Sunday, December 28, 2014

Loving Jesus After College

It was my sophomore year of college and I was sitting in leadership when our area director announced to us that in ten years only 1 out of 8 of us would still be following Jesus. Being nineteen and really unsure of how to really follow Jesus anyway, I was sure that I would be one of the seven not chasing after the Lord.

And then one day in September of my junior year of college I was driving with our area director, his wife, and my best friend to a Hillsong concert and he asked us, "How will you make sure that you don't fall away from Jesus after college?" I pondered the question for a little bit and I answered the best way that I knew how, not really sure what he meant and even more unsure of how I planned to do that. My answer was a jumbled mix of continuing my daily disciplines, living in community, and marrying someone else who really loves Jesus. 

There had just been a year between those two instances, but a lot had changed in that one year. If you hung around me in those years, thank you. Thank you for being gracious with me as I learned what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus and thank you to everyone who believed in me, who let me lead Young Life and who hired me to be a summer intern at a Young Life camp. But in that year I went from being the girl who was not quite sure how I could ever follow Jesus after college to being the girl who was absolutely determined that she would love Jesus the rest of her life, no.matter.what.happened and still really unsure how that would ever come to fruition. 

At some point in those college years I developed habits and disciplines that helped me to know Jesus more and changed my heart to always want to know Him. I formed relationships that convinced me of God's immense love for me and that always pushed me closer to Him. I learned so so so much, about myself, about other people, and about the Creator.

At some point I started to think that loving Jesus could never leave me and that my passion for Him would only continue to grow, no matter what happened after college. I thought loving Jesus after college would just be second nature, easy, the normal. 

But today at twenty-three, I would have to say that loving Jesus after college is not always easy or always pretty. It is hard, confusing, and some days a little reckless feeling. But the fight is always good and it is always a fight worthy of being fought.

I have come to know for certain that there is no perfect way to ensure that you still love Jesus when you are retired, or having babies, or even are twenty-three; but I have come to see some things that I am sticking to.

I am going to stick to finding disciplines that will define my life. I've always gone back and forth between the nitty gritty of being disciplined or of being legalistic; I am going to always fight to be disciplined, and never legalistic. Some of my disciplines have changed since college and some have stayed the same; some have gone away all together and some need to come back into my life.

I am going to stick to the early mornings. This isn't for everyone, but it is for me. Being with Jesus in the morning is absolutely what I need to remind myself of how much I need Jesus... and so that I can be a semi-decent, nice human being for the day.

I am going to stick to being mentored. In college my mentor was named Amanda. She is to this day one of the most passionate women I have ever known. She taught me most of anything I know and she taught me most of any discipline I follow. When I moved to Colorado as a year-long intern I had a mentor then too. She taught and is still teaching me about being generous and bold. She loved me and stood beside me through one of the hardest years I have walked through yet. And I am going to continue being mentored because, let's be honest, we all need someone wiser speaking into our lives.

I am going to stick to being in ministry. And I don't necessarily mean always having a career in ministry  or always Young Life. I am going to stick to telling others about Jesus. Today that looks like preparing a place for the gospel to heard and leading Young Life in Grand County. I hope that one day it looks like me leading a college girls Bible study.

I am going to stick to and fight for solitude time. This is something I have never been and still am not good at. It's something I am working to be better at. One step at a time. But I am fighting for time alone, time to be centered, and time to be completely with Jesus. Time that is longer than just an hour before sunrise, but time that is an entire day.

I am going to stick to finding community and embracing vulnerability. I need Jesus and I need other people who love Jesus who will point me to Him. Fighting this fight can be tough and I need people that will fight beside me and will fight for me when I feel like giving up. I don't get to live in a house with 7 other girls anymore, but I still can live in community. And I can be vulnerable and open and cry the ugly cries, because we need that.

I am going to stick to being okay for being different. This isn't easy. And of all of them, this may be the most difficult for me. Being passionate about Jesus and truly following Him makes you different. It means you make different decisions and have a different mindset. It means you pursue holiness and that just certainly isn't the cool thing to do. But I'll do it anyways.

These are just some of the things that I am going to try to stick to. And I probably won't do them all well and at some points maybe not at all. I am going to trust that there is grace for when I fail and for when I feel weak.

But I want to love Jesus forever, so I am going for it. I am fighting the good fight. Because loving Jesus is more than just living in the Christian bubble while you are in college or even the bubble of working at a Young Life camp; it is a way of life. forever.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holy Snow

My fingertips are pressed up against the keys on a keyboard. Waiting. Waiting for words to come to explain this season. The Christmas tree twinkles in the corner with sparkly and burlap ornaments. And the snow is falling. Gently. In a way that beckons for a stillness of the soul. 

And the words of O Holy Night go through my head over and over and over again. 

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born.

Not a lot makes sense to me most days anymore. How I ended up in Young Life camping or how I ended up as the housekeeping supervisor at Crooked Creek Ranch. I wish that I could say that I heard the Lord speak directly to me to give me this direction in my life, but I didn't. In many ways, it just happened. 

And that is hard for me some days. I ask myself a lot of questions. I do a lot of self-analysis, trying to figure out why I am where I am and why I feel the way that I do most days. And with many thoughts, there are not a lot of clear cut answers. 

But then one morning I wake up. I wake up to light coming through my window and I am grateful that I forgot to close my blinds the night before. Because snow is falling. And I lay snuggled up between my flannel sheets watching the snow fall gently onto the evergreen trees. Lauren comes in my room to lay on my bed to rejoice in the new snow fall. It is here. The snow has come.

It's been a while since we have had snow. I know that sounds crazy considering I live in the Rocky Mountains and it's December, but it's the truth. There hasn't been much precipitation to be had around here. 

But this morning it came. A whole six inches of it and it hasn't stopped yet. And I am grateful.

Because when the snow is falling the questions stop for just a little bit. Because I am assured that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. My weary soul rejoices when the snow arrives. The snow is indicative of new life. It is indicative of a clean slate. It is Jesus in our place.

"Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be white as snow."
-Isaiah 1:18-

And this morning I am reminded of the holy night. The night that the Savior came. The night that brought Hope to the weary world. The night that still gives me hope. 

Because in that night a baby was born. His name was Immanuel, God with us. He came to save the world. He was the thrill of hope. And He is still my thrill of hope. The hope that lets the questions settle and all my thoughts return to Jesus. He is the One who stills my soul, who is doing a good work inside of me, and who has saved me. He is the grace that covers all of our imperfections. And for that I fall on my knees; He is good. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Me, Myself, & Coffee

If you and I were to sit down to coffee, I would (1) absolutely love it and (2) pray that the words I speak be full of both grace and truth. Because if you and I have are sitting down to coffee I want you to know that I am your biggest fan, I want you to know that our Father in Heaven loves you, and I want you to know that His mercies are new every single morning.

So when you cry I want to reassure you that it is absolutely okay and that the Lord will cry alongside of you and will one day wipe every tear. And when you do not do as well as you hope and you are disappointed I want to be an encouragement and tell you that there's always another shot. When life starts to really suck, I want to just sit beside you and be in it with you. Then there's the time that you are just ecstatic, and I want to experience that joy with you in the deepest part of my being as well.

Because that's how we love other people. It is how we are friends and how we connect deeply with others.

But with myself, I talk to myself in a whole different way. Some days it's a little heavy on the hard truth, completely forgetting the grace that is overflowing. Some days it is full of lies and hurts and pains.

I am beginning to realize: We need to learn to talk to ourselves the way that we talk to our friends. I need to learn to talk to myself the way that I talk to my friends.

When a friend says they just feel ugly, we absolutely never agree; but we will agree with ourselves in that one. We let ourselves deceive our own minds and hearts to not believe the truth. Because the last time a friend told me that they felt like a failure I did not in fact, affirm that to them and say "yes, yes you are a failure." But I did say that to myself in my moment of self-defeat.

That is not okay. We have to learn to be our biggest supporters and we have to remember the Lord's immense love for us.

God is teaching me to love myself. Not in the egocentric, self-centered way, but in the way that I cover myself with both the Truth and with grace. And in a way that celebrates the praises and allows the pain to come in all the same day.

He is teaching me to see the small victories in getting a Colorado license and tags. He is teaching me to not get mad at myself when anxiety creeps in. He is teaching me to remind myself that it is going to be okay. He is teaching me to let joy and tears coexist. He is teaching me to tell myself that climbing the mountain is possible.

So here's to being nicer, kinder, and more gentle with ourselves. And here's to believing that it is necessary.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why Growing Up is the Worst, but Why I Do it Anyways

I like to consider this season of life as the one in which I grow up and become an adult. I like to think and hope and pray that all of this transition is going to lead to something.

But really this transition time is hard. It's strange and no transition has been quite like this one.

Learning to buy a car in this season of life is like having your eyeballs plucked out.

For some reason going to grocery store feels like your are climbing a really big mountain.

Buying a comforter feels like it has a really lasting significance and I could never make the right decision.

Waking up before the sun rises is less than ideal.

Making a budget seems ridiculous and so incredibly necessary, but also impossible.

And now there's no end in sight to this life in Colorado. Since I was a little one, there was an end date, but now my home is Colorado until the Lord moves me else where.

Thus, growing up is the worst. 

...Now I know that is way overdramatic and I don't mean it in a literal sense... It's just the lie Satan has been consistently whispering in my ear since my internship ended.

I am afraid that I am going to fail at being an adult. I am afraid that I will make the wrong decision or buy the wrong thing and then everyone will think that I have failed as an adult.

But in the end I am choosing to grow up anyways. I am choosing to because I know that those thoughts are all just lies. I can't fail at being an adult. And ultimately, this life here is absolutely nothing about me. It's not about the car I drive, the job I have, how well I spend my money, or how "good" I am at being an adult.

It's about Jesus. It's about bringing glory to His name. It's about realizing that nothing on this earth will ever be enough. It's about clinging to hope in eternity. And it's about coming home.

Home for so long has meant North Carolina. And to define it now seems a little more difficult. Most of my plane flights end in Denver and my license plate represents the colorful state, which may just mean that Colorado is home.

But ultimately my home is in the loving arms of the Father. It is "the center of my being where I can hear the voice that says: 'You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests'---the same voice that gave life to the first Adam and spoke to Jesus, the second Adam; the same voice that speaks to all the children of God and sets them free to live in the midst of a dark world while remaining in the light" (Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son).

And I haven't been doing the best job in resting in that home. I've been so busy worrying about being an adult that the days have seemed daunting and dissatisfaction has been all I've known.

But that tender, still small voice is reminding me that it's time to come home. And it's time to walk through this season of transition and learning with Him by my side. And it's time to kneel at His feet. For...

It is the place of light, the place of truth, the place of love. It is the place where I so much want to be, but am so fearful of being. It is the place where I will receive all I desire, all that I ever hoped for, all that I will ever need, but it is also the place where I have to let go of all I most want to hold on to. It is the place that confronts me with the face that truly accepting love, forgiveness, and healing is often much harder than giving it. It is the place beyond earning, deserving, or rewarding. It is the place of surrender and complete trust.

-Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Deep Waters

The past month I have been the friend no body should ever want. I have been the most difficult person to reach on a phone. I return calls weeks after they come and I secretly hope to get people's voicemails when I do call them back; I just feel like I am "too much" these days. I am always on the go, traveling from one place to the next or trying to figure out one thing after another. I have been needy, needing rides to and from the auto shop and needing friends to help me move an irregularly large dresser at a moments notice. I call my mom to cry about not feeling settled and not having a comforter.

I feel most days like I might just be in over my head; and well, I probably am.

I am frantically trying to stay afloat as I begin my job as the housekeeping supervisor at Crooked Creek, not really knowing exactly what I am doing and hoping that nothing falls apart. I am moving into a house with new roommates, bringing with me no furniture, but a ton of junk (mainly clothes and pictures that have no place to go now). I am doing my best to help run a volunteer Young Life area and a team. I am trying to make my life permanent in Colorado and buy a car for this crazy winter town. When I stop to breath and think for too long, I begin to realize the whole list of things that I need to process through from the last year; then I stop again because I don't want to deal with it all.

There is a lot of trying, a lot of tears, and a lot of hoping for the best.

I keep checking with Jesus, that this is really what He had in mind. I feel frantic and like this all may be too much. I keep thinking that it may be nice to just fast forward to three months from now when things feel a little more together.

But then I remember, God may just be calling me into things that put me in over my head.

In Luke 5, Jesus asks Simon to "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." Jesus wants Simon's nets in the deep water. In the water that is over his head, in the water that Simon does not believe will be successful, and in the water that does not make perfect sense. The Lord does the same in our lives; He asks us to let our nets down into deep waters. Waters where our feet may fail without Him, waters where it's dark and difficult to see what is happening; waters where it feels like everything may just crumble to pieces at any moment.

But Simon obeys. He obeys reluctantly, but obeys nonetheless. "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets" (v. 5). At the word of the Lord he obeyed. He obeyed with his feet, even when it did not make one bit of sense.

And Jesus made sure of the catch. Their nets were almost breaking with fish they were so full.

And I am reminded that maybe, just maybe, I have to keep going out of reluctant obedience. I have to keep trusting that maybe the deep waters will not swallow me alive and that maybe Jesus has a far better plan than I do. And that the Lord will do the catching. He will hold the pieces together.

So today I am thankful for Simon and his reluctant obedience. And I pray that my dragging, kicking, and screaming feet will find the same kind of courage to step into the deep water and trust that Jesus will give me the power to move.

And for all my friends who are in a place feeling like you may just be in over your head, I am with you. Here's to doing hard and holy things together. And for all my friends that I owe a phone call, it is coming; I promise.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Voice of Summer

And it all lays quiet. Not a person is stirring and all the buildings are asleep for a nap. We all take a sigh of relief because summer is over.

A still, small voice is saying, "I love you." A voice that I searched for, hoped for, and yearned for this summer. And voice that some days was hard to understand and hard to be believed.

Because this summer was one of absolute chaos. It was the summer of ending a year internship, but the beginning of transitioning into a full-time job. And it was the summer of having fifteen new friends come into our home. It was the summer of applying and interviewing for a job and then anxiously awaiting to hear. It was the summer of loving Colorado, but missing North Carolina. It was the summer of living in limbo and trying everyday to love twelve high school girls that worked in the washboard. And it was a summer of searching for the voice of truth... for the voice that comes after the clouds clear and after the tears have been shed.

session one buttons: mary margaret, katie, jordan, taylor, hannah, mia, abby, meg, sarah neal, grayson, gretta //
bosses : cara & robyn 
second session buttons: stelly, jessica, deanna, ashley, ashia, kinsey, sarah, laney, olivia, lauren, alise, lizzie //
bosses: hannah & lindsay
third session buttons: gabrielle, morgan, brooke, abby, mc, claire, jade, leah, lauren, izzy, kendyl, lucy caroline // bosses: kaylan & cassidy

And that's hard. No one can ever really prepare you for the amount of transition you experience that first year after the college, and well probably not for the second either. No one tells you that one morning you may wake up feeling completely alone, only to go to sleep feeling so incredibly loved... or vice versa. No one tells you that just when you think that you have met all the best friends that you could possibly have, that there are still more to come. No one tells you that tears are the words you just can't put together. No one tells you that heartbreak comes in more than one fashion. No one tells you that some days feel like shit and the next day feels like heaven on earth. No one tells you because it is hard to feel that anything is stable and that any day is going to be the same as the one before.

And in all of the chaos, the voice still speaks. The voice never stops speaking. Some days the voice feels far away, but it is always still full of truth and beauty.

Colorado summers show you that. When the snow melts, there is abundant moisture and green fields to frolic in. While some days you feel stuck in the valley, the mountaintops are proof that there are high places.

I needed to know that this summer. I needed to know that I am not stuck in the bottomless pit of transition. I needed to know that the Lord still loved me, even though I didn't love myself every single day. I needed to know that there is beauty in the ashes.

And the Lord showed me that in days spent playing outside, in sweet new friendships, in sunsets, and in adventures.

:::here's to a summer that I will absolutely never forget:::

{dominguez canyon backpacking}
{fly camping with these girls}
{packs for days with the best}
{tip top of a fourteener in sandals. we do weird things}
{carnivals on carnivals}
{mountaintop fourth}
{rainbow promises}
{washboardt captain laughter}
{meet new longtime bestie, hannah}
{hearing this girl's testimony at work crew night}
{table panoramas for days}
{devil's thumb hiking adventures}
{forever friends}
{playing in fields}
{sunsets in rocky mountain national park}
{rooftop love}
{granby ranch}
{crooked creek ranch summer interns 2014}

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Welcoming MJ

Word on the street is that twenty-three is good. And well the second year out of college sounds better than the first.

The truth is that no one really explains to you what life is like post-graduation. There is no way to really put words to it. It is all described in vague terms with no real picture of what it is really like to be a girl, out of college, away from all your best friends, and just trying to figure out what the hell you are doing.

And that's how I spent my twenty-second year: wondering a whole lot of what the hell is this and learning that life is hard, but much better with Jesus.

In my twenty-second year I also moved from North Carolina to Colorado for the year, but in this twenty-third I'll make that move permanent and become a Colorado resident, license plate and all.

Twenty-two left me gasping for air, wondering when a break was coming, and when I would finally feel fully like myself. It left me missing North Carolina while also falling in love with the Rockies. It showed me that Jesus is better than anything else, but somedays it just wouldn't always feel like that in this life of mine.

And now twenty-three is coming. Well actually, it's here.

And I have high hopes for twenty-three. It's time to move myself into a little house nestled here in the Fraser Valley and to begin my job as the Housekeeping Supervisor at Crooked Creek. And it's time to begin figuring out more of this post-grad life. It's time to buy a KitchenAid mixer because I can, I want one, and I don't think it has to be a wedding gift some later time in life.

And it's time for the blog again. My time has not been spent here for a while. There are a lot of excuses why, but mainly because my heart hasn't been in it. I haven't quite known what to say and I have been living in the moment (hello summer at a Young Life camp #insanity). I am excited to work in this space again and to pour my heart into it once more. And special thanks to Hannah and Sarah in the Crooked Creek bakery who were such an encouragement.

I don't have much figured out. Not much more than what I had in the twenty-second year, but this time I'm learning to be okay with that. I am learning to go with the day and to accept the things that I simply cannot change, but trust that Jesus will do immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine. I am beginning to see that most things are more about the process and a lot less about the end result.

So here's to my MJ year. I welcome you.

I welcome your questions, your confusion, your adventure, your plane tickets, and your goodness. I know that you won't be easy, but I know that you will be that good for the soul, stretching kind of year.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Katy Perry and New Things Coming

Some days you hear the Lord speak to you through Scripture and some days you hear Him through your besties and some days you Him through a good sermon. And then there are the days, you hear the Lord through Katy Perry. And it's those days you are quite positive that God has a sense of humor and that you are going to be okay.

This winter has encapsulated everything truly winter. There has been snow. A lot of it. 374 inches to be exact thus far. The grass has disappeared under these mounds of snow. Green has become just a faint color of memory and has been replaced with glistening white and the dreary days of grey. The wild flowers lay dormant, asleep until the ground unfreezes and there is hope of rain for precipitation as opposed to snow. The water has frozen over, making it perfect for ice skating and ice fishing. Mornings have been spent shoveling snow and days off have been spent on the mountain skiing and snowboarding. Coffee has become necessary for warmth, for energy to shovel, and for soul revival.

so much snow that you can make igloos.
And even at the very end of April I was questioning the ending of winter. Will it ever come? Snow is still falling and some morning temperatures are enough to make you want to stay in bed all day. Snow is forecasted for next week in May and I am preparing to shovel snow off the grass in order to make summer camp seem like "summer camp." Oh seriously, will this winter ever end?

<<sidenote: I actually really love winter, the snow, and time spent with people shoveling... it really isn't too bad, but it's been a long while of it all>>

And amidst this winter season, it has been more than just the weather that has been dragging, confusing, and dreary. There have been more questions than can be answered. And in many ways I have wondered where the Lord is working exactly. It seems as if He decided to lay dormant for just a little while, like the flowers. I've known all along that the Lord is here, but not quite sure what His plan or purpose was. And in so many ways, winter has been happening all around.

But then Monday night Young Life club happens and we sing "Roar." And it all kind of hits me. The Lord may seem like He is not doing a lot right now and that His purpose may not make a lot of sense, but soon we are going to hear Him ROAR.

"I got the eye of a tiger, a fighter
Dancing through the fire
'Cause I am a champion, and you're gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
'Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear be roar!"
- Katy Perry.... or God 

Because the Lord is a champion. He defeated death and He overcame the grave. He is victorious over the enemy. And we are going to hear Him roar. While the winter may be quiet, oh the Lord is going to come out roaring. 

Winter doesn't have a hold on us. It is going to end. Summer is coming. The grass is green underneath the snow and the dead grass on top. The flowers are blooming in the greenhouse and soon they will be ready to come out and play.

playing in springtime snow. sun is shining.
spring time has arrived in buena vista. 

And I have an inkling that the Lord is going to come roaring this summer. He is preparing a new chapter: a chapter where His hand is working in mighty ways and where He is working all things for our good. 

"Come and see the turning of the tide,
Come and see the sons and daughters rise.
For how could he who did not spare his own son
Not freely give us victory
Against the darkest of nights"
-Will Reagan and the United Pursuit 

Friday, April 25, 2014

We Do Hard Things

"I did not sign up for this." Those are some of my favorite words to tell God when things get just too hard and I am about ready to give up. I am not always quite sure why I feel the need to tell Him that because it is not that God asked if I signed up for it and not that God is going to just take the hard situation away because I told him that, but I often say it anyways.

But the truth is that in some ways I did sign up for a lot of it when I chose to follow Jesus. Because sometimes, following Jesus means doing hard things.

I have been hit in the face the past few weeks that some life is not always easy and it is not always full of rainbows, butterflies, and chocolate croissants. Those really sweet, to-be savored, and sipped in slowly moments are there and are in abundance but so are the hard things.

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." -Matthew 7:14 (ESV)

In talking to my dear friend Jen the other day she said something quite simple and at the same time quite profound: "I live with the expectation that everyday should be Easter, and it simply is not. Because before Easter, was the cross."

Easter is awesome. It's the time we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, the beauty of redemption, and the defeat of death. Our God is alive and lives in us. Holy smokes, that is wonderful, freeing, and hope-giving!!! In Easter there is rejoicing and celebration and new life. PRAISE.

And I want to live in the resurrection of Christ. I want to live knowing the power of a God who is greater than death and who is greater than the enemy.

But to live in the resurrection, means to die with Christ. And welp, that ain't easy. There is no resurrection if Jesus did not go to the cross, where He was chastised, spat on, and beat down. There is no resurrection if there are no hard things.

So we do hard things. 

We learn new things that take patience and effort. We have brutally honest conversations. We cry in the arms of our best friends. We take cold showers because that just happens living with a lot of people. We move across the country for a year, only to think we might stay. We miss our besties that live plane rides and hours away. We shovel snow in April. We learn to wash the feet of sinners in a tight-knit community. We have our expectations unmet. We apologize when we mess up. We practice confrontation and vulnerability in relationships. We face the unknowns of the future. We close doors and open others. We build things from the ground up. We graduate and do the things (shout out to baby ayers for doing things).

But all the while we hope in the resurrecting power of Christ and in the redemptive power of His love. We trust that Jesus is not finished with us. He is bringing beauty out of ashes.

And on that day we meet Jesus in Heaven, we'll get to thank Him for writing us such a beautiful story of redemption that taught us to trust Him and to hope in more than just the day's circumstances.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

For When Loving is Hard

God is Love.

Love is patient...
... even in my most ugliest of moments ... as I try to do things by myself ... as He calls my name to draw me to Himself ... even when I do not acknowledge Him 

Love is kind...
... speaking sweetly in those tender soul needing moments ... as He looks at me and sees the righteousness of Christ ... reminding me of my worthiness that is in the Lord

Love does not envy...
... even as His heart desires our attention ... even while experiencing a godly jealousy 

Love does not boast...
... when looking at those He loves ... as He reminds the woman at the well that He has written her a better story ... as He carries all our shame on the cross

Love is not self-seeking...
... as a sinless man He died a sinner's death for our salvation ... 

Love is not easily angered...
... despite all of my mistakes and mishaps ... as He loves us with a deep, unfailing, and compassionate love ... even when I do not do what He has called me to

Love keeps no record of wrongs...
... for He remembers my sins no more ... as He washes us white as snow 

Love does not delight in evil...
... as He cries out over the brokenness in this world ... as He is grieved by evil

Love rejoices with the truth...
... for the truth sets us free and it is for freedom that Christ has set us free ... as the Lord delights over with singing ... as dinner parties are thrown when the prodigal son returns home

Love always protects...
... as He gives us ways to stand up under the temptations of the enemy ... keeping me safe even when I don't feel safe ... 

Love always trusts...
... extending us a truth to believe in ... dying on the cross for people He loves even before they were knit in their mother's womb 

Love always hopes...
... believing better stories for us ...

Love always perseveres... 
... through our dirtiness and mess ... as my heart wanders all around

Love never fails...

And we too are called to love with this kind of love... with Jesus love... as Christ has loved us. 

I am called to be...

... patient ... 
... even when it hurts ... despite the annoying comments and sassy remarks ... amidst the miscommunication and the differences ... with those who do not deserve my patience ... in receiving grace and giving grace ... as doors slam

... kind ...
... using words that are uplifting and beneficial to the soul ... giving away more of myself than I receive ... not turning a friend in need away ... even when I have had my feelings hurt and all I want to do is scream ... in caring when I do not feel like caring ... in surprise coffees and chocolate croissants

... not envious ...
... of those who still get to live in chapel hill and see all our besties on a regular occasion ... of those in a different life stage ... of those who don't have to shovel snow still in april ...  when all I want is for things to be different

... not boastful ...
... in my accomplishments ... in my relationships ... reminding others that I can do nothing without Christ- absolutely nothing

... not self-seeking ...
... even when I want things to work out for me ... when I drive the extra distance to see a friend ... despite the desire for gratification from relationships ... even when my "plan" seems the most logical

... not easily angered ... 
... even when I am frustrated ... even when things change and do not happen like I thought they would ... even when I am hurt by someone's actions ... even when promises are broken ... even when everything in me says I should scream and storm out

... keeping no record of wrongs ... 
... believing that Christ has died for that person's sins ... even when arguments seem stronger with lists of previous offenses ... trusting that Jesus is my safety, not my own guard and memory ... even when it does not seem fair

... not delighting in evil ... 
... trusting that all blessings and goodness flows from the Heavenly Father above ... even towards those people I would rather not love

... rejoicing with the truth ...
... speaking the Lord's truth with grace in every moment ... in dinner parties that speak to community and life over the table ... even when the truth is scary and means there is vulnerability

... always protecting ... 
... honoring others with the words that I use ... praying for those in need and in trouble ... asking the Lord's provision over others lives ... in moments of confusion and anxiety

... always trusting ... 
... even when my gut says I would rather not ... that Jesus is working in the other person's life ... that beauty comes from ashes ... believing more is possible even when there is room to doubt

... always hoping ...
... believing a better story for another ... believing that the Lord has not let go of them ... believing that they will turn around even when hope feels lost ... believing that Jesus has more love than I could ever possibly have ... even when hoping hurts and the situation feels hopeless

... always persevering ...
... even when I want to give up ... even when loving means crying tears ... even when loving doesn't feel good anymore ... even when the other person has their back turned

I cannot do or be anything of these things perfectly. Some days I cannot even attempt to do some of these things half-way well. And then some other days I am full out terrible at loving like Jesus. 

With Jesus there is grace though. He looks down at my battered heart wanting to love well, but struggling, and says His grace is sufficient. While I may be weak, He is incredibly strong inside of me. He gives me the ability to love when loving just does not seem possible. He gives me the ability to love when I do not want to love. He gives me the ability to love when the other person does not want to be loved. He gives me the ability to love when all hope feels lost.

Love like this has power to move mountains and turn tables, because the Lord's love never ever fails

Jesus, may love fill our hearts even on our very worst of days.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Our Stories After College

316 days ago we all graduated from the most wonderful university and moved out of the house that was home for two years. Those 316 days happened fast, real fast. And then all eight of us were back together again. At the beach. For an entire weekend.

<enter prayer> Praise the Great Lion of Judah for best friend beach reunions. 

When we all come back together, we no longer come with the same stories. We come with different stories. Ones that the Lord has so perfectly written for each of us as individuals. My past 316 days look different than Sydney's past 316 days and her days look different than Elaine's. 

For the four years that we attended college together our days all looked similar and were deeply intertwined. We processed each moment together as they happened. But now our days are all different and we don't process together as we used to.

Now we are all long-distance friends. And long-distance friendships look different than the days of college when late nights together were the norm and a weekend apart seemed like eternity. 

Now we have eight different lives that intertwine in beautiful ways, but not quite as close as the vines of the McMansion. We are phone calls, letters, road trips, and plane rides away from one another. 

And when we all come back together again, we are hit with the reality: we do not understand one another anymore. 

We do not understand each other's days because they are all different. By the grace of God, we can try to understand; we can ask questions, listen, and share endless stories. But ultimately we're no longer all students, living in the McMansion, leading Young Life, and playing around in Chapel Hill. 

That's the thing that comes with long-distance friendships after college... you stop having the natural understanding of one another's lives. No one knows what it is like to be an intern at Crooked Creek Ranch in the Rocky Mountains and to have their world completely rocked by the Fraser Valley. They do not know, because that isn't part of their story. Their stories are their own. 

I do not know what it is like to be a seminary student ... or to have a full-time job in internet marketing research... or to be a graduate student ... or to live in Charleston ... or to stay in Chapel Hill after college ... or to be an intern at Trail West ... or to apply to school again to be a guidance counselor ... or to join a small group through the Summit church ... or to plan a wedding... or to work from a cubicle. I do not know because it is not my story. 

When you realize that your best friends, who once knew every single thing about you and your days, does not really understand anymore it is hard... really hard. Because, ultimately, we all desire to be understood and to be known. 

But then... Jesus. Jesus who knows each of us intimately. Jesus who is deep inside each of us. Jesus who gives us grace unending. Jesus who grants us understanding that goes beyond our human comprehension. Jesus who drew us all together our freshman year of college. Jesus who is the Author of the most beautiful stories. Jesus who is Grace.

He is the grace we give to others when they do not understand. He is the grace we show ourselves when we do not understand. He is the grace that is breathed through each conversation. He is the grace that allows us to forgive. He is all the grace we need. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Favor I Have to Ask

My heart is heavy writing this post. I come to you with an open and broken heart, asking for a favor. I am asking you to pray... to pray for the valley and to pray against the darkness. 

I have fallen absolutely in love with the valley I live in. It makes absolutely no sense why. We have had over 300 inches of snow this winter (all of which has had to be shoveled on camp), the nearest Target is an hour and a half away, and as the snow melts it creates mud (a lot of mud that absolutely covers your car). But I love this place. I love the way the snow looks like glitter some days, the community of people who love Jesus a ton, the high school of 350 students, and the possibility of an adventure every single day. 

While the valley is beautiful and one of my favorite places it is full of brokenness. It is a dark, dark place that is in desperate need for the Light. Amidst all the darkness and brokenness though, my heart aches and longs for something different. It aches for the people who live here to know Jesus and it aches for there to be redemption.

I weep over the darkness. And most days I am sure I have cried all my tears. 

I weep over the locals I meet who have never heard the name of Jesus before. I weep over the man working at my favorite coffee shop who is either high or drunk every time I am in there. I weep over a dear friend wandering from the Lord. I weep over the sins of the people. I weep over the goodbyes that I never wanted to happen. I weep over the sudden death of a high school girl's father. I weep over the people who think that drugs and alcohol can satisfy their deepest longings. I weep over the people working odd jobs that feel they have no purpose. I weep over the lies that high school girls believe that tell them they aren't enough. 

But in my weeping, I do my best to pray. I am on my knees asking Jesus to overwhelm the valley with His love. I am trying to believe the Lord for more here. I want to believe Him for change, for redemption, for hope. 

So today, I ask you to pray with me. Please pray for this valley. Pray for the people who live in Granby, Fraser, and Winter Park. Pray for the man in the coffee shop. Pray for Middle Park High School and for Grand County Young Life. Pray for my dear friend to turn back to the Lord. Pray for people to trust in something more. Pray for the Light.

"So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer." -Ezra 8:23

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you." -John 15:7

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." -James 5:16

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-- whatever we ask --we know that we have what we asked of him." -1 John 5:14-15 

I know the Lord loves Fraser Valley. I absolutely convinced of it. I earnestly pray that His Light chases out all the darkness. 

Come, Lord Jesus, come. 

And as my heart breaks for this valley in Colorado, I am sure your heart breaks for something too... whether it's a place, a person, or an injustice. And I want to pray with you, too, for those things. I want to approach the throne of the Lord, believing Him for healing in the brokenness that breaks your heart. 

So please, share those things. I would love to pray for you and with you. Comment on here or send me an e-mail ( with any and all prayer requests. I am utterly convinced that Jesus wants us to do this together. 

As I ask you to pray with me, how can I pray with you?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Am Done With Surviving

Welp, it's official. The most time has passed since I last wrote on here. I have been waiting to write. Waiting on change. The change that just is not coming quite yet in this season.

I have spent the last year and a half dreading change. I did not think "transition" was really my forte and did not think that change was going to do me too well. But change happened and it was good. It was bittersweet in the way that it reminded me that a piece of my heart will always be in Chapel Hill, but that too I am held in love in the mountains of Colorado.

But now I want change.

I want change because I look around and my heart breaks and mind goes all over the place. Many circumstances surrounding my life are what I would phrase as "less than ideal." There are friends hurting, misunderstandings abound, too many things to be done with too little time, and the spinning plates of life seem to be teetering on the edge of shattering.

And as my eyes are more aware of the hurt and pain, I desire change and I attempt to survive. I have run from one place to the next, I have cried tears for situations I never expected, I have cut my hair drastically because that's change I can control, and I have found myself bulldozing through many bumps in the road. I have been surviving.

Truth be told: Survival works. It can be done. It has been done.

But we are not meant to just survive, we are meant to flourish.

I am not meant to merely get by in this season of desiring change, but I am meant to flourish in this season even while it's difficult.

So I am done with just surviving. I am done with the catching my breath only to have it be taken away again as I run to something else. I am done with half-hearted prayers to get me through a few moments. I am done with conversations that run you in circles with no hope of the redeeming powers of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am done with wanting change and not really believing it will ever come.

I am choosing to flourish and to delight myself in the Lord.

I am choosing to paint my nails with sparkly nail polish. I am choosing to sip coffee a little more slowly in the morning. I am choosing to say "no" to some things and "yes" to others. I am choosing to fly to Texas to escape the snow for just a weekend and to explore a new city. I am choosing to relish in sunflowers that are proof that seasons to do change. I am choosing to pick up the phone when familiar names come across the screen. I am choosing to linger in coffee shops. I am choosing to believe the Lord for deliverance and redemption. I am choosing to bake with children. I am choosing to read more books for enjoyment. I am choosing to look through old journals and see the ways the Lord has moved thus far. I am choosing to have hope in something more than just the day.

Let's flourish, y'all.

"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; 

I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever." {Psalm 52:8}