Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The One That Came True

Sometimes a dream forms deep in your heart. It might come out of the blue or grow slowly and steadily.

Sometimes you nurture the dream, continually pray for it, or maybe you just speak it to our Father and let it go.

Sometimes dreams don't come true.

But sometimes they do.

In February I get to take part in something that is, for me, a dream come true. It was born just over a year ago, on a mission trip to Colombia. I had an overwhelming urge to go on the next one with my dad. I teared up just thinking about the possibility.

But yet, it was one of those dreams I couldn't quite work out in my head. Where would we go? We don't live in the same place. How would that work? Would he be able to take time off from work? Would he be willing to go...anywhere?

I didn't know the answers. But I new the desire. I prayed. I asked my dad to pray. And to be honest, I'm not sure I really even believed God would make it happen. I couldn't see how it would work in the near future. But I'm pretty sure my heart communicated what my head could not. So I left all the muddle of questions in a heap on His lap.

I carried on with life and work and my debt-free by 4-16-14 mission.

Then one day out of the blue, I hear about a trip to Kenya through my church.

This was it. I could just feel it. Everything lined up. There was absolutely no reason not to go on this trip, as much as I might have wanted to find one. I mean, really?...Kenya!

And I knew I wanted my dad to be there with me. But I had to make the call. He'd never say yes if I didn't ask! I told him about the opportunity - he was excited, but unsure. He requested time to discuss with his wife and pray.

A few days later I received a phone call from him. "Erin...I want to talk to you about your question." I knew right then and there the answer was no. Oh the tone in his voice! It was so somber.

But what followed was an explanation, a journey of one man's heart to do the will of God. I listened in silence as he shared. And finally I heard the words "Yes, I'm going to go with you."

Be still my heart! I began dancing and jumping around the kitchen, hardly believing the words I just heard. My dad and I were going to Kenya!!!!

That night he texted me: "I'm so excited I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight."

Words to make a daughter's heart melt.

So this February, with only a couple months to prep and raise support, he and I (and almost 25 other people) will board a plane to Africa. We will be Jesus' hands and feet by relationing with orphans and widows, meeting local church bodies and helping them build a physical structure to meet in, spending time with kids in local schools, and helping with a conference for pastor's wives, among other things.

We are in a whirlwind of passports, shots, prayer, paperwork, support letters, meetings, prayer, more paperwork, and more support letters.

And I couldn't be more excited!

It's a dream come true. One I didn't see coming. I can almost see God chuckling as I squealed with delight when I found out it was happening.

More to come as we get ready.

But in the meantime, if you'd like to join in the work God is doing in Kenya, you can help me out financially. Click here to make that happen.

I would love to have your support and prayer! It will cost each of us $3200 and there's not much time before we depart.

Here's to dreams that actually do come true.

link to support me financially:

link to support my dad financially:

contact me personally if you would like to be on my prayer list

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Paradox

So I was walking out of the grocery store the other day, a beautifully bright and cheery fall day. I was pondering life, naturally, as any normal 20-something year old would do. I frequently ponder life as I wander up and down the grocery aisles because it is there that I am acutely aware of the big change of 2013: my life with a budget.

And my goal of debt-free by 4-16-14.

Eating and baking and fashion and social entertainment and "necessities" have all been put under a microscope the past year after graduating from FPU. Some areas are easy to put out of my mind, like clothes shopping for instance. If I don't go into the store, I am not tempted to buy things. One has to eat, however, so I continue to buy food. But it looks a lot different than it used to. I have taken to eating a dish that my roommate and I lovingly call FBU (Financial Bean University) - a delightful concoction of beans, veggies, rice and tomato sauce.

Super cheap.

And interestingly, super healthy. Admittedly, I didn't embrace this right away. It's taken months to break down the expectations, habits, desires. But they have changed. And they won't always remain what they are today. One day they will be able to evolve again.

It was in this pondering of life and food and money that this thought hit me: my future is so incredibly unknown.

In a good way.

But it hit me starkly as the close of another year approaches and I near the entrance into a new decade of life. At several points in the past 15 years, you could have asked me what my future held and I would have given you a fairly confident answer. But now?


And you know what? I am totally OK with that. Because the thought that immediately followed the first thought is this: I am so completely known by my heavenly Father.

It's a beautifully mysterious place to be. Full of twists and turns. The feeling is hard to describe. But I know it's wonderful. And requires a lot of trust. To be known means one has to be vulnerable. Not one of my favorite things to be. It can be painful. And takes time.

But worth it.

Worth the investment to share every part of me with the Father who created me. Worth the change in direction, the daily guidance of thoughts, fears, dreams, hopes.

I sense myself getting to a place of submission I've never been before. And it's a little bit scary. But then again, I have never felt more known. And He has never let me down.

So I trust.

And smile at a future that could truly hold anything.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A "Chance" Meeting

I had one of those experiences yesterday that you could only hope to have. An opportunity to provide emotional closure. A chance meeting you didn't know was coming and could only smile inside at the beautiful moment as it played out.

See most people think of the Labor & Delivery unit as the happiest place of the hospital. And oftentimes it is.

But sometimes it isn't.

Sometimes we are hit with tragedy so mind-numbing that no one can explain. A baby no longer alive inside. A baby that survives only a few minutes. And it happens more than people know. But those parents who experience it...they know. 

I got to know one particular set of parents experiencing this loss firsthand. I had the blessing of caring for them two days, a Wednesday and a Friday, a year ago May. I blogged about the first day, in fact. Read about it here as I explain how words are never enough. I remember several moments with them, but one stands out in particular. It was an embrace with the mother. I was helping her back from the bathroom, and she paused at the sink, swaying under the weight of the experience. I held her for what seemed like minutes, willing every ounce of my strength into her, her swollen belly making its painful presence known between us.

When you have experiences like that, you think about those couples often. Their faces etched in your memory forever. They will seem to appear in a crowd, and for a few moments you're lost in thought of where they are, how they are doing. Or you could actually see them, out and about, returning to a normal but changed life. 

That was the case with this couple. A few months after they experienced the loss of their beautiful baby girl, I saw the father at Walmart. He didn't see me, and I paused for a few moments debating about whether or not to say hello. 

Sometimes you don't want to spring memories on someone when they least expect it. I chose to walk away this time, not wanting to put him back in a moment if he wasn't ready. Instead I sent up prayers for him and his wife.

Months went by, over a year in fact.

And then yesterday, a coworker of mine was teaching a class to new nurse residents about our role in bereavement. She had invited some parents to come speak to the class about their experience. Unbeknownst to me, one of the mothers was this one I cared for. 

My coworker informed her I was at work that day and asked if she would like to see me. Her answer was a shaky yes as she recognized the emotion and memories it would usher in. But she resolved that, yes, she would like to see me.

My sweet coworker came to get me, and as we walked down the hall to her, I knew exactly who it was. 

After a quick hello, we embraced for a moment. Then, with arms still locked, she looked me in the eyes and, through tears, said the most beautiful things about the care she received from me. Words too precious for this screen, but they are forever etched on my heart.

I just kept thinking "She looks good. Really good." And she was strong, on the inside. You could see it in the softness and clarity of her eyes. 

She shared with me the baby book she had made of their daughter. It was filled with momentos, written thoughts and memories, poems, and pictures of their sweet girl. I went through page after page embracing the tender moment of getting to talk with her about her journey through grief and healing. And how she is taking this experience to other mothers in similar situations. Even in her native country of Costa Rica! Teaching and educating about the grief process and rejoicing in the life that once lived inside her.

We chatted about life now, updates on her family and husband. We embraced a few more times. An embrace that has come full circle. It seemed she was almost giving back some of the strength received so long ago, a reminder to me of the power of God's healing. And the dear meeting came to an end.

I walked away fighting back tears, a heart so grateful it throbbed inside of me.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Letter To Self.

Four years ago today I departed on one of the greatest adventures of my life. It inspired the start of this blog, actually.

Read about the start here and here.

The Milford Track, New Zealand

Bondi-Bronte beach walk, Sydney

Children's Shelter of Cebu, Philippines

It was a 5-month journey around the world. My self-proclaimed "honeymoon with God." A time to disconnect with the busyness of life and reconnect with soul.




On that journey, I wrote a letter to myself. I re-read it every once in awhile. It's a great heart check. And a great reminder for what that trip taught me. To commemorate the four years, I'm sharing that letter...

Dear Self,

Keep it simple.  Really simple.  God has brought you to NZ - a beautiful land - into His creation, far from home, far from loved ones, to show you some things.  
First off, nothing is to take precedence over time spent in prayer and in His Word.  On this trip, you have seen Scripture come to life.  Your love for Scripture has been kindled, or rekindled.  You pour over the words with an open heart, memorizing, underlining, making references, meditating.  Ultimately, longing to have these words written on your heart and incorporated in your life.  God’s word is chocked full of encouragement, instruction, warnings, truths, reminders.  It is the way you should live.  Continue to pour over it, daily, recognizing your need, your weakness, your willingness to submit and give your life to the One who gives life, the One who’s power is perfected in weakness.  You are nothing without Him.  He will not fail.  He will not forget you.  Your name is written in heaven, He knows the movements of your body, the thoughts in your mind, and He loves you more than you will ever be able to understand.  Let Him do His work in you.  

Secondly, remember what it feels like to be with the Lord.  To sit in His presence, completely known, surrendered, with a heart full of praise and hope.  Live each day like this - sitting with Him.  Praying without ceasing.  Keeping open the line of communication, always seeking and being joyful.  Never before in your life have you known Scripture as you do now.  Never before have you had the opportunity to spend each day with Him as you do now - away from a job, away from commitments.  Never before have you been filled and blessed in such a way.  Remember this blessing.  Take it with you as you enter back into the States, back into a life with a job, with a family, with friends.  Not many get an opportunity like this.  Don’t go spouting to everyone about how much of a changed person you are - they wouldn’t applaud anyway.  Just keep your eyes on Him and stay humble.  Live the change.  Be the change.  Give God the glory.
Early on in this trip you became aware of your increasing love for your family (or became aware of the love that was always there, it just needed uncovering).  You have always been part of a strong family, you’ve had years of creating memories to be cherished.  You’ve also had years of brokenness that are in need of restoration.  Be aware of this.  Be open to the restoration - don’t fight it, fight for it.  Rebuild these relationships, but also know they won’t ever be what they were...much has changed, we have grown and been stretched...the relationships can’t go back to what they were, they can only move forward and be greater than they were.  Speak honesty with your family.  Be kind and courageous.  Let them know what they mean to you.  God brought you around the world and revealed to you how much they mean to you.  He showed you you were so close to being home, yet so far.  You were unwilling to make a move for the pride within yourself.  You once said, “I’d love to live in Atlanta, but I don’t want to be the spinster little sister that follows her sister’s family around.”  Oh, how prideful you were!  Unwilling to see how God could use that move.  He brought you away from it all so you would see.  Remember the clarity you see now, the tangibleness of the love you feel, the vibrancy of the memories you see, the hope of good times yet to be had.  Be grateful He allowed you this opportunity to make things right.  To make the move after you’ve been humbled.  What a gift!
You also have the opportunity to make things right financially.  You have lived in fear of finances for as long as you can remember.  You have never had confidence to make a budget and stick with it, you have never had confidence to tithe regularly, you have never liked making big purchases, even if you had the money, for fear of needing that spent money elsewhere.  You have tried to make wise decisions based in this fear, but you cannot be successful continuing to do so.  You have freedom from fear in Christ - the seed is deep, but uproot it (and watch for it in other areas of your life)!  Replace the fear with faith.  It will take work, but delve in, study and learn how to manage this according to the Lord’s Word, and persevere.  He is allowing you to start afresh.  Do it right this time.
Lastly, don’t make decisions in this world because it’s what the world expects.  God is unexpected.  He does not operate of this world and doesn’t want us to either.  Doing something just because it’s what is “normal,” expected, or the way things have always been is stupid.  It’s wasting a life that could be aligned with God’s will.  Your home is in heaven, you are only here temporarily.  He will do things and ask you to do things in your life that don’t make sense to the world or sometimes even to you, but hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.  Keep the faith.  Fight the good fight.  Know that He has a purpose for you, a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope, and a future.  He who promised is faithful.  

And remember, keep it simple.

Love yourself so that you can love others,

Erin Suzanne Cooper <><

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Just a Vessel

Yes, Garth Brooks' "The River" is running through my head right now. And now it will be in yours.

You're welcome.

But this idea of being a vessel has been on my mind recently.

Maybe it's a recognition of surrender? Maybe a recognition of too much striving? Trying to be something. Trying to do something. Sensing that as a deeper desire for more of God and less of me.

A vessel. A broken one, at that.

Wanting to be spoken to. Spoken through.

So I wanted to share some quotes from a book I've been reading lately - Dallas Willard's Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.

It's one of those books that is truly over my head. And I knew that going into it.

But if one never grasps for what is out of reach, you'll only have what is within reach. You don't learn Calculus by stopping at 1+1=2.

A child is taught to "reach for the stars" and they'll land somewhere in between reality and the stars. Thus is the case with me. In reading this book, I am aiming far beyond and hopefully (and prayerfully) I'll land somewhere further than where I can see.

May these words speak to you as they have spoken to me...

In this life with God, his presence banishes our aloneness and makes real the meaning and full purpose of human existence. This union with God consists chiefly in a conversational relationship with God while we are consistently and deeply engaged as his friend and colaborer in the affairs of the kingdom of the heavens. (pg. 75)

Hang on. Read that one again. It's that good.

Ok, moving on...

Frank Laubach tells of the immense change that came over his life at the point when he resolved to do the will of God:
As for me, I never lived, I was half dead, I was a rotting tree, until I reached the place where I wholly, with utter honesty, resolved and then re-resolved that I would find God’s will, and I would do that will through ever fiber in me said no, and I would win the battle in my thoughts. It was as though some deep artesian well had been struck in my soul....You and I shall soon blow away from our bodies. Money, praise, poverty, opposition, these make no difference for they will all alike be forgotten in a thousand years, but this spirit which comes to a mind set upon continuous surrender, this spirit is timeless. 
(pg. 93, quote from Frank Laubach comes from his Letters by a Modern Mystic)

Mmm. Here's to striking artesian wells deep in our souls!

And one more...

[I]t is important to understand that God in his mercy often speaks to us in obscure ways in order to allow us the room and time we need to respond. He lets us know that we are indeed being addressed but also that we need to stretch our in growth in order to receive the message. Perhaps we often think, Well, God, why don’t you just come out and say it? Tell me in detail how to live. But we are usually full of mistaken ideas about what that would actually mean.
Our minds and values have to be restructured before God’s glory, but at the same time our interests are truly appreciated and understood. We may be tempted to cry out, like Isaiah, for God to rend the heavens, come out of hiding and stand before us telling us what to do (Is 64:1), but we do not really understand what we are asking for when we ask that. Probably it would literally kill us or at least unbalance us if it actually happened, so God in his mercy continues to approach us obliquely, in one way or another. But this is increasingly less so as we mature - even until that time when we can safely know him as he knows us (1 Cor 13:12).
It is therefore natural and right that God’s word comes to us in forms that we must struggle to understand. This is even true of the Bible, which is very explicit in many respects but still requires persistent and energetic work to understand. In the process of struggling we grow to the point where we can appropriate and assimilate the content of truth as it becomes clear. It is one of the oldest and most common stories of human life that in its most important moments we have little more than the foggiest idea of what it is we are doing and saying. And our ignorance is partly for our own good.
Did you really know what was happening when you entered the university or military training, got married or brought a child into the world? In some vague sense you did, perhaps, but you also had very little idea of what it meant in the long run. If you had appreciated all that it meant at the time, you probably would not have had the courage to proceed. Then you would have missed out on much good that has come to you through those events. (pg. 148-9)

So. true.

If I get going, my thoughts will ramble and show their ignorance. 

So...this is the end. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beautiful Things

I witnessed three incredibly beautiful things the past three days. There is beauty every day, but these moments were exceptional. Moments that make your heart catch in your throat. Moments that you are sure God is beaming from...ear to ear...sea to sea...the east to the west? However wide God grins, I'm not sure, but I could certainly feel His tenderness in each moment.

The first took place Saturday night at the wedding of two good friends of mine, Scott and Anna. They had just said their vows - surrounded by family and friends - and taken communion together. As they finished communion, they were joined by both sets of parents who proceeded to lay hands on them and pray over them.

The moment lasted only a few minutes, and yet I got a sense that we all could have watched it for hours.

The peace. The gratitude. The earnest desire of the Lord's will in two people's lives.

All with the sweet vocals of the bride's brother and sister filling our ears. It was a sight to behold.

And through vision blurred by tears, I found my heart grateful for a God who not only redeems, but delights in us.

Sunday brought the second beautiful moment. I was in the second row at church. PK had just delivered a fabulous message about authority in our lives. KQ gave an invitation for those who desired to surrender to the Lord's authority to come forward and kneel before our great God.

Oh my word. There is just something crazy emotional about the welcoming of a new believer into the family of God...

There aren't words to describe the weight, the joy, the release, the freedom, the peace.

And it's not even me making the commitment. I'm just witnessing people I don't even know! But somehow their story is mine too. Because everybody has a story. And each one is found in God's story.

Thankfully I was able to keep control so as not to enter into ugly-cry mode. No one wants to see that, even in church.

Ok, third moment. Let me set the stage...

Four years ago, my roommate, Erin B., had been through hell. A car accident led to testing that revealed the unexpected presence of Leukemia in her body. That was quickly followed by months of chemo.

And fear.




Finally remission.

And then it came back. Chemo again. And a search for bone marrow that could give her another chance.

By the grace of God, it was found. In the body of a young German man. He willingly gave his marrow to save her life, the life of someone he had never met and likely never would.

The transplant took place on August 15th, 2009. A day she will certainly never forget. It was the day countless prayers and hopes became a reality. She would be cancer-free!

Three years later she met her fabulous donor and his dad. A truly divine meeting. If only we could have all witnessed it!

And two weeks ago, Erin B celebrated 4 cancer-free years. Praise the Lord!

Moment #3 took place last night with several of Erin B's family, her bone marrow donor's father, and myself. On a boat. On the lake. The water was calm. The sun was setting. Glistening golden rays scattered across the water. A delightful time of dinner and convo had taken place.

I was gazing out the back of the boat as Erin B took the water-skiing reins. She was smoothly gliding on the water, confidence and peace etched on her face.

Her dad drove the boat as her donor-dad looked on.

The joy of the moment evident in every fibre of his being.

It was one of those rare moments that could have easily been missed. But the beauty was raw. I am tearing up even now as I recount the details in my head searching for words to convey the significance.

I couldn't help but think of the grin on her donor-dad's face mirroring that of our Heavenly Father's. He was watching this woman, who by the kindness of his son and the works of modern medicine was somehow mysteriously a part of him. She had lived in the throes of a body wrecked by cancer, and was now embracing fully a life of freedom and joy. Experiencing again one of her favorite past-times.

Is that what makes our Heavenly Father grin?

Living in our new selves, freed from the throes of sin and hell by the blood and obedience of His Son, living a life of compassion. Our interests and desires given full rein as they are shaped through Him.

What a glorious mystery!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Lesson From My Chiropractor

I've been going to the chiropractor for a few months now in an effort to fix a kink in my back that first appeared last November. X-rays showed a perfectly aligned spine, so the pain was determined to be muscular. Good news, for sure. Except that the tight knot in my left middle back continued to be a nuisance, not tied to any specific activity that I could figure out. It would just appear. I noticed it every morning as I merged on the interstate - my range of motion was significantly decreased because of the stiffness and pain around this area.

After several weeks of treatment, I went in one Monday morning after waking up with the worst pain I'd had since the initial event in November. As my doctor and I discussed reasons for the problem, we ruled out just about everything. Then he asked me how I sleep. I demonstrated the twist of half-stomach, half-side, one leg hiked up, one arm up under the pillow contortion that for whatever reason is the most comfortable way for me to fall asleep.


We hit on something here. He showed me exactly how that motion, the very one I spend 6-8 hours in every night, is the culprit for the horrible kink. Seriously?! That's it?! Well, that's an easy fix.

Or is it?

We talked about healthy positions for my body to spend a night's sleep. He told me to try it out for a week. I soon discovered this was harder than I thought. My body wasn't very happy about falling asleep in a position other than the trained uber-comfortable one. Normally I fall asleep within a minute or two of laying down. But in this new position, I'd lay there awake for a half-hour just waiting for my body to surrender. It finally would. But I would wake a few hours later to find myself in a twisted knot again. Reposition. Fall back asleep.

It was a frustrating sleepless week.

For some reason, when I'm most tired - which is generally every night I fall into bed - I slip into this position without thought. It's comfortable in the beginning, but 8 hours later, my back is oh-so-unhappy.

There is something to be said for muscle memory. I have been spending the past few weeks retraining my body to sleep in ways that are beneficial to my spine. It's taken work, but I am sleeping well again. I notice, however, that those nights I'm more tired than normal, my body fights to go back to its old habit.

I think this is so similar to our spiritual life. The Holy Spirit convicts us of some area of our life we need to get into submission. We train, fail, train again. It takes time and repetition. We so easily slip back into old habits and patterns, having to mentally refocus to get back on track. And when we are most weary, stressed, or stretched is when we are likely to slip the quickest.

It was a reminder to me to be rested. In every sense of the word. In sleep. In time with God. In eating. It's a set-up for success.

And as those habits become long-lost memories, I can move forward into new growth. It's like my sleeping. Two weeks later and I'm not fighting as hard to sleep correctly. It comes more naturally.

I'm experiencing the same thing with running. I've recently begun trying a new running technique - moving from heel-toe to forefoot running. It feels better. But it takes work. It utilizes different muscles. And when I begin to get tired, I revert back to my old patterns. I have to refocus and shift my repetition.

Here's an example of how and why: check out this video.

It won't be like that forever, but for now it takes work. Eventually it will come naturally. As will the things God is growing in me. They take work now, and I have to fight harder when I'm weary, but eventually they will be a part of me like never before.

Run the race with perseverance.

It's the path to progression. The path to health. The path of deep and meaningful.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


When I think of the word "perspectives," it's often paired with "course," as in a college course. Or a course like this one, that someday my friend and I would love to take. But this past month, I feel as if my life has been showing me perspective in its own way, without the use of a college classroom or textbook.

One example is a recent 4-day mission trip to downtown Atlanta with middle schoolers from my church. Seeing Christ through their eyes as we served "the least of these" together was absolutely humbling and incredibly encouraging.

Walking into a massive room that sleeps over 400 homeless men...perspective.

24 of us cleaning every single bed...perspective.

Observing swarms of refugee mothers impulsively grabbing freely given clothes so their child won't be naked...perspective.

Our students standing - of their own free will - on one of the darkest, busiest intersections in Atlanta, praying over the people, the city, while joyously holding signs of who God is to them...perspective.

I was reminded of perspective again this past Saturday as my roommate and I caught a few minutes of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" on TV. Every person born in the late 70's or early 80's remembers this classic. We've all wondered what it would be like to fall into a flower and have pollen cling to us like snow, to ride an ant guided buy a massive chunk of cookie attached to a stick, or to swim in a bowl of Cheerios and milk, fearful of being eaten by your dad.

What would it be like to be that minuscule? That trivial? This movie popped in my head a couple weeks ago on a hiking trail. As I walked, I wondered how many bugs existed in this park alone. How many leaves shook when the wind blew? How many people had walked this path before, and yet I was the only one there in that moment? I often think thoughts like this when I'm in nature. Maybe that's why it's my favorite spiritual getaway. It offers perspective easily missed in our fast-paced society of power and control. It all comes to a dead halt in this passage:

2 Corinthians 4: 6, NASB

For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Did you get that? This is the God who said "Let there be light"...and there was light. That One. The Creator of the Universe, the One who formed the waters and the earth...

I think of this every time I run at this park. How couldn't you with a view like this?

This very same God is the One who shines in my heart. Wow, is that ever perspective.

And how about the concept of time? If the collision of my timing with God's doesn't put me in my place, I don't know what does. This past week I re-listened to KQ's message on the work of waiting from last November. I'm experiencing this now in very real ways. Peter explains it this way:

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

KQ said, "God is always working. Therefore, you can live with patient trust...Waiting time isn't wasted time, it's working time. God is doing a work in you."

He also quoted Ben Patterson in saying, "The work God wants to do in us while we wait is at least as important as what we're waiting for."

Now that's, mmm-mm, good.

How have you experienced perspective in your own life? Are you waiting for things that require an increased dose of faith, trust, or hope? Or are you simply in a place of basking in the truth of the God of the Universe shining in your heart?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

As Deep Calls to Deep

If there was ever a post I wanted to be so God's words and not mine, it's this one. Because I fear nothing I write will ever give Him adequate glory. The glory He deserves. The glory He is.

Just know that whatever is conveyed here, it was felt a million times more deeply. And my prayer is that you feel it just the same, in your own relationship with our Lord.

This past Monday I had the opportunity to go on a short hike nearby - an absolutely beautiful day to be in nature. I was reflecting on God's creation, His love, His provision. How He has been teaching and guiding me these past few months. I was reminded of this post, penned last October. Words written at a time when I needed to write (and believe) them for me just as much as for anyone else. A time when I knew God loved me, but I questioned whether I mattered. My answer was to seek Him. In every situation, every emotion or hurt, to just seek Him.

To seek something is an act. There is nothing passive about seeking. It's a verb. Defined as "an attempt to find (something), attempt or desire to obtain or achieve (something), ask for (something) from someone, seek someone/something out."

So I did. A lot. With time and energy. Study and contemplation. Prayer and a listening ear. Never perfectly, but with an honest desire.

And boy, let me tell you, was He ever found! All along the journey there have been new depths and treasures. Not always easy, oftentimes painful, but ever so joyful.

As I walked along the trail on Monday my heart was spilling over with God's love. I came to a point on the trail where some rocks were nestled amidst a brook, surrounded by trees with glimmers of sunlight peeking through. It was absolutely picturesque. And in that moment on that day, it was just for me.

I settled into a spot on the cool rocks and contemplated. Taking out my notebook and pen, I scrawled these words:

"I feel so incredibly loved. I don't even have words for what my heart feels in this moment. These past few weeks, months. My God, my Father, is wooing me. All of me. Mind, spirit, body. I sense Him in every part of me. Filling me with peace. Speaking words of love to me. He is opening my eyes to His glory all around me. It is a beautiful gift."

Moments later, I spotted a deer nearby munching on greenery. It reminded me of this verse...

Psalm 42: 1-2, 7 (NIV)
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God...Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

That's what it's like when you encounter the Living God. His waves and breakers sweep over you in such a way you have no hope, and yet you have every hope. No hope of escaping His loving embrace.

It brings these words to mind...

If you leave I'll still be close to you
When all your fears rain down
I'll take you back a thousand times again
I'll take you as My own
I would sing you songs of innocence
'Til the light of morning comes
'Til the rays of gold and honey cover you
In the sweetness of the dawn
(Future of Forestry's "Slow Your Breath Down")

No hope of escape. And yet every hope in the world. Hope of a future. Hope of the glory of God.

Hope that does not disappoint.

Will you soak in the rays of gold and honey, meant just for you?

Will you seek Him, as a deer panting for streams of water?

Will you welcome His waves and breakers as His deep love sweeps over you?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Warning Signs

The other day I was driving to an appointment. As usual, I left just enough driving time to get there. Driving up to turn onto a familiar road, a big orange "Detour" sign stared me in the face.


I proceeded.

The next big orange sign said "Road Closed Ahead."

Here I was faced with a choice. (Or at least I thought I was.)

I chose to continue on the path of the (supposedly) closed road. As if an orange sign wasn't enough.

But the road has never been closed before. Why would it be now? I knew there was construction on a nearby road, but not this one. I was just there and everything was fine.

So I barreled on ahead, casting furtive glances at my dashboard clock as time ticked on, feeling my blood pressure rise. I began to speed up as I mentally counted the stop lights left until I reached my destination.

So here I was, racing full steam ahead...on a (supposedly) closed road.

At this point, I would like to interject and say I hope I'm not the only one who would do/has done this. But in all reality, I probably am. And probably should be.

Anyway, so back to wildly spinning tires and my stupidity. I would periodically stretch my neck to see if I could actually lay eyes on anything resembling a closed road. Everything looked like it always had, save the periodic large orange sign stating "Road Closed in Such-and-Such feet." Those were obviously new to the scenery.

But apparently not enough to deter my current confidence in achieving a through route on said (supposedly) closed road.

I thought I'd just made it, one more curve and I'd be turning onto another road, which I assumed would also not be closed.

Then lo and behold, the road...was...closed.

At the very end, right where I needed to turn. There was about a ten foot stretch where no road existed. Literally, there was no road.

Welp. Any good person would chuckle, turn around and patiently take another route to her destination, right?


I promptly did a three-point turn in the non-closed part of the road and proceeded to race aaaaall the way back to the spot in which I first saw the "Detour" sign. And I was fuming. At myself. At the construction workers. At the stupid over-sized sign that tried to warn me.

I didn't feel very wise in that moment. Nor did I feel very proud as I picked up my phone and called the office to notify them of my delay.

As my swollen pride quickly turned into sheepish humility, I was reminded of words I had read not even hours before from the 21st chapter of Proverbs (NIV):

The proud and arrogant man - "Mocker" is his name; he behaves with overweening pride." (vs. 24)


There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. (vs. 30)


I was thankful no one but God had seen my folly. I am (gratefully) living proof He gives countless second chances. (Check out Rend Collective Experiment's "Second Chance")

And so today, when I was headed to the very same office, I chose not to head down the (actually) closed road.

And it got me thinking, how often in my life or daily routine do I do something I've done a million times before just because I've done it a million times before and all the while ignore the warning signs that maybe, just maybe I'm supposed to do something different???

Monday, April 29, 2013

His Reflection

I saw the most beautiful full moon at 6 AM on Friday as I was driving to work.

It was incredibly huge and bright. But the moon itself wasn't light. It was merely reflecting light from the sun (elementary school science class did teach me something). It was doing a really great job of this on Friday.

Ironically I was listening to a song called "Your Glory" by All Sons & Daughters (check out this incredible video!). Here are the lyrics:

My life is Yours
My hope is in You only
My heart You hold
'Cause You made this sinner holy
Holy, holy

Your glory is so beautiful
I fall onto my knees in awe
And the heartbeat of my life
Is to worship in Your light
'Cause Your glory is so beautiful
Your glory is so beautiful

glory, glory
Jesus, You are good

I put it on repeat, loving the line "and the heartbeat of my life is to worship in your light."

We reflect God's light. Just like the moon reflects the sun.

It's what Jesus did. In Colossians 1:15 Paul tells us "He is the image of the invisible God." In their Inductive Study book That I May Know Him, Kay Arthur and David Lawson write, "The Greek word image is eikon. It was used in classical Greek literature to describe the sun reflecting in a pool of water. In other words, Christ mirrors God for us. In Greek thought, the image shared reality with what it represents."

I thanked God for the physical display of beauty before me that morning, reminding me of who I am in Him.

I have life and light through Christ.

Colossians 3:1-4

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is...for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with Him in glory."

On Friday the moon seemed to be perfectly reflecting the sun's light. What a beautiful way of pulling together His scripture with the sweet lyrics of the song. Something only my Father could do.

Because His glory is so beautiful.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Silence Is Golden

It's been awhile, I know.

I'm not sure if anyone missed reading, but I sure missed writing.

I didn't exactly plan it that way, but sometimes when there is so much happening in a brain and heart, it can be hard to know how to express it. Truth is, there is always something running through my mind. It's often hard for this little internal processor to shut things down, so if you thought the silence was for lack of mental angst, you'd be sorely mistaken.

It may take months or even years for the last 6 months' growth to make it to the screen. What have I been up to, you might ask?

It's best summed up in Andy Stanley's sermon from a series You'll Be Glad You Did entitled "Part 2: Get Out, Stay Out, & Clean Out." I highly recommend taking a listen, especially for all you singles out there. He spells out three things to focus on: get out of debt, stay out of bed, clean out your (emotional) closet.

My roommate passed along the sermon at a time when the encouragement was paramount. It'd been about a month and a half into the new year, the year of "hope infusion."

I'd been working on some things, particularly getting out of debt and cleaning out my closet, investing a lot of time and money, even more head and heart. A little bit struggling to maintain an attitude that it was OK to be in a place that felt incredibly selfish. And Andy's words hit me like a direct line from God saying "Daughter, you are exactly where you need to be. Keep walking, keep sowing, keep trusting."

The message was so encouraging, in fact, that I proceeded to listen to it two more times. Just to reinforce what I'd heard. Proof it's easier for me to pour out than to get poured into...but I'm learning a healthier balance of that in my life.

After a strong kick in the butt from this lovely lady (who is now DEBT-FREE!), and a ridiculously strong God-prompt in January, I enrolled in a 9-week course about finances. Ugh. It's not at all what I wanted to do. Several months ago I recall a conversation with another debt-free friend, carrying on as if my student loans were no big deal, that they weren't truly impacting my life, and would be paid off "someday." Straight up lies I told myself in my ignorance. I can say with gratefulness, this past Monday my roommate and I graduated from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University!

And I'm gonna brag just a little bit and say we weren't just any students. We were stellar. No half-in, half-out for us. It was full on. Budget forms, and homework, and reading, and insurance appointments, and phone calls, and more budgeting, and cash envelopes, and class time, and more phone calls, and more budgeting, whew! A whole whopping heck of a lot of learning. And by the grace of God, I hope to be debt-free by the time I turn 30.

I absolutely cannot wait for the day. These student loans will no longer own me. Jesus died for our freedom. So I am going to live free. I'm currently a slave...

But I'm now a dangerous slave with knowledge and gazelle intensity. Plotting her course to true freedom. Covered in His armor, offensively walking in grace with Christ in this world.

Absolutely humbling.

And absolutely grateful that He is "the hand that reaches down to save."

Check out All Sons & Daughters' "I Am Set Free" and while you're at it, go ahead and let the lyrics get stuck in your head. I guarantee your attitude will change as the Scriptural truth sinks deeper with each step you take.

May He continue to mend our lives with His holy fire.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Planting of the Lord

I love seeing the Botanic Gardens in different cities and countries I visit. One of my favorites was in Christchurch, NZ (read more about why I loved it here). They're always filled with such color, such beauty, such life.

Our church has been talking a lot about gardening. Cultivating, sowing seeds, reaping the harvest in God's time so that it can reproduce 30-, 60-, 100-fold.

It's becoming a theme in my life so far this year. Deepening spiritual roots, pulling weeds that aren't truth, marinating in His Word so that His voice becomes louder than all others. I love it when I'm reading and happen across more words that tie the theme together. Words like "plant," "grow," "sow," "garden."

God mentions them all over...

Psalm 144:12-13, NASB
Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace; let our garners be full, furnishing every kind of produce, and our flocks bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields.

Isaiah 58:10-11, NASB
And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 61:1, 3, 11, NASB
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified...For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Galatians 6:7-9, NASB
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary."

What good news! Oh to be an oak of righteousness in a well-watered garden!

But sometimes the growing is hard. Sometimes we don't know where the growing is leading. Sometimes we ask the dreadful "why" questions. Why would God have me grow this way? Why does it take this much time? Or even, "How long, oh Lord?"

I find myself often asking some of those questions. But this morning while worshiping at church He reminded me of something hugely powerful.

He is growing in me the very things I will need for whatever He asks of me in the future. 

It may not make sense now. I may not be able to see how or why this season could be useful. But I trust in Him, I trust in His heart to be growing in me the character I need, equipping me with the truths I need to live out His will.

Because the truth is, I don't know what the future holds. I might think I know what's good for me. I can beat my heat against a wall and wonder why I am in this season. But God knows what's best. He invites me to sit at His feet, eager to learn from my Teacher, tuning my ear to the Holy Spirit, trusting in His sovereignty. I don't know what the next five seconds of my life might look like. Yet God knows my every day from now through eternity.

He knows exactly what I need. What a reason to trust Him!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Know You Better

I love depth in music. 

Sometimes it grabs me right away. But oftentimes I'll listen to a song or album and not get the full weight of it until several listens later. 

Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran's "Everything Has Changed" is one of those songs. I'm pretty sure it's a love song between a guy and girl, but it could easily be a love song to God. Somewhere in my listening I realized my heart had started singing along... "I just want to know you better, know you better, know you better now." 

The lyrics have become my heart's plea to my Father, who tells us to be still and know Him. 

His eyes look like coming home.

I am His and He is mine. 

I dust off my highest hopes...I know a new found grace.

All my days, I'll know His face

All I know is...everything has changed.

Everything Has Changed

Written by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran

all i knew this morning when i woke
is i know something now, know something now i didn’t before
and all i’ve seen since 18 hours ago
is green eyes and freckles
and your smile in the back of my mind making me feel like
i just want to know you better, know You better, know you better now
I just want to know you better, know you better, know you better now
I just want to know you better, know you better, know you better now
i just want to know you, know you, know you...

cause all i know is we said hello
and your eyes look like coming home
all i know is a simple name
everything has changed
all i know is you held the door
you'll be mine and i’ll be yours
all i know since yesterday
is everything has changed

and all my walls stood tall, painted blue
i'll take ‘em down, take ‘em down
and open up the door for you
and all i feel in my stomach is butterflies, the beautiful kind
makin’ up for lost time, takin’ flight making me feel like
i just want to know you better, know you better, know you better now
i just want to know you better, know you better, know you better now
i just want to know you better, know you better, know you better now
i just want to know you, know you, know you...


come back and tell me why
i'm feeling like i’ve missed you all this time
and meet me there tonight
let me know that it's not all in my mind
i just want to know you better, know you better, know you better now
i just want to know you, know you, know you...


all i know is we said hello
so dust off your highest hopes
all i know is pouring rain
and everything has changed
all i know is a new found grace
all my days i’ll know your face
all i know since yesterday
is everything has changed

What secular songs have spiritual meaning for you? Are there songs that pull you deeper every time you listen to them?

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I'm not one to really make New Year's resolutions.

It's like dieting. I've never been a big fan. Healthy eating is something that should really be incorporated into a lifestyle, not just for a month, a season, a year. So a NY resolution to me is a short-term idea when I want long-term growth.

That being said, my friends and I for the past two years have each decided on a word (or two) for the year. It can be a word to describe how we want the year to be, something we want to press into, a direction we feel God may be taking us, whatever. This past year's word for me was focus. Focus on God and everything else will fall into place. I think I'm still working on the "fall into place" but it was one heck of a year. (I'll spare you the can read back through the past 12 months' posts for that.)

This years' word is: hope infusion.

I can't take credit for it. I was sitting in church listening as KQ talked about the power of remembering and how God has hardwired us to hope. "He will never forget me. He gives me a hope." And when he said the words hope infusion I felt something flicker in my soul as a wave of peace washed over me.

And I knew it was the word for 2013.

To be honest, I didn't/don't know exactly why. But I knew God spoke clearly to me. There was something in those words, something He wanted me to hear.

So I am listening.

The first thing I discovered is that it helps to know the definition of the words.

Infusion - the act or process of infusing. (Gee, thanks for that...don't you love when one thing leads to another...story of my life.)

Infusing - to cause to be permeated with something that alters, usually for the better

Thank you, Merriam-Webster.

There's something about this word...infusion...just by saying it you sort of know its meaning. I almost feel like if I were saying the word to someone who doesn't speak English that somehow they'd know the meaning. Then again, I've always spoken English. So maybe not. Either way, there's something about just saying the word that leads you to understand its meaning.

Infusion. Check.

Now on to hope. This is the real beast.

I feel like the world has done one heck of a job tainting the true meaning of hope. We'll say things like:
"I hope you have a great day!"

"I hope I can take a nap later today."

"I hope to have kids one day."

Even "I hope the Bachelor is on tonight!" (Ok, for the record, I would never say that!)

Hope. What is it really?

I'm sitting in this right now. I don't have a direct answer. But I do know the Bible blows my puny definitions to pieces...

Psalm 39:7, NIV
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.

Psalm 31:24, NIV
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Proverbs 24:14, NIV
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Romans 5:1-5, NIV (I tried to shorten it, but dang, it is so full of goodness I couldn't...)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope that does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Hang on. Read that one again. Soak in faith...grace...hope...suffering...perseverance...character...hope. Hope that does not disappoint. Thank you, sweet Jesus. And one more (there are actually tons more!) for good measure...

Hebrews 10:23, NIV
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hope is deep. And good. Oh so good.

And certainly worth having an infusion of. So 2013 is 17 days underway, and I am already seeing effects of opening my heart to this glorious infusion as God pours out His love into my heart by the Holy Spirit...

How do you define hope? Soul? Mind? Spirit? Heart? Will? Character? Personality?

Join me in re-centering earthly definitions based on our Creator's dictionary...