Tuesday, December 31, 2013

twenty thirteen.

Holy smokes. 2013, you have come and you have gone. I never really let you in that much, considering there were countless occasions that I wrote 2012 or 2014 in my journal this year. Whoops, sorry about that. It may have been that whole "you were one of the craziest years of my life" yet. Or maybe it was that so much changed this year, not even the year felt constant.

Because that was 2013 for ya: the year of change and the year of grace.

So much happened.

I finished my senior year of college. And welp, my career as a student as well. I pulled it together to make it through one last semester. Writing papers, studying, and learning all that my little brain could take in.

I relished in the nature of my "future self being jealous of now self" while still in college where the responsibilities and expenses were limited.

I saw some of the most wonderful Young Life teammates placed at East and I fell in love with the baby teammies. They gave me energy to lead our team and they provided some much needed laughter.

I became accustomed to making pancakes 500 at a time and welcoming 100 people into my home, because isn't that the best way to eat pancakes... in mass quantities & with best friends.

I got my heart broken in that weird kind of way where it hurts longer than you thought it ever could and it shows you that you have more tears than you thought. But then too, I learned that time really does make things better and at some point the broken heart did not feel so broken anymore.

I stayed up too late on the third floor of the McMansion and I delighted in the wee hours of the evening that roommates sat on the couch in my room and we talked about life.

I graduated from the university that stole my heart as a little girl. I wore that Carolina blue cap and gown, sat in a stadium I loved, sang the alma mater (#gotohellduke), and turned that tassel.

I watched my Young Life girls take the SAT and prepare for their senior year of high school and I saw just how much they had grown and how much the Lord had done in their lives.

I traveled to Chicago to go to the Art Institute because sometimes peace and hope is found in hours walking around an art museum.

I spent weeks in exhaustion. Like mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion. And I learned that being a Christian is hard. Really hard. When Jesus said "pick up your cross and follow me," He really did mean it. Somedays I prayed that He would ask me to pick flowers, instead, and follow Him because I thought I would be better at that, but turns out that on the other side of exhaustion there is grace upon grace upon grace.

I fell in love with writing for my blog and it became a space to breathe and space that gave me life, so I wrote a lot. But then one day, it got harder and it felt more like work so I had to take a little more of a break than I would have wanted.

I found joy in tables that were delicately decorated, covered with delicious food, and surrounded with people I love. Through the year the people have changed... from McMansion, to Bible study ladies, to family, to nine other interns, and to a Colorado family.

I spent a month of the summer in the mitten on a Young Life rental property. The days were full, but God did a mighty work in my heart that month as bitterness began to melt away and as hope was being found in the cross.

I lived at home for two months in the summer and I learned to drink less than mediocre coffee and how to fight for my relationship with Jesus.

I screamed at my brother more than I wish to admit, but then I too had to see that sometimes giving grace can be harder than you would ever wish or expect.

I hopped on a plane with a week's notice to go to Minnesota for a week to work at Castaway Club. I spent nights beside a beautiful lake tearing down lies that were painted in my inner dwelling and I prayed for Truth to replace those lies.

I struggled to be a good long-distance best friend. Best friendships can be hard and sometimes they take a lot of work and somedays I fell short, but my best friend gave me grace each and every time.

I prayed and prayed for things to stop changing. I prayed that I could stay in the McMansion forever and that I would never have to move to Colorado. And then I read things like this: "Jesus says, Follow me. I'm going to take you to places that will make you say 'Why in the world are you taking me there?' Even then, I WANT YOU TO TRUST ME" (Tim Keller). Welp, okay, Colorado, I'm comin' for ya.

I went to the Taylor Swift concert, bashed boys, and dressed like a hipster because sometimes that is just good for the soul.

I finally decided to pack at some point at the end of August and I put all of my belongings in sweet Fonda and drove across the county. At some points I am sure that I would have turned around if it had not been for Anna following me all the way to Denver.

I met the nine strangers (well really only seven were complete strangers) who would become my housemates for the next year. And I was thankful because I was sure my heart did not have room for any more people, but somehow it expanded and the ten of us became a family.

I was terrified of Colorado, but in the Lord's most perfect provision, He has held me safe and He has covered me with His grace in an entirely new place.

I started leading Young Life again, but this time in a valley in Colorado; and I really never thought that I would enjoy it again, but I have been surprised ten-fold and I have fallen in love with a school with only 350 students in the middle of nowhere Colorado. Who. Would. Have. Thought?

I had my love for Young Life camping reaffirmed in all the best ways as I live and work my days at Crooked Creek Ranch.

I have had my fair share of difficult conversations this year. Those conversations that I try so desperately to avoid, but then somehow they just happen. And they have made me thankful for relationships that show me how to ask for forgiveness and how to give grace.

I picked up a new sense of fashion filled with large sweaters, fleece-lined leggings, large a** boots, down vests, chunky scarves, and wool socks. And people in Grand County are still shocked we live there... but turns out we are just a small part of what is "Fashion Forward Fraser".

I learned to ski (and am still learning) in one of the most beautiful places. My first day I ran into a tree and a Frenchman. It's really only gone up from there, but how it could it really have gone down?

I fell in love with a small mountain town just west of Denver called Fraser. I delight in it's valley, the county it is in, and all of the people that are here. I never thought I could love a small town like this, but I guess 2013 was full of falling in love with things I never thought I would.

I returned home to North Carolina for the holidays, in need of rest and room to breathe. I delighted in all that home has to offer, but too I realized that I have a whole new life in Colorado. A life that includes people I love, acquaintances I am excited to get to know, places that I like to get breakfast, a ministry I am ecstatic about, and a church I love to be a part of. A whole new life. Who knew?

I stumbled and still am stumbling through this whole post-grad life thing. But it is happening and it tough some days and other days it is really good. Here is to the ups and to the downs.

Whoa, 2013. You were good and you were hard. But you showed me the meaning of grace. You showed me that grace is never deserved; it is always undeserved, and that is why it is called grace. And you showed me that I need grace every single day. Grace to accept to change, grace to see beyond the situation, grace to forgive others, grace to forgive myself, grace to love those around me, and grace to open my eyes.

Thank You, Jesus, for never withholding grace from me this year. And may Your grace go before me in  all that is 2014. Amen.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Choosing Light

It is no secret: I love twinkle lights. Like am kind of obsessed. I really am particularly in love with white lights. They're classy and pure and full of hope. They make joy bubble up in all the best ways.
all about the christmas lights.

Light, in so many ways, does bring hope and joy. It is the ultimate source of life.

The Light came down with the birth of Immanuel, "God with us." Light shone forth in the incarnation. With just a glimpse of the star the Magi were overjoyed. They had not yet seen the full, true Light, yet they were already overcome with joy because the Light is the source of all true joy. What a marvelous light.

The light is not always the first choice though, or even the easiest choice. There is darkness too. The darkness that breaths lies and fears. The darkness that whispers on the good days and shouts on the bad days: "you are not good enough ... you cannot trust anyone ... you will always be alone ... you are a failure ... you are not really loved ... you are defined by your mistakes."

That darkness is very real. It consumes some days and creeps in on others. It attempts to push out the Light.

But that night in Bethlehem, Light came to the earth as an infant. He came in a manger, full of grace and hope and peace. Light grew to live a life that knew no sin and lived in no darkness. He said: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).

The Light changed everything. The Light brought hope and joy, unending. The Light washed away the stain of sin and the Light trampled over darkness.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). 

In all things and in all moments, we must cling to the Light and run to the Light. Darkness calls out in our fears and in the lies that run through our head. Darkness wants a hold over our lives and it wants us to believe that the Light is not strong enough to overcome it. But the darkness lies; we must choose to cling and run to the Light, the source of Truth.

This Christmas season I am choosing Light. I am choosing to believe in the presence and the promises of Christ. I am choosing to believe that the Light chases out darkness and the Light is the lover of my soul. I am choosing to believe that the Light brings healing. I am choosing to believe that the Light is already victorious over darkness.

Some days are a full on battle for the Light, but I am choosing the Light.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Deep Cleaning and Our Souls

Some days are best suited singing from the musical Annie: "It's the hard-knock life for us!" Because life is hard. And some days life is especially hard when you are deep cleaning one building on camp for an entire week. Yes those days, I want to sing like Annie.

But while it is hard, it is absolutely necessary.

On first glimpse, you could have walked through Creekside, one of our houses on camp for Assignment teams in the summer, and thought that it looked pretty nice and that it was certainly suitable for guests. Which it was, but closer to the surface and then beneath the surface, there was much more. There were baseboards yearning to be dusted, cabinets in desperate need of cleaning, and bathrooms that screamed for bleach.

So that is where the girl interns found ourself this week. In Creekside. Cleaning. Cleaning. every. single. thing. on. our. hands. and. knees.

Praise the Lord for bleach, scrub brushes, pumice stones, ladders, hundreds of rags, shop-vacs, Murphy's oil, hot water, and can-do attitudes. Because, yes, those are all things desperately needed for a good deep cleaning.

just a little expression of how we feel about scrubbing toilets
karlie & murphy's oil: 2 really great things
climbing to all heights to get dat dust... be gone with ya bad self, dust.
mary mary mary 
never ending scrubbing

And in cleaning this week we have laughed, we have cried, we have danced to Ms New Booty, we have yelled, we have talked, and it has been good.

Because cleaning is like that: it goes deep, into the nitty-gritty; it tears things up only to put them back together; it involves laughter and tears; and it gets real; but it is good.

And that is what the deep cleaning of our souls looks like too.

The Lord works in our hearts and in our deepest most beings. He works to refine us and to clean us and to make us new. And that cleaning goes deep, into the places that we want to keep hidden. It involves breaking things down, only to rebuild them and it involves tears and laughter.

We are continually being worked on and cleaned by the Lord. Some seasons are full of days of light cleanings. The days that we are gradually being drawn to the Lord and where we are connecting with Him and sensing Him in the slight gentle ways of everyday life.

But some days it is a cleaning that requires bleach, a wired scrub, and a lot of work. Those days come in all different forms. Sometimes those are the days we throw our hands up in confusion because none of it makes a lot of sense anyways. Or they are the days spent crying on the floor because thing are not going as you expected and hoped. Or they are the days that a friend speaks truth deep into your soul and it hurts because it is not what you wanted to hear, but it is what you needed to hear. And sometimes those are the days you drag your feet to spend time with the Lord because you sense the Spirit moving in you and it is scary. Those are the days of deep cleaning. Because the Lord works in the deep places, those places that we want to cling on to and that we want to keep hidden. He draws us to our knees and He reminds us that He makes all things new, even the things we are desperately attempting to keep buried. And sometimes those days are hard, really hard, like painstakingly difficult to the point of sobbing... but they are good.

Walking into the season of deep cleaning can be rough, or maybe down right miserable. But the Lord meets you there. He does not leave you alone and He is not dismayed by your dirtiness. He comes prepared with His unfailing love, unfathomable grace, and never-ending mercy. And may our prayer be that at the end of a season of deep cleaning we know the Lord more and that we are drawn more closely to His likeness.

"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." -Philippians 1:6

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holidays and Wandering Hearts

Each morning I awake and pray to the Lord: "bind my wandering heart to Thee."

It's the holiday season. Since before Halloween, stores have begun to stock their shelves with Christmas lights, decorations, stocking stuffers, and everything for the holidays. Christmas lists were made months ago, written full of things we think we so desperately "need." Buying gifts anytime there is a deal becomes the norm and money is quickly drained from bank accounts. Baking holiday treats becomes a daily occurrence.

This is life in the holiday season. It is busy. I have spent the past three days inundated in the holidays, moving from one holiday task to another. The days have been full of holiday fun and joy and have been truly wonderful. But in some small ways the holiday things become more of my heart's focus than the Creator of the holidays.

And what a sad sad thing that is.

Thanksgiving should be a lifestyle. Our hearts should be overflowing with gratitude to the One who died on a cross to save us... each.and.every.single.day. And while Thanksgiving is a day for good eating, it is also a day to love and be thankful for the One who blesses you with food to eat and for the people who fill the chairs around the table with you.

As for Christmas pictures, it is about loving the people in the picture with you; not taking the most picturesque photo that portrays a false sense of perfection. It is more about the community living in the photo than the photo itself.

And then there are twinkle lights. The lights that sing sweet music to my heart and give me butterflies in my stomach each and every time they twinkle. May I know that the Lord of the universe is the ultimate source of joy and the ultimate source of light each time those lights are a sparkling.

And those are the things that my wandering heart forgets sometimes. This holiday season, I want to continue to stand in awe of our Heavenly Father whose love is everlasting. I want to be overjoyed by the Savior with a remarkable name, Jesus. I want to know and celebrate the Creator of the holidays, not just the holiday.

In this season Lord, and in all times, bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Held By Love in the Mountains

Some days I ask myself "how in the hell did I get myself to Fraser, CO, one of the coldest cities in America?" And when I think about it there are the obvious ways: the whole I applied for a year-long position and when Frontier ended their program I ended up applying for the year-long at Crooked Creek... and then I got the internship and accepted it... and then at some point in August I packed up all my belongings in Fonda and drove across the country. There are all of those things that easily explain how I got here.

But digging deeper, I believe that the Lord has brought me to this valley and to this place. He has gone far beyond my own ability to plan to draw me to this place of love.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." -Proverbs 16:9

It is no secret that my last semester of college and the summer that followed were difficult for me. There were months full of confusion, pain, and frustration. Graduating seemed like the worst thing that could possibly happen to me, coupled with many difficult situations and relationships. So when it came to moving to Colorado, I was dragging my feet and begging the Lord to change the plans for my life. I did not think I was ready and I was filled with fear. 

But somehow, I am still here. The Lord never granted my requests for a different life direction. He had far greater plans than I could ever imagine or have prayed for. He is the Author of a story far different and far more spectacular than I could have ever written for myself.

He has brought me to this valley, surrounded by the most majestic mountains, to draw me to my knees and to hold me in His love. As I stand in awe of the mountains that surround me, I too stand in awe of the Lord that is surrounding me and holding me in His perfect, steadfast love. 

I would have never picked Fraser, CO as the place I would be held in the Lord's love. I thought that place was Chapel Hill... the place where my best friends were, where people knew my pain and frustrations, where I was comfortable, and where I felt safe.

But the Lord works differently than I do (praise the Lord for that because Lord knows I am slightly crazy most days). He has brought me to a place where I am being held by the mountains and I am  being held by His love. 

Just the other day I ordered Henri Nouwen's The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom. It is the bomb dot com and will rock your brain and heart cells. And in it I read: "You have to begin to trust that your experience of emptiness is not the final experience, that beyond it is a place where you are being held in love." 

The experience of pain and emptiness is not final. Some days, the enemy tries to make me believe that it is final, but it is not. Those are lies. The battle has already been won. The Son of Man died of a cross, defeated death, and has risen victoriously so that we are not kept in a place of pain. On the cross He exclaimed, "It is finished." Jesus has brought us to a place of freedom and life and love through His resurrection. 

And my time here in valley is just that... the place I am being held in the Lord's love. It is the place beyond the experience of emptiness and pain. It is the place the Lord speaks to me sweetly and is daily reminding me that He has not left me, but that He instead has something far better for me than I ever thought myself. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

From Both Sides

The days are long at times. Especially long when 700 campers and leaders are pouring into camp on Friday evening. There are sheets to be folded, cabins to be cleaned, mattresses to be moved, food to be prepared, snow to be shoveled, lodges to be turned over, and everything else in between.

Quite frankly, some days it can be rough. It seems that one more radio call to move more mattresses across camp might be the breaking point. Tension runs high as patience wanes and the sunlight draws to a close. Nothing really describes fun like scrubbing marshmallow off of a stage, then cleaning up the food stomped into the floor of the snack bar, followed by scrubbing toilets all around camp.

There is nothing glamorous in the job. 

Except, we are setting up a place for the gospel to be proclaimed. Now that is a beautiful responsibility.  That is the joy and heart of working at a Young Life camp.

So when patience is drying up and energy is slowly being sucked down the drain, I pray for eyes to see the work the Lord is doing here at Crooked Creek. I pray for hope in something more than just the work. I pray for joy that bubbles up from the deepest part of my soul that delights in the dirty jobs and the long days.

For you see, the Lord is doing mighty things on this property. He is working and stirring in hearts of hundreds of high schoolers and middle schoolers.

Just last weekend, I stood on the other side of the camping dynamic.

I rolled into Crooked Creek in a ten car caravan with 47 campers and leaders from Grand County and I was set to be leader for the weekend.

No longer was I working at camp, but I was participating at camp. And the beautiful and magical masterpiece of Young Life camping was drawn full circle.

As we sat in the club room and Shelley spoke, the gospel was proclaimed. As we played glow mixers and walls were broken, the gospel was proclaimed. As program created laughter of the deepest sorts, the gospel was proclaimed. As stories were shared in cabin time and bonds were formed, the gospel was proclaimed. As we left unified as a Grand County Young Life area, the gospel was proclaimed.

Praise the One who died on the cross to give us such good news to proclaim. Praise the Father who is working on Young Life camps all over the country to draw high school and middle school students to Himself.

And as this weekend closes and another 700 people leave camp, I know that our work here is worth every single second, every single tear, and every single difficult day.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best Friend Turns 23

I met my best friend one chilly day at the end of May of 2011 in northern Michigan. She had just gone down the obstacle course slide at Timber Wolf Lake fully clothed and she was soaked and freezing. I did not know then that I was meeting my best friend, but now I look back at that moment and know that I did.

Today is her twenty-third birthday and today's post is in honor of her.

Amanda Vivian Stephens changed the way that I understand a friendship can be.

To put words to our friendship does not do it justice, but I'll try nonetheless. We are the friends that have only lived together for two summers, but understand one another in ways that do not make sense. We are the friends that will make the twelve hour drive to see one another because sometimes it's just necessary. We are the friends who escape the swamp for coffee and chai for doses of best friend sanity. We are the friends who hop on planes to surprise one another. We are the friends who when both have to drive somewhere, Sushi will offer to drive one of the cars so we can ride together. We are the friends who answer the phone at all times of the day when the other one is calling. We are the friends who have the difficult conversations. We are the friends who fight for one another and wipe one another's tears. We are the friends that will one day convince our future husbands that it is best for us to live next door to one another. Yes, we are those friends.

And here is what our friendship has taught me about life and about friendships: 

1- Long distance best friendships are more than possible. They can be some of the most intentional and rewarding relationships.

2- Best friends are there to speak truth into the hard places in your life and are there to point you back to Jesus every single time.

3- A twelve hour road trip to see a best friend is worth it. Every. Single. Time. And so are last minute plane tickets. 

4- A best friend can see past the "it's okay" and the "I'm fine" and can insist that you actually tell the truth, the whole truth on how you feel.

5- Some mornings require calling your best friend twice before 8:00am, because that's just how life goes.

6- Growth happens when you believe the best in one another and challenge one another to know the Lord more.

7- Play dates in northern Michigan with your best friend might just possibly be the best thing in the entire world.

8- Extending one another grace when one falls short is not only necessary, but it is also life-giving.

9- Some thoughts can just be communicated through a simple laugh or smile or raise of the eyebrows, because you just know what the other is thinking.

10- No matter where in the world two people are and no matter how far apart they are, the Lord can create connections between two friends that make bonds that go far deeper than you ever thought possible. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's Okay

"It's okay."

Finally, I could say it and mean it: "God, it's okay."

It's okay that things did not work how I thought that they would. It's okay that I do not have answers to all of the questions. It's okay that my expectations were not met. It's okay that some things were swept away before I wanted them to be.

God did not need me to tell Him it was okay, but I needed to tell Him it was okay.

The unsettled frustrations, the questions, the emotional roller coaster, and the constant battle against the lies were laid to rest with the notion of "it's okay."

I had been handed far more than I ever thought I could handle. Some days I was sure that there was no way I could make it through one more ounce of bad news or one more difficult conversation. My trust in the Lord wavered with my feeling of the day.

But in finally admitting to God that it was okay, that I was okay, and that I was going to continue to be okay, I finally believed it. 

The lie that God was mad at me and was punishing me was laid in the grave. The truth was painted on the inner most part of my soul: the Lord is the great I AM and the great I AM is faithful.

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments." Deuteronomy 7:9 

The Lord remains faithful to His covenant and to the promises that He has made. God never promises to remain faithful to expectations that we put on Him on our own. 

In Exodus 4 the Lord asks Moses what he is holding in his hand. Obviously the Lord knew what Moses had in his hand, but He asked Moses for the benefit of Moses. Once Moses recognized to the Lord the staff that he was holding on to, the Lord promptly told him to throw the staff on the ground. Once on the ground, the staff came to life as a snake and the Lord guided Moses through picking the snake up as it became a staff once more. The Lord explained that His purpose was so that people would believe.

The Lord has been asking me over the past few months: What are you holding onto in your hands and in your head? What beliefs and expectations are you clinging to as if they are truth? 

And when I finally said to the Lord that "it is okay," I laid down all that I had been holding onto. All of my unmet expectations and frustrations were laid before the Lord, and I really was okay. The Lord had remained faithful to who He is: a loving God who is sovereign, powerful, and works all things for my good. And I stood confident before the Lord, thankful for who He is and who He has made me.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Right Kind of "Yes"

There was a time in my life when I had to learn to say "no." I had to learn to not over commit and to not say "yes" to every single thing asked of me.

And while there was a season in life of learning to say "no," these days I want to say "yes", not to every single thing, but to some things.

I want to be a person that says "yes" to the beautiful things, that breathe life into my soul, and that draw me closer to Jesus.

I want to say yes to sitting on roofs and gazing at the stars because I believe the stars speak to the Lord's impeccable beauty in creation.

I want to say yes to buying plane tickets to visit best friends because I believe that sometimes a hug, face-to-face conversations, and play dates are worth it.

I want to say yes to crying because I believe tears do not mean we are weak, but that we do in fact feel something.

I want to say yes to spontaneity because I believe we are not meant to live with such rigid schedules.

I want to say yes to dancing in the rain because it is freeing and reminds me that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

I want to say yes to dinner parties because I believe life is found over the table.

I want to say yes to coffee every single time because it reminds me to slow down and it warms the deepest parts of my soul.

I want to say yes to things that scare me because I believe that the God of the universe drives out fear and that His angels encamp around me.

I want to say yes to the late night phone calls because I believe the person on the other end deserves it.

I want to say yes to adventuring, hiking, exploring, and camping because I believe in the outdoors challenges that I am drawn closer to Jesus.

I want to say yes to sweatpants because I believe they bring rest to your body and your soul.

I want to say yes to road trips because I believe cars are meant to be driven and cities are meant to be explored.

I want to say yes to difficult conversations because I believe communication is necessary all the time.

I want to say yes to playing on playgrounds and swinging on swings because I believe you are never too old for a good swing set or playground.

I want to say yes to vulnerability because I know that we are designed for connection.

I want to say yes to interpretative dancing because it always makes for an enjoyable time and "The Circle of Life" insists upon dancing.

I want to say yes to snowboarding because I want to learn something new and to embrace my inner bro #jokes.

I want to say yes to girls' nights because I believe as females we need one another, to encourage, to pray, to giggle, to process, and to fight for one another as believers.

I want to say yes to Jesus every single time. 

There is beauty in saying "yes" and there is beauty in saying "no." But for right now, I am going to work on saying "yes."

Because for me saying "yes" is what I need and what is drawing me closer to the Lord. Saying "yes" to the whimsy things in life, to the things that deserve to be taken in slowly, and to the things that make this life just a little bit sweeter.

Here's to practicing the "yes" life...

Saturday, September 21, 2013


I will admittedly say I do not have a green thumb. Planting flowers, plants, or trees has never been my thing... nor is keeping them alive. Give me a bouquet of flowers and I'll put them in a vase, water them as I can, and then hope for the best. I do secretly hope to one day develop a green thumb because I think there is something incredibly beautiful about growing something, but right now in Colorado is not the time.

Recently though, my heart and soul is craving roots. Roots that grow deep, roots that breed life, and roots that thrive. 

First, I desire to be "rooted and established in love" (Eph 3:17). Oh, what it would it is to be fully rooted in the Lord's love. Being rooted in His love allows for us to begin "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge" (3:18). 

It's the love of Christ that loved us before we repented; the love of Christ that loves us as high as the heavens; the love of Christ that went into the deepest pit of Hell to save us; and the love of Christ that goes before us and purposes all things according to His will. It is the love of Christ that cannot be fully measured or understood and is truly a profound mystery (5:32). 

It is in that love that I want to be rooted and it is in that love that I want to find my hope. 

Secondly, I long to grow roots here at Crooked Creek and here in Fraser, CO. It's easy to make the statement that I will only live here one year of my life, so roots are not that necessary; but I am fully convinced that the Lord wants to do a mighty work here in my life while I am here in Fraser, therefore, I need roots. 

My heart desires to be rooted in our intern community, intertwining with one another in ways that draw us close through openness and vulnerability. It is through that intertwining that I pray we push one another towards Christ and that we grow together as a body of believers. 

I pray that roots are grown deep in relationships and I pray that the Lord speaks through those relationships. It is through roots that extend wide and deep that we begin to be known and understood. Being fully known and understood makes me nervous, but I believe those connections are necessary and are of my heart's deepest desires. 

And my prayer is for roots in this small ski town in the mountains of Colorado. My prayer is to find some grounding here as the Lord works in my life and in the lives of the people in Fraser. I long to feel connected somewhere and the somewhere the Lord has me right now is Fraser, CO. So I got a library card and am attending a church in the valley and will be helping with Young Life in Grand County, because the Lord is drawing me nearer to Him through these roots. 

These second roots, the ones at Crooked Creek and in Fraser, they are enhancing the first roots, the truest roots. The roots that go down deep in my soul and my being, the roots that are clinging to knowing and being established in the Lord's love, are being nurtured by the roots that growing here in Colorado. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Prayer for Community

We walked in not knowing that much. Only that we had each committed ourselves to a year at Crooked Creek Ranch to serve as year-long interns.

There were ten of us that first day. In the past two weeks, those ten strangers have started to feel like family. We live together, play together, and work together.

This is my prayer for us and for our community together:

Heavenly Father, it is by Your sure grace and provision that You have brought me to Crooked Creek and it is by Your hand that You have brought each of the nine other interns here as well. It is by Your hand that we are blessed to live together and to learn about one another. And it is by Your hand that we will grow together. May we never lose sight of your faithfulness and provision in this year. 

I must admit that it is scary being in such a close knit community, but I find hope in who You are and who You have created us to be. You have created us for these relationships and You have created us to know You through our relationships with one another. Lord Jesus, may we know You more because of our relationships with one another. May You grant us the courage to be vulnerable and honest with one another. There will be days when all we want to do is put up our defensive walls and guard ourselves, but I pray that You shatter our unsound defenses and that we may find hope in You, El Roi, the One Who Sees. 

O God, make us a community that desires to seek Your face. Seeking You is not always easy. There are distractions all around us, things vying for our attention and focus, but I pray that above all our desire is to seek You and You alone. Remind us, God, that we were created for more than just this earth and that we were created for eternity with You. May we never lose sight of You, the Lord Almighty, our Father in Heaven who sent His Son down to earth to live as a man and die the death that we deserve. Oh, may we never lose sight of that. For all other things of this world, no matter how good they are, are a vain hope for deliverance and they will not save us; for You have already saved us.

Lord, my prayer for our community is that we in all things, we spur one another another towards Christ. That we encourage one another to know Jesus better every day and to lay our burdens down at the Cross. Some days this will be difficult and some days I will not feel like encouraging my friends, but God, You are greater still and You can do all things through me, so help me to spur my friends on, even in my worst of days. 

Grant us grace, Lord, as we fumble through these new relationships and friendships. Grant us grace so that we may extend one another grace. Some days we will hurt one another's feelings and some days we will fail at loving one another well; give us grace on those days. And then some days we will love one another well and we will be the friends that each other deserve; give us grace on those days too. Help us to keep short accounts and to forgive one another, on our good days and on our bad days; because You have forgiven us first. 

And at the end of this year, Lord, I pray that we can say that we are a community that loves You with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. And a community that loves our neighbors as ourselves. 

Thank You, Lord, for bringing us all together in this small ski town in the Colorado mountains. Thank You for knowing our hearts and for loving us so that we can love one another. Thank You for giving us the opportunity to create an environment for Christ to be glorified. 

Oh God, be exalted. Be exalted in our hearts, in our minds, and in our community. Almighty Amen. 

While this is my prayer for myself and the nine other year-long interns here at Crooked Creek, it is my prayer for you and your community as well. I pray that the Lord blesses whatever community you find yourself in and that your community is one that is centered on Jesus.

Friday, September 6, 2013


The days are days of happening. Life happening. In Colorado.

The days pass quickly, but sweetly. Each day a day of its own... full of challenges, excitement, laughter, joy, and endless happenings.

The Lord speaks slowly and delicately in the happenings: This, my daughter, is where you are supposed to be. It is here that I want to tell you, "I love you" and it is here that I will be your refuge. 

The sweet whisper of the Lord comes in moments and glimpses, shimmers of hope and delight and joy.

It's in the moments of...

... early morning conversations over coffee with all of the girls

... home cooked family dinner every evening at a table set for ten

... finding hope in the Lord's grace during these times of transition

... playing in waterfalls and climbing over rocks

... handpicked flowers delivered in mason jars from the lovely maintenance gents

... coffee shop sitting and dwelling

... exploration of small towns and hidden ice cream shops 

... cleaning of five entire dorms with new friends and taylor swift blasting

... serving 500 leaders from the colorado front range region

... moving bunk beds with the girls just to say we could 

... learning the ins and outs of retail

... french press coffee in the cutest french press a girl could ask for

... devotionals with all of the crooked creek staff

... home smoked ribs that will make your mouth water for days

... late night pillow talk with the roomie, chloe 

... interpretative dancing any time music is on

... fits of hysterical laughter anytime we are all together

... sore muscles, exhaustion, and blistered feet from a long day of work

... rainbows whispering of the Lord's faithfulness 

the days playing at adam's falls

playing together


family dinner... way to go sierra, getting in the picture twice 

making my heart happy

In the Lord's perfect timing and provision the days are happening. I came to Colorado with a list of worries a mile long and over ten reasons why I should really just stay in North Carolina, but since the moment I have been here the Lord is whispering sweetly: My daughter this is where you are supposed to be. Of that I am sure in the little daily life happenings and in that I will rest. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Jen Harrell

Words cannot describe my relationship with this girl. She is the one I dream with and the one I travel with. She is the best Young Life team leader I know and there has not been a day that she has not encouraged me towards knowing Jesus more. She sits beside me when I cry and when I am jumping for joy. She lived with me in the McMansion and she will always be one of my very best friends.

Her words will make you laugh but present so much truth. She is trying this whole graduate, get a job, grow up thing... it teaches you things, of that I am confident. I am forever thankful for her outlook on growing up and graduating. 


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). 
This- these months right out of college- this is a time for tearing down.

This is a time when your best friends are living in Hawaii and New York and Colorado and you realize you’re not officially a resident of any state and you’re not really sure where your home is but your happy to have your passport because at least you have something that says you’re an American.

This is a time when your friends are falling in love and getting engaged and marrying their best friend and you’re getting spam emails from ChristianMingle

This is a time of realizing maybe setting up all your automatic bill pays for the same exact day wasn’t the most fiscally responsible decision you’ve ever made.  And a time of looking at your checking account and realizing maybe things like Oreos and really good wine actually are wants not needs.

Also: a time of buying Oreos and really good wine and eating them for dinner at 9 o’clock because damn it you’re an adult and you’ll do as you please.

This is a time of feeling so weird and so unlike yourself that- hot butter and oil Seth!- you convince yourself you probably, definitely have diabetes only to have a doctor recommend that you just go home and eat a sandwich.

Consequently, this is a time of crying in the parking lot because you didn’t really understand how health insurance works and it just cost you $78 to get your finger pricked.

Have I convinced you that I’m doing a good job being an adult yet?  Transitions are hard and right now it feels like I’m not getting, well, anything right. But in the past few weeks I have found comfort in the Lord’s promise that this is a season in my life. It is hard to imagine when you are in the middle of something that things will ever change. But we live and we do change and there are seasons to our life.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil- this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14)

Today I will trust that this is a season in my life. I will trust that even if I don’t always like this season 
that it is designed so that I may know Jesus more and know that He is enough and trust that He is good.  A few days ago I felt frustrated at everything and I realized two important things.

1.     For everybody who is growing up right now, this is the first time they’ve ever done it. I don’t really know how to move from 22 to 23 because this is the first time I’ve ever done that. So I’m figuring it out. And it won’t always go that well, but the Lord promises me “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16).  

2.     I have never lived a day in my life where Jesus didn’t give me all the grace I needed to get through the day. Never. I will not have to figure out a way to make it through tomorrow without His grace. “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16).  And this means that I do not need to figure out next month or next year or the next season of life right now because I’m getting there just as fast as I can and when I do get there, there will be that grace that I need for that day. When Jesus teaches us to pray, he teaches us to ask the Lord to “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). My heart wants to live so far out in the future (yo, Jordan the heart is wicked amirite), but Jesus is giving me all the grace I need for today.

Well, that’s what I think about all day long in the cube. Star employee over here. Deuces.

PS there are also a lot of really fun parts of being 22 and out of college and living the life and being single and I do have a savings account and sometimes I still eat vegetables for dinner.  Mostly including this in case my momma reads this and is worried about me. Love ya Nance.   

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Comin' in Hot

It's coming back, y'all. The blog took the summer off from having friend guest posts on Friday for a few different reasons: 1- I don't have that many cool friends to sustain this forever. I joke, but not really. 2- Didn't want to have to be committed to something so regularly when the days were not readily labeled by the day of the week. 3- And mostly because so many of my friends were off doing really awesome, cool amazing things all over the country and world, and well, I figured it would be best they share when they return.

But it's returning now... the fall has come and it's time to share some of the wisdom of my really legit, amazing friends all over the place again.

Until Friday has officially arrived, check out some of the guest posts from last school year because they freakin' ROCKED. (There are links to them all in the tab up top that says "Funtastic Friend Friday").

There are posts on all sorts of things and from people all ages and from places all over. I am continually amazed by the people the Lord has put in my life. I am blessed and my prayer is that you are too by the words that they share.

Oh, and this week's friend, is a real good one. Kickin' it off right.