Friday, December 19, 2008

Seeing Truth in Coincidences

It was on Sunday that I was strongly inspired to hold a garage sale this coming Sunday, to benefit the 40% of the world who does not have clean water (which is the leading cause of death above anything else). I knew it sounded crazy because it was such short notice, but I felt very compelled to do it now, before Christmas. I looked at my schedule and knew the only day possible was Sunday, December 21st.

Against my own judgment and the advice of friends and co-workers, I decided I would do it this Sunday. I felt very called to do anything I could to pull it together in one week, and I trust that if it is God's hand leading me towards that, that he will help make it happen.

I woke up this morning tired but looking forward to a much needed day off, so I could put up all my signs and finish distributing the flyers to the houses in my neighborhood. As I was lying in bed, I got the urge to look up scripture for 12/21.

12/21.... Garage sale to clear out our un-necessaries to benefit countless others who don't have nearly what we do. I challenged everyone to look at what they have and see what it is that they don't need.

Luke 12:21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

And in context:

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 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.

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Luke 12:15-34)

Lord, I pray that you will open the hearts of the people I come in contact with, that they would see how extravagantly they live and how much excess they have to give. I pray Lord that their heart would break for the impoverished the way your's does, and that they would recognize how much of a difference they could make. I pray for their treasure to be in your kingdom and not in this world Lord. And I pray for sunshine on Sunday and an abundance of things to sell and people to buy them. I pray these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Through The Days And Nights

I've come to learn that sometimes the best worship songs are disguised as mainstream music.

No One - Alicia Keys

I just want you close
Where you can stay forever
You can be sure
That it will only get better
You and me together
Through the days and nights (Psalm 7:10)
I don't worry 'cause
Everything is gonna be alright (Matthew 6:25)
People keep talking
They can say what they like
But all I know is everything is gonna be alright

No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I'm feeling
No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I feel for you (Matthew 4:10)

When the rain is pouring down
And my heart is hurting
You will always be around
This I know for certain (Psalm 6)

You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don't worry cause
Everything is gonna be alright (Psalm 118:6)
People keep talking
They can say what they like
But all I know is everything is gonna be alright

I know some people search the world
To find something like what we have (Ecclesiastes 7:29)
I know people will try
Try to divide
Something so real
So till the end of time (1 Corinthians 15:54)
I'm telling you there is no one

No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I'm feeling
No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I feel for you (Proverbs 4:23)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Once Was Lost, But Now I'm Found.

To step out of your comfort zone when you feel as though God has called you to something different takes a ton of trust and faith... in not only him, but in your own ability to know what his will is. There have been so many instances of this lately, and though they've been everything ranging from unusual to almost overwhelmingly intimidating, the Lord has again and again proven to be so completely faithful in leading me safely through and the outcome is better than anything I could have thought up or planned out myself.

So tonight, I had plans to hang out with a friend of mine in San Diego. The plan was to have a relaxed night at her house, which I was in the mood for, but when we talked this afternoon there was a possible change in plans that meant she would be coming up here instead, and we'd be going with some friends of hers I hadn't met, to a bar I haven't been to in a long time. I wanted to hang out with her and I didn't want to be a hassle, so I agreed, though it wasn't what I had hoped or planned for.

I came home from work and laid on my bed and thought up a slew of valid reasons why I wasn't going to go. Aside from my foul mood and lack of energy, I've made an intentional effort to step out of the drinking/bar scene recently, and I didn't feel the desire to be back there. But something in me told me I really needed to go, so I dragged myself off the bed and got ready. It didn't seem to make sense that God would call me to go out to a bar when he's called me to do very much the opposite. I didn't want to drink and wasn't in the mood to chat with new people, but cheered up when I met her friends and settled in. We had a nice conversation (and some delicious chicken strips) but honestly spent most of the time wondering why I had felt so strongly that I was called to be there. I started doubting my ability to "test and approve" what God's will is, and my own faith in myself.

It wasn't until we were paying our bill and getting ready to leave that whatever we were talking about reminded her friend (one who I had just met) of her roommate, and all the things she's struggling with and the mess she's in. Most of this girl's story could have been my own testimony. It hit me so hard to hear how broken she is, knowing exactly what that pain feels like. I knew I needed to do something, so when we walked to our cars I gave her my information and asked her to pass it on to her roommate.

I don't know if she'll give it to her or what her roommate's reaction will be, but I believe with all my heart that if there is anybody who can understand fully where she is and see her without condemnation, but with love and the knowledge that even the most broken heart can be put back together and the emptiest places can be filled, it's me. God doesn't waste anything, and he shows me constantly that even my most painful pieces have very important purposes.

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.

In the same way
your Father in heaven

is not willing that any
of these
little ones
should be lost.

Matthew 18:10-14

I started crying as soon as I got in my car (if you know me, you know the significance of tears) and I prayed for this girl the whole way home, and my heart just continues to break for her. I don't know her name or what she's doing right now (she's out of town), but I have a clear idea of what to pray for.

I would appreciate immensely if you would help me pray for her - that God would invade and fill in every part of her life; that he would heal and soothe all of the emotional and physical scars, that he would be her wall of fire and protect her from those influences that make her feel worthless and empty and encourage her to self destruct; that he would meet her in a tangible way right where she is that she couldn't avoid or deny; that he would speak to her in her dreams; that he would surround her with positive, loving and encouraging influences, who would show her how loved and valuable she is; that she would have the courage to contact and meet with me; and that the Holy Spirit would give me the right words and be a guiding presence in our interaction.

There are many more. I could go on. I can't describe how heavily this is on my heart.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
Heavenly Father, you are so faithful in your promises and in your protection. I am so thankful for how you are continuously shaping me and giving me the courage to be obedient, even when I can't make sense of it or am overcome with fear and doubt. I know you don't give us more than we can handle, and I'm so thankful that you entrust me with so much. I am so grateful for this heart you've given me, and for the life you've led me through - each and every piece of it. You've gone before me Lord, and I trust you completely. Thank you for redeeming and renewing me the way you have and continue to. In Jesus' loving and forgiving name, Amen.

Monday, November 10, 2008


The more I grow in my faith, the more of a sense of responsibility I feel for the people around me, and most recently my good friends. It makes me feel like a mama hen with chicks to nurture and love, and I am honored and inspired when they come to me with questions or wanting to learn with me. Wow! Whoever would have thought I would be here, today; November 10th, less than seven months after the day I met God for the first time.
Only a few months ago I was at a spot where I felt too self-conscious to talk openly about my relationship with him, always worrying what the other person would be thinking about me. As I learn how to "be bold in front of God" and put aside my uncertainties about being open and authentic, I am seeing how crucial that is. My friendships are deeper, our connections are more genuine, and God has been a powerful part of our conversations.
As I learn what it means to surrender (even down to my own doubts!) I watch him do miraculous things in the hearts of people I care about. How awesome is that!

Heavenly Father... Its only through you that I realize I have nothing to fear. Sometimes you lead me into situations I don't think I know how to handle but you're always faithful in getting me through them as I listen to you. Lord I pray that I would not lose sight of what you call me to do. I pray that you would not take your Holy Spirit from me, that you would continue to nudge me in the right directions, and that I would never give up listening. You know best, Father, even in those situations that seem scary and impossible, you prove to be right by my side with the best answer to all my questions. I couldn't possibly be more thankful for that, and for you, for the way you protect me and guide me. You've shown me so clearly in the past few days what an overwhelming freedom there is in surrendering to you, and what an incredible sense of joy there is at the end of even the darkest tunnels. Thank you Lord for loving me the way you do. Nothing in this world could ever compare. I pray that you would continue to stir up the hearts of those dear to me Lord, and that you would guide me in our conversations. I pray also that you would continue to strengthen me so that those around me could see the work you're doing in me. Lead me not into temptation, Lord, but deliver me from evil. Guard my heart Lord. I pray this all in your peaceful and powerful name, Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pain in the Offering

Psalm 38

6: I am bowed down and brought very low; all day I go about mourning.
8: I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.
9: All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.
10: My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.
15: I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.
17: For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me.
18: I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.
21: O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.
22. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I'll be completely honest with you and say that I envy those who can hear God's voice. I know he communicates with everyone in different ways, and (as of yet) that isn't how he speaks to me.

But at those times when he very directly speaks to me, I am no less floored. Often, it will be something that may seem common or trivial to those who weren't in on my prayers or thoughts. A sudden coincidence, and a very clear reminder of what is on my heart at the time. Or a song will come on the radio as I'm praying in the car, and the lyrics will clearly answer the questions I was asking him. And every time, the only thing I can do is sit in stunned silence and awe. It's very humbling to be addressed by the Holy King, no matter how it is that he speaks.

I had a moment like that a few minutes ago and was so moved by it that I knew I needed to write it down, because it's times like these that I like to look back on when I'm wondering where he is. As if he ever leaves.

For the backstory, please scroll down to the bottom of the post.

Here I am, just home from work and cranky and I sit down at my computer to check my email, all of these thoughts circling through my head - how I'll wait 'til I hear from him again to unload all these things on him, things I need that I'm not getting, and that I don't want to talk to him anymore and this isn't worth it to me. I'm sitting here almost looking forward to the moment that I can turn tables and make him feel as dispensable as he's made me feel.

I open my "Encouragement for Today" daily devotional from and again, sit here in awe and disbelief that still, that what God is still asking me for loud and clear is patience and perseverance. Even in the face of rejection. (God, you never did say it was going to be easy.) I'm floored.

Here it is, the answer to my questions, titled "Rejected Again?"

Now of course, there are two different dynamics here. There is the relationship side and the spiritual side. As far as a relationship is concerned, things are not good. But I have been telling God for 5 months that his sanctification is more important to me than our being together, and that is still true. God only knows why we've been put in each other's lives, but if I'm in his to help renew and restore his heart, it is disobedient to turn away when it gets hard.

And maybe through these things will come something stronger and more fruitful between us than whatever we could possibly have had before. Only time will tell that.

I do know I need to go about things very differently to preserve my own heart though.
Above all else, guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4:23)

Lord, I know you never said it would be easy, but I know you won't test me beyond what I can bear. Lord help me to keep my eyes fixed on you as I walk with someone who is suffering and to release the heaviness in my own heart. Take away his heart of stone Lord and replace it with a heart of flesh. Give me the right words to speak Lord and the endurance and patience to keep going when I want to give up. Lord I ask also that you give me the courage to pray with him next time I see him. Thank you for the incredible transformation in him that you're already making and for the opportunity you give me to work for you. In Jesus' ever patient name I pray these things. Amen.

The Backstory: In the Spring I was dating this guy who I had an instant, crazy connection with and deep care for, and vice versa. Everything seemed as close to perfect as it could get and I never thought I would see the end of it. If you've read earlier posts, you'll remember that he's the one who taught me about God and the gospel and led me to Christ. Impactful, to say the least.

For reasons not totally understood by me, he went from hot to cold very soon after I became a Christian, which caused me a great deal of anxiety and heartbreak. I couldn't understand what I'd done wrong and was consumed by it. As I soon learned, he was deep in a spiritual struggle, knowing what he should be doing and doing very much the opposite. Bad habits that he had repressed all returned to the surface. He drank a lot and smoked a lot and refused to come to church. He lost his convictions and gave up trying.

Every day as I sat in prayer, distressed and hurting, I asked God how he could be this way all of a sudden and what I should do. Even though I felt like the only answer was to break up with him, I kept getting this strong overwhelming feeling as I prayed that I needed to wait and to be patient.

And I tried. It was a month of his being completely shut down and my worrying before he broke up with me. I told him it didn't feel right, and about my prayers. He asked me later after he left if it still didn't feel right; it didn't. He said he'd be a fool not to listen to that, but it was never brought up again.

Over the past five months since we broke up, it was ugly. We saw each other a couple times and it was bad. Really crazy coincidences would happen all the time pointing right to him, and I tried to brush them off. My heart wouldn't heal, and I finally convinced myself that we really were never going to return to the way it was when we were happy. Nonetheless, I thought about him every day, and his heart and strength in the Holy Spirit was the only consistent thing I prayed for daily, even though he was harsh and critical and hurtful when we talked.

It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I saw him again and things seemed dramatically different. He had a gentleness about him again, and the kindness in his eyes returned. He was humble and respectful, and apologized for all the things he had done and said over that time. We were on the phone all night, talking about how we'd never been able to get over each other and he said it just hadn't been the right time. He told me again and again how much he needs me in his life, and that the people he's surrounded by lead him towards the sins he feels he can't escape. He said he needed my influence on his life, that although he as the man is the leader and the "head," that I am the neck, which supports and guides the head where to go.

We decided to be very intentional on taking it slow this time. We started seeing each other every few days, and it felt like he had become the incredible guy I first met again. All at once he quit smoking, cut down drastically on drinking, cleaned his apartment, and got his stuff together. I can't describe the joy of seeing a heart being restored after the hours and hours of tearful prayers and blessing my 'enemy.' In some ways it feels as though he was in my life to guide me spiritually, and now maybe I was there for him in the same way.

After a few weeks we made the mistake of getting too comfortable and saw each other a few days in a row. I think it freaked him out and he shut down, yet again. I thought to myself, "how can this be happening again??" Not only is it painful in a relationship, but it makes me feel devalued and broken. I knew I needed to do it differently.

So instead of worrying and asking what was wrong and pleading for time together thinking that was going to fix it, I left him alone. We didn't talk for days and when we did see each other again, it seemed like everything was back to normal. But, yet again, it seems that he's switched off and become selfish again, and it brings me right back to that anxious, hurt feeling I had before. I don't want anything to do with that. I can't do it again. I shouldn't have to walk on eggshells and pretend I don't want to talk to him for days at a time for fear that he'll become that person.

So all last night and all today I have been praying, asking God what to do, but thinking I knew full well what I needed to do. I've come up with all these conversations I wanted to have about how I deserve a lot better than this and that I don't want to have anything to do with him when he's like this. And those things are both true. But it was the way that I was planning it that I just realized is not the way God wants it. It was coming from anger and frustration.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


*Before I start, I'd just like to say,
I made it onto the Motion writing team.

It's an empowering feeling to be able
to use a gift the way that God intended me to,
for his glory.*

My church set this week aside to focus all of our attention on God so that we'd be open to hearing what he had to say about the coming ministry year for our church and for ourselves.

There were many spiritual disciplines that we were going to practice, none of which I had experienced before. But I went all in. Here's what my week looked like.

  • Wake up at 4:45am.
  • Be at church by 6am for contemplative prayer and quiet time.
  • Leave at 7am for home, pray, journal, read, and get ready for work.
  • Work 9:30am to 6pm. Use lunch break to study the bible. (I also wrote down any verses that stuck out to me, which as I write this entry and read over them, I realize how closely they correlate with the events of the week. I've included a few.)
  • Drive straight to church for evening service.
  • Worship/pray from 7pm to 10pm.
  • Drive home. Journal or read, pray.
  • Sleep around 11pm.

I was also fasting. I have been reading a lot about and have been wanting to experience it for myself. I'd planned to fast only lunch, and to use that half hour a day to read and focus and pray, but I felt called to push myself further than that. I can't say I was completely consistent though, there were two nights after church that I really needed to eat something. I also fasted from the things that normally capture all of my attention: internet, TV, etc. I really spent all of my time (minus work) devoting my energy to God.
It was intense, to say the least.

I went into it with expectations, or at least hopes, that I would get a clear message from him; a word, a phrase, an image. I wanted to know if I'm in the right place, doing the right things. I wanted to know what was up ahead. I thought I could ask God for what I wanted to hear and I would get the answer I was looking for. But that wasn't what God was calling me for.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

They said a lot about how we were there to be ministered to, but also to minister to other people. I didn't know how I'd fit into that. I had never prayed out loud, either in a group or for someone. I didn't see how I was fit to minister to anyone. Who am I to do that?

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness
through our knowledge of him who called us
by his own glory and goodness."
2 Peter 3:11

There were a lot of moments where God pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I had honestly never vocalized a prayer, not even by myself. And the first time was in a group with people I didn't know, and my assigned prayer was for the last few months of George W.'s presidency (which, if you know me, was pretty ironic), and I have to say, I was so worried about if I was saying the right things that I don't think it was much of a prayer to God but to the people in my group. It got easier each night, as we were led to pray in groups over different things and I became a lot more comfortable. Another first was praying for someone out loud. Thursday it was for healing of a girl with cystic fibrosis, and it was a strong experience of loving a complete stranger.

To be completely honest, I spent the first few days in self-serving expectancy, praying that he would speak to me, please! God, where are you!? All I can hear is my voice echoing back at me! The leaders kept talking about how if we couldn't feel anything or hear anything, it was probably because there was something standing in our way. And I knew this must be true, but all the self-analysis in the world couldn't have gotten me there. My prayers turned to a longing to know what was in my heart that I didn't see.

"Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you."
Matthew 7:7

When I finally started to just be still and quiet, God uprooted some significant truths about myself that I hadn't even been aware of. It took one sentence in one prayer I received from a girl I'd never seen before to reveal a lot of pain I had so hidden away I couldn't find it. I felt like I'd been broken in half.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed."
2 Corinthians 4:7

I ran across the hall to talk to someone in the prayer room and my story came spilling out, along with all of my worries and fears and doubts about God's love and about ever finding someone to love me like that. Things I had never been honest about, not even with myself. The girl I was talking to sat listening and didn't seem to know quite what to say, but I just felt like I needed to get everything on my heart out. When the service ended, I sat on one of the couches and wrote in a journal they had for people to write in. In a jumbled mess I tried to recount all the things that had come up. I prayed for God's help in keeping that wall broken down so that it could be healed, and not concealed again.

Of all the things that resurfaced, one major theme was how much emphasis I put on what people think of me. I spend more energy and thought on earning people's admiration than I had any idea, because deep down I'm afraid that people will leave me. I can say a million times that it's God's opinion that matters and no one else's, but in reality, I am incredibly self-conscious. The more I thought on it, the more I realized how many years worth of bricks I had laid down in an attempt to build up a person that people would like and respect and stick with; so much so that I don't even begin to know myself. One of the most painful things about it was the fact that I have never truly worshipped God, because I've always been so concerned about what people will think of me. It's never been from the heart; it's just been singing.

I'm still far from letting go of the concern about what people think, but realizing how much it affects the way I live is the first step to releasing it. It was on Thursday night that I truly worshipped from my heart for the first time and wasn't thinking about who was watching. It was the first night that I've been filled by the spirit in months.

It took God all week to answer my prayers that he break down the barrier keeping me distant, but he did, and I am so thankful for it. As intense of an experience as it was, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

As an end to the week, we spent Friday night recounting all that God had done in our church. They had a few people get up and read excerpts from the journals people had been writing in, and it felt like the floor beneath me dropped away when they read my journal aloud to a packed room. I wanted to cry and hide and smile all at the same time. After my journal entry, they read one written by a girl on Thursday who had been prayed over; she wrote about how thankful she was for prayer for her cystic fibrosis and how she was reawakened to the joy and comfort that only God can provide.

Not only did my Heavenly Father remind me how much his love doesn't need to be earned but is given freely and without limit, but he showed me how he is using me to love and comfort and minister to others, even when I don't believe I'm capable of that myself.

"Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Matthew 10:38

The most peaceful truth I can sink into is knowing that the most powerful, mighty creator of the universe who knows and sees all, loves me more than I will ever be able to comprehend, and is eternally faithful.

I wear my 'Awakened' dog-tag (which ROCKHARBOR had imprinted and gave out) now as a reminder to keep my eyes not only fixed on him, but wide open always.

I ended this week tonight, in a celebration service with all of my new team members, and when they asked if anyone had anything to share about this past week I got up in front of my church (wow, you really don't realize how many people are there until you're standing in front of them holding a microphone) and described everything that happened. And after the service I had all kinds of people come up and thank me for sharing my story. I continue to be in awe of the fact that I would be able to minister to anyone at all, being so new in my faith. Then again, God doesn't really have a track record of only choosing the most mature, sinless, righteous people for his works.

"Do not comform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Romans 12

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

God In Motion

As you know if you have been following for awhile, I started this blog the day after I attended ROCKHARBOR (and church, for that matter!) for the first time, met God very directly, and was instantly changed. I knew after such a powerful experience that I needed to document my walk in a new faith and the incredible things that were taking place in my life. My friend who had been at church with me that night asked if he could share what I had written, and of course I agreed, without knowing who he intended to send it to. He had sent it to a few pastors, some of which he knows from earlier in his life (like his youth pastor), and some who call ROCKHARBOR home, including our teaching pastor, who had given the sermon that first night... You can imagine my surprise!

Out of that initial connection have come a great many things. I have developed a fellowship with his youth pastor online. We've had some great conversations and I'm so thankful for how generously he shares his wisdom and faith whenever I have questions! When one of the pastors from ROCKHARBOR read it, he said it would be a good story for Motion. Neither of us knew what Motion was so we read some of it online. It's a bi-monthy magazine our church produces, which is filled with first hand accounts of how God is moving through ROCKHARBOR. (Check out the online archive here.) I fell in love with the rawness and honesty of the stories and how inspiring it was to see God impacting lives in all kinds of circumstances.

I continued reading it over the next couple months, and felt called to get involved, but I didn't know how to go about that. I've always loved to write and as a loving and devoted follower of Christ, it seemed like a great fit. I flipped to the back page to find the email address of the editor, and sent him a quick note asking if he needed any help. He told me there would be an open enrollment for the writing team soon, and we kept in touch through email for a few months until the time came for the informational meeting and a try-out assignment.

The assignment was to write our own Motion Life-Story; is a time when God transformed our lives, and who we had been before and how we were changed after. Though the past five months have provided endless options, my choice was obvious. I retold the story of my first night at church, and included a lot more honest background of who I had been before and who I am today. (Find the final edit below.)

I submitted my assignment last week and am now just waiting to hear back.

It's something I've been wanting to be involved in since I first read it and have spent the past few months hoping it would happen. I spent some good hours and a lot of energy on my try-out, and have relived some difficult memories in the process. And as much as it's something I've wanted to do, I'm not praying that I make it on the team anymore. My prayers now just ask that his will be done and that I go where I will be most beneficial to him.

I smile when I recognize God revealing himself in surprising ways, even during those times when I think I have everything figured out, and it becomes clear I don't. Its humbling to remember that, but there is so much comfort in knowing that he can see far beyond what I can, and knows and wants the best for me.

I have peace on the subject. I'm not worried about whether or not I'll make the writing team. Life happens, and its far from predictable. I trust that if writing for Motion is his will, it will happen. And if that isn't his will, he has something else up ahead for me. I know he called me there, but only time will tell why. Its exciting to see what God is going to do next.

Faith is not about looking before you leap and then deciding if you feel like jumping, but simply saying, "yes, Lord." No one knows better than he does, is more trustworthy, or loves us more.

So, with my eyes closed I say yes, Lord! Only time will tell where I'm going to land. I can't wait to see!


And now, the story.

Looking Through God's Eyes

Growing up, I never knew God. I’m an only child of divorced parents, and while there was plenty of conflict between them, a lack of religion was one subject they agreed on. On one side I had my mom, a non-practicing Catholic, and on the other I had my dad, a non-practicing Jew.

I was raised to believe physical appearance the most important quality. It was clear from a young age that if there was something "wrong" with how you looked, you changed it, no matter what the cost. And I was far from of this idea of beauty. I was chubby. I had frizzy hair. I wasn't cute. I wasn't athletic. I wasn't popular. As I got older and became more aware of what I looked like versus what I was "supposed" to look like, my self-esteem plummeted. I came home in tears the day my first crush started dating my best friend. My consolation prize was getting my hair highlighted for the first time and new makeup. Whether it was intentional or not, the message was that if he hadn't picked me, I must not be pretty enough.

In high school my lack of confidence consumed me. I never had a boyfriend and it felt like I didn't deserve one. Despite education on eating disorders, at home I was told that it would be healthier for me to be anorexic than overweight. My mom promised she would quit smoking when I quit eating. By senior year, I was overcome by depression and severely limited what I ate. When I met my first boyfriend, it felt like a reward for my suffering. I was finally desirable to someone, and I made excuses for the way he treated me. So did my family.

When I got to college we broke up, and I started getting lots of attention I wasn't used to. It was a thrill to be found attractive, and I thrived on it. But no matter what, I still hated my appearance. Soon my craving for affection led me down a dark road. With everything I knew I couldn't distinguish the line between being wanted and being used. I convinced myself that my promiscuity was an expression of how free I was, when in reality it was a reflection of how broken my heart was. I ached for someone to love me, but I couldn't admit that to anyone, especially myself. Sex lost all meaning.

One summer, I moved next door to two guys who were best friends but polar opposites; Nick, the wild one who drank every night and slept around, and Peter, a sweet Christian guy who abstained from sex and alcohol all together. I fell for Peter instantly. I knew he would never want a girl like me, and I quickly cleaned up my act. I know it was God who was trying to pull me out of my emptiness, but I didn’t know it then.

Peter and I hung out all summer, but he didn’t how I felt about him. When he and my roommate started dating, I was crushed. At a party one night, and his best friend Nick started coming on to me. After too many drinks I went home with him, relieved to be wanted again. As the alcohol wore off I realized what I was doing and practically ran home. I tried to brush my teeth but I couldn’t even look in the mirror. I couldn’t fool myself anymore. I didn’t leave the house for three days, afraid that I’d see one of them.

A friend finally talked me into going out for lunch, but we didn’t get far. A few blocks from my house, another car ran through an intersection and hit me, totaling my car. We were relatively unharmed, although my face and chest were cut and burned from the airbag. In shock, we pushed the car to the side of the road and walked home, where I saw Nick washing his car outside. He looked at me, bleeding, and said nothing. The accident had shaken me, but that hurt much worse.

I’ve heard it said that car accidents are a wakeup call from God, but I didn’t see it like that. Not yet.

It was that afternoon that I made the choice to be abstinent until I was in a serious relationship. I told my friends, and they joked about it, thinking it would never last. But it did, and after two years of renewing my sense of what sex meant, I met someone who valued me far beyond how I valued myself. I poured my heart into it, but being unable to love myself also meant I didn’t know how to be loved by someone else. I never felt worthy of the way he felt about me, and after a few years it finally pushed us apart. I felt my world was crumbling all over again.

I knew I was missing something, though I wasn’t sure what it was. I casually dated some great guys but it never became serious. I was emotionally shut off. It felt good to be more independent but there was still an emptiness that I couldn’t explain. I still didn’t like anything about myself, and hoped for the day that someone would love me enough to fix that.

In the early Spring of 2008, I met someone different from anyone I had ever met. His relationship with God is the biggest part of his life. I had never wanted anything to do with that, but as he would talk something started stirring in me that I couldn’t explain. Having never been to church, I was too nervous to go, but I started listening to sermons on the ROCKHARBOR website. Any time I would read or talk or think about God, I would get this anxious, excited feeling in my heart, though I wouldn’t admit that it was having any effect on me. The relationship was short, but he left a lasting impression.

It was a Sunday afternoon in April when I realized I wasn’t apprehensive about going to church anymore. I asked a friend if I could go with him to the service at ROCKHARBOR that night, but I played it cool. I was afraid I wouldn’t feel anything, and I didn’t want to let anyone down.

The message that night was called Sex is Powerful. It was about how huge of an emotional connection sex is, why God calls us to wait until marriage, and no matter where we’ve been we have the opportunity to start fresh. God can redeem us. It helped me understand that even with the mistakes I had made, all the scars could be healed. I realized that it wasn’t enough to wait for a relationship to be serious, and I knew then I would wait until marriage.

Although I had felt good about being there, I was still so foreign to me. As we were shuffling out, my friend spotted a pastor he knows and I told him I would meet him in the lobby. As I walked out I caught a glimpse of Peter and Nick, the two friends I had lived next door to. Five years ago. 200 miles away from where I stood. The ones I hadn’t spoken to since.

I rushed back in to find my friend. Trembling, I gave him a 30 second synopsis of everything that happened years ago and since then. Shaking, we walked back into the lobby. They saw me and said hello, looking almost as surprised as I was. My heart raced. At that second everything clicked. I had no idea how I had ever been able to see the world and not see God in it. After a few minutes we went our separate ways. I didn’t say much the rest of the night, and as soon as I got home I wept for all the years I had felt lost and alone, because I wasn’t.

They say that the moment you die, your life flashes before your eyes. In those moments my old life ended, and it did. I saw God in everything. Every painful step of my journey made sense, and it didn’t hurt anymore. He was there with me in the lobby at ROCKHARBOR and He had always been, faithfully waiting until the moment I would realize that His love is the only love I need. He led me there to show me I had been redeemed. We can change our own minds, but only God is capable of changing our hearts.

The following Sunday on the way to ROCKHARBOR, my friend and I were going through an intersection a few blocks from his house when we were hit hard. It was almost identical to the accident I had been in five years before. But this time, as we stood on the sidewalk, relatively unharmed and watching the emergency vehicles swarm the scene, I had to keep myself from smiling. Because this time, I knew why I had made it out safely. I was overcome with peace and gratefulness.

God is continuously molding my heart and revealing to me the things that hold me back. As I gain greater understanding on what it means for my whole life to be an act of worship, I’ve realized that hating myself, one of God’s creations, is far from worshipful.

On the outside I’m the same person I was five months ago, but for the first time I can see myself through God’s eyes. I’ve finally learned to love myself just as He created me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An Important Week - A Different Church

A Different Church

I had told my friend a few weeks ago that as much as I love ROCKHARBOR, I wanted to start experiencing other churches, because it was the only place I had ever been to and I wanted to know what went on in other ones. The night before Serve Day was a good time to start, because there was a celebration service at Mariner's Church, a mega-church in Irvine where one of my friends' fathers is a pastor. I enjoyed the service very much, though there weren't many people there, and felt really comfortable there. That Sunday, my friend and I went to their "Sunday Night" service, which is brand new and takes place in a small room above the worship center. There were about 30 people there, and everyone sits in a circle to worship, pray (a lot, I liked that), and listen to the message. It had a good sense of community, but I know that I like to feel the power of a room packed with hearts on fire for Christ.

This past Sunday, I went to Saddleback Church, another nearby mega-church where Rick Warren (author of Purpose Driven Church and Purpose Driven Life) is senior pastor. Though I had heard about their "rock and roll" services, I opted for the regular one, as I wanted to experience the "normal" church service. As I passed by Overdrive (the "rock" service) I heard great music booming from inside and saw floods of smiling, energetic young people crowding in expectantly.

I kept walking and finally reached the worship center... this place is huge. I walked in during worship, feeling guilty that I had missed that time to worship, but found that a good majority of the attendees were late as well. I was handing an outline and found a seat towards the top. After some announcements, the worship began again, and though the leader asked everyone to stand, a lot of people stayed seated. I stood, and was aware that I was the only one in my area singing. But I pushed my self-consciousness aside and remembered why I was singing. I saw three pairs of hands held up in praise out of the thousands in the room. The band prayed over us, and before we sat we were asked to say hi to some people around us. I quickly turned around and started introducing myself to the people sitting around me, but it seemed as though most people just sat down.

I sat, and the message began. I felt this stale, lifeless air all around me; this energy of "I dare you to make me feel something" as the pastor spoke, and it was discouraging. I said a silent prayer that God would awaken their hearts so they could have a close relationship with Him as well. Many of the people still wore their Bluetooth device and were talking quietly during the service. I wondered why they were there. I really enjoyed the message, and got a lot of good information out of it. It was about the bible from its very origins; who wrote it, how it was compiled, what it is used for, how its misinterpreted, and how we can try to connect with it better. As the pastor referred to scripture and I flipped through my bible to find the page, I realized no one around me had a bible with them, but were reading the words off of the outline we were given. It ended with the second side of the page, which was a "fill in the blank" and true/false activity that the pastor led.

As soon as the message ended and the pastor finished praying, the worship band came back up on stage and started playing and about half of the congregation jumped out of their seats and shuffled out the door! I've never left church early, but I left too, because I knew my heart wasn't in the right place to worship. I couldn't feel God's presence there. I left feeling empty.

That night, my friend and I decided to go to our good ol' home-church, ROCKHARBOR, and I can't begin to explain what a good idea that was. God was there! There was no doubt about it. We sat in the middle amidst a crowd of passionate followers of Christ and I could feel the presence of God physically and emotionally. The message was fantastic, and just what I needed to hear. It was about why we do the things we do, and how to do them so as to please God, not to be driven by the wrong influences. When we worshiped, I truly worshiped God with my whole heart and any sense of self-consciousness or doubt was washed away. It was such a moving experience.

I will continue to experience other churches because I feel the need to know and understand the body of Christ as a whole. But I do really love ROCKHARBOR. This weekend was such a great reminder of what keeps me coming back every weekend with an expectant, excited heart.

Beyond all the details, God is so good to me. I felt myself becoming more and more distant from Him, and started to wonder why HE was leaving me! Oh, the silly things I come up with. God never leaves me, this I know. But its up to me to choose to hang out with Him, make Him a priority, and fix my eyes on Him alone. It's up to me, and it's certainly not about me. It's all about Him!

I've had A Purpose Drive Life, by Rick Warren, sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time now. After reading the Prologue and seeing that you're supposed to read only one chapter a day for 40 straight days, I had set it aside, thinking I couldn't commit. But as it says, we live on average 25,550 days. What reason on earth would we have for not being able to commit 40 of them to figure out our purpose for the rest of them?? When you think about it like that, it sounds absurd that we couldn't devote a few minutes (a measly few minutes!) to getting to know God and His plan for us better. Oh, the way our minds work. So I am committed. Today was my second day, and so far I've learned more than I expected. One of the last sentences of the chapter today even made me cry! No joke, sitting on my bed, and the tears started flowing. I needed this.

In other news, I have an informational meeting/writing audition on Wednesday for the writing team for ROCKHARBOR's publication, Motion. Since I love to write and I love God, it seems like the perfect opportunity for me. I know I'm really touched by the stories in it, and I'd love to be a part of touching the hearts of other readers. Please pray for me!

Lord, you've rekindled the fire in my heart and reminded me what peace You bring. I know you have big plans for me and I know that you'll see me through anything. You're my reason, for loving, laughing, caring, breathing. You're the reason. I'm only here because you will me to be. Thank you God for the unbelievable grace you show me constantly. I see You now more than ever and I pray that I will continue to do so. Lead the way, Lord. I'm yours. In Jesus' name. Amen.

An Important Week - A Christian Concert

Christian Concert

I went to my first Christian concert, which was at the Orange County fair, and it was great! A couple of my favorite bands were playing and my best friend and I had been super excited about it since we heard about it on the radio. The David Crowder Band played first and they were lots of fun, but MercyMe was really incredible. Bart, the lead singer, has such an amazing voice and a really inspiring stage presence. He really brought the vibe of the show from a concert to a huge worship session.

He said some really moving things that hit home and gave me a lot of clarity on some things that had been on my heart. I had a discussion the other day with a guy close to my age who's getting his Masters at Fuller Seminary, and we were talking about spiritual warfare. He was asking me what I thought about the presence of Satan in our everyday lives and was telling me about this constant battle between God and Satan. It didn't sit right with me, and in my heart it didn't feel right, but I told him I'd have to think about it before I could respond with my point of view because since I'm a new believer, I don't have the same background of knowledge.

The next day at the concert, Bart was talking in between songs (somewhere around the time he told us that he had pneumonia.... wow! He can sound like that with pneumonia? That is talent!) about this battle between the evil one and the Lord. He very bluntly said, "God reigns. He reigns over ALL, heaven, earth, and even hell. He is the ultimate, and there is nothing that even comes close to Him. There is no 'battle' between Christ and Satan. But the Lord allows Satan to get to us sometimes, because it helps to draw us closer to Him and strengthen and shape our hearts to lead us to where we ultimately need to go in His kingdom."

Wow. That really hit it on the head for me. How can I stand and sing about God reigning over all, but not believe that He really reigns over ALL? God is in control of ALL things, big, small, good, and evil. He does nothing by accident and makes no mistake. He has no comparison.

When I returned days later to the conversation we had been having, it felt like I actually had a leg to stand on, and my counterpart even seemed to be able to see a different perspective. To know that five months ago I became a part of His kingdom with 0% knowledge of anything having to do with Christianity or God, it's exhilarating to feel Christ empowering me with an understanding in Him that goes deep beyond the surface, and the passionate heart to want to get to know Him as well as I can.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

An Important Week - Ministry

I had a very important week last week. There were a few big milestones in my walk with Christ that I wanted to share. (I'm breaking it up in parts, it was getting too long!)


First off, June 26th was Serve Day. If you're unfamiliar, Serve Day is one day out of the year that is meant to be a catalyst; to inspire and connect people with opportunities to dig in and get involved in the communities around them.

There are tons of things to choose from, ranging from beach clean-ups to serving food to the homeless. I read almost every opportunity on the list, and after much internal deliberation about if I was choosing for God's needs or choosing for my own comfort and desires, I picked a project connected with Walking on Water ministry, and did ministry (meaning walking around and talking to people, making connections, inviting them to a screening of a Christian surf movie, and passing out free dvds) at the US Surf Open in Huntington Beach.

Before, during, and even after, though exhausted, I was feeling guilty. I had reasoned with myself that God blesses us with different talents and we should use them to further His kingdom... so I figured I'm great at making conversation and connecting with people, and I'm outgoing, so that's the project I'm best suited for. But I felt like I had too much fun.

In hindsight, I think no matter what project people chose, they got tons of joy out of it after all. But I was doubting my reasons for choosing that opportunity, and feeling like I must have picked it because it was spending the day at the beach and it seemed easy. It was truly exhausting (being in the sun for 9 straight hours and approaching hundreds of people with the same friendliness and enthusiasm the whole time takes a lot out of you) but I prayed that Christ would soften the hearts of the people I connected with and that the materials we handed out would plant the seed in their lives. I was rejected by quite a few people, some even laughing and throwing away what I gave them in my plain view, but for every person that rejected me, there were 10 who seemed genuinely intrigued and open. I really did feel the Holy Spirit was assisting me in connecting with the people I talked to though.

A few days later, I was talking to my best friend, who said he hadn't wanted to tell me ahead of time because he didn't want to scare me, but he was really impressed and inspired by the fact that I picked the hardest opportunity on the list. Like I said, I had been feeling very much the opposite, but he told me that doing ministry that is talking directly to and connecting with non-believers is just about the hardest thing one can do. He said especially since I'm new in my faith, it was a huge step for me. It made me feel a lot more at peace with the situation.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Leaving the City of Regret

I had not really planned on taking a trip this time of year, and yet I found myself packing rather hurriedly. This trip was going to be unpleasant and I knew in advance that no real good would come of it. I'm talking about my annual "Guilt Trip."

I got tickets to fly there on Wish-I-Had Airlines. It was an extremely short flight. I got my baggage, which I could not check. I chose to carry it myself all the way. It was weighted down with a thousand memories of what might have been. No one greeted me as I entered the terminal to the Regret City International Airport. I say international because people from all over the world come to this dismal town.

As I checked into the Last Resort Hotel, I noticed that they would be hosting this year's more important event, the Annual Pity Party. I wasn't going to miss that great social occasion. Many of the town's leading citizens would be there.

First, there would be the Done family - you know, Should Have Done, Would Have Done, and Could Have Done. Then came the I Had family. You probably know Wish I Had and his clan. Of course, the Opportunities would be present, Missed and Lost.

The biggest family would be the Yesterdays. There are far too many of them to count, but each one would have a very sad story to share.

Then Shattered Dreams would surely make an appearance. And It's Their Fault would regale us with stories (excuses) about how things had failed in his life. Each story would be loudly applauded by Don't Blame Me and I Couldn't Help It.

Well, to make a long story short, I went to this depressing party knowing that there would be no real benefit in doing so. And, as usual, I became very depressed. But as I thought about all of the stories of failures brought back from the past, it occured to me that the remainder of this trip and subsequent "pity parties" could be canceled by ME. I started to realize that I did not have to be there. I didn't have to be depressed.

happy, joyous, fulfilled, encouraged, as well as encouraging. Knowing this, I left the City of Regret immediately and left no forwarding address. Am I sorry for the mistakes I've made in the past? Yes! But there is no physical way to undo them.

So, if you're planning a trip back to the City of Regret, please cancel all your reservations now. Instead, take a trip to Starting Again. I did, and I liked it so much that I have now taken up permanent residence there. My neighbors, the I Forgive Myselfs and the New Starts, are very helpful. By the way, you don't have to carry around heavy baggage, because the load is lifted from your shoulders upon arrival.

God bless you in finding this great town. If you can find it - it's in your own heart - please look me up! I live on I Can Do It St.

- by Larry Harp

Friday, July 11, 2008

Amazing Love

As I may have mentioned before, I love Rob Bell's videos.

I just watched one entitled "You," that ended with a great quote and such an important concept.

"Broken, flawed, vulnerable people like you and me are invited to be the hands and feet of a Jesus who loves us EXACTLY as we are, and yet loves us WAY too much to let us stay that way."

I was having a conversation tonight with a non-believer about what it was that happened 4 months ago and how it was that I came to believe in Christianity, as opposed to any other religion; as he described it, they're all "basically the same."

There are two parts to the answer, though. How I came to Christianity I've explain here before, but to really hone it down to a sentence, God had been giving me opportunities to see Him before, but he gave me an opportunity that was impossible not to see. And as I told him, once you open your eyes a bit to be able to see God, you realize it's impossible not to see Him everywhere, in everything.

As for the Why Christianity? question... To know that there is a God, and that God loves me so incredibly much, and will continue to love me that much no matter who I am or what I do, because He created me perfectly to be me, exactly as I am; well, how can one not find an immense and overwhelming peace in that? To know that in any struggle, God is there. With every good moment and low moment, God is there. Not only is He there, but He provides these things to me, the good AND the bad, as gifts. Everything is an experience that will shape and mold my heart into what He wishes for me, and even through the most difficult times, I can't help but be thankful for the life I've been given.

If there is anything I want to know how to do better, it's to be able to describe and demonstrate effectively the grace that I've gotten in my life, because it's given meaning to the word salvation. The Lord has filled a huge void in me that I hadn't even realized that I had. There is more power in truly knowing the love we have from the Creator of all things than in any amount of money or success or popularity or strength or any other worldly concept. I wish that everyone could feel what I feel.

I have a hard time understanding what is in another person's heart sometimes. A lot of the time I'm more confused by a fellow Christian than I am of a non-believer. I feel as though the majority of Christians I come in contact with go through the motions, or say the right words, or put the right bumper sticker on their car, but don't seriously know what it means to be a follower of Christ. Even something as simple as a question, like what are the 6 things you absolutely need in your life? It seems like for every Christian that lists God in one of their 6 (sometimes last! Can you imagine?) there are 15 who apparently don't think God ranks as highly as music, friends, or their cell phone. I can't begin to imagine their reasoning.

God gives us limitless opportunities to know Him, and it's up to us to extend our hand and our heart. But man, once you let Him into your heart, that all-consuming love makes anything possible.

Lord, your grace is just so amazing, and I am so in awe of the way you can change the hard heart of a stubborn girl like me. I know if you can break down my barriers, you can do it for anyone, and I just pray that other people will be able to get to know You the way I do. You make anything possible, I'm forever grateful for every step I take with you. My heart belongs to you Jesus and I only hope I can continue to be your voice and hands and feet so that others can be able to hang out in your kingdom and have the peace that I've come to know. There's no better place. In your name I pray. Amen.

Friday, June 20, 2008

You are the strength that keeps me walking.

This video brings a few tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

Find Me Here
Speak To Me
I want to feel you
I need to hear you
You are the light
That's leading me
To the place where I find peace again.

You are the strength, that keeps me walking.
You are the hope, that keeps me trusting.
You are the light to my soul.
You are my're everything.

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

You calm the storms, and you give me rest.
You hold me in your hands, you won't let me fall.
You steal my heart, and you take my breath away.
Would you take me in? Take me deeper now?

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?
And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

Cause you're all I want, You're all I need
You're everything,everything
You're all I want your all I need
You're everything, everything.
You're all I want you're all I need.
You're everything, everything
You're all I want you're all I need, you're everything, everything.

And How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?
How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

He Does Love You.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Great Example of God's Love

I've been writing this post in my head for a couple weeks now, but haven't had the time to sit down and type it.

We know that God loves us unconditionally. This love is called Agape; it's an all-consuming love, a forgiving love, and a love that comes from the heart, the soul, and the mind. It's the kind of love described in 1Corinthians13.

Though we have God's love, one of the biggest blessings we can have is to have an example of His kind of love here on earth; and even better, to have the ability to love someone like that too.

I know that I am incredibly blessed to have a great example of God's love in my life: my best friend.

From the day I met him, he has inspired me, motivated me, and encouraged me. He started out as someone that I looked up to and wanted to be like; ambitious, compassionate, generous, and unfalteringly positive. Over the course of knowing each other, and as our friendship has developed into what it is today, he has shown me an endless amount of love, selflessness, respect, and a huge belief in me. No matter how down I am, he is always by my side with a shoulder to cry on, reminding me of the good things I have and helping me figure out how to solve the things that are upsetting me. He is always patient with me, no matter how hard I make that.

Of anyone in my life, I know I can turn to him when I don't know what to do. He's wise beyond his years and has a tremendous amount of compassion. I know I could tell him anything, even the deepest, ugliest parts of who I am or have been, and he would still love me just the same. And he was the one to baptize me, and I can't imagine a better person to be right there with me when I cleansed myself of my old life and began a new one in the name of the Lord. We walk in faith together.

He never makes me feel bad, and keeps no record of wrong. I haven't been a perfect friend, and I know I've messed up on quite a few occasions, but he's forgiven me and loved me despite those times. I never feel like I have to censor myself or like I can't be myself, because I know he loves me for who I am, even though I'm far from perfect.

In the same way, I try to be the best example of perfect love that I can be for him too. I care about him so deeply; when I can tell he's upset, it upsets me just as much. It makes me feel so good to do things for him that let him know I was thinking about him. No matter what, I'll always be there for him when he needs me at any hour of the day or night. I try to be a good listener when he needs me to listen, and give him the best advice I can when he wants answers. He could tell me anything and I would never judge him or love him any less. He's one of the most amazing people I've ever met; even my friends who don't know him that well can see that right off the bat.

In my life, from my past and from my present, he has had more of a positive impact on me than anyone else, from back to the day I met him all the way to the present. He's never hurt my feelings, never made me feel neglected, never turned his back on me, never made me feel like there was anything I couldn't do or wasn't capable of. He teaches me and inspires me and is my biggest supporter. He's shown me the kind of unconditional love and devotion I've never had before.

Every night, in every single prayer, I thank God from the bottom of my heart for giving me such an incredible best friend, and I ask Him to help me show him the kind of love he shows me. Of all the blessings in my life, his friendship is one of the most obvious by far. I know that I don't deserve him, and my only wish is that I can be the kind of friend that he deserves.

Col 3:12

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Col 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Col 3:14

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Water From The Rock

I was saying last night, I've been pleading with God to show me what His will is in a way I can recognize, because I think I'm so caught up in what I want that I can't tell what He wants. Even after a few pretty obvious signs yesterday, I think my heart wasn't in the right place to internalize them.

We went to church tonight, and the message was focused around being involved in their series of outreach projects during the summer, which is called Go. Todd, the church's lead pastor, was telling us why we give ourselves away. Sometimes in our lives, we get so caught up in what we're doing that we completely lose sight of the plot. It's easy to forget the reasons why. His example was going to church; we go to honor and praise the Lord. So we go for an hour and a half each week, and we spend a lot of it singing songs of worship to Him. But the real worship is not as much in song as it is in life. When we reach out to those who are struggling, forget our own worries and comforts and details, and focus our energy on helping someone who needs it more than we do, we are worshiping Jesus in our actions. It's easy to go through the motions. We experience actual growth when there is love and praise behind them.

He talked about how easy it is to be so directed on figuring out ourselves from the inside that we can't even hear God when he speaks to us. Sounds familiar. We can spend so much time and energy scrutinizing every one of our thoughts and misguided actions and wondering what on earth it is that we are supposed to be doing, when the answer could be sitting right in front of us, staring us in the face. It takes a tremendous amount of faith and submission to trust that the Lord sees even when we can't, and to stop trying to plan everything for ourselves. It really spoke to me.

He first referenced Psalms 95:6-9, describing a flock of sheep; a species of animal that we know is 100% dependent on being guided and taken care of. There are so many factors out there that would threaten their wellbeing that sheep couldn't survive in the wild on their own.
Neither can we.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the desert,
where your fathers tested and tried me,
though they had seen what I did.

He explained that Meribah and Massah were alters that Moses had set about as he led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. It was custom to set up an alter at a place where the Lord had done something incredible. But Meribah and Massah were not the common alter; they didn't honor God. They represented a spot where the people had quarreled and doubted God and tested Him when their own earthly needs were not immediately met.

As Moses was rescuing the Israelites from Egypt and lives of slavery as the Lord had led him to do, they became thirsty walking through the desert. Though they were assured that there was a much better life up ahead, they lacked the faith to believe that. They complained to Moses, to a point of wanting to turn around and go back to being slaves in Egypt, where at least they had water to drink. He asked them, "Why do you put the Lord to the test?" (Exodus 17:2) And when Moses cried out to Him and asked what he was to do, God showed him a rock that he could strike and water would pour out for them to drink. Even after such a miracle, these blind wanders asked him, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7)

The first thought, of course, is how could the Israelites stand there and witness such incredible miracles, and STILL doubt the existence of God and all the blessings he had in store for them? Todd described how they could still be so skeptical as spiritual Alzheimer's. It goes beyond a loss of memories from specific events and to a broader way of being where one's loss of faith becomes so all-consuming that no matter what they see or hear, their heart is too hardened to be able to witness it. They are constantly demanding Him to "prove it." No matter how much lays ahead for them and what plans the Lord has for them, they are of so little faith that they would rather turn and go back to their own Egypt (which could be anything from an empty heart, bad habits, unsuccessful relationships, substance abuse) than to submit themselves to His will and trust that He will lead them to something immensely better in the long run.

I felt as though something had woken up inside of me.

On my drive home, I was listening to The Fish 95.9 as usual, and when a song I love came on the radio, it occurred to me that I never listen to all the lyrics.

I'm waking up
The world is turning

The sun is shining again
I'm holding on
To things I shouldn't
It's time to let them go
I've been on a losing streak
Hit so hard I couldn't speak
But when I hear Your voice it fades away

And I can hear You say
It's a brand new day
The pain goes away
I'm headed for the door

And I'm going home

Your love, it burns

Away my darkness
You guide me when I'm blind
You are the light
That shines inside me
Showing me I'm
So much more
When I've been on a losing streak
Hit so hard I couldn't speak
But when I hear Your voice it fades away

Take me into Your arms
My home lies within Your heart

After the message tonight and hearing that song, I realized I really am holding on to things I shouldn't. I've been trying to go back to my Egypt because it seems safer than blindly following where God leads me. I was so set on having it my way that I wouldn't let God speak to me. There's one thing I've been milling over in my head, though; how it could really have been only meant for a short time, yet we had all this amazing chemistry and connection?

I'm still going to have sad feelings, but my focus has shifted. It isn't where He is leading me. I want to devote my energy and my heart to being a servant of God. He will take care of the rest.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lord, I don't always understand.

I find myself praying in the car a lot. I think it's because its one of the few times during my day that I'm alone and I can have quiet. I also tend to think a lot while I'm driving. Add to that the fact that I always listen to Christian radio in the car, and I commute 40 minutes to work everyday, and you can probably understand why my drive is always God-focused.

I left work today and was driving straight to my ex's apartment, because I told him I would cat-sit while he was away for the weekend. I was driving towards the city he lives in, and as I got closer, I got more sad. I turned off my music and started to pray. I asked... no, begged... the Lord to bring him back to me. I said I knew that it wasn't up to me and that was an unfair request, and if it wasn't right, if it really wasn't His will, to give me a strong sign that it wasn't what was meant for us, beyond him being stubborn. It's hard to decipher signs from God vs someone taking things into their own hands, due to fear or insecurity or whatever else it could be.

I got to his house and opened the door to find the two lonely kitties, being extra affectionate. He'd told me they don't need much help; a big bowl of food and water lasts them days; but that he'd like it if I could go and hang out with them a little. So I got to his apartment, made sure they had enough food, and snuggled with them on my lap for a bit.

The apartment was messy as usual. I was drawn back to the days when we were amazing together, and I loved doing things for him. I tidied up a bit. Remembering why I had come, I wanted to spend more attention on the kitties, and scooped one up and put him on my lap while I went on his computer, which had been left on, to check in with Myspace and Facebook. Right away I noticed a "Notepad" document, open . It was a letter, penned (my best guess) to his ex-fiance about how much he misses her and how he hasn't changed, but he needs to. I was crushed.

Why did he leave that open when he asked me to go hang out at his apartment while he's away on vacation? Was that a very unfortunate coincidence? A dumb mistake? A sign from God? Or a glaring message from him to me that it's really over? Or, as the 1% of me wonders, was it written to me, to tell me that he misses me? I know in my heart it wasn't for me, but the 1% still gnaws at me.

It really upset me. I pet the kitties a bit more, made the bed (why my servant's heart always gets the best of me, I'll never know), cleaned out the litter box, and drove home distraught. Hadn't I just asked God for such a sign? Here it was, staring at me from his desktop, or at least one could presume, and I was still unable to accept it or believe it.

I got to my house, and needed to get ready to go out for my co-worker's birthday. I haven't been out with "the girls" minus a love interest since I came to know God, and to be honest, getting ready (ie putting on a lot of makeup and a showy outfit) didn't feel right at all. I kept looking in the mirror and feeling as though I wasn't honoring God, but very much the opposite. But being the strong-willed girl that I am, now even more determined to have a good time, I swallowed those feelings and pushed them as far down as I could. I was thinking about where we were going, and remembered a guy who was a friend of one of my ex's co-workers that we used to go out with. He was really funny and cool to go out with, but always seemed unnecessarily flirty with me... even in front of my guy.

So, in a moment of sheer weakness of heart, I guess with the desire to assert the fact that I can shut off my feelings just the same, I went on to Myspace with the intention of emailing him and telling him if he wanted to meet up with me, he should text me, and my cell phone number. But as I signed on, my brand-new laptop instantly shut itself down, out of the blue. It's never done that.

So.... apparently I wasn't supposed to email him. Got it.

Lord... I don't always understand you.Please help me understand! I know that's because I keep trying to live off my own free will. I know deep down that won't work. I know in the long run it's all up to you and I need to learn how to accept that. Please help me to see more clearly what your path is. I'm down here, waiting, listening for you. I'm begging you to speak to me. I need to know what you want. I love you with all my heart and I want to do right by you. Please show me what that is. I have no wish but to know and abide by your will. Mine is so strong that yours is hard to see. Help me see it, Lord. Please help me. Amen.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Only Important Desire

I think the best way to be at peace with your life is to realize that it isn't up to you.

If your sole desire is to have a close personal relationship with God, it allows you to stop worrying about how things work out or if you're getting what you want. When you leave it up to God, you achieve freedom.

It's really hard to genuinely submit and trust that He will work everything out in the best possible way, but its the best way to release your heart from pain. He will. He knows best!

May God lead you to your happiness. <3

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Peace in Praise

Psalms 86

Psa 86:11
Teach me your way, O Lord,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

Psa 86:12
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.

Psa 86:13
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

Psa 86:14
The arrogant are attacking me, O God;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life—
men without regard for you.

Psa 86:15
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Psa 86:16
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
grant your strength to your servant
and save your faithful son.

Psa 86:17
Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Why Am I Here?

My heart aches for these people, and it aches knowing that I was one of them only a few months ago. I pray that each and every one of them is able to find God and realize that He loves them no matter what they've believed or haven't believed in the past.

I see You everywhere, Pt 2

I'm in awe every single day of the blessings that surround us, and I can't even remember how I was so blind to the things that go on around me. His Holy Spirit is so present in our lives.

My walk in faith has just begun, and as you know if you've been reading from the beginning, hit me like a ton of bricks! I'm not one to be "talked into" anything; as any of my friends would tell you, I'm pretty strong-willed and I need to know every detail before I will consider changing my mind on something.

So as you can imagine, my recent realization of the Lord has come as a shock to not only me, but my friends and my family. Though it's been surprising, I haven't run into any nay-sayers just yet, which I am thankful for, although it wouldn't sway my heart. Even my friends who are non-believers have been incredibly supportive of my newfound relationship with God.

The other day, I was talking to a good friend of mine, who is atheist and up until a couple months ago, we had identical views on spirituality. I was telling her about my baptism, because she wanted to know how it went. I not only told her about how incredible the event itself was, but also how thankful I felt for the series of events that took place: my ex coming to church despite his former protests, the pastor giving the most perfect message, and his heart having changed over that 45 minutes. I told her how I had been praying for him every night and how incredible it was to see my prayers being answered before my eyes. Coincidentally, she and her boyfriend broke up the day of my baptism, and she was having a really hard time with it. She couldn't understand why I seemed so calm and satisfied despite my heartache, but I explained that the salvation of his heart and spirit were much more important to me than our being together, and seeing God breathe life back into him was all I could want. As much as I want to be with him, I know that isn't for me to worry about - getting his heart back in the right place is the first priority, and I know that the Lord will take care of the rest, like in Matthew 6.

Hours later, I got a phone call from her. She had been reading my blog (if you're reading this, Hi! <3) and listening to me talk about the comfort I have found in knowing that God is ultimately leading my life and everything will work out for the best if I look to him rather than to myself. She called me later to tell me that after hearing so much about what has changed in me recently, it made her wonder if something was missing in her heart too. She wanted to know what I know that makes me feel so at peace with my life. And she wanted a "favor" (girl, you're crazy, it's my pleasure!): she wanted me to take her with me to church a few times, and she wants to go in with an open heart and open mind and see how she feels about everything. I can't begin to describe the feeling of knowing I touched someone to a point of possibly softening their heart to God as well. Truly incredible. I called my best friend (who baptized me by the way, what a meaningful way to be reborn!) to tell him and we were both so filled with joy and awe at the way He works. I also told my ex-boyfriend (I'll call him S from now on), who responded with, "Wow, you are being used by God left and right." Wow is right!

During another conversation, my best friend (who was raised in a very Christian home and has always been deeply faithful) told me that my faith in the Lord has strengthened his own in a powerful way, which I couldn't understand. He told me that he sees me as such a strong, independent person who doesn't accept anything as truth without extensive knowledge of the subject. So seeing me become so strong in faith has given new life to his own faith... somewhere along the lines of, "if even she believes it, it MUST be true!" (You're silly.) That's probably one of the sweetest things I've been told before. What an amazing compliment!

Weeks ago I surrendered my heart to his work and have let him guide me in what I do, and already he has used me to make an impact on those around me that I love so much and care so much about. How exciting it is to be truly filled with His love and sharing it with others!

Lord, all of my thanks and praise go to You and only You! You are incredible beyond words and You alone are worthy of my praise and gratitude. I am so grateful for Your love and devotion and the abundance of blessings you've given me. I am your servant! Please continue to guide me, Lord, in demonstrating to others the love that You give to us and in living in your example. Please continue to shine your blessed light on those who are in the midst of night, so they can be awakened with your Spirit again. Keep us safe and protected in Your love and mercy. Amen.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I see You everywhere, Pt 1

The acceptance of God into my life has made a considerable change on how I view the world and my experiences. Even my friends who haven't acknowledged His truth have seen this in me.

Its really incredible to think that only a few months ago, the same things could have happened to me and I would have written them off as happenstance. My realization that the Lord is behind each and every moment of my life has opened my eyes to everything He is doing with me and around me.

Friday marked the end of a relationship that I wasn't happy in for awhile, but I was patient with. I had been praying constantly on it, because my gut instinct told me that I needed to end it to be happy. But every prayer was answered with a very clear response; wait, give it time. So I kept pleading with God to help him find happiness and fulfillment in His love, and to open his heart the way that He opened mine. I asked God to speak clearly enough to him because I knew he couldn't hear Him anymore. I couldn't get him to come to church with me, and I believed that might be the first step in the process of living with the Lord again. When he came over Friday night to break up with me, I told him about all the things I'd been praying for, and that this didn't feel right. This wasn't the answer I kept getting. He told me sometimes our prayers are answered in ways we don't expect or want. I was crushed.

Two days went by without contacting each other. Sunday night was my baptism, and I had hoped he would come. I sent him the address and time, just in case, but didn't expect his appearance. Just as the service was starting, I got a message from him that he was there.

The service began, and the message was centered around how sometimes we can become dead, dry, and empty. He told us that sometimes it feels as though there is no hope for us, and no salvation. But the Lord can breathe His life into us and make us new again. He referenced the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37.

Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.'" - Ezekiel 37:4

"Then you, my people. will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land." - Ezekiel 37:13-14

As much as this service was a celebration of the death of my old self and the birth of my new life with Christ, I sat listening to Isaac's words and thanking God over and over again for having brought my (now ex) boyfriend to church, and for giving to him a sermon that he needed to hear more than anything. I felt so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude in the Lord for answering my prayers that I could hardly contain my smile during the whole service. I say it today and for the rest of my life, God is truly amazing! And since then, his heart seems to have softened to God's grace and he has brought Him back into his life, and has committed to living fully in His word.

He told me very early on in our relationship that as much as he cared about me as his girlfriend, my spirit was most important to him because that was eternal, and our relationship was worldly. I didn't understand fully what that meant, but knew it was a good thing. As our relationship grew, so did my spirit, which is how I have come to where I am today. Through our breakup and the deliverance of his Spirit back into the arms of the Lord, I can easily say that I understand exactly what he meant then, and that I care more about his Spirit than about our worldly relationship too. I love him and I want to be with him, and if it is God's will, we will be together again when his heart is fully restored and renewed in Christ. But as of now, the most important thing to me is supporting him and encouraging him on his journey returning to the Lord, and I pray that I am as helpful to him as he has been to me.

It is an indescribable feeling when you pray so hard for something and you realize that God has heard you, and you can clearly see his response right in front of you. I knew God wasn't going to let him go, and it is such a blessing to be able to witness the remarkable change in his heart.
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