Friday, December 26, 2014

I haven't been around here in a long time, and it may be a long time until I'm back again, but here's some thoughts I had on this 26th of December...

Happy Holiday.
I don't need a happy holiday.
I need a Savior who will change my story --
No Joy to the World --
I need joy to change my world.
I don't need a baby Jesus that makes people fake-happy, pseudo-sanctified on Christmas day,
I need a God that will rip open my heart.
I need a Savior who will change my world longer than 24 hours one winter day in December.
I want something that matters.
I crave something that lasts.
I don't need happy.
I don't need cheer.
I don't need sleigh bells or snow or frosted cookies.
Life changing love, heartrending grace, impossible peace --
That's what I need.
I can do without a
Happy Holiday.

Isn't it funny how there's so much hype up to Christmas day, yet on the 26th, life seems strangely devoid of that spirit of the day before? What is it about Christmas that makes us so hopeful and happy and loving? Isn't it Jesus? And if it's Jesus, why doesn't that hope and joy and love last beyond a holiday? Jesus did not just be born 2000 years ago, Ladies and Gentlemen. He lived and died and lives again. He doesn't stay and wait, stuck to a holiday that so misses the point of what actually happened. He lives beyond that fixed moment in time and beckons to our wandering hearts 365 days a year.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Former Worship Leader at My Church is Awesome

Have you all seen this video yet? Absolutely AWESOME.  I wish the Cowarts were still in my neck of the woods :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An Overflow

I reached 500 Joys in June.  Five hundred little (and big) ways God's blessed me.  There's something very healing in writing down the gifts that God allows and brings to your life.  But do you know what else I realized?  Those 500 Joys are a testimony that God is still faithful.  He was faithful yesterday, and the day before, and the one before that -- and He hasn't decided to give up on loving me today.  It's such a blessing in and of itself to be able to go back through 500 blessings bound up in a little book and an overflowing heart.

I'll be honest.  Some days I haven't lived like someone transformed with Joy from God.  Some mornings I've skipped writing down three things because I couldn't see past myself.  But then I always went back and added them in, because the blessings were always still there -- whether I acknowledged them or not.  I'm only half way done making it to 1000 gifts, but already I see how God is using my thankfulness to help me grow -- and honestly, just hang on, some days.  Even when everything feels like it's coming undone, I still have a "10,000 reasons for my heart to sing."  And I can't help but be overwhelmed by the mighty God Who would take the time to rain blessings, even in the little things, every single day.

It's never too late to start counting your blessings.  I got my inspiration from Ann Voskamp, right here, and I really encourage you to check it out.  Join me for the next 500!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Class of 2014

Yesterday I graduated highschool with a class of 112 homeschoolers.  It was such a blessing to be able to celebrate all we've done and learned and grown together.  Here is just a very short list of things I've learned in highschool:

1) Life isn't a fairy tale.
2) But life isn't a reality show, either.
3) Friends aren't always forever. God sometimes gives them to you for only a season.
4) Music speaks on an emotional level that not much else can.
5) It takes Charles Dickon's "A Tale of Two Cities" to make me cry.  Sorry Disney :)
6) Love is more than saying "I love you."  It's an action.
7) Sisters can be more than your relatives.  They can become your best friends.
8) It isn't easy growing up sometimes.
9) Learning to drive a standard car is a lot harder than you'd originally think!
10) Don't ever pass someone off as who they once were.  People change.  They are often worth getting to know.
11) God loves me like crazy.
12) He also loves the people I can't stand.
13) Life isn't about finding a soul mate.  You already have One in the God who created your soul.
14) Homeschoolers are awesome :)
15) Dreams sometimes don't become reality.  That's OK.  Always keep dreaming, though.
16) Give people the benefit of the doubt until you know the truth.
17) Don't be intimidated by confident people.  They are human, too.  Often, I think, they really just feel like you inside.
18) Decisions matter for more than just today.
19) Spiders can kill you -- especially if they are crawling toward you when you're driving a car.
20) Don't leave your lights on when you leave your car so that the battery dies.  Especially when it's snowing out and help is twenty minutes away.  (Ask me how I know these things!)
21) Friends are good for talking to when you're lonely or scared or excited or confused or happy or just about anything.
22) God's good for that, too.  He's always ready to listen to your needs.
23) Bitterness only destroys your joy.  It doesn't hurt whoever your bitter against.
24) Joy is more than an emotion.  It's a way of life.
25) I'm not the same person now that I was four years ago.  I'm stronger, more confident, more capable.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Love Like a Hurricane

The pastor said something that stopped me dead in my tracks the other day, at my church's young adult gathering.  He said, "God could have put anyone in your spot, but He chose you."  He could have chosen to place anyone on this earth to fulfill His purpose, and yet here you are.

It's nothing new.  I know this, in my head.  I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I know that I'm as unique as the intricate ridges on the pads of my thumbs.  My Life Science course tells me that the combinations of hereditary traits in human beings far exceeds the total sum of atoms on this spinning planet.  We are unique, and God has said that He loves each and every soul He's created.

Yet, somehow, it's so easy to get lost in the minutia of mundane life and forget.  It's easy to simply think I'm just another bit of bones wrapped in flesh in this rat-race.  That this is all just a meaningless day in a meaningless week.

It's not. We're not.

God looked at the infinite options in His infinite knowledge and, as He scanned all the possibilities, He chose you.  Me.  He looked down and knew exactly where on this ball of mud He would place you.  And He decided that, yes, it was good.  In His wisdom, He saw what you would become, every thought and emotion that would stir inside of you, and He said, "I love you."

And I am blown away by the sheer force of that love.  It's like the lyrics from "How He Loves" by David Crowder:

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me...

And then the verse from Isaiah comes to mind: "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11)

This love overwhelms me.  This attention astounds me.  And this purpose for my life, slowly unfolding, gives me unbelievable hope. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

All Creation Proclaims

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Have you ever wondered why?  A picture portrays a story -- a setting, mood, voice, tense... a moment somewhere between cause and effect -- all from the perspective of a picture.  Sometimes a picture leaves more questions than answers, but at the same time, it often explains more than any sentence.  It isn't colored by the giver's biased perspective or lack of eloquence -- only by what the receiver is willing to take the time to understand.

On Good Friday I went for a walk out in the swamps near my house.  And all that I could think was, nature was proclaiming something loud and clear.  The beautiful quietude, the quiet elegance, spoke to me.  Can you hear it?

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
 Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind." Job 12:7-10

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Top Ten Favorite Songs for 2014

I feel like most of my posts lately have been rather serious.  Today I would like to post about something a little less important than Joy and Hope and Spiritual things.  Today is a day for a TOP TEN POST.

#10  "Furious" by Jeremy Riddle
This is the only song by Jeremy Riddle that I've heard, but I really like it.  He has an unique perspective on the love of God -- that it is deep, wide, fierce, strong,  furious.  It's an compelling idea, and a beautiful song.

#9 "Chasing You" by Jenn Johnson
Again, another artist who I only know by one song.  This is such a great song just to get lost in.  The music is really fun, too -- the keys is great :)

#8 "Oceans" by Hillsong United
This song talks about stepping out into the unknown -- like Peter stepping out onto the water in faith.  It inspires me to just let go and let God do what He wants in and through me.

#7 "Wake Me" by Tal & Acacia
The group Tal & Acacia has a very unique sound to them, but I really love their laid back grove.  This is one of my favorite songs by them.  It talks about wanting to know what God is doing now.  Like Noah building an ark an wondering what God had planned, sometimes we just want to know what's going on.

#6 "Hurricane" by Natalie Grant
I love playing this song on the piano and singing along to the lyrics.  God can find you anywhere, even in a hurricane.

#5 "Narnia" by Toby Mac
This song is on an album devoted to "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."  Listen to it -- it's really cool.

#4 "Stand in the Rain" by Superchick
This song's one I've known for a long time, but I've sort of re-discovered it.  It's so good.

#3 "Bring Us Home" on Music Inspired by the Story
This song is on an album that was written by Nicole Nordman -- inspired by a version of Scripture called "The Story."  The song is about Joshua, and is sung by Micheal Tait, Lecrae, and Blanca Callahan.  It is definitely worth listening to.  Actually, go listen to the whole album!  It's two discs' worth of inspiring music.

#2 "Let Us Love" by NEEDTOBREATHE
This song has such great lyrics.  It wasn't until I looked up the words and just read through them that I realized just how deep, yet crazy, they are.  It's such a good song just to sing along to.

#1 "All of Me" by Matt Hammitt
"I can't give You half my heart and pray You make it whole..."  That sums it up completely.  God, You are going to have all of me... it's where I'll start...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Art of Celebration

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine showed me a video from Rend Collective.  It's about their new album, "The Art of Celebration".  The theme of their CD, and the topic of the video, couldn't have been more applicable to this journey towards Joy that I've been on this year.  One of my favorite parts of the video is when he says that nowhere in the Bible does it say "thou shall be serious."  It does say to make a joyful noise, though!

I really loved just the whole message of this video, and I wanted to share it with you today...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Love Mercy

March 8th was International Women's Day.  In honor of the day, Kristen Welch guest posted on Ann Voskamp's blog about the work that Mercy House Kenya does for women there.  The post moved me that day; you can go back and read it here.  So, on the spot, I decided to buy a Love Mercy Bracelet.

It's a simple heart charm strung on a piece of twine.  A circle that connects my heart to the hearts of the women in Kenya.  With the bracelet comes a little card.  It says:

Tie this bracelet on and pray for girls so far away, Share their story from your heart, When the bracelet naturally falls off one day, You will know you've done your part.

Mercy Maternity House helps girls in Kenya find grace and protection in the midst of difficult, often unplanned, pregnancies.  They offer a safe place for them to learn how to care for their child and themselves.

The story of Mercy House really touched my heart.  I love having this simple bracelet that reminds me each day to pray for the beautiful women that are apart of this ministry.  In my plushy, American life, sometimes it's hard for me to remember the deep struggles facing girls, many my own age, all over the world.

  Rape, prostitution, and slavery aren't apart of my world.  They are one of those ugly topics that I just don't often think about.  Yet, it's reality to too many women.  It's the painful nightmare that they are just trying to survive.  And I want so desperately to make a difference.  Just to let them know that they are loved, that they can be beautiful daughters of the King, and they have support in raising their babies and facing this world -- that's something I want to do.  And right now, tangibly, I can wear this bracelet and tell everyone about Mercy House Kenya.

If you'd like to buy a bracelet or learn more about Mercy House, please visit them here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Psalm 101

Psalm 101 caught my eye as I was reading my Bible this morning, and I thought I'd share it with you all.

I will sing of mercy and justice;
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.

I will behave wisely in a perfect way.
Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will not know wickedness.

I liked how the Psalmist is reminding himself of all that he wants to be, and how he should walk with God.  It's like he's telling his heart who he wants to emulate.  So, I want to echo this psalm today.  "I will sing of mercy and justice; to You, O Lord, I will sing praises..."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Counting Gifts. Or Fleas, as the Case May Be.

It's funny how easy it is to count "gifts" on Christmas morning.  There's the new watercolors, dangling earrings, and a little ornament for the tree.  One, two, three.  But ask me now, in the middle of March, when there's a blizzard flying outside and cold uncertainty piling up in my heart.  Where are these gifts?  Because a new, shiny wristwatch, wrapped up in a miniature box with a bow is an easy gift to find.  It's right there, clasping my wrist.  But, quickly those material gifts run out when you're counting 1000 gifts.  I'm not a millionaire, with stuff piled around.  And I think there's more to a "gift" than the tangible, physical matter that lays before my eyes.

And so, when I'm daring to find Joy today, and every day this year, I've begun to look for things that are a little less obvious.  It reminds me of the story of Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom.  When the two women were taken to a concentration camp, infested with fleas and reeking of urine, Betsy thanked God for those fleas.  She smiled and breathed out a prayer of thankfulness for the dirty bugs clinging to the very sheets she had laid her head upon.

They didn't know it then, but later they found out that no guard would come into their building because of the horrible fleas.  And so their Bible study flourished undetected at that camp, and God was glorified.  Because of fleas.  But God was glorified long before those hours of studying Scripture.  He was glorified before Betsy and Corrie had shared the Gospel with a single soul in that concentration camp.  When Betsy thanked Him from the depths of her heart, thanked Him for the very thing that she detested most, He was glorified.

There are gifts everywhere.  In everything we touch, in everything we see and hear.  God has a purpose and a gift in every circumstance, even when it seems impossible to be true.  Even when our lives are filled with fleas.  God has a purpose, even for that.

Thank you, Father.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Today starts Lent.  Those forty days that tread on the road to Easter morning.  I never paid much attention to them before.  It's a busy time -- these forty days.  There's two birthdays in the family to celebrate, usually a recital or two to practice for, the end of school is in sight , yet so much more work needs to be done.

My grandpa, a Catholic, observes Lent.  And that's all that I knew about it.  Yet, there is something about Easter.  You shouldn't just come about the day, and celebrate it.  You need to build up to it, and savor it, and dwell on it much longer than one day out of three hundred and sixty-five.  Easter isn't a holiday, it's a lifestyle.  And Lent is the time set aside to clear our minds and our hearts, realigning our hearts with the reality of what Easter means.

I don't know why I paid attention to the idea this year.  Maybe it was because for the past month, as I was interning on the creative arts team at my church, we were preparing for forty days of Church-wide prayer.  Creating content for an initiative to pray for those who don't know our Savior with the intent to do something about it.  And it made me think about Easter differently.  It isn't just a holiday, it's a revolutionary concept that can change your life.

Maybe it was a song, stuck in my heart as I surfed the internet, filling my mind with mindlessness.  Garbage in, Garbage out, What goes in is found out, All can see what goes in me, I pay the price...

Lizzie says that the song is annoying.  It sticks in her head.  Yet, that's the point, isn't it?  What goes into my heart stays there, gets stirred around, and comes back out again in some way, some form.  In this case, it's a melody.  In some cases, not so much.

So maybe all this made me decide to focus, for forty days, on something more than mindless monotony that the world unceasingly chants.  It tries to lull me to sleep.  And here I am, with a Love so explosive, so beyond comprehension -- yet I'm drifting to sleep.

This year I want a Lent that drives me to see Joy in something beyond myself.  In something beyond the internet and the TV.  In something beyond material things, and the possessiveness of me. I want to breathe out something else these next forty days, and forever, really.  I want the reality of Easter -- of a brutal murder of a radical God and of a power that brings a dead Man to life to change humanity forever -- to be what people notice in me.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Yesterday my friend and I were making a funny video of each other.  When I sat down and watched what we had created, I was amazed at what I saw.  Was that really me?  Do I actually sound like that?  Is that how I laugh, and the way I move my hands when I speak?  

I never see myself candidly like that.  I look at myself in the mirror so many times a day, yet I have no idea what I look like.  In my head, I look like the girl in the mirror -- every hair exactly how I've placed it, nice posture, everything.  But really I don't look like that.  I laugh, look perplexed, listen to others talk, open doors, trip, lounge on the couch.  I never see myself then.  I don't see the real, live me, when I'm really being.  

And my friends, those around me, see me differently than I see myself.  They see how I act, the words I say that give a picture of who I am.  They see the way I stand, sit, talk, and laugh -- and accept it as me.  But that isn't me either, really.  They don't know the me inside myself.  They can't see my motives, my worldview and limited, unique perspective.  They see a part of me, but no one will ever understand completely all that it is to be me.

The only one who gets to see both -- the way I am outside of me, and who I am inside of me -- is God.  He has the perfect perspective...which is why it makes sense that His thoughts on my life are the most important.

Anyway -- all of that to get to this -- I've recently been wondering about the lies I tell myself.  There are some lies so deep within me, so subconscious, that I don't even question them.  It's like the lie I tell myself about my voice.  I hear myself speak, and I accept it as how I really sound.  But, when I hear myself on a recording, I discover that the voice inside my head isn't quite accurate.

There are other lies I let myself believe sometimes.  Lies about being ugly, or stupid, or insignificant.  About not being enough or inconsequential.  Sometimes I tell myself lies that make me feel better than I am, too.  My heart, which knows so little, says I'm smarter than I am.  That I'm better than others.  That I deserve so much.

These things I tell myself are not a conscious decision I make.  They came from my culture, my experience, and the finite, sinful flesh that I dwell in.  And yet, I have the ability to follow after One who knows the truth.  One who tells me pointblank that, though I am nothing on my own, I am His beautiful daughter.  I matter, I have purpose, because He has given it to me.  And He knows who I really am.  He created me -- body and soul.  He should know.  And so, when I run after Him, I discover myself.  I'll never see me by listening to those around me or by looking in the mirror.  It's only when I surrender to a God so big, so infinite and beyond me, that I find myself.  It's terrifying to give myself away -- to say YES to all that He asks of me.  Yet, it's where I find contentment, too.  And Joy.  And a Peace beyond what I could know on my own.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wait, you know what Angry Birds is, too?!

It's funny how things work out sometimes.  Like when I learn about the man who invented steam engines, and a Jeopardy! question asks about the same thing.  Or when my mom gets a Hyundai, and suddenly it seems like the roads are filled with them.  And I feel like the world discovers things as I discover things.  But, really, they've always been there.  I'm just seeing them for the first time.

It's the same with Joy, really.  When I decide to pursue a life of Joy, I discover that Ann is doing a Joy Dare on her blog.  But this isn't the first year she's organized it.  It's simply the first year I've paid attention.  And, with taking on this dare, this dare to count 1,000 blessings, I've found so many things I've never seen before.  They've always been there, but I'm finally seeing them.

They are little things -- like hugs from good friends and warm, cozy slippers -- but they make all the difference.  Because, when suddenly I see these blessings cropping up everywhere, I'm aware of something so much bigger than myself.  Even though each little Joy is small by itself, counting 1,000 blessings illuminates a God that watches over every minute detail of my life.  He's there, every moment of my life.  And He's given me everything I need.  Every breath.  Every smile.  Every new opportunity or trial that I face.  He's given it to me because He knows me and loves me.  What better reason do I need to be joyful?

Monday, January 20, 2014


I'm an autumn person.  I like the deep, rich colors that come before the leaves die.  I prefer the last lines of Moby Dick ("It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.") to Cinderella ("And they lived happily ever after.")  I enjoy Christmas carols written in minor keys. I like  for KING & COUNTRY's song "Crave" to their "Fine Fine Life".  And, if I had to admit, I often let myself slip into despondency for no reason, and let bitterness creep in where it doesn't belong.

Basically, I like the opposite of joy.  I'm not sure what to call it, exactly.  It isn't unhappiness or sadness or anger.  It isn't that I don't love to laugh.  I am just, moody.  Minor, instead of major.  Grey, in place of white.  And so, it makes me uncomfortable to reach outside my small circle of melancholy contentment and experience unbridled Joy.  To laugh until I cry.  To sing "Good Morning," Mandisa's energetic thankfulness for a brand new day, at the top of my lungs.  Because the introvert in me, who likes to live life in retrospection and contemplativeness,  often misses the happiness in the moment.  Often skips the blessings, and sees only the shadows.  And while that isn't always the case for me, it often turns out that way.  So, this year, I'm wanting Joy to kidnap my heart.

I've been looking at Scriptures that talk about Joy.  Lately, it's been Psalm 51:12:
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit."
 The Psalmist is asking God to give him Joy, and a spirit willing to do what God asks.  And that's the best way to start.  Prayer.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." Matt. 7:7-8
 I've also been trying to find some songs with themes of Joy, but I've had a hard time finding anything that really talks specifically about Joy.  There are a multitude of songs dealing with hope, forgiveness, and grace, but I've had a difficult time finding any that have to do with Joy.

Have you been reading any Scripture about your word of the year?  If you've heard any Christian music that speaks about Joy, I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy Julianuary!

Happy New Year, everyone!  Can you believe that it is already 2014?  It's the Year of the Horse (well, not quite, but soon) and of "radiant orchid" (for creative folk like me).  For many, it's a year of new jobs, new opportunities, new beginnings.  I like the first days of each new year a lot.  I enjoy contemplating about things ahead, and remembering things I've learned and mistakes I've made in the past.  It's part of living, reminiscing is.  And the new year is the perfect time to do it.

Last year, instead of forming resolutions, I chose a word that I thought would characterize the year for me.  It was a word I wanted to think about, learn about, and blog about.  Last year, it was Hope.  If you would like to go back and read my thoughts on Hope, you can go back here, here, and here.

So this year, I've decided to choose a new word for 2014.  The one I landed on is Joy.

The reason I chose Joy, is very simple.  I don't have any.  Well, that isn't exactly true.  I have a vast potential for Joy -- I have God Himself living inside of me!  He has blessed me in ways beyond my comprehension.  He has promised to take care of me and give me everything I will ever need.  And, He has said that I can be filled with His Joy.  The problem is, I don't tap into that resource that God has blessed me with.  I let the little things in life frustrate me to the point where Joy is miles away.  So, this year I'd like to learn more about, and implement Joy in my life.

What are your New Year's resolutions?  Do you have a word for 2014?