I’ve been thinking a lot about gardening lately. Maybe it’s because I miss watching HGTV–a ritual I haven’t kept since coming to college. Maybe it’s the love I’ve had for The Secret Garden since elementary school. Or maybe it’s memories of my grandpa, affectionately known as “Pal,” who would take me in the emerald wagon across the mossy backyard to his garden–a jungle of pumpkins, peonies and the occasional strawberry patch.Read More
I see myself as a tapestry, unfolding as the Master Artist weaves his strong thread through. I’m unfolding and have yet to be completed like the tapestry in the cathedral. Yet I rejoice in the unfolding.Read More
This is a patchwork sort of account of my experiences. It does not flow and it seems more little bits than a grandiose whole, but that seemed the fitting narrative to tell as I processed my experience. Here are some things I saw, heard and learned:Read More
I’ve heard God’s mercy described as tender by some and severe by others. I’ve often wrestled over how both could be true of the same God. However, as I continually understand more of the attributes of God, I see how both are fitting of the compassionate and just nature of the Trinity.Read More
I see graffiti. I see it on the rail cars that pass my home. I see it under bridges and over walls. I see it in the forgotten places, silently shouting, “see me; know me; please, try to understand.”Read More
Every summer for the past four years, I have reread Elisabeth Elliot’s Passion and Purity. An annotator by nature, I love to read through comments made as far back as my sophomore year of high school and add an additional “love this” or “to consider” here and there.
When I reread an annotated book, I see how the book has changed me. At a base level, I’ve changed my pen preference from lime gel to black fountain (a life-altering decision, friends). Moving past the print, I see the ways in which my perspective has shifted through my diction, my mindset and my age. I’m no longer the shy girl worried about SAT scores. I’m an undergraduate who has way too much caffeine and way too little sleep but just enough Jesus and foreign policy reviews to keep her going strong.
My theology is deepening and certainly has probed great depths since my first read-through of Elliot’s book. Each year, I’ve been given fresh eyes to consider her words, overflowing with wisdom and truth.
This summer, I was late in my rereading and put it off…until this weekend. A little over ten days until I move back to my Upland home and a lot less than ten days until my friends from my Indy home begin to return to their different universities. Needless to say, I’ve been on a gloriously messy emotional roller coaster. What I can say with certainty is that I am now ready to return to Upland. (Look, Mom; I’m mostly packed!) I also can say that God is good and His timing, perfect.
Elliott begins her book by placing herself back as a senior undergraduate student at Wheaton College. The story progresses to tell of her time post graduation in Bible college, language school and various other ministry programs as she followed her Christ-instilled calling to linguistics. The story also tells of how God wove a friend, Jim Elliot, into His narrative for Elisabeth. The two went on to full-time ministry work in Ecuador where Jim was martyred by tribesmen. Elisabeth’s response: forgiveness. That’s a whole other book and a God-drenched narrative.
This year, a college student like Elisabeth, I read with a fresh perspective and a context that “makes sense” during this still new season of life. Elliot describes her clear calling to ministry and the loneliness that tended to accompany it. Yet in the midst of loneliness, Elisabeth valued her faith above all. The choices she made were made in light of Scripture and in fervent prayer. When she faced internal conflict as to what choice was best, her response was to ask Christ, not to trust herself. This pattern, beginning in college, carried throughout Elisabeth’s life. Her narrative is one of steady courage, humble grace and a deep conviction to do that which God would have her do.
I read all this and thought, “That’s not me.” Sure, I want that to be me. I’d love to say, “I immediately place my hope in Christ and His plans for my life.” However, that is often the last response before the “breakdown and turn back” phase. I like to plan and I like to dream. When the planner and the dreamer in my head conspire they often deem faith unnecessary until something unforeseen occurs. Then, yikes - faith is needed after all.
This summer, especially these past few weeks, God has shown me countless times that the only thing, the only person I can place my full hope in is Christ Himself. I’m not saying that hope cannot be found elsewhere. What I am saying is that fully placing one’s hope in anything beside Christ - His person, His purposes and His power, is futile. It’ll fall through, and I do it time and time again.
As I pulled out of campus after my last exam and headed home at the beginning of summer, I was already placing hope in various plans that I thought would and should come to fruition. Logically, many of them made sense. They were long evaluated until deemed realistic. Thus, I charted the course of my summer without trusting Christ for the unforeseen. Excitement over summer plans wasn’t the problem. False hope in my sense of control was a huge problem.
The summer progressed and was wonderful, full of growth and learning at my internship and at home. However, last weekend when I considered everything and my attitude toward it I realized, I still held a vice grip on my false hope and was refusing to accept that God’s plan might not match my own, but difficult or not, His ways are the best ones, every time. I went into this past week frustrated with myself but grateful to God for grace and for plans that despite our actions, are His plans and will come to fruition when He wills them to.
Elliot understood this. She placed her hope in Christ and He provided direction for her life. When she was unsure whether to pursue medicine or linguistics, the Lord led her into linguistics. When she was unsure where her relationship with Jim Elliot would head, the Lord developed patience in her heart and years later, they married. The Elliot's entered ministry in Ecuador where a few years into their marriage, Jim and several other missionaries were martyred. Elisabeth’s response? Forgiveness.
Certainly forgiveness was a process and grief was imminent, but nevertheless she forgave and returned. Her second husband died of cancer and her third husband survived her. If Elliot had placed her full hope in her marriage, in her ministry, or in her future, she would have been shattered by disappointment. However, Elisabeth placed her hope in Christ. When the hard times came (and they did come), she stood with courage, filled with the hope of a risen Savior who overcame brokenness, overcame hardship and overcame the grave.
I’m not there, at least not yet. But this hope I’m discovering is an ongoing process. As I prepare to pack up and head up to my Upland home, I can see that hope, true hope in Christ will be a huge learning process throughout this academic year and most likely, the coming years. I’m equally excited and stubborn which God is breaking and bending and making beautiful in His time. Hope in Christ is bliss, but the other things I’ve placed false hope in must shift placement - sometimes, that stings.
I’m grateful for those who see those glimpses of hope in my messiness. Thank you dear family, dear friends, dears colleagues, professors, mentors, pastors and others who have encouraged me in the little things and given me underserved grace to grow. You richly bless me.
I’ll end with these words (not mine):
About thirty days remain until I cram my car full of everything needed to conquer no-sleep nights and no-work days and everything in-between. Upland, I’m coming home.
A former teacher recently remarked (and wisely so):
You grow so much throughout your senior year of high school. You grow much more the summer between graduation and college. During your Freshman year, you grow exponentially. Between your Freshman and Sophomore year, you change in ways that often mean returning to campus an entirely different person - still you, but changed.
I’m certainly no judge of my growth, but when I look back at photos from one year ago and remember the things I’ve said, the ways I’ve reacted, the patterns of thought I’ve slipped into and the ways in which all of those have changed in the deepest sense, I laugh. “Did I really say that? do that? react that way?” Wisdom shames pride.
I recently found a crate of weathered papers and journals, dating back to 3rd grade, but mostly filled with middle school and high school ramblings. If I could write an ode that would properly praise all of my English teachers, I would. Any such ode would fall short of the gratitude deserved of these educators who saw glimmers of brilliance in my tenth grade writer’s notebooks which were scatter-brained at best.
Comical as the writings were, they captured well the person I was in each season. Yet in each, (underneath the layers of verbiage) I found a common thread. Each writing gave me a glimpse of the new Creation that Christ was creating in me, both during those seasons and in the present.
Praise God for His perfect timing and perfect love. I feel as though in many ways, I am relearning this summer some of the most fundamental truths of Christianity. I’ve found myself asking, “This truth is so basic - how has it taken me this long to grasp it?” Praise God for His perfect timing.
Another thing I’ve learned is that sleep is underrated. So instead of writing a host of paragraphs regarding growth and change, I’ve included bullet-points to satisfy the list-maker and keep myself awake as the caffeine wears off and the peach pie sets in. Some are little things, some are big lessons, all are worth considering.
- “Comparison,” said Eleanor Roosevelt, “is the thief of joy.” I’m learning and relearning and forgetting and remembering Eleanor’s wise words frequently. Each time I allow the latter quip to steep, the rich truth of a creativity embraced, quirks and all, floods my soul again.
- When you find a spot where you experience God best, become a regular. For me, it’s outdoors. When the Created enter Creation to praise the Creator, the result is worship.
- Never withhold love. Never withhold kind words. Never withhold encouragement. Never withhold the character of Christ.
- Listen without interjecting. Listen without judging. Listen with your full attention.
- Find those who make you laugh until your stomach hurts and your eyes tear and the room spins. Laugh with them often.
- If you make eye contact with someone, smile. Always. No excuses.
- Two of the most surprising and rewarding friend-finders: music and prayer. Spotify messaging and collaborative playlists have become a gem.
- Always keep extra coffee mugs and coffee on hand.
- If at a coffee shop, always strike up a conversation with your barista.
- Make space in your life for solitude.
- A good cry is a necessity. For fellow college students, the shower, the car and the prayer chapel bathroom are excellent, because sometimes the tears just need to flow.
- The best conversations are often spontaneous and after midnight. If cookie dough is involved, it’s frosting on the cake of intentional community.
- Make Sunday a Sabbath. For me, that means a slow morning, church, a late brunch, an afternoon of Bible study and this playlist, sitting out on Olson beach on blankets and small groups before preparing for a week of classes. Whatever that means for you, it is well worth it.
- Write letters. Send some, keep others, never throw them away.
- Take photos of the things that make you feel something, any little thing more than your usual existence.
- Look for the beautiful unfolding of God’s glory in others. Spiritual friendships are the richest blessings and are found when one sees in another glimpses of who Christ is making them into and they journey together toward ultimate completeness in eternity. Find those friends; be those friends.
- Dream a little. Dream a lot.
- Learn how to ask the great questions. Don’t settle for quick answers - dig deep, care deeper.
- Give yourself room to fail.
I've learned much and I'm learning more. I'm learning more of how broken I am and how whole Christ is. I'm learning how my need for Him is great and His desire for me is greater. I'm learning that I have the power to wound and He has the power to heal. Praise God for a lifetime of growing, a lifetime of learning and a never-ending supply of underserved grace.
Friends it’s been too long. I falsely assumed that summer equals spontaneous writing. Time yes, motivation no. I’ve realized just how many hobbies and skill sets I’d like to refine to Kate Middleton level by summer’s end. I’m settling for the ability to play a shaky Little Lion Man on the ukulele and become an Indy coffee connoisseur.
I won’t disclose the annual summer bucket list. It’s exciting to me, but long and mundane outside of my head. (However, #6 is to learn to rap all of Lafayette’s parts in Hamilton - a lofty goal, but I’ll keep you posted).
I read somewhere yesterday that as one grows older and visits more places, home becomes relative. Is there a true “home” when my family is in Indy and my friends scattered across the nation (and the world)? Home encompasses depth now more than ever before.
Home is the past, present and hopeful future, overlapping and refusing to overlap, compiled and piling up in my mind.
Maybe the true motivation for writing this post is that I’m in the middle of organizing my closet and can’t decide whether or not to keep every graduation card or where to mount the most meaningful notes. I’m discovering the need for a good, deep clean. When the dorm room mixed with the apartment, I began to realize that maybe I don’t need to keep every syllabus.
However, there are a few non-negotiables that have taken up permanent residency in my memories and closet bins. The scripts, chocked full of stage notes and inside jokes, from each high school theater production. An oak box of dried flowers: bits of old bouquets, formal corsages and even a bridesmaid bunch. My senior worldview class readings (every last one printed); I shamelessly still reread Keller and Kierkegaard. A tattered violin case full of my most cherished notes. An odd assortment of Christmas sweaters. Oil paints, colored pencils, butcher paper and an endless assortment of photos. I’ve accepted that I’ll never own a California Closet.
Oh, but the sweet memories those little things evoke. I rarely keep every gift I receive, but I’ll almost always keep the accompanying note. I cringe each time I delete a photo, a rare occurrence judging by the 10,000+ photos that have nearly crashed my computer.
Sweeter yet, has been meeting up once again with old friends (old friends?!) from high school and catching up on a year of differing adventures. I forget that Upland is an hour from home. It’s a separate world to me. Then, my friends tell of their journeys in Alabama, California, Ohio and even overseas. Suddenly, I’m still the Midwesterner who loves to travel, but has a hint of a homebody heart.
I’ve found myself feeling like the proud mother, gushing about her child’s accomplishments. Instead of children, I’ve found joy in gushing about my friends. (That’s a blog in itself folks). They’re an incredible group of humans with an inspiring faith in Christ and never-ending love for Steak n’ Shake milkshakes (I’ve had multiple in the past three days. No regrets).
I’ve struggled on writing a reflection because I want to reflect on everything at once. About college, about home, about back road adventures, about my summer in the city, about my lack of patience (can you tell)?
I’ll get there eventually. But I do love to travel and I do love to write. If all of my journeys were crammed into one post and then finished forever, what a somber day that would be. I’m spanning out my tales and the tales of others into bursts of thought.
Photos speak stronger than my words ever will. They give the abrasive, honest commentary into my life at any given moment. While a photo may be posed, not all photos can be sugarcoated. One can still tell in the eyes and expression the true emotions behind the image.
That being said, I’ve chosen a series of images that have defined the past year in my life. They are “sweet like honeycomb” in my heart.
It’s been a grand next leg of the life adventure. Thanks for joining me for the ride!
Click photo to view more images.
Two weeks ago, a fifteen passenger van full of ten Taylor students rolled back onto campus, blasting Shackles and the Doxology from the stereo as the students channeled a gospel choir in the back seat. They returned from a ten-day mission trip to Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis. What they lacked in size, they made up with laughter, singing and joy. The most asked question of the week was, “Is this everybody?” I am so grateful for my music-loving, mafia-playing, mulch-spreading group who often resembled an indie band more than an Indy team.
Throughout the week, we collectively recognized how much joy each member of the team radiated. Most days, we were exhausted and emotionally drained from weeks of classes and college life. However, united in Christ, we were filled with joy despite our physical and emotional weakness. That joy was life-giving, pouring in and through each member of our team.
In comparison to other trips, our week was not work-heavy, especially since several college groups had visited Shepherd in the weeks prior. As a result, our week became very relationship-heavy. As a one-on-one conversation kind of gal, that was a dream. We had time to rest and live life well with each other. Reflecting back on the week, I realized that my team knew more of my story than many of my friends, just from asking questions and talking over state museum exploring, stir fry cooking and street cleaning.
We didn’t go to Shepherd expecting radical change and certainly didn’t evoke radical change. Shepherd’s ministry is holistic and serves its community well as it has long before we came and long after groups like ours leave. We came to give the leaders a break from some of the smaller tasks, so they could focus their energies on those they serve. One prayer of mine was that my team and I would manifest the love of Christ through our every word and action.
I saw Christ’s love through the community we served with, the staff and volunteers at Shepherd, the teachers and the church congregation, the families and the friends we made and the team with which I served. During the week, we served in different classrooms in Shepherd’s K-5 school. I spent my time in Miss Southerland’s kindergarten class.
Miss Southerland loves her class so well, empowering students by focusing on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. I could tell that the children in Miss Southerland’s class understood that they were known and loved. Throughout the week, staff members such as security guards, administrators and others visited the classroom to invest in the lives of the children — speaking with them, sitting with them and reading to them. The children knew the names of each employee and jumped out of their seats whenever one would visit the class. They acknowledged each employee with the same warmth and joy that they gave their close friends.
All week, we talked about the importance of at least eight to ten significant relationships in the lives of individual children to empower them to break the cycle of poverty. I saw those formative relationships at Shepherd, but also wondered about what would happen when the children would go home, the most formational place of all. I learned the stories of many of the kids on my class throughout the week. Many were heartbreaking.
One kindergartner, Diamond, nestled close to my side all week. I remember hearing a little giggle behind me and feel two arms wrap around my waist in the biggest bear hug Diamond’s five-year-old self could give. She drew me pictures during class and played with my hair during recess. I taught her how to take photos on my camera. (She was a natural).
One morning, Diamond came into class sullen and removed. At recess, I asked her what was wrong. “My sister took the blanket away from me in our bed,” she said, “I couldn’t sleep. I don’t feel good.” My heart sank. There was never a time when I’ve had to worry about being too cold at night to sleep. I have at least three blankets on my bed at all times. The reality of material poverty in my hometown began to sink in. Since Diamond was cold, she could not sleep well. Since she could not sleep well she could not focus in class. Since she could not focus in class she could not learn. Since she could not learn she got into trouble. Since she got into trouble she could not make friends. Since she could not make friends she could not develop needed relationships. She lived in the cycle of poverty.
However, those things are only partially true. Often, Diamond could focus in class, did do well in school, stayed out of trouble and made friends. With many children, this wasn’t the case. What set Diamond apart was that, though she had bad days, she had significant relationships with teachers and staff members at Shepherd. I heard Miss Southerland encourage Diamond when she did well and come alongside her when she did poorly. Diamond was discipled. Where material poverty abounded, spiritual poverty was bankrupt.
The same was true with sweet Annie. The smallest in the class, Annie had the biggest heart. Her teal eyes lit up whenever she grinned (which was almost constantly). She greeted me with a joyous “sit with me,” “come with me,” or “stand by me” each morning. She delighted and was delighted in. As I sat on an Annie-sized chair next to my little friend, I noticed several children at the table jeer at her. I turned to them with a “no thank you friends, let’s say nice words please” and turned back to Annie, expecting tears or anger. I was shocked. Her face was changed. But if possible, she had a bigger smile than ever. Her eyes were bright and her words were, kind. “That’s beautiful!” “Oh, those colors!” “I like that drawing!” Her praises were endless. I can’t say I would’ve had that same reaction. Even now, I’d be hurt. My initial reaction would probably be to walk away to process, not to love the one who hurt me. Annie courageously chose to love others so purely that it was undeniable that her love was Christ’s love.
What a glorious God we serve that He gives no less power or love to the five-year-old as He gives to the fifty year old. Annie so powerfully exhibited Christ’s love that I wanted to love Christ more fully.
As the week progressed, not only did I notice the love of Christ in the lives of the children I met, I saw it pour in and through the lives of those on my team. Friends, it was so incredibly powerful. My heart is so full when I am reminded of God’s faithfulness and loving-kindness shown through the lives of those I met. Often, those occasions lead to rich friendships. This trip laid the foundation for incredible friendships in the years to come.
Our team was tiny, but terrific. Cameron, Clayton, Caleb, Julia, Nicki, Jordan, Paige, Erica, Beth and I grew close over games of Star Wars (and Harry Potter) mafia, slices of Thai pizza and lots of meaningful conversations. One of my favorite portions of each day was our team debrief. There was a captivating vulnerability that existed between the members of our team. There was also a captivating depth. I feel so thankful to have learned and lived with and to keep learning and growing with those friends.
The Lord has shown me new aspects of His character through living life with others in Indy. He has shown me more of the beauty of worship, the beauty of shared passions and the beauty of His perfect love. He is faithful and He is GOOD.
Brightness and blue skies illuminate Upland today despite the icy air (and sidewalks - watch out). The sky reminds me that it’s nearly spring and already March.
God has shown me His faithfulness in fresh ways during this (almost) spring. Or maybe it’s that I am just now realizing how faithful He has always been. Either way, His providence is incredible and overwhelming.
I was sitting in chapel this morning and my eyes filled up with tears. I’m not a huge cryer, so my initial response was, “Oh no, not here.” But the tears still came.
Friends, we serve a gracious God who answers our fervent prayers. Two nights ago, I felt restless in my faith. I didn’t understand why; my week was going well. But suddenly, I felt frustrated and drained. This year, the Lord has consistently taught me about joy, celebration and peace. Needless to say, this restlessness was far from joyful, celebratory or peaceful. I drove through the vast Upland cornfields and poured out my frustration to the Lord.
To sum up my messy prayer: God I’m really trying to love people just out of love, but I can’t do it. I want my love to be a reflection of your love, but I keep messing up. I’ve got my motives all wrong. I should be concerned with discipleship, not be consumed by selfishness.
God, it’s not that you’re not faithful. You are abundantly faithful. I’ve seen that over and over again. It’s not that you’re not loving. You’re infinitely loving. But I’m just not grasping it. Please show me ways that your love manifests itself in my life. Show me ways that I can tangibly reflect Your love to others. Amen.
It was a lot longer and messier than that, but you get the message.
I drove back to campus, went to bed and woke up early for worship with a few friends. I opened my Bible to Isaiah thinking, “Hey, this book is full of God’s faithfulness for Israel, maybe I’ll find some truth there.” I turned to Isaiah 44.
The section was titled “Israel the Chosen” and spoke about God’s faithfulness and purpose for Israel. While I’m not Israel, the passage showed me a lot about God’s character. The passage has an overarching theme of God renaming and restoring Israel. It begins by naming Israel “my servant” and “whom I have chosen.” It all leads up to verses 4-5 which state, “Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.”
Those verses reminded me of the other times one can undergo a name change: marriage or adoption. Both reflect unique and powerful visions of love. Marriage, is a powerful metaphor of Christ and the church. Christ’s love for the church, His bride, is vast and deep. It knows all and yet still loves. It desires unity. It grieves in brokenness. It restores the deepest wounds.
Adoption also portrays a powerful image of love. When a family adopts a child, they may have visited the child many times, but still are welcoming (at first) a stranger into their lives. Yet this is all done with a powerful love. The family gives the child a new name, a new home, a new identity and a new kind of love, often never experienced before. In a Christ-centered home, not only are children chosen, they are prayed over, hard.
In reading these verses, I realized that just as Israel was given a new name, so I also was given a new name. Out of Christ’s love through both adoption into the family of Christ and marriage to the church, I have two new names, “Child of God” and “Bride of Christ” (with the church).
How rich then is the love of Christ if He, who established marriage and adoption, chose to lavish both relationships onto me despite my recurring failure to reciprocate?
After I finished reading, the Bible Study leader had us partner up and pray. “Pray a prayer you’re afraid to pray for yourself,” he said. As my partner started to pray, I realized that nearly everything he prayed for me, I had been praying about the night before, almost word-for-word. Things like “experience [Christ’s] love tangibly,” “know how to love others best” and “know that [Christ] is always present,” were recurring themes.
This morning in chapel, our campus pastor’s message was centered on what else, the love of God. Our campus pastor gave a message centered on God’s love being made tangible. As the message moved forward, I realized that once again, many of the words spoken echoed my own prayers two nights before.
The ideas of selfishness, repentance, celebration and joy were touched on - each of which I had prayed over in the weeks prior. They now began to line up. The joy comes with great celebration when we reciprocate God’s love, repent and orient our selfish hearts toward Him. It all made sense. (I get that a lot of this is “well, duh” types of things, but my stubborn heart needed a little extra help).
Here’s the takeaway:
- God has a mysterious way of showing up in our lives. (Very apparent to me based off of the past few days).
- He has insurmountable joy when we turn to Him. (Think the father throwing a huge celebration for the prodigal son…or prodigal Katherine).
- He feels love and compassion toward us, despite really knowing our messiness. (That means He loves us even despite the worse-than-your-bedroom-closet-in-middle-school messiness of our hearts).
In the story of the Prodigal Son, our pastor made the comment that whichever son we are, we are called to be the father. I am called to love despite of everything with everything for the One who gave everything.
I’m seeing more clearly that God is love. It’s His very nature. In His love for us, He held nothing back. What more perfect a season to remember that than Easter.
I am thankful for God’s abundant faithfulness and love amidst my messiness. I’m thankful that He celebrates when my prodigal heart turns to Him, even when my sin grieves Him. I’m thankful for His tangible expressions of love in my life.
Luke 15: 20-24
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
I’ve always thought that the muddy ground, covered in snow, looks a lot like an endless iced brownie, making my decision to give up sugar for Lent much harder than I anticipated.
I do enjoy winter. Something about the billions of snowflakes, fluttering onto my hair, coat and the ground has always fascinated me. I love the way each snowfall is different. I love the way each snowflake is different. Snow freezes my complacency and thaws my sense of wonder.
When I hike through the snow-cloaked woods near my house, I am ready for Mr. Tumnus to pop out from behind a nearby tree, arms full of parcels, traipsing across the land of Narnia.
While spring is full of fresh starts, summer for new adventures and fall for nostalgia, winter has become my reflection season.
This winter, the Lord has consistently helped me reflect on the ideas of trust, joy and peace. Trust, because I love to plan. However, life with Christ is far from planned. The Lord has shown me the beauty in the not-knowing, the unplanned and the spontaneous. I can trust with full confidence, the one who set the galaxies in place, who created weather and seasons and who knows my heart.
Joy, because so often I forget to praise God for His love, grace, and mercy in my messy life. I can become so fixated on the messiness that I miss out on the little blessings and opportunities for worship that Christ gives me in the mundane. I forget that Christ has redeemed my life. I forget that He has overcome and I have no reason to fear. I forget that I am surrounded by a community of equally messy and equally loved brothers and sisters in Christ, who are strong where I am weak. I forget that after winter comes spring.
Peace, because when I rest in Christ’s goodness and only in His goodness, I can face harshness in life with warmth, celebrating His victory. The phrase “be still and know” can make me squirm. I desire certainty in the present. Christ promises hope in the future. Living in an all-girls dorm provides surprisingly few opportunities for true solitude or quiet time. :) Living with nearly 300 sweet women is equally crazy and wonderful. But stillness in Christ’s presence is often an afterthought.
I find that I experience Christ best when I am in nature. Something about the woods, the ocean, the mountains and the fields enthralls me. As a photographer and writer, no images or words could accurately represent the glory of God displayed through Creation. So I just soak it in. In those moments, peace envelops me as I see God’s handiwork surrounding me.
Psalm 23: 1-4 says:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The latter is one of those verses I can easily gloss over (especially after 13 years of Christian education). But lately, I’ve really resonated with those verses.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
The Lord will guide me; I will not trust my own plans.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”
He brings restoration and peace.
“He restores my soul.”
He gives me the reason for joy.
“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
He will guide me in the way of His will.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Even through the most trying times, He is here and He is real. I can trust in Him and have no reason to fear.
Winter in the Hoosier state is far from gone. The snow continues to fall and the wind continues to blow. Yet through all the craziness of February, I will continue to reflect on His goodness despite my brokenness. He is GOOD.
Hi Friends! Thank you for entering into a little bit of the journey the Lord is leading me on over the next days, weeks, years, and lifetime. I have been blessed with many wonderful memories in my Indiana home. This leg of my adventure is primarily based in the cornfields of Upland as I study and stay up late at Taylor University over the next few years.
This site will include the memorable, the mundane, and the messiness of my life in Christ. But I'd like to include a lot of other stories too. The Lord has a way of leading relationships and situations in my life at the perfect time. I'll highlight a few of those people and a few of those moments on this site.
Sheldon Vanauken once said:
My prayers are answered. No: a glimpse is not a vision. But to a man on a mountain road by night, a glimpse of the next three feet of road may matter more than a vision of the horizon. And there must perhaps always be just enough lack of demonstrative certainty to make free choice possible: for what could we do but accept if the faith were like the multiplication table?
Oh that I would lack "demonstrative certainty" and in faith, confidently rest secure in Christ's love.
I am so glad to have you share in these moments and memories with me.