Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A few of my favorites from 2011....

So thematic theme 117 at Written Inc. , is your favorite pictures of 2011. 2011 has been a beautiful year of change for me and I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store. Here are few of mine, as we look back at the year:

These first two remind me to slow down and enjoy the beauty of simplicity.

Not only are these some of my favorite snapshots of the year, but each picture represents something different to me. Each has a certain memory. And each is a small piece of life, so that when I look back at them, I can recapture the beauty and joy all over again. We can't stop or slow down time, but having photos are the next best thing.

Have a Happy New Year Everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas: God With Us

I have to admit: I'm not always in the Christmas Spirit by the time it rolls around. But I've figured out it's because of what Christmas has come to means, instead of what it once meant. So as we steadily get closer to Christmas, I'm focusing on Emmanuel.

I have such a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords became a baby. He was God, He could have came down with an army of angels, but instead chose to come simply as a baby. Why is that? Emmanuel. Which means God with us. God wanted a close, personal, intimate relationship with Him so He chose to become one of us and show us how much He loved us.
  He truely is 'God With Us'. He is our refuge and our strength, our guide, our Shepherd and He even counts the number of our tears.

This Christmas, as the hustle and bustle tries to wrench away my focus, I want to be still and reflect on this beautiful mystery of Christmas. Take time to spend with the Savior who gave it all for us.
Relient K- I celebrate the day
"And the first time
That You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever?/ And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life".

This is a beautiful song, I encourage you to look it up.

I wish every one of you a Merry Christmas and pray that this Christmas you take time to sit with Emmanuel. God With Us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why we all love 'A Christmas Carol' and Second Chances

I haven't found an exact number but after 59, I gave up. That's how many "A Christmas Carol" movies or shows have been filmed. It seems like everyone has done an adaption from the Muppets, to the Flinstones, or some have even filmed it under a new name (example Scrooged). But my all time favorite would be "A Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol". Ah, yes, it does bring back memories. Tiny Tim has never been so cute....

But it got me thinking....What is it about this tale that has so many others trying to duplicate it? The theme has been done time and time again, but we keep turning back to it. Why?

My answer is simply the message. We want a story of second chances. Of hope. That maybe someone can change their life around. But the climax is when the ghost of Christmas Present appears and Scrooge eventually falls to his lonely grave, usually with the lines, "I've changed!" ringing in the background. And then it happens: Scrooge awakes on Christmas Day to find he's been given a second chance. To set things right and save himself and others from a grim future. It leaves us with those warm, fuzzy feeling that all is right with the world.

It sounds a lot to me like the story of Salvation....Jesus came with a story of second chances. That's what He came to give us. We look over our own "ghosts"; our past of which we might not be so proud of or we look back at with regret. Our present, where we are completely lost without Jesus. And our future, with without Jesus and saving us from our own selfish decisions, might not look a whole different than Scrooge's. But at the end of the day, we look back and cry, "I've changed! I've changed!" And Jesus wakes up our hearts and gives us that second chance. Because we all like Scrooge better at the end of the movie rather than the beginning....

So if you watch "A Christmas Carol", I want you to think about it. Why is it that we like this movie? Because something about it resonates within our hearts and there's something beautiful about second chances.

What are your thoughts, why do you think there are so many adaptions? What is your favorite Christmas Carol?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


One of my favorite places on earth

The above picture is for the thematic theme 172-Muted at Written Inc. This picture as muted you might be thinking? Well it's not just about the picture, but more about the place. This is one of those places that as soon as you're there, it wakes up a different part of your heart. The tress reaching up to form a hall, making you feel as if you're in one of the scenes from the Lord of the Rings. It has an ageless, timeless feel to it. When you're there, the whole world seems to be muted; silence settling over the world like a thick blanket and suddenly you are sheltered from the world of chaos and noise. At least for a little while.You can walk the paths and feel so small again, knowing that God, who created such beauty and majesty, is also holding your heart in His hands. I love being able to take time from "life" and to get away. To take time to slow down and hear myself think every once in awahile. To have the world muted.
Two more photos that I thought of when I though of 'muted'.

The first is in Boston on a cold, cloudy day. The second is of the sun over a Peruvian landscape.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On a Journey

We're all searching. We're all trying to get somewhere.
Is life more about the journey, or more about the destination? Or maybe a little of both? This journey that we call life is always moving, never slowing, never stopping. We're constanly climbing hills, descending stairs to climb back into the sunlight once again.

So what's my point? I forget that life is happening NOW. I always think that I'll start truly living life once I get that job, once I start traveling, once I get married, once I- the list could go on forever. I'm constantly looking to the future waiting for a day that may never come around. I forget that life is now, life is living in those inbetween moments.

I'm a reader. I love reading. Blogs, stories, novels, biographies, anything. Except maybe historical fiction... Anyway, I come across incredible writers that can bring to life thoughts that you never dreamed were possible. But I never stop to think that they all started with just a pen in their hand, facing the same blank screen that I stare at, waiting for words to come. I think that maybe when I could write like them, then life will really start. When I finally become somebody, life will then be the adventure that we all wait for. I don't think that Jesus only meant life to be lived AFTER we get a degree. After we get a pay raise. After....No, He's given us a new life. To be lived. Now.

We're all striving to BE someone. To meet goals, expectations and dreams. I feel like maybe we're really missing what life's all about. Life is made up of a thousand steps, all carrying us onto to our final destination. We forget that life is living in those little moments that we think don't really really matter: Doing the dishes, washing the laundry, driving to the store. They may not be the adventure that we always thought that life would be, but they all add up to something so beautiful and so moving that it could only be called a journey. I don't want to get to the end of my journey and realize that most of it has passes me by while I waited for "life" to start.

"We plan our lives in long, unbroken stretches that intersect our dreams the way highways connect the city dots on a road map. But in the end we learn that life is lived in the side road, alleys and detours."
Miles To Go by Richard Paul Evans

Let's stop dreaming about when life will start, and let's actually start living it.

"Humanity does not pass through phases as a train passes through stations: being alive, it has the privilege of always moving yet never leaving anything behind. Whatever we have been, in some sort we are still."
C.S. Lewis

Friday, November 4, 2011

Here's to Everything We're Not...

I've been thinking about this subject alot lately.... Have you ever felt like everything you are simply isn't enough? I have....

As kids, we're told "To be yourself". Our parents have no doubtedly told us multiple times.
"Mom, what if the kids don't like me?"
"They'll love you, just be yourself."
Or maybe the conversation took a different tone as you got older.
"I'm nervous about this interview! What if I don't get the job?"
"You'll be fine. Just be yourself."
But we were never prepared when the world would tell us that 'being ourself' was not enough....

We encounter this message everywhere we go today. Magazines on the latest wrinkle cream, diet, fad, fashion and sports team. Because the laugh lines, those few extra pounds, your out of style clothes and the team you cheer for is just simply not enough....This is the stuff we encounter everyday. Even when we deny it's effects on us, we aren't realizing the damage it's slowly doing.
    Comparison....It's a deadly game that leaves it's unwilling participants with bruised and bleeding hearts. We have all felt it's side effects: I'm not pretty enough, smart enough, cool enough, rich enough-the list could go on and on and on. The world is looking for something more, something better. I find myself getting caught up in the cycle and soon I feel as if I'm drowning. Like I'm in a maze and every corner I turn I'm faced with a mirror showing me everything that I'm not.
So as Christians, where does this leave us? I could spew out verse after verse about how we're supposed to be comfortable Christians and not care. But it really comes down to this isn't our home. We're like aliens. Landing on a different planet as a stop on our way home. And aliens never really fit in anyway. We don't need to be enough for this world. Because we're enough for Jesus and He's more than enough for us. Let's stop trying to be someone we're not. I'm tired of not being good enough....There is no simple answer to this. I wish there was. But in life, simple answers are rare. But there's one that drowns out every other: Jesus. :)

And you know that maze? Well God's ready to pull us out as soon as we say the word.

What do you think? What is everything that you're not?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The colors of Fall

So over at Written Inc. , they have a weekly thematic photographs and they invite you in on the fun. So I thought I'd post my Fall entries for theme 165-Welcome Autumn.

The Fall colors hasn't fully reached the trees around here. But this one decided it was time for Fall, despite those around it.

This was taken last year, as my family and I went through a corn maze. Nothing says Fall more than the beatiful colors, pumpkins, and corn mazes.

I used to dread fall. After the beautiful summer and the lazy days, it seemed like a mockery to have to have to start work and everyday life again. But I've come to learn that it's not Fall itself, but it's how you view it. Now, I love the start of Fall. Not so much the things that come with Fall, such as work and school and eventually snow (!) but the season alone.

It seems as if God has taken a paint brush to all of the trees, leaving us in awe of His masterpiece. It's the feeling that you get when you breathe in the cold, crisp air. That something is happening, that feeling of being fully alive. Thanksgiving, pumpkins, color and candy. Fall has alot to offer more to offer than we give it credit for.

Maybe it's not so much that we don't like Fall but rather what comes after it. When the cold weather traps us indoors and the beautiful colors are taken from the trees to return next year. Winter brings it's own cold awe, but I'll wait to write about that when we get there. 

For now, let's just enjoy the scenery and time that God has given us. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On the road of the inbetween....

Do you ever find yourself feeling as if you're not sure in what direction you should be heading? The road that you've been following for so long now leaves you at an intersection of many different roads. Where to go from here? They all look the same, yet are each a little different. Which do I chose?

That's where I find myself at now. All these different roads but no atlas! Don't you wish sometimes that life came with a map? I do. But then life wouldn't be the surprise that it is, and when it comes down to it, would there really be any joy in that?

I feel like I'm stuck in the inbetween. Between where I am, and where I should be going. I just don't know how to get there. I have many different options, but none seem to be the right one.

I'm looking to God for direction in this. But it looks like He's showing me a lesson in patience. After all, this is what God told Abraham: Genesis 12:1(the Message), 'God told Abram: "Leave your country, your family and your father's home for a land that I will show you."'
    Abraham has no idea where he was supposed to go but he knew he was supposed to go. So, he went. Just following God even when he didn't know where God was leading him. At the end, he ended up with having more ancestors than the grains of sands.

Abraham trusted and went. I wish I could go and follow after God wherever He was telling me to go. But my directions are a bit foggy right now.
    So here I stand, at the inbetween, wondering in what direction I should be heading...... 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Serving God and letting go of control.....

One of the hardest things that God has been teaching me lately is letting go. Letting go of my control, letting go of my worry, letting go of everything that I've been holding on to so tightly. I try to plan, I try to calculate and in the end, I try to direct my own path. I'm not trusting that God will pull through and be
there in the end.

In the last few days, God has been gently trying to tell me to open up my hands and give it to Him. He has amazing dreams and plans for us, but we can't accept His until we let go of our's.
I'm reading a great book called 'The Art of Being' by Constance Rhodes. In a chapter by Jill Phillips, she talks about letting go of control:
It talks about God's Will for our lives. We're all trying so hard to figure out God's Will that we forget that it's actually a journey, a marathon instead of a sprint. So Jill passes on the wise words of her friend, "God's will is that He be glorified."
So no matter waht we're doing, we can be bringing glory to God. God does speak very specifically into our lives, but sometimes we have to be willing to see that God doesn't always give us a 5-year plan. He's more into letting us trust and see. Because if God really did give us our 5-year plan, there wouldn't be much room left to trust.We have to be willing to let go of our security and follow God on the great adventure that He has planned for us.

I was reading in my Bible, and God showed me a verse that went along with this:
1 Peter 2:16, "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as Servants of God."
Mostly the last little line, Living as servants of God. The Greek word for Servant is Du-los, which means "devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interest." Am I that devoted to God? I guess that's what it really means when it says we have to die to self. To be completely devoted to Jesus and disregard our own control and comfort zones to follow Him. If you go even deeper into the root of the word Du-los, it is de'-o. Meaning "to bind, tie, fasten". We are to bind ourselves to Jesus. To fasten our faith, our hope in Him. Our control. That is what it means to be a servant of Christ.

God is gently calling me to step out of my boat and onto the water. To be a servant of God.

Friday, August 12, 2011

And it all comes back to....Love

I've had alot on my mind lately. Now that can be a good thing, or a bad thing. A good thing when it motivates you, a bad thing when it leads you to stress and frustration. If you've read any of my blog before this, I've talked about completing DTS. Now that's it over and done, it's like I'm beginning to see the world in a new light. And it's starting to break my heart.

This has been brought on by many different things, but mostly just viewing the world. In a place where our value was in Jesus Christ and we were so open and honest with one another, and then to come back to the "world" and see where most people have placed their value in and wear masks that we can never take off.
    When have we turned from our foundations and looked for value and self-worth in the things of this world? When have we traded in our love and hope for nothing more than a conterfeit? We've lost all sight of what life and love really means.
    When I say "we" I'm generally referring to the world today. Society. I also don't want you to read this and think, "Well, she's coming off like she thinks she knows it all!" Because I don't. I'll be the first to admit that I don't. But this is just me, trying to search for words to match what I'm thinking. And, well this is the results.

I hate that the world has traded in "family" and tried to replace it with something generic. I hate that everyday I walk past people who don't know what the true love of Jesus looks like. I recently ran past a person who I heard say, "I hate going to church because it makes me feel like an outcast." What would Jesus have to say about that? It's heartbreaking to see that this is the world we live in. If you're a Christian, you may know what I'm talking about. This time were you feel like darkness is slowly edging out the light. And you know it's not, so you hold on and wait for the light of day to break through once again. That's where I'm at.

I hate that Christianity has become nothing more than another religion. And I hate the part that I play in that. I'll admit that many times in my life I've turned a relationship with Jesus into a set of rules. I've turned praying into a vending machine from God. I've prayed for answers, but never wanted to be a part of the answers. I claimed I "knew" God, but I didn't know who He really was. I was among the very worst of them. And that's when Christianity became a religion. That's when it became stale and I slowly started to die on the inside. I had to turn back to Jesus and really seek who He is. I had to realize I don't know everything about God and I had to admit that. And be okay with that. I had to get down on my knees and surrender. And it's when we do that, when we admit we need something more than oursleves, when we realize that we're not the center of the world and we don't have all the answers, that sweet freedom finally comes. When the grace of God steps in and meets us where we are. Where it transforms us into new creations.

I'm tired of the world not wanting to know Jesus because they can't see a difference in His followers. I'm tired of seeing the world die and knowing that we have the answer to eternal life. I want Christians to be radical again. I'm mostly speaking about me here. But maybe you fall into that category too. I'm done with this world, I want Jesus. I want to show the world who He is. And I can only do that through love. It all comes back to love.

"Give Me Jesus" By Jeremy Camp
"Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus. You can have all this world, just give me Jesus."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mission Trip to Peru

For anyone reading this, we just got back from Lima, Peru! I have been doing a Discipleship Training School with YWAM and our team of 20 went on a month long trip. God did amazing things and it was life changing.

I saw God work through our team and speak into peoples' lives, especially through the drama that we do called 'Doors'. Doors shows  how we often choose the temptations of sin over following God and how easily ensnared we can get trapped in that. But at the end, God is the only one who sets us free from sin and He has been pursuing us all along. God uses this story in big ways.

One of these was while we were in a place called San Martine Del Porres. We do our drama on the sidewalk of a busy Peruvian street next to where all of the buses stop. We soon have a small crowd. After our drama is over, we go out to talk to the people. I talked to a lady and shared about the drama with her and she was soon crying. She talked to us about how she had been having problems at home and she had been praying that if God loved her that He would show her a sign. She had been taking a bus, far from where she lived, and happened to see our drama. She said that when she saw the drama, she knew we were that sign from God. And she knew that God loved her. We prayed and then she left us saying her life would never be the same.

This is just one of the many stories that I have from our time in Peru. It's just amazing to me to see how God loves and pursues each and everyone of us. He brought this lady on a bus, far from her home, to see us, a group from the United States performing a drama on a Peruvian Street. Crazy. Sometimes we don't realize how much God loves us and wants to speak into our lives.

What is God trying to say in your life?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Following God..

I haven't updated in so long! My goodness, so much has happened in the last month.....

I am currently  in a Discipleship Training school with YWAM at the moment. We're in about week 4 and God has already been stretching me in so many different ways. The team that I'm here with is absolutely amazing. We come from 5 different countries (and this is just the students) and about 8 different states. It's amazing to see that God has brought so many different people together for one purpose.

For me this DTS has been so good. I'm growing closer to God. All the preconceived notions and ideas that I had about who I thought God was, have been completely demolished. But it's awesome being with people who feel the same way I do. That we love God and want to serve Him.

The teacher we have now, gave a talk about ministry and reaching out to others, and I am now fully convinced that I always want to be involed in either missions or ministry. I want to reach out. I want to show others that love and hope that can only be found in Jesus.

But I'm not going to lie, it's been hard. Really hard. I've wanted to give up. But I know God has a plan in this.

So, my message for anyone who happens across this blog:

Jesus Loves You! :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stepping Out of Your Shire

There comes a point in life (possibly more than one) when you stop and think, What in the world was I thinking? I've come to this point.
 I have a perfectly comfortable, normal life. But I felt as if God was calling me to do a Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission. If you don't know what that is, YWAM spreads the Word of God throughout the world and equips people to do the same. So the school is three months at the base, two months mission trip. And for me, this will mean stepping so far out of my comfort zone, doing things I'm not used to doing (praying outloud, speaking in front of people), meeting new people and going new places.... What was I thinking?! I guess I'm at that point where faith and fear collide. We'll see where God takes it!
 Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a devotional on stepping out of your comfort zone based on the Lord of the Rings. I found it pretty relevant to what I'm going through now, so I thought you might be interested:
                        Stepping Out of Your Shire

The little company of Frodo and friends is gathered in Rivendell, discussing what should be done with the Ring (if you don't follow the Lord of the Rings, the ring is something that must be destroyed so peace can return to the land. Got it? :P). Someone suggests giving it to Tom Bombabil, the sweet although odd, caretaker of the Old forest; who seems untouched and unworried by evil. Seems like a perfect solution! But Gandalf soon brings that idea to a halt, saying that Tom's power is limited only to his land:
 'And now he is withdrawn into a little land, within bounds he has set, though none can see them, waiting perhaps for a change of days.'- Gandalf, The Fellowship of The Ring page 298
 Somewhere in life, we draw our bounds, we set our lines. We chalk out the area of our comfort zone. We say, "This is the line I will not cross.  Even one step out means danger, uncertainty, and maybe even adventure. I'm not doing it! I'll stay right here!" As Christians should we even have comfort zones?! Caution, in some cases, yes. Boundaries that keep you from sinning, absolutely. But a comfort zone that boxes us in from the rest of the world? We're missing that freedom of Christ. Do you think Jesus had a comfort zone? I'm not thinking so. He touched lepers,  He talked to Samaritans, He ate dinner with tax collectors! He had no comfort zone. He wasn't afraid to step out, touch others, challenge the normal. And we shouldn't be either.

We're kind of like hobbits. Perfectly content in our own little world, in our shire, while the rest of the world moves along without us. Adventure is frowned upon and we keep busy floating in our own little world. We never step outside the Shire, never come in contact with people outside. And that's how they live their lives. But one day, a hobbit is called on a adventure that takes him far beyond the shire. And in the end Frodo Baggins from the Shire, changed the world. Changes the course of history.
 God is calling us little hobbits out of our shire. Out of our comfortable lives to go on our own adventure. To serve Him and maybe touch a few lives along the way. Whether that adventure includes lighting the beacons of Minas Tirith or lighting the fire of faith, rousing the Ents of Fangorn or rousing Christian soldiers to pray, or storming the gates of Mordor itself, I don't know. But we'll never know unless we take a chance and step out of our own shire.
 Frodo made a decision that day that he was the one to take the ring to Mordor. He stepped out of his shire and his life was never the same.

But Frodo wasn't unchanged by his journey. He was so changed that in the end, he couldn't find happiness in his own little shire anymore. So at the end of his journey, he made one last journey, to the Undying Land.
 We won't remain unchanged if we step out of our shire either. God will change us. We won't be content by our shire any longer. For we were made for more. So much more. And our true home will be in Heaven, the ultimate Undying Land.

        But the first step, is stepping out of our shire. 

"We are too quick to accept the life we know and not quick enough to embrace the life we can only imagine."
    -The First King of Shannara pg. 107

Sunday, January 30, 2011

One Word

In church this morning, my Pastor told us of a challenge he heard of on K-LOVE. It's called My One Word. And for the year of 2011, you pick one word that you want to work on for the rest of the year. Words like trust, love, humility, faith, joy, grace. It's a resolution. But a resolution to change the way you live. I know it's a little past new year's, but that's okay. This is a resolution to stick to. The My One Word website it has alot of great resources to help you accomplish your word and stick to it for one year.

What will your Word be?

I picked the word GIVE. Why Give? Because this is the year I'm going to GIVE it all to God. I'm going to give Him my life, my future, worry, stress, time, money, trust, love. I'm going to get up every day and GIVE it all to God.

There's alot I need to give to God! Especially my future. I've been holding onto my future so tighly but God is saying give it to me. Let me take care of it. Give me your worry and I will give you peace. I need to let go.
And worrying! Oh how worrying can sneak into your life. I spend more time worrying than I do praying, sadly. That's something I need to give to God!

I'm excited about My Word. Let's see where God takes this!