Saturday, August 18, 2012


1 year.
52 weeks.
365 days.
8,766 hours.
525,600 minutes.
31,536,000 seconds.

Oh, the distance a year can bring us.
It makes us older.
Takes away.
Provides new.
Always pushing forward.

This time last year I was preparing to leave the home, community, and life I had built in a city I dearly loved. I was stepping out into the unknown, into a big adventure, into something to which the Lord was calling me. Saying "yes" without a clue, simply trusting in His goodness, provision, and faithfulness.

And here I am, a year later, once again saying "yes". Yes to something completely different than I ever thought my life would hold. Yes to something scary and exciting and kind of overwhelming at times. Yes to His will for my life. Yes to His goodness, provision, and faithfulness. Yes to HIM.

One year later. 365 days.
He has used each one to mold and shape and prepare me for the day I said "yes" to the call He's placed on my life. As I look forward to the next 365 days, it is easy for my heart to fill with anxiety, but then I hear Him remind me of where He's brought me from, and I am reminded of His goodness, provision, faithfulness.

A few years back, a dear friend gave me this advice: "Before you plunge forward, remember. Sit and remember. Remember what brought you to the place you are currently. Remember, so you can carry those things forward with you, for they are just as important as what compels you forward now."

So tonight, I remember.
Tonight I remember.
For with the dawn, comes forward motion.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” 
-Rosalia de Castro 

How applicable. 

When I uprooted my life and transplanted from Kansas City to Shreveport 8 1/2 months ago I had no idea what the future held. Upon my arrival in Shreveport, I held great hope and expectation for my life here, most of which has since been torn apart. The last 8 1/2 months have not been the idealistic life I so naively envisioned; they have been filled with many lonely days, strife, confusion, frustration, uncertainty, disappointment. Yes, all of those things. But when I take the time to really open my eyes, I also recognize the beauty of life here that is so easily drown out. 

Am I still in the Lord's will for my life? I think so...I hope so. So often it feels as though everything is falling apart, and maybe that's true. Months ago I made the choice to do whatever it took to follow the Lord's will for my life (hence the move to Shreveport). I made that choice, and yet, here I am in Shreveport, still trying to do life on my terms, and wondering why things aren't working out. If I'm honest, I recognize that once again God is reworking what I thought my life would look like. It's not fun; it's actually kind of nerve-wrecking. I complain to Him about it a lot. And in response I hear Him whispering to me, "You thought you were stopping here? Oh, my love, I don't think so; I have got big plans for you, and they don't end in Shreveport. I love you. I know what is best for you. Here's the catch though, you're going to have to really trust me. Will you do that?" 

So, that is what I am earnestly trying to do; and with each moment, each day, each week I willingly place in His hands, He clues me in just a bit more. He is laying new and exciting (and scary) opportunities in front of me. It's like working on a 5,000 piece puzzle, but only having 17 of the pieces. The 17 pieces I'm holding yield no clue of the bigger picture, but they all fit together. It is frustrating and scary at times to not be able to see the big picture, but then I remember that the guy who put the whole universe together can probably (read: can most definitely) handle directing my life. 

Two pieces of truth that have been in the forefront of my mind over the past few weeks:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

"My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever." - Psalm 73:26

He works all things for my good. 
He is the strength of my heart. 
He holds my life in his hands.
He fights for me.
He is mine forever. 

I will keep my eyes on Him. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Celebrating Emily

I'd been praying all afternoon, all evening, all night. 
The kind of prayer that just pours out of a desperate heart.
Prayer for healing. 
Practically begging Him not to take her from us. 
My heart sunk when Ali's name came up on my phone late that night. 
Voice shaking, I answered, already knowing what I was about to hear.
I knew, but those words still felt like a punch in the gut.

Emily was a blessing to every person she came in contact with. She was passionate, beautiful, genuine, caring, generous, hilarious, joyful, and full of life. She lived and loved whole-heartedly, and beckoned us to do the same. 

My heart still aches.
My eyes still burn with tears.
I see her every time I close my eyes.
I can still hear her voice.
I would give anything for just one more moment with her.
I really miss her. 

But what a blessing to have called her friend.
What a blessing to have been loved by her.
What a blessing to get to honor her memory with my life. 
             May I love like Emily did - like Christ. 

My heart hurts. And yet, even in this, I stand and proclaim that the Lord is good. He is good not in spite of this, but in and through this. He is as good today as He was the day before we lost Emily, as good as He'll be tomorrow and the next day; His goodness is not circumstantial, it is character. 
Emily knew that, and would want us to bask in that goodness. Especially now.

In these bodies we will live, and in these bodies we will die. 
And where you invest your love, you invest your life.
Awake my soul,
Awake my soul,
Awake my soul,
For you were made to meet your maker. 
You were made to meet your maker.

May your souls be awakened, awakened to your Maker. 

This is exactly how I will remember Emily - beautiful, glowing, and that infectious smile.

Monday, February 27, 2012

When It Counts.

My heart broke a little more with each tear that streamed down her face. 
Was I responsible for every one? No, I don't think so...but it sure felt like it in the moment. 

When it's easier to walk away, but you stay. 
When everything in you says to keep quiet, keep bottled up, but you let the words fall out of your mouth, no matter how terrifying.
When you drop the mask and just hope like hell the other person doesn't turn and run. 
When you stop punishing people in your present for things others did in the past. 
When you miss the mark and have to ask for forgiveness. 
The difficult and uncomfortable conversations.
Standing up for each other. 
The tears. 
Honesty, even when it hurts. 
Loving each other through it, all of it. 

That's when it counts. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Some days they creep back in, the memories. 
I guess it's more accurate to say they creep back up, to the forefront of my mind. 
They are always with me. 

I close my eyes and I'm back there. 
the water
our crew
the smell of the salty air
the warmth of the sun
coolness from the metal canoe carrying me
sore muscles

Sometimes the memories return as reminders of the greatest adventure, to momentarily quench that unceasing desire for adventure, to run and not look back. 
Sometimes as gentle reminders of lessons learned. 
Sometimes they just sneak up and provide a quiet moment of happiness. 

Today, well, today they quietly whisper, "Be here now." 

to serve, to strive, and not to yield 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Our greatest victories are won on our knees and with empty stomachs."
- Julio C. Ruibal

On our knees.
With empty stomachs. 

This emptiness has created space, space for the Sustainer of all things. 

Tomorrow we end our 21 day fast. 
Reflection to come. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Adherents of xmas are exhausted and over-extended, but Christmas worshippers are joyful. Are you rushing or feasting?" - CS Lewis

This Christmas was different than any other I've had; for the first time ever, I was not in Illinois with my family. (One more step into adulthood.) As the days leading up to Christmas passed, I found myself a little nervous about the holiday. What would I do? Would I spend the day alone? Would I regret not going back to Illinois? Would it actually feel like Christmas? But, once again I was shown that worrying is useless because He works all things together for our good. 

Christmas Eve morning I spent time mulling over the Christmas story and was especially captivated by Luke's account of Mary's perspective; it's funny how something you've heard your entire life can reveal itself to you in new ways. After being Skyped into both family Christmases, I prepared for our Christmas Eve service in the Common Ground chapel. Despite the pouring rain, an intimate crowd gathered there, and as the last minutes until Christmas day ticked away, we rose our collective voices in song and liturgy and shared the Elements. It was beautiful.  

And then it came, Christmas day. I awoke to a quiet and empty house - no Christmas parade blasting on the t.v., no little brother jumping on me to get me to come open presents, no smell of Jesus' birthday cake baking in the oven...just quiet. It was weird. I must admit, I started the day feeling a little sorry for myself. Silly, I know. But then something really wonderful happened - I got to play Santa's helper, delivering presents throughout Cedar Grove; through the generosity of the community of people who love and support Common Ground we were able to provide gifts to 19 of our neighbor families (totaling 67 individuals). As we made our way from house to house, I was overwhelmed with joy. Over and over again, I got to hear the gratitude in parents' voices, feel the love in the hugs, see the excitement and surprise on the kids' faces - I'm not sure it gets any better than that. It was, without a doubt, the best Christmas I have ever had. 

This Christmas proved unconventional: I didn't open presents, but man did I receive some awesome gifts. I wasn't with people I'm related to, and yet, I was most definitely still among family. Everything was different, but every part of this season was so beautiful. I was blessed with a new perspective this year. Most importantly, this Christmas season I stopped and remembered to "rejoice exceedingly with great joy" (Matthew 2:10), and I hope you were able to do the same. 
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