September 24, 2012

sundays // things are changing

happy monday, friends! i hope you all had a happy weekend, and for us southern californians, that you survived the heat (yet, again - seriously, we're ready for fall). 

yesterday was one of those special sundays - some of it good, some of it just different. about once a month, i get a chance to lead worship during our main service and i absolutely LOVE it - especially when i get to lead with my sweet friend Rachel! it is such a blessing to lead others in music, and it is my heart that God would be glorified through those times and that i would simply become an instrument He uses. we sang the most amazing song yesterday - have you heard David Crowder's new song "After All (Holy)"? oh man, go look it up and listen. i was humming it for the rest of the day. 

church had a sense of anticipation over it yesterday, because just this past week, we received a letter announcing our senior pastor's resignation. after serving as the senior pastor for 20 years and attending Bethany for 31 years, this is a huge change; but, i have a certain peace that God is in control. my heart just grieves along with them as they leave the family they love and know so well and step into new things. but God is good, and He has mighty things in store, i'm sure. my respect for our pastor and his family increased yesterday. he and his wife both showed so much grace and wisdom as they communicated with us and explained their situation. we are so lucky to have served under them for such a long time.

but for the next 6 weeks, we have a few last chances to hear from our pastor, and i am so looking forward to the wisdom and reminders he will impart on us in his last few sundays! yesterday, we continued walking through James and were challenged not to show favoritism - that was convicting. it is easy and feels so comfortable to spend time with people you know. but Jesus was all about loving the unloved. i pray we would all have eyes to see those He would love, and not only those that are easy to love.

i am also grateful to be a part of a church that is so sensitive to God's will and constantly seeks growth. we aren't afraid of change and are led by a team that never makes decisions selfishly, but always in accordance with God's heart. this year has been full of many blows, but we are stronger. if our goal is to love God more deeply and know Him more fully, we cannot be shaken. 

yesterday was not one of those restful sundays, but instead included a lot of church work - continuing to organize the women's retreat and plan this semester was the college leadership team as well. but still, it was so good. i am so thankful to be a part of such a vibrant community and for all of the opportunities God has given me to serve. i can't wait to see what He has in store.

God is good, and i feel good. but there are things in life that really aren't good right now. heavy, tough things. spiritual attack. strained friendships. honesty that needs to happen. i am praying firmly for wisdom and discernment, and for moments of rest in these next few weeks - quiet moments that i will wisely spend with my Jesus. 


September 17, 2012


i've decided to start a little mini-series about my absolute favorite day of the week. the idea came to my while i was in church, listening to our pastor deliver, and i realized that we often hear the Word, and by the time we go to sleep on sunday night, we've forgotten everything we learned that morning. sometimes, writing things down and revisiting them later on in the day or week help me cement everything in my heart and mind. so this mini-series is a little bit for your enjoyment, hopefully, but also for me. 

yesterday was one of those sundays - you know, the kind of sunday sundays were made to be. T and i realized that we haven't had a quiet moment in God's Word together in quite a while, so we woke up bright and early and met at a local coffee shop to drink coffee, eat a bagel, and read together. it was the absolute perfect start to the day, even if we only had 30 quick minutes. 

after leading worship in the college group (i love singing and praising Jesus with him), we headed to our main service. yesterday's message was on the end of James 1 (p.s. i feel like i should re-cap last sunday, too, because it was so deeply moving - maybe in another post). we were challenged to quiet our hearts and quiet our lives down, to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. this theme of quiet-ing down has resurfaced time and time again in the last few months. in case you didn't know, i've been asked to speak at our upcoming women's retreat, and the theme for the weekend is rest - a word us women especially tend to scoff at. but as i've moved into preparing the message and preparing for the week, the Lord keeps sending me little reminders and teaching me lessons - is my heart quiet enough to hear Him, am i resting in His grace, His provision? it's a never-ending lesson. 

the second part of the message was probably where this idea came from. are we only hearers of the word, or are we also doers? how is our fruit? are we like the man, who looks at himself in the mirror and then turns away and quickly forgets his reflection?

lastly, we were challenged to live out our faith. sometimes our faith becomes so much about head knowledge, and we forget to meet the needs of those around us. James says that true religion is looking out for the widows and the orphans in their distress. as the daughter of a widow, and a half-orphan, this verse has always stuck out to me. do i pass on the love my family was shown during our time of loss to others around me? or am i keeping all those blessings to myself? 

after church, i went back into the buzzing lobby to help out with women's registration - and you guys! it's blowing up! i'm so excited. about 70 women are coming, and i am so excited to get to know each of them better, learn from them, and enjoy a weekend away with God and community. only 3 little weeks to go - which is also scary, because i still have a lot of work to do on my message. which, by the way, is also absurd - me? speaking to all kinds of women of all ages? to all of you who have been so encouraging, thank you! 

our afternoon was spent loving on sweet baby Claire and helping her parents out. she screamed, she cried, she smiled, she coo-ed, she played with us, my goodness, she's just so adorable. oh, and bless T's heart, i've officially dubbed him the Baby Whisperer. there's something to say about a man when a baby just instantly stills in his arms. i think Claire has a little crush - everyone needs a little T in their life, if you ask me ;]

on top of encouraging conversations, a spontaneous movie night, home cooked meals, smoothies to cool us down on another hot day, and a tiny bit of homework, yesterday was filled with beauty and joy, endless smiles and much-needed rest. i couldn't have asked for a better day off. 


September 10, 2012

growing up

oh, life:

you can never seem to please everyone, ever.

encouragement is so rare but so precious to me. to anyone who has ever sent a quick note of encouragement to me, thank you. i hope i do the same for others. i've been inspired more to write letters and cards of thankfulness and thoughtfulness to those around me.

for those of you who have moved away from home, do you ever find it hard to balance that old life with the new one? whether it's friends, family, or acquaintances, it just never seems to be perfect. either you're neglecting your present life, or you're neglecting the ones who are now further away.

don't you wish there was just a little more understanding in the world? a little more forgiveness, a little more flexibility? maybe i've learned too much flexibility in the last year, and now it's coming off as neglectfulness. Lord, help to balance it all with grace.

communication is a tricky thing. you know why? because it's not just about you - it's a two-way street. either you feel like you're the one always communicating, or the other person perceives that you are ignoring them altogether. how many things are lost in translation, because we don't communicate clearly? and how many people can we expect to communicate perfectly with? which relationships are the most important - the ones you're in at the moment, the new friendships forming around you, or the ones that you're tied to by long and well-tried threads?

materialism will never, ever satisfy. in the past 2 months, i've gained a new laptop, a new iphone, a new living space, and three pairs of TOMS (those are a big deal). you may have everything you've ever dreamed of, the things that have been sticking to your wish list for years, and then the disenchantment fades, and there are new wishes, or problems with the new things. and so you want more, and more. you know what? you'll never be satisfied. only Jesus satisfies.

i've learned a lot about rest in the last year, but you know what the hard part is? constantly putting those lessons into practice. i can never seem to get it just right. either i'm resting in God and feeling complete in His presence, or i'm managing life and running myself to the ground without Him. in our society, the latter seems to be favored. people want to see that you're busy, see the fruits of your labor, because if there's no achievement, then you must be lazy. you know what? our world is so screwed up, our country especially, Southern California in particular. you know what kind of economy God designed? a space where every person rested in Him, found fulfillment and joy in His presence, it did not strive and strive and strive for perfection. and if we were all in the place, then we could maybe all show each other a little more love, a little more grace, because we had been filled by God's love first. but the tricky thing is being in that place with God and being surrounded by people who aren't, because then you're in a dilemma. do you please others, or do you rely on God first and please Him? He says to seek Him first and then all those things we worry about will be given to us.

you know what else God says? he says not to worry. not about a single moment of your life, "for who of you by worrying can add a single hour to their life?" God is so smart. seriously.

i guess i'm struggling with this whole balance of resting in God, being in His presence, enjoying His peace, and then being thwarted on all sides by those who feel i'm neglecting them. do you ever feel like that? they say, you're never alone in what you're feeling, so i know there's someone out there who asks themselves the same question. is it ok to put the to-do list on hold in order to retreat into God's presence? Jesus tells us to love God first, with all our heart, mind, and soul, and then to love others as we love ourselves. maybe that's the part i'm missing, the bridge between loving God and loving others. loving God is great, it's the most important thing, but do i love myself next? or do i love others next?

there are days i wish my days were absolutely free, where i had all the time in the world to fill myself up with God's love, pour out love on others and spend time with them, and also take care of myself. but the world has placed so many, many demands on us - you must work. you must educate yourself. you must stay up to speed on the times. is there anything we can cut out? anything to declutter our life? if there is something, we must do it. we must make room for God and others. not others like that blogger you don't know, but others like your best friend, your family, your close friends. the people, right here right now.

i think we all have to meet in the middle. all of us, a little more loving on each other. could you imagine a world where every person extended endless amounts of grace, but where each person also knew how to love perfectly and selflessly? that's God's world. right now, we're in a messy world that operates on selfishness.

am i ever doing anything right? and what matters most? that my relationship with God is right, or that i'm pleasing everyone around me? i think that if I was fully reliant on Him, i'd be ok with the world crashing down around me, because He is my guide, my King, my confidence, my peace. He will direct my paths, and only He can.