Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Year Later

Today is the one year anniversary of my move to California. All day I've been reminiscing over what's gone on this past year - the ups, the downs, and everything in between. The funniest part? I still have to remind myself sometimes that I actually do live here. California is my home. Oh my gosh!

Looking back, I remember being SO excited to finally get down here... I was counting down the days months in advance and finally the day came for us to leave. Crazy!

The one thing I do know is that God is good - all the time. Though this year has had it's difficulties, I would not change one second, one moment of it for anything. Each step has been a stage of growth for me, learning to rely on Him in it all. Boundaries have been set, new beginnings have been made, and today, a year later, I finally know what I stand for, who I really am. I'm a daughter of the One and Only, beloved by Him. I don't think I could have said that a year ago with such conviction.

Over and over I saw the work of the Lord shining through the friendship of others. And there are a few people that have meant much to me as I made this transition. One of which is my dear roommate, Cortney. This girl has challenged me, pushed me, asked the difficult questions. She's sat with me for hours as I poured out my doubts, my questions. She's laughed with me, cried with me, and just done life with me. She's a woman of grace and dignity, a woman of strength and beauty. She has been, and still is, a true God-send. And I have one person to thank for putting the two of us into contact and starting this wonderful friendship. So Steve, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for caring enough to put me in touch with this amazing woman. I would truly not be where I am today without either one of you.

Then there's mama. The one person in Seattle that encouraged me to go after my dreams, though I didn't know what they would bring. Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on from afar on the nights when I thought I made a mistake. Thank you for believing in me and letting me go so gracefully. Your love is how I stuck it out for the year. And I thank you for not letting me give up on my dreams prematurely.

Oh Jenny-o, my dear California dreamer kindred spirit. We both knew we loved this place those 5 years ago on our 1st "big girl" trip to Huntington Beach. I still laugh at the memories we've shared on my many visits through the years. Thank you for seeing my true heart for this place and telling me what I couldn't put words to, "You should move here - you come alive when you visit you know." And you were right. This place has become home and I'm so incredibly blessed to share life here with you. Thank you friend.

Debber Boo, you are a true gift to my life. Thank you for keeping me laughing, for loving me, for encouraging me to see things I often refused to see. Thank you for reminding me of God's grace, His forgiveness. Thank you for the many nights we sat up watching movies, drinking wine, eating chocolate and pouring out our hearts to one another. You're my adventurer, my risk taker, my bold friend who loves well. You mean the world to me.

Catherine, my Catherine. I could not have asked for a more incredible woman of faith to come along side me in my life. You have meant SO much to me and have helped bring me to a place of courage and faith that I never thought possible. You've taken a terrified, people pleaser and turned her into a confident lover of Christ (though I still have a LONG way to go). Thank you for your wisdom, your love, your insight, and encouragement as I've faced the trials of this year. Thank you for your prayers. And thank you for helping me see what God sees.

To the community that I've come into - each of you are an absolute answer to prayer. I remember looking back at my old journal recently and reading a prayer I prayed over a year ago, "Father, I pray for community like that, for friendships like those." I never would have thought He would give me community, let alone the very community I prayed for that night. Thank you for your friendship - it means more than you know.

And my sweet Jesus - I don't even know where to begin. Thank you for standing beside me every step of every day. Thank you for being my source of encouragement when I felt I couldn't go on. Thank you for your companionship, your love, your tender mercy. Thank you for every sweet whisper and gentle reminder that you are at work. I praise you for bringing me here, to this place. And as I head into year 2, use me, teach me. Amen!

Oh. My. Gosh. I actually live here! And now, I just wanna go celebrate! :-)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Caught in the Middle...

Lately, I've been bombarded by the reality of the Christian life. It's not some simple walk in the park, and there are many times where, if I'm completely honest, it's absolutely draining. Oy!

We're called to wait. We're told to persevere. We're encouraged to pick up our crosses. But sometimes I really just let my prideful self come out and go "can I please just have what I asked for? I mean, seriously, it's been such a long time since I started asking... don't you think I deserve it by now??"

Well, this weekend I got myself a bit of a wake up call. "Do everything without complaining or grumbling..." That means life in general. That means rejoicing in the fact that life sometimes doesn't go as planned or wished for. That means putting away the selfish desires. It means dying to self and living for Him.

And the funny thing is, for some reason we take God's refusals as bad. But what we so easily forget is that God is good - period. His good is far better than our good could ever be. He sees the bigger picture, He knows best. God's refusals in our lives are always His mercies. When He takes something away or says "not yet", it's His way of protecting us, of growing us, of loving us.

His grace is sufficient.

The thing we ought to remember in the midst of those "winters" of our souls is the very fact that "spring" is on it's way. And God has us here, in this moment, in this time, in this trial. Period. There may be no "reason" that we can see or understand. Though we may see it not this side of heaven, we can know, and fully trust that He's working this trial, this difficulty, this issue together for His perfect good.

It's so easy to say He's working. It's much more difficult in the hiccups of life to truly trust that He's still moving in the midst of what seems a very still, unchanging part of our lives. He's silent for what seems eternity, and suddenly a reminder pops up out of nowhere... a simple moment where He speaks and reminds us of His love.

This past week, I've had 2 of those simple, yet remarkably powerful, reminders. One of which was me praying, again, about a certain subject and out of nowhere I look up and see these little pink flowers on this bush (for those that don't know, pink is my all time favorite color). And as I sat in my car staring at these silly little flowers, tears flooded my eyes as I heard His still small voice say, "I'm working my daughter. Take these flowers as a reminder. Each time you see them, remember this promise - I'm working!". The funny part is.... these flowers are EVERYWHERE! I literally walk by rows and rows of them throughout my day and they almost whisper as I walk by "I'm working. Trust me."

The second moment was last night. As I often do, I arrived to my time with Catherine (one of the most amazing women I have ever met in my life!) a little early. I sat in my car, with random old school Jesus loving music playing in the background, and one song just hit me. It's called "In the Middle" by Casting Crowns. It's all about the extremes of daily life and how often we settle for the middle ground, though there's so much more we can reach for. And again I felt the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of my car so powerfully. All I could do was cry, overwhelmed with the fact that I so often fall into the middle... not acting or reacting to anything - just going through the motions. "Somewhere between my faith and my plans... Deep water faith in the shallow end... we're caught in the middle."

These precious moments with Him have made me realize so many things. But one of them is for the true me to please stand up. Not the timid, quiet, lacking confidence girl that I've been over and over in my life. But the woman who chooses joy, who chooses encouragement, who chooses to speak up when necessary, who chooses to defend and protect at the right moments, who chooses a life not satisfied with ordinary, and who chooses grace. No longer do I want to be caught in the middle. No. no! I want to grow. I want to continually learn. I want to gain character. And I want to trust His good for my own good in everything - though it's terrifying to admit.

His grace is sufficient.
His mercy never ceases.
He's working.
Even when we're caught in the middle.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I am unworthy.
It's by the grace and the death of Christ that I am given a second chance.

Unworthy am I.
As a child selfish, a liar, a cheater.
As an adolescent willing to do anything to get ahead.
As a young adult a partier, a sinner, a girl wearing the scarlet letter for the decisions she's made.

So tainited I come to the Throne of Grace. Humbly I bow, for I cannot look to His face. Broken I beg for his relentless love, only to be taken to something greater above. Dirty and disfigured I go to ask for His forgiveness. His response - "my child, you are indeed forgiven". What happens next is something amazing, for He takes the rags, the tears, the damage, and cleans them and puts them all together into a beautiful mosaic.

My life once unworthy is now made new. The mistakes before haunting, are now for good. The dirty is clean, the tainted is no more. For Christ in His death forever settled the score.

And I am the cripple that once was, now sitting at His table - daughter of the Most High.

Take a listen to "Carbon Ribs" by John Mark McMillan - SO good!