Monday, December 31, 2012

2012

This past year has been full of more challenges than my other 29 years combined. Lows so low I wasn't sure I could even see my way out, walking with certainty in a direction only to find the path crumbling in front of me, an unexpected diagnosis that felt like the death of so many dreams. It seemed the rain was unending. 

But more than anything this year, more than the feelings, more than the disappointments, I found the depth of God's faithfulness and the certainty of His steadfast love like never before. The many nights I spent on my knees begging to know the why's were answered with sweet whispers of His unchanging character. He is still God. He is always good. He is always just. He is Redeemer. He is Lover. He is Healer. He is Abba Father.  

My little mind was incapable of seeing and knowing Him for all that He is without walking through the valleys. God uses rainbows in Scripture as a promise of His faithfulness but only by the rain can you experience the full spectrum of colors. And I felt the rain. And I saw the colors.

Hallelujah, what a Savior.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Doc

My heart has been so heavy today as I learned that the director of my PA program was diagnosed with a brain tumor over the weekend. He is one of the toughest teachers I've ever had and yet his heart for students is evident. He is hard on us because He is more concerned with our character than our comfort. He wanted to push us, challenge us, make us think on our feet. And though there were times when he made me want to pull my hair out, he has become like a respected, beloved father to me and my classmates. We adore him. 

I sat at work today praying & journaling and was reminded what a mighty God we serve. My prayer...

What is 4cm to You? What is a glioblastoma in Your eyes? Nothing. Not a challenge, not a struggle to overcome. An easy victory in Your hands... the hands that conjured up every cell of our being, that formed every hair on our heads, that knit together every inch of us. With a word You create, with a thought You give life. The God who named the stars, who formed the seas, who made beauty from the dust, this is nothing for You. 
A prognosis means nothing to You. 
You laugh at what man says is impossible, for with You ALL things are possible. 

You made the blind man see. You made the woman stop bleeding. You brought the dead to life. You parted the sea. You rescued from the lions den. You brought forth water from the rock. You fed thousands from seven loaves of bread. You brought Jericho's walls down. You opened the ears of the deaf. You walked on water. You gave my heart of stone new life. You defeated the grave.
King of glory, You are the same! You have not changed! The same healer that You were then, You are today! You still rescue, You still give life, Your power is unmatched, Your love is relentless! Miracles are not a challenge for You! There is no circumstance bigger than You! 
Still full of mercy, still abundant in grace, still singing over us, still delighting in Your children. 
You are always good, always just, always sovereign!
Awesome in power, who is like You? I know not one! 

Ps 91:11 "He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." 
May Your peace overflow, Your presence be known, Your hand be evident, Your glory be revealed, Your name be exalted, Your will be done.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Obsessed

What is it about our culture that makes us grab hold of something until it consumes and fills up all of our thoughts and overflows into our actions? The moment when something innately good begins to carry more weight than it should, when a number 7 priority begins to work its way up the ladder to the number 1 spot.  

Fact: I have had a shopping obsession. I used to have a job that paid too much money & I liked to spend it on dresses. I'm not sure why I love dresses so much, maybe its the Georgia debutante in me (kidding, sort of), but I LOVE dresses. Recently, I decided to get rid of most of my closet to raise money for Africa & I struggled letting go of the dresses. Its easy to say "I'll sell my stuff and move to Africa" but actually doing it... not so easy. 

This isn't actually my closet. Though if it was, I'm betting Annie would be the first to borrow that sequined number in the middle. 

It's crazy to think about the amount of time and energy and money we spend on politics, fitness routines, diet fads, shopping, you name it, things that may be important, things that may be beneficial, but things that easily distract us from the big picture.

I've had hour long conversations with friends about food trends & workouts and while those things aren't bad, I can't help but wonder how much energy or brain space we've used and for what? To determine whether or not quinoa is actually a superfood? It's absolutely ridiculous. Obsessions over politics, arguments over which side is right and why the other side is wrong, I've done it too many times to count. It's wise to be aware of fitness and health and politics and culturally relevant topics, but ultimately they crumble in light of eternity.

What if we shifted our energy away from our obsession with fill in the blank  and fixed our conversations and thoughts on Jesus? What if we spent the time and money used to support our obsession on serving people? What kind of impact would it have on our culture? I'm not saying we should ignore all of those things, thats not realistic, but maybe just get better at putting them and keeping them in their place.

We are created to be passionate people with fixed eyes. The issue is when our eyes become fixed on things rather than on the Creator. When the day comes for me to stand before my God and be accountable for my time, I want to have lived with purpose, to have invested in things worthwhile, to have served well, to have obsessed over establishing His kingdom on earth.



Heb 12:2 - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Not For Me


The perspective change. One of those moments where God takes the way you’re looking at a situation and tilts it on its side so nothing appears the same. For me, they can be sweet lightbulb moments or, most of the time, they are painful wrecking balls, revealing a selfishness or unwillingness in my heart. And that’s what this was.

Since May, I have often wondered why God has called me to Africa while, at the same time it seems, He is physically wrecking me… days when I’m exhausted, in pain, when the joints in my hands will just not cooperate and I am beyond frustrated. I know He is increasing my dependence on Him and breaking my need for control, I know He is good, I just fight to see the purpose in it. The equations don’t seem to work out for good.
Africa + a weakened immune system = not good
surgery needs + unable hands = what’s the point?

Here's the kicker...
What if it’s not about me at all? What if it’s about the people around me? What if it's about the people in Africa? 
Apparently I talk about Uganda a lot. And while I was oblivious to it, God was using my story to help others recognize His call for their lives... His call to Africa.
What if the Lord’s purpose was to use my journey for those people to know their calling?
What if the single reason God asked me to quit my job & go to PA school was to get them to Africa?  
Would all of the pain of the last year be worth it if God said "This is not for you, it’s for them"? 
What if you don't even get to go back to Africa but God used you so that those people would go? 
Could you say "nevertheless, Thy will be done"? 
Am I willing to be used, no matter what the cost, so that someone else may know Jesus or hear their calling? 

Honestly, it takes way too long to answer all of these questions. My selfish heart wants the comfortable, easy, pain free life. And I struggle to think outside of my own circumstances. I get so focused on what God is trying to teach ME in situations instead of looking for the bigger picture, that maybe this isn't about ME at all. Scripture is full of stories showing how one character's journey can affect people, sometimes even generations to come. And those journeys are sometimes painful and those characters sometimes don't have it easy, but in the end, God achieves His purposes and it is good because He is good. 

How faithful is the God we serve? A Father that will stop at nothing to pursue His children. A relentless love that is bigger than our finite minds can grasp. "Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? No one is like you, O Lord; You are great, and Your name is mighty in power." Ps 77:13, Jer 10:6

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sisters

Last night, I had dinner with seven of my closest girl friends to celebrate my birthday. Reflecting on the past year - the peaks, the valleys, and the chaos in between - I am certain I would not still be standing without these women walking beside me. All of the moments when I ran out of strength, they were the arms that held me up. They formed the wall I could lean back on when I wanted to lay down and give up. 
I'm privileged to call each one a sister. This is what community is all about. God is so good.
Beyond grateful. 
Brooke was apparently slow getting her ice cream & missed the picture but, rest assured, she was there. 

Ex 17:20 - "When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-- one on one side, one on the other --so that his hands remained steady till sunset."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thirty

I'm not sure how it happened, how those years flew by so quickly. Today I turn 30. I have friends who are thirty and beyond and I don't ever think of them as old, but the word takes on a different shape when it's in the context of ME. One of the girls who discipled me in high school was 26. I looked up to her, she was wise and super cool, but I remember thinking she was old. My mom had my brother at age 29 and me at 32. I've always been told that she "got a late start." So when I think of being thirty, it feels a little ancient. Like I should've reached some significant benchmarks by this point. But alas, my reality at 30 appears drastically different than I ever imagined. 

I never would've dreamed that the Lord would say "quit your job and go to school." But I wouldn't trade it for the world. What a crazy ride the last year has been but one of the greatest opportunities to lean in and recognize my absolute dependence on the Father. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel (& that tunnel leads to Africa) and I am squirming with excitement. 

I never would've dreamed that the Lord would provide a group of friends that would become my family. I fully believe I have the greatest community in the world. I could sit on my back porch with those people forever, their hearts blow me away. So blessed and very grateful.

I never would've dreamed up the word Africa, let alone the chance to live there. Its far beyond the scope that my small mind could've come up with. What a generous God to give me that story.

I never would've dreamed that this would be part of my world. But what a perfect reminder that my life is not my own and the sweetest freedom comes from surrender. Somehow it will be used for His glory. 

It's easy to focus on the fact that my Plan A hasn't panned out but when I really step back and think about it, I'm so thankful it didn't. Because the truth is that He is God and I am not and my dreams are far too small and boxed in. He dreams beyond what my finite mind can conjure up and His dreams are always the better option. Why would I choose an amateur story teller when I have the greatest author in history offering me His version?
Fingers crossed for 60 more crazy, unpredictable, glorious years.

Eph 3:20 - Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in 
                                           Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.                                                                                                                     

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Africa

      Today I found out that I officially have a spot in Zimba, Zambia next summer. I applied for the medical mission rotation a while back & today it became a reality. I've dreamed for the last two years of going back & at times its been the sole source of motivation to get me through school. To keep the promises I made. 
I can so easily close my eyes and be taken back to Uganda, the sights, the sounds, the emotion. Knowing I'm going back, my heart wants to explode with excitement and anticipation. And while there is a whisper of fear that wants me to stay stateside in a clinic treating ear infections & handing out Z-paks, engraved on my heart, planted in the depth of my soul are these eyes...

 
These sweet babies that pierce through me and move me to action. I've yet to see anything like them. Two years later, I can still hear their little voices singing and their infectious laughter filling those tiny churches. But most vividly, I can't forget those eyes.



The fears I have for Zambia stem from the unknown, as most fears do. A lack of control, a surrender of expectations. There is no way to prepare for an experience like this. No classes to take, no seminars to attend. Completely unknown & out of my hands. 
At the same time, the unknown is exhilarating. Freedom of expectations, freedom that I'm not the author. The opportunity to see things that I will never see in the States. The opportunity for out of the box experiences. 
But most importantly, the opportunity for my soul to know exactly what it was created for. 
2 Tim 1:4 - "As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tetelestai


Tetelestai... the Greek word that will be permanently engraved on my right wrist this week. Whoever said tattoos are addictive was not lying. But its more than just a word. Its more than just some Greek symbols. "Tetelestai" translates to "It is finished."

The word is used twice in the New Testament. First in John 19:28... "when Jesus knew that all things were now completed, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, he said, 'I thirst.'" In verse 30, Christ utters the word himself: "Then when he received the sour wine Jesus said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." The scripture was fulfilled. Jesus lived with purpose and the Father's plans were accomplished. Take heart, He has overcome the world!


Anyone who knows me will attest that I am a "Martha" with every ounce of my being. I can't sit still. I am rarely quiet. My nature is anxious and I want to control the outcome of every circumstance... hence the ink on my left wrist, "be still my soul." It's a continual reminder to rest in His faithfulness. He is God, I am not. 

Tetelestai was also written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to indicate that a bill had been paid in full. Romans 5:8... "but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Overwhelming grace. I have a monumental debt and nothing to offer as payment and yet the debt has been paid in full... tetelestai. Freedom, no longer a slave to the law. Sin has lost its power, death has lost its sting. 



Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side; 
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain. 
Be still my soul; thy best, thy Heavenly friend. 
Through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end. 

Most often, the reason I struggle to be still is because I believe the lie that I need to work for my righteousness but tetelestai refutes that concept. The work has been done. Ephesians 2 says it best: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." The ultimate gift of God, rescue from despair. 


The battle is won. It is finished. Tetelestai.

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Ugly

It's been one of those weeks where I would really like a do over. Somewhere along the way the train derailed and downward spiraled. The mirror was held in front of my face and I had a hard time making eye contact with my reflection. It was ugly. The darkness of my heart that was revealed makes my skin crawl. I'm embarrassed and disappointed and wishing that I was able to love better.

How many times will I be reminded of the power of my words? I'm certain I've seen this lesson before. And yet here I am again, repeating the same prayer, "Take control of what I say, O Lord, & guard my lips" Ps 141:3. When will I learn? I'm a broken soul and a messy spirit and am really incapable of selfless love on my own. How much grace has been offered to me? Why is it so difficult for me to offer grace? Why do I speak without wisdom or consideration? Use words that build rather than tear down. 

I want to live fearlessly. I want to love recklessly. I want to serve selflessly. I want to know Him deeply.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Full



Tonight, as I'm about to go to sleep, I am full. Physically nourished from chicken, quinoa, salad & let's be honest, Corona. Spiritually overflowing from good conversations about life, relationships, Africa, purpose. Tonight, people that I love dearly, my family in this city, sat on my back porch and ate together, laughed together, and rejoiced together. That is life. My heart wanted to explode it was so full. I am blessed.  

Friends, some old, some new, trading stories and crying with laughter. I tend to see with eyes that see the lack... what I may be missing, comparing to others, but tonight I saw abundance. A life of goodness that I do not deserve. Community so precious that I never want it to change. Marriages, relationships, introductions all seen tonight. Different stages, each in the exact spot where we're supposed to be. Thankful, so overwhelmed with gratitude for the hearts around me.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Just a Word

Many are the plans in a man's heart, 
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. 

In the back of my head I knew. This medical brain of mine knew that two plus two would have to equal four. The symptoms were all adding up and pointing in that direction. I tried to ignore it, pretend it would go away, but people around me started to notice my body was failing. Hope was wishing against it, thinking there would be another way out. Then the confirmation, tests came back positive, extremely positive. The diagnosis that felt like a thousand pounds being dropped on my heart. I made jokes because it was less exhausting but the disappointment ran deep. The word... I knew what it meant.

What does this mean for my future? Babies? Africa? Why would desires so deeply rooted in my soul be denied? It seemed like another dream was slipping away. It felt like punishment. It felt like I'd been abandoned. The enemy crept in and whispered loudly as I tried to make sense of it all. "A good God would never let this happen." "A faithful God would not forsake you like this." The lies surfaced quickly. Lies based on emotions, on circumstances, on pride, on the skewed principles of this world.
                                                                                                               
Thankfully, I do not serve a God who sways with emotions. My God is constant despite circumstances. The same yesterday as He is today and forever. That is truth. The compass that never wavers when the wind starts blowing. The same Savior who conquered death is the author of my story. He's big enough to handle my disappointments. My heart repeats over and over each day "your God is a good God." How is this good? Honestly, I haven't the slightest idea. But I believe with all my heart that my God, in His perfect holiness, holds me securely and knows best. It may never equal my comfort, my success, or my picture perfect dreams but it most certainly, somehow, will equal the incomparable joy of knowing my Father's heart more deeply. An opportunity to press into a God of unbelievable compassion, who rescued me from my filth. His relentless love is more than enough. What else could this heart desire? 


His ways are perfect, I know that full well. They will succeed. Nothing can thwart them. And they lead to His glory and fame. This life is just a breath. Lupus is just a word. The truth remains the same. I want to love well and live abundantly and never stop singing praises of the God I serve. No matter the season or the circumstances or the emotions that masquerade as truth, your God is a good God. 

The Lord your God is with you, 
He is mighty to save. 
He will take great delight in you, 
He will quiet you with His love, 
He will rejoice over you with singing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New York

I spent this last weekend in one of my favorite cities in the world, with two of my favorite people in the world, and it was glorious. When I was here for my break in March, I needed to blow off steam, I needed to go dancing til 3 am, I needed to sing Whitney (RIP) and Mariah duets at a shady country bar. I needed to laugh so hard my abs would hurt for days. & trust me, they did. It was the perfect distraction from school & the minutia of Nashville.

This time I needed rest. I needed to sleep until 11am. I needed a picnic in central park. I needed to see Newsies (I may not have "needed" Newsies but I loved it!) I needed the type of deep comfort and familiarity that only family brings. And these two are family.

I've only known Christopher since March, but from the moment I met him, I adored him. He has a heart of gold and an ear for great music. Good gracious, I am head over heels. He has established a permanent spot in my heart. He has become family.








And then of course, there's Bradford. I'm not sure anyone else gets me quite like that boy. Soulmates through and through. We may not see each other for years at a time, but when we do, its as if only minutes have passed. We catch up right where we left off and drive everyone around us insane with our inside jokes and nonstop ridiculousness. Needless to say, he holds a huge piece of my heart. He has always been family. 


Family love is unconditional. It sees the faults and chooses to love anyways. Its those people who know what you're thinking without words, those who pick up your load when you are beyond exhausted, those who fight for you and believe in you. They are the ones who celebrate your birthday a month and a half early just because. They are the ones who make sure the birthday dessert at the restaurant is dairy free. I came home well rested because I had been with family. New York is lucky to have these two. & so am I. 


1 Cor 13:13 "So now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; 
but the greatest of these is love."


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rest for the Weary

I had never known weariness until PA school. By definition, weary means 1. physically exhausted by hard work. 2. mentally exhausted by exertion. 3. impatient or dissatisfied with somethingYes. To all of the above. Sure, I've been tired before. I've been through some rough experiences but nothing like this battle. This semester has been unbelievably difficult, physically sick, mentally drained, ready to give up and go home. Sleep is minimal. Social life is non-existent. Beyond weary. 

Jesus said, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In the stillness, when I take time to close my mouth and listen to His sweet reassurance, my purpose is clear. I cannot survive this by my own strength. When the waves are rising and I start to feel my head go under, when my cup is dry and I have exhausted all reserves, my natural instinct is to paddle harder or try to tap into a new well. But the weariness continues to grow until the moment of surrender. Flat on my face, without an ounce of strength left, I come begging for renewal. I wonder what God is thinking as I try to climb my way out of the trenches time and time again when He can easily lift me out. He is my respite. He is the source of rest. His compassion is overwhelming. I know my call. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. 

"Of course He's not safe. But He's good."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mumford

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, I saw Mumford and Sons at the Ryman. Basically a dream combo, one of my favorite bands at my favorite venue. The night didn't quite go as planned. I have no idea what was going on but lets just say there were forgotten lyrics, a coughing fit, and some possible pukage from Marcus. From everything I've heard, he's a quality dude and I honestly felt really bad for the guy. 

Fast forward to last night when I got an invite to a secret Mumford afterparty at the Basement. Its a tiny and intimate joint and I've never seen a bad show there. I really wasn't sure how/if we'd get in but figured it was worth a shot. We were turned away because we lacked credentials or a password and definitely were not on the guest list. One last ditch effort and some possible divine intervention, we managed to get in. There was a tiny crowd with all sorts of industry recognizables. We definitely did not fit in. 

The music was incredible, the dancing was non-stop, the atmosphere was electric. Marcus, Ben, Ted, and Winston just wandered through the crowd like anyone else there enjoying the show, chatting and thanking friends along the way. Genuine, humble, quality guys. Mumford redemption indeed. I'll spare you all of the details of the night, but somewhere around 3:30 am, I found my way home and struggled to fall asleep, still reeling from the magic of the night. Surreal, a night I never wanted to end. 






Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hope Deferred

One of my best friends got married earlier this month. It was gorgeous and perfectly her. Every detail had her fingerprints on it. And seriously, who needs a cake when you can have cake balls?! Brilliant.


Since moving to Nashville, she's pretty much been my go to. One of the few people I knew when moving here. Somehow our paths had managed to wind their way back to an intersection. She welcomed me to this city with open arms and invited me into her community. We have lived together, cried tears together, walked the singleness road together. We have road-tripped, community grouped, traveled to Africa, holiday partied together. The good times far outweigh the bad.



I have pages & pages in my journal where I begged the Lord to bring her a partner. A godly man strong enough to lead such a leader like she is. A man of integrity to sweep her off of her feet. There were moments when it felt as if the prayers were unheard, when it felt like we'd been forgotten. And then, when we least expected it, the Lord answered.

It didn't look exactly like she'd planned. It wasn't the picture perfect story. There were bumps in the road. There were shattered expectations. But it was through the tearing down that the Lord was building something incredible.

As I laid my hands on my friend before the wedding and prayed, I was in awe of the Lord's timing, of His wisdom, of His goodness. A story none of us could've written as well as He did. It was holy and beautiful. 


Heb. 10:23 "Let us hold fast to the hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."