we have been rescued and redeemed by the Creator of the world.  His plan is so much bigger than the next four years.

Trust Him.  He is good.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Adoption

The little girl is ashamed of the mud smudging her cheeks, the tear tracks, the grime.  Her hair has been chopped off and left in piles on the floor.  She is a sheep shorn, a flower tread into the ground.  She knows she looks a mess with her muddy bare feet and torn dress, but only knowing can't change how things are. 

She gazes around her at the walls of the orphanage.  An artist has painted lovely murals over the brick and plaster: rainbows, flower gardens, sea shores, and farm yards.  As magical as the painted walls appear, the prettiest of paintings remain only a lonely reflection of the beauties that exist outside, just out of reach.

In the orphanage, other little girls and boys live in similar states of disarray.  All wander in hopes of discovering purpose, birds that have fallen from their nests, seeds scattered in the wind.  The little girl once lived like this, striving to find purpose in things that never mattered, like her long locks of hair.  Like the calm and pretty mask she sets before her eyes at the start of each morning to hide the blackened mess inside, a reminder of the loveliness of the walls around her that bring little more than aches and yearnings for truth. 

No more.  Earlier this day, the little girl took a pair of rusty scissors and cut each pretty curl from her head, one-by-one.  She feels shattered, unlovable, dirty.

Footsteps cause the little girl to look up with surprise.  A man stands in the doorway, watching with eyes that burn and heal all at once.  "I've come for you," he says in a soft voice.

The little girl shakes her head.  She is a glass of water spilled upon the ground, a flower opening to the sun.  Does the man not see her filthiness, what she has done to herself?  No one should touch her, let alone speak to her so gently, so kindly, but he does.

The man walks into the room with purpose and strength.  His eyes gaze eagerly into the little girl's, seeking to break through her masks, for there are many, and into her heart.  He kneels on the ground, despite the dirt and filth and shame, and lifts the child into his arms.  "I've come for you because I love you.  I am your father."

A thrill of joy bursts within the little girl's very being, a hand gripped in love, a ray of sunshine, a laugh as uninhibited as the sky.

As the father carries his daughter away from the loneliness and empty promises of the orphanage, she sees the sky for the first time.  The real sky.  It is so very blue.  The grass is so very soft.  The painted walls of the orphanage did little to capture the beauty of the outside world; they seem pale and meaningless compared to all she sees now.

"I want to learn to love like you do," the daughter says.

The father smiles at her.  How he delights in her.  "My child, I'll show you every day." 

Adopted.  Redeemed.  Embraced into arms so loving that she knows she is no longer broken.  The daughter is awed; she gazes around her with wide, clear eyes, no masks to be found.

"I'm so glad you're mine."  The father places a flower in his daughter's hair.  Her locks are still shorn, but she is beautiful as she frolics in the sunlight that flushes her cheeks.  She is already growing, already healing. 

The daughter smiles.  For the first time in her life, she feels worth.  She is pure, a flower tilted towards the sun, a heartbeat, a planted seed that will one day become a towering oak.  "Father," she whispers, simply because she can.  She belongs.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pearls (A Poem About Waiting)


God chose someone. I know that.
"Just wait, be good," they all say.
Add pearls to my hope chest, 
Hide yearnings in my heart.
God made him, someone special, 
To fit me in every way; he will.
I'll love him. We'll smile. 
The time is just not now.
But when?
These are the whispers of a little girl.
I'm waiting. I'm saving. I'm singing,
But Jesus, I do wonder.
I want to meet you. 
I want to know things about you.
I want to say your name out loud and not feel silly.
I want to laugh with you, 
Hold your hand and dance around the room,
Tell you things nobody else has never known about me. 
I want to listen. I want to be there,
An umbrella when it's raining, 
Your smiling flower when it's sunny.
I'll be yours. You'll be mine, 
A reflection of all He ever planned.
I don't know if we've met, but when we do,
I'll be here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fill Me

What I am about to share is written like a poem, but it has absolutely no specific rhythm or rhyme.  I know some poems are that way, but more than anything, I see this as a prayer.  This is something I wrote during a quiet time with Jesus today (rather, very early this morning).  I wouldn't always share private times, but I see this as a kind of encouragement, whispers of my heart that may reflect yours. 

Fill Me
And what is left but to tearfully say,
"Take every part of me. Breathe Your grace into me."
I'm broken. I'm empty. I've fallen. I'm dust.
So break every part of me. Fill me with You.
This world, it has nothing to offer,
Only broken promises and dreams on the ground.
Yet You raise me to life. You sing to me.
My fragile dreams; You paint life, beauty, hope.
I throw aside the vastness of all of Your grace
And instead dress in ashes. I bear stones of shame.
You take them, each pebble. You wash them away.
My name, You whisper. I am made anew. 
Father, watch me dance. Daddy, here I am.
How I thirst to look into those eyes, Your eyes.
I'm Yours, small and empty, a vessel You fill.
My hand on my heart, how You breathe.
See me. See me. My tears, everything.
The wonder of You like dew to my soul.
Once I trembled, shattered to pieces again. Again.
You have made me whole. You claimed me.
Father, Daddy, please fill me with You.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Garden

My walk with the Lord moves through seasons.  This is a natural part of life on earth.  Moments, feelings, memories change and stay the same all at once.

Some days, I am enamored with my Savior.  I cling to Him with joy and passion from the moment I open my eyes in the morning until the moment I go to bed that night.  How I love Him.  I feel His unfailing love for me, cherishing me, holding me as the apple of His eye.  I dance for Him.  Daddy, watch me run.  Hear me sing.  Lift me onto Your knee.  And He does.

Other days are harder.  A ridge in the path causes me to stumble.  A relationship falters.  Something breaks my heart.  Consumed by emotion and confusion, I turn on Him, demanding answers.  He has always been my Redeemer, the One who rescues me.  Where is my Rock today?  I weep, I withdraw, I vent.  And yet He holds me. 

There are even seasons of apathy.  The world is filled with sharp stones and heavy bricks that stoop my frail shoulders if I do not allow my Father to take them from me.  The Word holds less meaning for me during those days.  My relationship with Jesus becomes one of routine and responsibility, rather than one of passion and intimacy.  In these times, I no longer feel like I am a newlywed, frolicking as one who is treasured by the One.  I am only tired.  And so I distance myself from Him.  And He whispers to me still.

During the more difficult seasons, especially those of weariness and gray thoughts, a tremor begins to make its way through my heart until it is the only thing I can feel.  I grasp at the air.  I thirst; oh, how I long to feel what I once did for my precious Father.  So I plead with Him in a rasping, broken voice that mirrors the fractured pieces of my heart.  Return to me.  Return to me, Daddy.  How I need You.

And like a child who feels needlessly lost and abandoned within a store while his mother watches smilingly down the aisle, I am swept up into His arms, lost in the mirth and endless depth of His eyes.  Those eyes.

Oh, beloved, I have been here all along.  Why did you fear?  I made you a promise.

Then I remember.  His voice, His touch, His gaze.  My name.  How did I ever lose sight of all that gives me sustenance?

Father.  Beloved.  I bury my face in His chest, allow His passion to overwhelm my heart until I overflow like a glass emptied into the loveliest of gardens.  He gently washes away my burdens and shame as if they are merely dust on the shoes of one who has traveled for miles.  He whispers my name.  I sing to Him.  Such joy.

The passion does not always come easily.  It does not always come like a fountain, an unexpected thrill, a brand new song.  There are days when my love for Him feels like a worn garment draped uselessly over my trembling shoulders.  Seasons come and go.  My earthly emotions may sift like sand, but He remains the same.  And through the storms, the driest deserts, and the richest of gardens, still He holds me. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Precious Father, how I've faltered,
Yet You've never left my side.
You lifted me up from the ashes
You called me Your Bride.
Let my life bring You glory.
This is all that I desire.
You are worthy to be praised, Lord,
So light with me Your fire.


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Taste of Encouragement

If you are struggling at this moment with doubts or discouragements or fears, let me encourage you.

The Lord delights in bringing joy and peace to you.  He not only lavishes His love upon us out of mercy, but out of delight.  His love is incomprehensible, indescribable.  He longs to bring healing and joy and wholeness into your life. 

Isaiah 30:18
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!

Don't give up hope today.  

You may be going through the darkest trial of your life.  It may simply be "one of those days" where nothing seems to go right.  No matter where you live, exams are probably coming up.  Balancing classes and studying and organizations and schedules can be so stressful, but remember why you were created.

You are loved.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Room

The rain has not ceased for days.  My hair is plastered against my head.  Rivulets of water stream down my cheeks and catch in my eyelashes.  I peer through the window.  The scene inside is lovely and warm.  Light like honey glows from within, warming my face and drawing an aching from the depths of my heart.

Gentle thunder rumbles overhead.  I shiver.  So long I've been standing outside, waiting to be allowed into the lit room.  As if far away, I hear the music, the laughter.  Sometimes the window is cracked open, just far enough for me to smell the feast and to hear the words spoken so joyfully from the inside.  Muffled, soft, but they cause my heart to sing and break at the same time. 

I reach my hand towards the window and it shuts with a clap, leaving nothing but the memory of the room's warmth to flush my cheeks.  I press my palm flat against the glass. 

How am I not seen?  Why am I still outside?

Empty promises.  Hopes that fall to the ground like the rain around me, left to gather at my naked feet.  I'm wearing my prettiest dress.  I so wanted to look my best.

Not enough.

Still, I stand outside, looking in with vague hopes of welcome.  I can never hear all that is spoken, nor can I ever feel the true comfort of the fire.  How I desire to sit near the hearth and eat of the feast inside.  But it isn't mine and it isn't to be, though I once thought it was.

Tilting my face to the sky, I close my eyes and allow the rain to strike my skin, wash me clean.  Make me forget.  Forget what?  That I wasn't invited.  The confusion.  The hurt.  Oh, the quiet whispers of the rain. 

I take a halting step backwards, my soaked dress heavy against my skin.  My bare feet are soft against the slick stones beneath them.  One more look into the lit room that is never to be mine.  The lantern inside flushes my cheeks for the last time.  How I long to be a part of that room, of that feast, but the room is not mine.  The name sung is not my own.

Perhaps somewhere, another block or another town, there is a room where I belong with a song sung only for me.  Perhaps I will be welcomed inside, embraced and wrapped in a warm cloak.  No more rain.  No more cold.  Perhaps.  Or perhaps I am meant for the air, for the rain, for the gentle embrace of the sky above.

My hand falls from the pane of the window, coming to rest at my side.

The rain still falls.  I walk slowly, weary under the weight of the hopes I've carried, broken by the empty meaning of my drenched white dress.  But a song whispers into my heart, lifting my spirit.  My name.  My song.  I am desired.  I do belong, somewhere. 

So I walk.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


"Spin me around, Daddy."

As a little girl, one of my biggest delights was when my father would lift me into his arms and spin me around.  I felt as if I was soaring through the air, as fast and as high as a bird, but I was never afraid as long as my daddy's arms held me close.  I knew he would not drop me.

When I was young, very young, I imagined God as a jolly, wise figure, almost like Santa Claus.  When I was afraid or sad, I would close my eyes and imagine myself enveloped within His arms, resting my cheek against the warmth and fatherly strength of His chest.  I imagined feeling His heart beat, flushing with joy under the love in His gaze.

As a little girl, I only knew God as Daddy.

Years passed and I began to turn away from the faith of my childhood.  I didn't have the same trust in Father-God anymore and for a time I also lost faith in my earthly father.  As I grew in stature, I knew that if my daddy tried to spin me around, his strength would falter.  I was not a little girl anymore.  I was too heavy, too big.  My name for my father changed from Daddy to Dad.  My name for God turned from Daddy to Judge.

The God I saw in my classes at school and in the early books of the Bible seemed like a harsh, angry being who encouraged legalism and hated people who made mistakes... and I knew I made so many.  I dreaded His wrath.  When I saw the hurting in the world, I could not find His mercy.

When I was fourteen years old, I gave my life to the Lord and began to eagerly seek Him through His Word.  Throughout the entirety of the Bible, in Leviticus, in Isaiah, in Song of Solomon, in 1 Corinthians, I finally saw one God.  I saw a just God who is also a God of love.  He is ever-faithful and a Father who accepted me as His child with delight.  He is worthy. 

As I further grew in the Lord, I also grew closer to my own father.  Although I no longer leaped into his arms so he would spin me in circles and throw me into the air, I would take his hand.  I was still his little girl.  I'd look to him for guidance and wisdom.  I wanted to be like him. 

College began over a year ago.  With the entrance of all-nighters and brand new friends and newfound independence also came the start of the dating world.  I still stand along the farthest edge of this place, peering in with wide and curious eyes, but as I watch, I'm beginning to think about marriage for the first time in my life.  What does it mean to fall in love?  What am I looking for in a significant other?  Who do I want to be to the man I marry?  I want to reflect attributes of Jesus to my husband.  I want to be a servant.  I want to radiate selfless love.  I want to be a true friend.

And in my search, I am beginning to understand what it means when Christ calls me His Bride.  What it means to love Him as a child and as a servant and as a bride all at once.

I want to know Him, not just from His Word, but in His Spirit.  I want to have an intimate relationship with my Jesus.  I thrill in His presence.  I stand in awe of His Name.  I love Him and I feel loved by Him.  I am His Bride.

When I do one day fall in love and get married, I will use the earthly examples of my precious daddy and my beloved husband to remember the beautiful purpose of love the Lord has created for my heart.  I want to reflect this to others as well.

God is love. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Broken Cisterns

One thing I've found is that the college lifestyle is a selfish one.

It's so easy to focus on your own trials, your own frustrations, and your own needs when you live in a world that primarily seems to revolve around you.  You are expected to make good grades and focus daily on studying, to overcome homesickness and become ultimately independent away from your parents, and you aren't necessarily expected to check in with anyone when you come and go.  It's so easy to become caught up in a selfish perspective during your college years.

I had a friend who entered college terrified about the academics.  She so desperately wanted to make a 4.0 that as soon as the semester began, I hardly heard from her.  Mornings, mealtimes, weekends, and evenings were nearly all spent studying alone in libraries and her dorm room.  By the end of first semester, she told me she felt frustrated that she had so easily allowed her world to become all about herself and her studying.  Unfortunately, she felt almost as if her semester had been wasted.  Even though she achieved the 4.0 she wanted, she had not fulfilled the purpose the Lord had set before her.  Her light didn't reach as far as it was intended to shine.

Even if you don't allow yourself to become entirely absorbed with studying, college life can still turn your focus towards you and your problems rather than towards serving those around you.  Your college lifestyle may not be necessarily rebellious or stereotypically sinful, but the problem with an average college day is when you do not spend time being poured into as well as pouring into others.  The Lord can be glorified through your excelling in schoolwork, but if studying becomes your world, then it becomes your idol as well.

If you are living through college without consistently finding opportunities to serve others and share the Gospel, then something is tragically wrong.  Your days are being wasted.

Galatians 5:13 says, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."  College years are certainly a time of freedom from responsibility and many worldly problems.  However, the focus of your life should be to bring God glory and to share His love with everyone around you.  Ask the Lord to bring Gospel-focused conversations and opportunities to serve others into your daily life and He will.

Smile at people walking by.  Make conversation on the bus.  Actually meet the person sitting next to you in class.  Make an effort to meet friends for coffee.  Take time to pray for the people around you.  Connect with the Christian community.  Find an accountability partner and meet with them often.

Remember that these four years are not about you.  Even on the most stressful day of the semester, you are still alive so that you can bring glory to God and share His love.

In Jeremiah 2:13, the Lord says, "They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."  When we rely on ourselves and our own independence, it's like we have crafted for ourselves a shabby, broken piece of pottery to hold our lives together, when the Lord has created for us a strong and beautiful cistern that is not broken and will not shatter, no matter how heavy our burdens become.  Why do we continue to choose that filthy shard of pottery that couldn't hold us together to begin with?

College life is not a time to be self-centered.  It's a time you can learn to use your independence to place your everything into God's hands and let Him do with it what He will.

Some days you may end up sacrificing an hour of studying to listen to someone open up about their struggles.  Some days you may need to sacrifice your comfort to share the Gospel with somebody in your class.  Some days you may have to learn how to release the stress that so easily consumes everything in your life to the Lord, so that He can bring you a peace and a joy that surpasses everything else.

When you spend your four years of college focused on serving others rather than yourself, people will notice.  You will seem vastly different.  Your light will shine so brightly.

Live these years as a servant.  Fill your conversations with kindness and grace.  Focus daily on sharing God's love with every single person you encounter.

Ephesians 5:1-2 says, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  Make this passage a goal for how you live your college life.  Don't let these four years revolve around you and your problems.  Allow the Lord's beautiful purpose to shine through your college years.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conquering Homesickness in College

I recently received a comment from an anonymous reader who happens to be a freshman in college.  Reading her thoughts and struggles from her first month of college spoke to me so much.  I can relate, as I dealt with severe homesickness for quite a while when I was a college freshman.  Perhaps you can relate to her words as well.

I am a freshman in college, and I am about 6 hours away from home. I came here thinking that I would have no problem adjusting, I was more than excited to be independent! I was actually completely fine my first couple of weeks, but when I got an unexpected chance to go home for labor day weekend, everything changed. I wasted that entire weekend laying on my couch, literally sobbing at the thought of having to go back to school on Monday. Ever since then, I have been miserably homesick. I am in a sorority so I have made several friends from that, but everyone seems to know so many more people than I do. No one seems to understand that when I say "I know like ten people on this campus" I mean that i really do only know like ten people on this campus. I am counting the days until I get to go home next, and I always think of home, especially my senior year, as the time that my life was "perfect" and the thought that living at home and going to high school is over is making me so homesick. I just don't know what to do because everyone's homesickness seems to be much better and mine has just begun. I feel like I'm taking all the right steps throughout the day to get adjusted to college life, but when I get back to my dorm every night and crawl into bed, all I want to do is bawl!

My senior year was also wonderful.  I had amazing friends, we adopted my sister into my family, and I was finally enjoying my half-days of school.  My family and I are close, so I actually dreaded starting college because I didn't want to be away from them.  I loved the friends I had, I loved my high school life, and I loved being near my family.  When I started college, I tried so hard to make friends... and I did make friends, but it takes a long time to reach anywhere near the level of closeness you've had with your friends in high school.  Everyone you meet in college is brand new and a little intimidating.

Sometimes what frustrated me was the fact that I couldn't fully relate to anyone yet.  I couldn't talk to one of my new friends about something my sister said; they wouldn't understand why it was funny because they didn't know my sister.  If I wanted to share a memory from high school, I was afraid of annoying my new friends... because I often didn't quite understand their high school stories either, but we didn't have any memories to share between us.  There were no inside jokes yet.  No truly close friends.  Only hopeful pretending until closeness eventually happened. 

But closeness does happen.  

Don't rely on a single organization, like a sorority, to be your excuse to stop reaching out to new people.  It's fantastic that you plugged in from the very beginning, but there is never an excuse to stop meeting new people.  Don't stop making friends because you're in a group.  If you don't know many people on campus yet, then leap out of that comfort zone, go out and meet new people! 

Another piece of advice I'd like to give you is to begin to call your college town your home.  It doesn't mean your hometown can't be your home anymore; now you have two homes.  It may sting a little at first, but when you truly begin to view your college town as "home," your perspective will radically change.  You invest in your home differently than you invest in a place you're staying temporarily.  You have a deeper kind of love for your home.  Even if you're in a tiny dorm, begin to call where you live right now home.  Invest in where you are, wherever you are.

Plug into a church.  Don't just attend on Sundays.  It's been at least a month since school started up, so if you're still church-hopping, go ahead and settle on one you like.  It can be difficult to find the "right" church when you start college, because you'll naturally want to compare everything to your home-church and nothing will be the same.  So find a church that works for you, that has similar doctrine and where you feel embraced, and go ahead and get plugged in.  Join a small group or life group or Bible study, or whatever they have to offer.  Volunteer.  Service is a huge way to reach out to your community.  Tithe.  If someone asks you to lunch, go with them.  Sit with new people.  Allow your church community to be a big part of your college family.

Don't be afraid to open up to new friends about your struggles, even your homesickness.  Be honest about how you're struggling.  Even if they seem to be fine, they may be more homesick than you realize.  The more vulnerable and open you are to your friends, the deeper your friendship will grow in a short amount of time, which is what needs to happen.

Try to establish accountability partners and Christian friends who will encourage you and lift you up in the darkest of times.

Keep in touch with your family, every day if you have to, but try not to allow yourself to dwell on how much you miss them.  If you miss your mom, send her a text, and then busy yourself with studying or go out to a coffee shop and talk to someone new.

Talk to God about your struggles.  He longs to hold you and take away your burdens.  If you ask Jesus to ease your homesickness, He will.  His desire is for you to overflow with joy and peace in Him.  He'll bring good friends into your life.  Don't be afraid to share your fears and frustrations with Christ.  Freshman year is an emotional roller coaster, but it can ultimately be an experience that brings you so much closer to the Lord. 

Please know that your homesickness isn't going to last for the rest of your college career.  In fact, it will probably be gone by the end of Christmas break.  I entered the holidays eager to be back in my hometown and by January, I was even more eager to return to my college life.  Things are different now.  It's a little sad at first, but it's ultimately a wonderful blessing.

Making so many new friends all at once can be a difficult adventure, but it's a beautiful one.  These will be some of the closest friends you'll ever have in your life.  Enjoy these four years, and remember that homesickness is only a season.  You'll get through it and learn so much from the experiences you're facing now.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012



I cling to You like a child,
So hold me in Your arms.
Shelter me from flood and rain.
Keep me safe from harm.

Cup my cheek in Your hand.
Let me feel Your smile.
I long to hear Your whispers.
I yearn to be Your child.

Give me a brand new name
And speak it to me daily.
I will rest within Your arms
Because You loved and saved me.


Thursday, September 20, 2012



I am fragile. I am small.
Your glory brings me wonder.
You made the earth and formed the stars,
The sky I'm standing under.

What I know is but a drop
Of the ocean that You are.
Yet Your love is greater still
Than the stumblings of my heart.

It pleases You to see my joy.
You've claimed me as Your own,
So I will rest within Your peace
Until You call me home.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This is your purpose.

I used to be shy.

This isn't a word I would use to describe myself anymore, as the past few years have changed me to the extent that I am possibly even an extrovert now.  But for most of my life, I have been devastatingly, painfully shy.

Talking in groups of more than one or two people froze my heart.  As a matter of fact, even the prospect of a one-on-one conversation would terrify me.  Making new friends was nearly impossible.  Some days, the mere thought of going out into a group of people stressed me out so badly that all I wanted was to stay in bed, wonderfully and comfortably alone. 

Today I love being around people.  In fact, I'm sometimes happier when I'm out making new friends than when I've sat all day in my little house by myself.  There are certainly days when I enjoy some solitude, but the timid part of me has faded significantly in recent years.

I've been given the opportunity to share my heart and my journey from timidity with several girls who also struggle with shyness.  (If this is a highly requested topic, I may blog about it more in the future.)  One thing I hear quite often is, "I'm too shy to share the Gospel."

There are many effective ways to share the Gospel.  At times, it is best to form a friendship or at least a fairly comfortable relationship with someone before you sit down and share the entire Gospel with them.  At other times, you will feel a tug at your heart to share with a total stranger (read Acts 8 for an example) and this is what intimidates most shy people... most people, actually.

Approaching strangers can still be a source of stress for me, but recently, approaching a stranger in order to share the Gospel has been a source of great joy rather than fear.  It's different.  Timidity doesn't need to exist when the Gospel is being shared.  Let me encourage you in that.

You were made for the specific, beautiful purpose of bringing glory to your Creator and sharing His love with those around you.  This is why you were made.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline."  Moses was naturally shyPaul was naturally shy.  You can have a quiet, shy personality, but in sharing the Gospel, you were created to be bold.  It will come naturally to you.  You were given a spirit of power and love and self-discipline!

Don't allow your fears to hinder your identity and purpose in Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah was concerned about his ability to share the Word of God.  He was young and timid.  But the Lord had bigger plans for him.  Read Jeremiah 1:6-9.  "'Alas, Sovereign Lord,' I said, 'I do not know how to speak; I am too young.'  But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say, "I am too young."  You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord." 

God will not always call you to approach someone off the streets, but sometimes He will.  When people begin to yearn for the Lord, He makes Himself known to them, and it is often through those of us who already know HIm.

Timidity may be a hindrance in your life, but when you share the Gospel, you are fulfilling your purpose.  You are living the way God made you. 

When the Holy Spirit asks you to share the Gospel with someone, do not give into timidity.  God will bring the Gospel to that person, whether you obey His urging or not, but the joy and blessings that come from offering yourself as a sacrifice for His will are indescribably beautiful and worth it.  It is a joyful, overwhelming experience to be used by the Lord and for His glory.  When the opportunity arises, don't let it pass by.  Don't let timidity win.

Be bold.

Saturday, September 15, 2012



My understanding is so small.
My sight does not reach far.
Yet I pretend to grasp the depth
Of all of who You are.

You gaze into my child eyes.
You burn right through my heart.
My every breath You plan, You know,
Each broken piece, each part.

Illuminate my footsteps, Lord.
Guide me. Let me see 
The beauty that is in You, God,
The love You have for me.

Longing overwhelms my being.
Please help me understand.
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
And make me whole again.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Revival: Yearning

One of the biggest causes of revival is spiritual hunger.  When there is yearning for Christ, He makes Himself evident.  Jeremiah 29:13-14 says, "'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the Lord."

A question that often pops up in conversations with unbelievers is, "How could God let people who do not know Him and have never heard His Name go to hell?"  While this is a big question that cannot be answered in a single blog post, one thing I must say is this: I have never heard a story of someone who sought out God with all their hearts and did not find Him.

The problem is that not many actually do seek the Lord.  Romans 3:10-11 says, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God."  As humans, we are so often consumed with the problems in our lives: with materialism, trials, death, wealth, food, worry, work, relationships.

But when we realize how sinful and dark we are without Christ, that nothing we ever do on our own is enough, that we have a purpose beyond what we could ever dream for ourselves, when we seek the Lord, He reveals Himself.  Psalm 14:2 says, "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."  He is eager to have a relationship with every person on this earth.  His love is relentless and unfailing. 

Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."  The Lord desires to show Himself to us.  In Hosea 7:13, the Lord says, "I long to redeem them."  Our purpose on this earth is to glorify God and share His love with all creation.  He wants us to know Him. 

Look at Acts 8:26-40.  An Ethiopian man began to truly yearn to know who the Lord was and what His Word meant, perhaps for the first time in his life.  The Spirit led Philip to approach the Ethiopian man and share the Gospel with him.  The Lord quickly and beautifully made Himself known. 

When there are hearts truly yearning to know Christ, revival happens.

I encourage you to spend time asking the Lord to make His presence known on your campus.  Daily seek His presence at your school.  In your quiet time, ask the Lord to bring conversations into your day where you can share His Word with someone who is seeking Him.  Ask for hearts to be opened to the Gospel.  Ask for a yearning and a hunger to arise on your campus. 

Also, listen to the Spirit moving in your heart.  There will be moments when the Lord will use you to share the truth of the Gospel with another, just like He used Philip; be willing to be used.

The Gospel carries so much power.  When it is spoken, hearts are changed.  The more the Gospel is shared on your campus, the more revival will happen.  Follow the pressings of the Spirit upon your heart.  Share the Gospel with those around you.  Speak the truth of Christ aloud.  Even if those who already know the Lord hear the Gospel, it still carries power, truth, and encouragement.  The Gospel is beautiful!  

In my university, an apparent hunger is beginning to grow.  Small Bible studies have erupted, filled with curious, hungry students.  Breakaway, the largest college Bible study in the nation, is packed out every week.  Impact, a freshman ministry, is successful and growing.  Prayer and worship movements are exploding throughout our city, beginning with three or four students and growing to hundreds.  The Lord is evidently working and moving on my campus.  His hand is beautiful.  And students are finally seeking Him and asking Him to move.

Matthew 7:11 says, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"  The Lord is merciful.  He forgives sins and offers a powerful, astonishing grace to us.  However, He is not frustrated or ashamed to offer us His love.  He desires to bless us.  He desires for us to seek Him.  He desires to love on us and give us good gifts that glorify Him.  

Let me encourage you in your journey towards revival.  Spend time daily in worship and prayer, asking the Lord to move in your campus, in your city, and in your personal life.  He hears our cries.  He answers our prayers.  He desires for us to seek Him.  Luke 12:31-32 says, "But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."  It pleases the Lord to respond to our prayers.  He loves us so much.  The students on your campus are precious to Him.

God is worthy to be praised, so let's give glory to Him daily.

Seek Him with all your heart today. 

Luke 11:9-10
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012



You are faithful
When the fears weigh upon my heart,
When the darkness shadows my eyes,
When my feet falter in the sand.

You are faithful,
Though I've failed You from the start.
You hear my longings and my cries.
You hold my trembling, muddy hand.

You are faithful.
You bring me home, where You are.
You whisper, "Child, You are mine,"
And You make me whole again.


Saturday, September 1, 2012


At Texas A&M University, in recent weeks, there have been whisperings of change.  Of revival.  I have been back in Aggieland for a month now.  There is something new in the air this semester.  A searching, a yearning, a hunger.  A match has been struck.

The Name of Jesus is beginning to spread like a wildfire through my campus, burning the hearts of the students who hear.

Certain things are noticeably visible, like the attendance of more than 10,000 at Breakaway, which is a weekly Bible study at Texas A&M.  Or a student-led worship night beginning with twenty or thirty students who gather together on Thursday nights to give praise to the Lord growing to nearly 300 in a week.  Small Bible studies and movements of prayer and worship are springing up throughout our town, bursting at the seams with students who are actively seeking the Lord.

For those of you who are college and high school students, it can be such a discouragement to look around you and see little more than apathy, a dimming of fire in the Lord, a carelessness.

When I was in high school, a term we used constantly was 'revival.'  "Let's start a revival here.  We need to awaken a spiritual revival."  And I attended a Christian school.  We so craved a renewing of spiritual growth on our campus, but it never seemed to come.  During our lunch-time Bible studies, we would talk and talk and talk about how much our school needed change, but our words sifted like sand through our fingers as soon as we left the room.

Apathy is a catching disease.  When students stop caring, involved and Christ-centered community fades quickly.  Without Christian community, it's so difficult to maintain a unified fire for the Lord. 

God is certainly moving on the campus of Texas A&M and I'm excited to see how He changes hearts here.  Whispers of revival are rippling through the campus, in individuals, in small groups, and now in growing explosions of eager college students who passionately want to learn about Jesus Christ. 

Are you thirsting to see hearts change on your campus?  Whether your school is at its darkest stages of darkness and it seems like it will take a miracle for prayer movements to arise at your university or if you attend a Christian school where there is definitely a love of Christ, but not a passion, revival is possible.

We are here to bring Him glory, to seek His face, to share the Gospel.  Let's make Him known throughout the nations, beginning right where we are. 

I've been learning more and more about what it means to awaken a revival, however small, in my community.  Over the next week or two, I'll expand on some of these things with you.  If you have ideas and verses to add or questions to ask, please share your heart in the comments below!  I would love to hear what you have to say.  

We are a community, you and I.  As we gather in prayer, whether we are across the world from one another or in the same town, the Lord hears our cries.  He sees our hearts.  Let's glorify Him together.

Five things I've seen that bring about revival are:

1.) Prayer
2.) Community
3.) Gospel
4.) Worship
5.) Hunger

I will share more soon.

Psalm 63:1
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Love is Shining

Lavin was a beautiful little girl with big brown eyes, short curls, and a smile that could light up an entire photograph. As soon as I saw her, my heart whispered, “She is God’s daughter. She is my daughter.” Lavin’s smile shined up at me from one of the several picture frames blanketing the Christian Relief Fund table. She seemed thrilled to be wearing her pale blue school uniform, excited for the opportunity to have a sponsor of her own.

I was fifteen at the time and a freshman in high school.  As I signed my name, agreeing to become her sponsor, I couldn’t help but feel a strong love for this sweet little girl I’d never met. I knew this love could only come from Jesus. Through her struggles, Christ loved her unfalteringly. He had a plan for Lavin, a plan to give her hope and a future.

In ten years of life, Lavin had experienced the unimaginable: losing her father to AIDS, living in a one-room mud hut with no running water and no electricity, spending days of hunger and thirst in sweltering heat, and getting a late start on her education because of living in utter poverty. With the help of Christian Relief Fund, I had the opportunity to shine the light of Jesus into Lavin’s future.

Receiving letters from Lavin was exciting enough to brighten my entire week. As she learned to write, her letters grew in form and maturity, changing from, “I am Lavin. I like football,” to stories about her day and what she had been studying in the Bible. My little girl was growing in strength and boldness. Her words reflected a heart for Christ.

When I was sixteen and Lavin had just turned twelve, I traveled to Kisumu, Kenya with Christian Relief Fund. “Does anyone know Lavin?” I asked the crowd of giggling uniformed children at Ring Road who crowded around me, all wanting to ask questions and touch my long curls.

“Lavin!” they began to call until a young girl stepped forward, staring up at me with wide eyes. She was small and quiet, but a smile was beginning to appear on her face. Recognition.

“Do you know who I am?” I asked her.

Lavin nodded quickly. “You are Emily.”

The week I had with Lavin was filled with precious memories. My favorite moment was after we spent an afternoon watching the schoolchildren play football. When it came time to return to Ring Road Orphanage and walk through the slums, Lavin hooked my arm in hers. “Come, let’s sing,” she said, grinning at me with that infectious smile of hers. Skipping through the slums, arm-in-arm, Lavin and I began to sing a song we’d improvised a few days before: “Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you. Yesu ni Bwana, Yesu ni Bwana (Jesus is Lord).” Members of the community stepped out to watch us and wave, smiles breaking out on their worn faces.

In that moment, Lavin and I were not separated by our cultures, by poverty, by language, by distance. We were two young girls made beautiful in Christ. We were created and cherished by the same God who gave us breath. We were friends. We were sisters. She was my daughter.

Recently, I received a new photograph of Lavin. She has a grin on her face and is still wearing a pretty blue uniform. She’s beautiful and so grown-up now. Nearly five years have passed since I became Lavin’s sponsor. In fact, Lavin is the same age now as I was when I first began to sponsor her. Fifteen.

Letters from Lavin have become even more special to me now that we’ve truly become friends. Her words are relational. “How is your little sister? I have been praying for your friend’s knee surgery. I like to write, just like you. Remember when we danced through the streets together, singing ‘Yesu ni Bwana?’ I miss you, mother. I miss you, sister.” I miss her too.

When I think about Lavin, I no longer imagine a child whose future is dark and destitute. Thanks to Christian Relief Fund, Lavin’s future is bright. She will have opportunities to go to college, to become a teacher, to help other little girls just like her one day.  Lavin isn’t hungry anymore. She has nourishing food. She has shoes. She is receiving a great education.

One of my most recent letters from Lavin said, “I want to make you proud.”  She has, with her joy, her courage, and her sense of unending hope through the darkest trials.

If you do not sponsor a child, I encourage you to do so. Sponsorship through Christian Relief Fund transforms a child’s life. They are given nourishing food, basic medical care, clothing, and education. They are taught the Gospel and given Biblical training. You can send letters of encouragement and love to your child, showing him that someone across the ocean loves him with the love of Christ, even if no one else on this earth does.

And when your child writes you back, perhaps you will have a chance to learn as well.

Looking back over the last five years of sponsorship, all I can see is love. Christ adores this precious little girl. He has big plans for Lavin. Her future is bright with hope.

Will you change a child’s life today?