Monday, May 27, 2013


Well I am a year older. And wiser. And more beautiful, of course. Some people mark time by the calendar year or school year. I keep track of time that way too but my birthday is so close to the end of the school that I am in for double reflection when May 25 comes around. I also graduated this year so you can add that to the list of opportunities for me to reflect on the past and look to the future. Before I look at the past year I'm going to go back to last year on my birthday.

My birthday has always fallen on Memorial Day weekend. I grew up in a family that spent Memorial Day in a cemetery and not at the lake, which means any year now were I don't have to do that, I already consider it a great birthday (I can pay respect to those that have gone before without spending my birthday in the cemetery). As an adult, trying to plan a birthday with your friends always proves to be problematic which I have just come to accept. Anyway, last year I turned 30. For some this can/is seen as a scary thing, but I embraced the new decade. I was in a job that I enjoyed, pursuing an education that challenged me, reconnecting with old friends and making new, and feeling healthy for the first time in a long time. It was a season of thankfulness.

Now it's not to say that I'm not thankful now. I look at my life and I know that I am very fortunate. But to say that I am in the same season of life as last year just isn't the case. I'm in a season of waiting. And for anyone who knows me knows that waiting and practicing patience are NOT things that I am good at. But yet here I am at 31 and a few days and I am waiting. And trusting that God is good and that He is working where I cannot see. 

In the spirit of waiting, I was reminded Sunday that God desires to be my stronghold in the waiting. It is really easy to praise Him when we are in seasons of joy and thankfulness, totally different to worship Him when we are anxious/confused/nervous/afraid. And yet He desires to be the rock that I stand on. The place that I go when confronted with doubt. Psalm 27 reminds us of this. I take comfort in knowing I am not alone. I know that I am part of a community that waits with me and that I belong to a God that is present as I wait. 

Growing up in Kansas we are told that if we don't like the weather, wait awhile and it will change. I don't pretend to believe that life is like that, but I do know the seasons we are in don't last forever. But during these seasons I do know that God is refining me. He continues to mold me into the person He has already created me to be. And so I wait. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I did it!
Yes my friends, I did it! After three very intense, occasionally stressful, expensive and time consuming years, I graduated from Nazarene Theological Seminary. Yes I am happy. Yes, I do feel a sense of accomplishment. Yes, I suppose I am glad to be finished (though I'm not sure what to do with all this free time). I think the thing I really feel though is grateful. Even with the late nights, studying all weekend, reading books and writing papers on my lunch break, I am so grateful for the amazing season of growth I just experienced. God was so faithful through the entire process and I am so thankful to my friends and family for being patient with me when I was writing papers instead of attending birthday parties, reading books before and after Thanksgiving dinner, and uploading moodle posts during other major life events. I am also grateful that I took my parents advice and paid my way through seminary. It was an intense experience but I am so, so grateful. So where does that leave me now?

I began graduate school thinking I had a clear calling of youth ministry. While I still enjoy working with high school students (which is helpful in my current job) I don't feel that same sense of calling now three years later. In fact, I'm not sure what the next step is on this journey. And for me, the girl that is usually described as being very determined, that makes me a little scared. But I know God is faithful. And I know He has placed passions on my heart and given my skills and abilities that He desires to use for His glory. To reflect His light.

To Be Light

I've been camping out in these verses the last couple weeks, trying to wrap my brain around what it means for me individually and what it means for the community of believers that I belong to. I'm blown away with how the chapter starts. Here is a disciple that has just been with Jesus and he can't wait to tell the people about the truth that he experienced. Not only can he not wait to share the good news, but it would make his joy complete to do so. Our joy should be made complete when we share our experiences with Christ with others. In doing so we enter into a fellowship that is richer beyond comprehension.

Next the author tells us that God is light and in Him there is no darkness (v.5). No darkness. Only light. Only truth. Only purity. Only hope. So if I am called to abide in Him and walk in His light then these are the things that should be a reflection of my life. I have so far to go.

The Road Not Taken

If someone would have told me five years ago that I would be graduating from seminary, I would have laughed at them. But here I am. I left behind what I thought was my dream job in search of a bigger plan that I knew God had in store for me. I took a path I never thought I would take. And again, God is faithful. And I know that whatever path I am headed down now, He will continue to be faithful. 

God is good. 

All the time.


Monday, November 7, 2011

What Do you Do

This is usually one of the first questions when we meet someone new and we're introducing ourselves. Name, where we live, what we do. I've had a couple conversations with people lately about how what we do is not who we are. Our vocation should not define us. Sure, our jobs give us an opportunity to use our gifts for God's purpose, but I don't think we always look at it this way. Too often we look at it as a way to earn money to pay the bills so that on the weekends, we can do what really fulfills us. Spending time with friends. Traveling to new places. Laughing over a glass of wine.

The point I'm trying to make with this is that our lives are so fleeting, we're here and then we're gone, that instead of focusing so much on what we do I believe we should be focusing on who we are. Who God has created us to be. What are those qualities about us that make us special, unique, that God wants to use for His glory. I really enjoy listening to people, getting to know their story. I find myself doing this at different points during my day. I think when we listen to people, when we ask questions and take a genuine interest, we are validating their lives. I want to do more of that. That is part of who I am that is far more important than what I do.

Psalm 90:1-12 talks about how quickly our lives fade away. Verse 12 says this:
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.
Our lives are brief. I think we grow in wisdom when we realize this and we desire not to waste them by focusing on things that are out of our control. I desire to grow in wisdom, which develops who I am and therefore flows into what I do. It shouldn't be the other way around.

Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!
What a beautiful way to start that passage! He has been our home. He is the place we return to. I think about how important my earthly home is, something that is made or wood and stone. It's the place I'm truly myself, I relax, breathe deep, and find complete peace. I can only imagine what it would be like to experience that with my Father. We can experience that here on earth. He is our home. He is who we are.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I don't want to be a Pharisee

Today I was reading Matthew 23:1-12 where Jesus is instructing the people to listen to the instructions of the religious leaders but not to follow what they do. He said they make religious burdens too heavy to bear but then do nothing to help the people. I guess you could say that I'm a religious leader in a way. I'm a seminarian, as one of my instructors reminded me last night. I think that's a pretty fancy word for saying I'm in graduate school studying ministry. But I am, I am a seminarian, and with that comes the responsibility and the call to share the message of the Gospel. But it has to be more than that. I can't just share the message, I have to live the message. And with that I need to evaluate everyday how I am doing that and how I am not doing that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To be frustrated and humbled

First off- I can't imagine a life apart from Christ. A life where my existence and my happiness and my joy are based off so many things that are out of my control. Where I don't know where to turn when I'm angry, frustrated, scared, depressed, exhausted, angry. Don't get me wrong- I have experienced (sometimes all in one day) all of those emotions and walking with Christ doesn't mean I experience them any less. The thing that separates me from those not walking with Him, what separates believers from non-believers, is that when I'm faced with situations that produce those emotions I am reminded to lay them at the cross and seek His face for answers. The answers might not come in the time frame that I would like, but I can trust that He is at work and that He will produce a good work in me through trusting and being obedient to Him.

Tonight I was frustrated. It's frustrating to see people you love so much searching for answers and know that THE answer, the only answer, is a relationship with Jesus. He's not a magic wand, He won't make the babies stop crying or the bills stop coming, but the peace and freedom they could experience in Him would be beyond the temporary joy they might feel now. And yet when I want to present that answer to them, or something similar to that, I get cut off. Dismissed. Ignored. And in turn that frustrates me. But once the dust dies down I am humbled. I am humbled because I know that once again answers will come but perhaps, once again, not in my time. And in the mean time I am called to love these people, all people, and model true servant leadership that puts the needs of others before myself. That does not keep a record of wrongs but loves despite them. And so I continue to love and listen. And be patient. And that's where I am tonight.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To be broken

I'm not a crier. A person who cries. And yet when I am broken wide open I can't keep the tears from coming. I try to bite my lip thinking that will stop it. It doesn't. I try to distract myself by thinking about something I need to do- grocery shopping, laundry, whatever- but somehow I am reminded, probably by the Holy Spirit, that in this moment I need to just release the perceived control I have on my life and allow Jesus to take total control and if that means losing control and crying like a small child, so be it.

Have you ever felt really insignificant? In my desire to live a life of purpose and be used for the Kingdom I frequently find myself at the crossroads of purpose and confusion. My dad used to tell me that if I was just going to stand around watching, at least stand where the workers wouldn't see me. I like being used. I want to be used to greatly, and so today when I found myself staring straight ahead at the purpose I feel so deeply called to in my heart I felt nothing but insignificance and brokeness. How, Lord Jesus, could you use a broken, messed up, selfish person like me to bring honor and glory to Your name? How could you use me to love people the way You love people? How could You use me to teach people what it means to find freedom in You? It's like asking me to teach Greek to PhD students- are you crazy? I know nothing on the subject! But yet everyday You call me to live a life that reflects Your love and grace and mercy and forgiveness and peace and to teach these things to the people I come in contact with. The people my life rubs up against. What an unimaginable task.

I question the moves that I make. I question my words and my actions and my heart. I don't want to make a false move- and yet the Spirit is so much stronger than my weaknesses. How great are You to use me, broken and flawed me, for Your mighty purpose.

"So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Romans 7: 4-6

The Jews were held captive by the law and no matter what they did, they could not experience true freedom by simply living according to the law. When I try to live according to the law, whether that be the law of society, of myself, of the expectations I put on myself- then I am bound to a law that takes away my freedom in Christ. I serve in a new way- the way of the Spirit- knowing and trusting that He is doing a work through me that I often cannot see or know or understand. Knowing that it is only through falling more and more in love with my Savior everyday that His ways would shine through my life and that His story would be seen working in me.

Father I desire to suffer for the Gospel. It was through Your suffering and Your victory that I can experience life with You. Suffering isn't easy- brokenness isn't either. But in everything I do may I desire to suffer so that the Gospel might be advanced. Use me up for Your glory. By the power of the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Set Apart

'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" John 3:3-6

This is a conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, and according to them, entrance into heaven came from living by the law and possibly God granting you favor based on how well you lived. Jesus, of course, turns all of that upside down and says that you must be born again and born again by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit.

This was the intro for my devotional today, and instead of going farther in the lesson, I had to stop and really ponder what it means to have the Holy Spirit in me and to be born again. The lesson goes on to say that Holy comes from the word hagios which means "set apart, sacred, or pure". Spirit is pnuma, which means "a breath, a breeze, or a strong wind". So what does it mean to be set apart?

I recently started a new job and yesterday learned about how I will be evaluated. I've always been a competitive person. A good friend of mine once commented that it's surprising how poor I am at playing sports considering how competitive a personality I have. While going over the evaluation matrix, I was already plotting where I hoped to be evaluated at. I thought about how good it would look for a new employee, a rookie, to get such a high score and how that would compensate for my lack of phone and sales experience (a background of many of my co-workers). I laughed when we were told how we would be compensated for the higher we scored on the matrix- a concept that was so foreign to me coming from a career that only rewarded meager raises for educational advancements- not performance based ones. All of these thoughts continued to swirl in my head as I thought about how I would make a name for myself at this profession.

I don't think it's bad to desire to be good at what we do. God gives us gifts and abilities to use- for His glory- and it angers Him when we squander them away. I think the thing that I am going to have to remember and remind myself daily of- and possibly multiple times a day- is that I am called to be set apart in this job not by my killer performance on my evaluation rubric, but in how I go about loving people and reflecting the love of Christ that is in me. I hate to say it, but I still feed off of approval. I enjoy being recognized for my achievements. Again, I don't think God wants us to hide those under a rock, but I think instead He wants us to check daily where our motivation lies.

I desire to be set apart. I desire for my life to look different because I am a child of God and because DAILY I am pursuing His will for my life. I want to be confident and yet humble in the gifts He has given me so I a may live a life that draws people to the cross.

Jesus help me to rely on your spirit daily. Help me to remember that You have called me to live a life that should look radically different than the goals and ambitions of this world. Help me to live according to your spirit and be truly Set Apart.