Total Delight

Eighteen days ago I was driving back home from a weekend spent with family on a Sunday night. There had been some heavy thunderstorms across the state of Texas that day, and the dark clouds still lingered low in the sky. While I was driving south on I-35, I noticed the sun begin to peek through the mountains of storm clouds up above. In all my life, I have never seen a sight in the sky as glorious as this one. It was as though the heavens had opened, and I remember silently asking God, “Is this what it will be like when you carry me home to heaven?”

Just moments later, I lost control of my car while driving 80 miles per hour, ran off the road, and somehow managed to get back up onto the road, but over-corrected and spun out to face oncoming traffic. Once my car finally came to a stop, I was stopped between the front and back tires of a moving semi. I placed my car in reverse and turned myself around and drove forward with the traffic, the same semi beside me and another semi directly behind me.

It all happened so quickly, but in the midst of the chaos I remember crying out to God, “Help me! Help me!” And he did. By his unmatched power and grace alone, neither I nor anyone else was injured, and the only damage to anyone’s car was that my car was out of alignment, which is a common and quick fix.

There were easily at least five ways I could have died instantly that Sunday night. But I didn’t. I cried out for God’s rescue, and he saved me. The Lord loves to rescue his children. I was well aware in the midst of the chaos that I was not in control. I firmly believe God sent his angels to protect me from the threats of death surrounding me that night. Although I thought he was coming to carry me home to heaven, he wasn’t ready to bring me home just yet.

One of the main memories I have from that night I pray I never forget and I feel compelled to share with you is this: if that Sunday night had been my last night on earth, I don’t believe God would have welcomed me home to heaven by saying, “I wish you would have done more for me. You just didn’t do enough. You could have done so much more. If only you had done more.”

Are you kidding me? While judgment day is a very real thing, for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, we have nothing to fear. I firmly believe if that Sunday night was the night God carried me home to be with him forever in heaven, he would have welcomed me with open arms and total delight. Let me say that once more, total delight. No disappointment, no bitterness – just complete and total delight. Because I am in Christ Jesus, everything God feels toward his Son, he feels for me. Because I am in Christ Jesus, it is impossible for God to feel anything toward me he doesn’t feel toward his own Son, Jesus.

As beautiful as that is, God continues to deepen my love for him as he shows me that not only will he welcome me home to heaven with open arms and total delight, but he welcomes me into each morning here on earth the same way. Total delight. My Heavenly Father delights in me. He adores me. Why? Not because of anything I have done or not done. It’s all because of what he has done. He adopted me as his daughter the moment I said yes to receive his gift of eternal life and love 20 years ago, and I have been safe in his love ever since, and forever will be. He is my forever rescue, and he is my delight.

My 17 year old cousin Tiffany died in a car accident when I was 13 years old. Jesus Christ was her delight. After this experience 18 days ago, I feel like God gave me a small glimpse into what it might have been like for Tiffany that cold February night in Missouri 14 years ago. I have always been shaken by the thought of how scary that moment must have been for her. And still today, I do think it was scary. That Sunday night was the scariest moment of my life, but it was also the most peaceful. There is something I can’t quite describe about being in the midst of a traumatic experience, in which I feel I have no control, and sensing the nearness of my Savior’s presence and knowing God is in control. My soul finds rest in trusting that in the same way I found peace in the strong arms of my Savior that Sunday night, I believe Tiffany experienced the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding as he carried her home to heaven in the midst of what would certainly be considered a traumatic experience.

I used to say there is no fear in death, but now I really believe it. Christ’s perfect love casts out all fear. Are we afraid? Yes. I don’t think we would be human if we weren’t. But in the midst of our fear, Jesus rushes in to rescue us by giving us the peace of his presence. The peace that is found in Jesus Christ – I can guarantee you – cannot and will not ever be found anywhere else. Do you know his peace? If you were in an accident tonight, would you be trapped in fear? Or would you experience the peace of knowing you are held safe in the arms of Christ?

This week, one of the most beautiful and radiant girls I have ever encountered went home to be with Jesus in an auto accident Monday night. Nancy Jane was just 21, and just like Tiffany, it seems she was taken too soon. I’m still in disbelief this incredible daughter of the Most High King is no longer going to grace us with her smile here on earth, but my soul finds rest in knowing who her soul belonged to. Nancy Jane entrusted her heart to Jesus, and I am confident that in the same way he wrapped me in the peace of his presence, he wrapped Nancy Jane in his strong arms of mighty love Monday night. And ever the more, as he carried her home to heaven. I know God was beaming as he welcomed his daughter home with open arms and total delight.

Nancy Jane, thank you for living your life in such a way that life shined a little brighter with every step you took and with every person you met. The love of Jesus truly overflowed from you. God’s Word says that he created us in his image, and it is easy to see him in you, sweet girl. There is a beautiful blend of kindness, grace, and fun about you that is truly rare and exceptional. You not only impacted hearts while you were here on earth, but you continue to impact hearts as you are home in heaven. Thank you for shining bright, beautiful angel. I pray that because of your life, many girls and guys will place their faith in Jesus Christ: the hope of our souls. See you soon sister, and please give Tiff a hug for me. I have a feeling you two will get along great.

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In loving memory of Nancy Jane

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Face to Face

This past week I watched the funeral of a 35 year old woman named Manda I’ve never met, but I met her mom, Cindy, 17 years ago when my family moved to Texas. Manda was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five, and in her third fight against cancer, Jesus came to bring her home with him to heaven.

I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, so I watched a video of it online. It’s as long as a movie, but more worthwhile than any movie I’ve ever seen. I’ve never met this woman who’s just eight years older than me, but already a wife and mom to two children. Watching her funeral though, I felt like I knew her – and I found myself drawing near to Jesus because of her.

Every word spoken at her funeral was dripping with the gracious truth of Jesus. I’ve always thought if I ever get married, I want Jesus to receive far more attention and adoration than I might receive as a bride on my wedding day. And while a bride may not be the only main event of her wedding (it does take two to get hitched), I think we can all agree the person who passes should certainly be the main event of their own funeral. But that was not the case at Manda’s funeral. Although they said her name more times than I could count, I’m confident they said the name of Jesus twice as much, if not more. It reminds me of what John says of Jesus in John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”

One of my favorite moments from her funeral was when the minister spoke about her final breath on this side of heaven. Although she was dying in a hospital bed, her spirit was very much alive in Christ. He said in her final moments she got the biggest smile on her face – like she could finally see Jesus.

How beautiful is that? That one moment of the entire hour and a half funeral gave me the greatest hope and joy in the Lord.

January 15th of this year I celebrated 20 years of knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Most days, I’m baffled it’s been 20 years. But some days I wonder, how long must I wait until I see Jesus face to face? He grows my love for him more each day – so much so there’s a deep desire in my heart for him right now as I’m writing this – an ache in my soul that’s stronger than anything I’ve experienced in 27 years. Each day I fall more in love with Jesus, and while he continues to make his presence known to me in such kind ways, sometimes I’m desperate to see him face to face. I’ve seen the glory of the one my heart beats for, but I’ve never seen him in the fullness of his glory – I’ve never seen him face to face.

To know that Manda could see Jesus face to face gives me the hope I need to press on in this race he’s marked out for me. I need not grow weary. One day, Jesus will come to carry me home to heaven with him, and what a wonderful day that will be! Finally, I will be able to see my Lord and Savior face to face! There is no greater joy than to be carried in the love of Jesus.

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death.” –Psalm 68:19-20


When you breathe your last breath, who will be your greatest treasure?



I leave you with the always encouraging words of Jesus in John 14:1-6, “‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.’

‘No, we don’t know, Lord,’ Thomas said. ‘We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”



Manda, thank you for your testimony of faith in Jesus. Thank you for a life well lived and a fight well fought. The way you allowed Christ’s perfect love to cast out all fear is inspiring. You made Paul’s final words in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 come to life for me in a whole new way:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”


10 Years Today

I couldn’t breathe. I had to get out of the car.

“Last night Drew and Chloe made out,” Bridget said.

Immediately images of my boyfriend cheating on me flooded my mind. I was drenched in the pain of betrayal, and couldn’t seem to escape.

Tears flowed as I cried out, “I have to see him. He needs to know how much this hurts so he doesn’t do it to someone else. No girl deserves to feel this way.”

Exactly 10 years ago today I was a heartbroken 16-year-old standing in the park on a cloudy day with two of my closest friends, thinking this dramatic scene from a movie could not possibly be happening to me.

It’s funny how 10 years have passed, and I can still remember that searing pain so vividly, yet the hurt from that day disappeared so long ago.

That day was a dark day in my life, but I can see how God took something terrible and turned it into something I thank him for. Many times over the years I have said, “I thank God I was cheated on, because it caused me to fall in love with his Word.”

The week following our break-up, I was in so much pain I couldn’t eat, and I certainly couldn’t focus on my schoolwork. So I opened my Bible, and it came to life. This huge book that had always seemed so irrelevant finally became relevant, nourishing and healing.

According to God’s perfect plan, Drew is the last guy I dated. Yes, you read that right. I haven’t dated anyone in a decade.

I think if that crying girl in the park 10 years ago knew she wasn’t going to have a boyfriend again for over 10 years, she probably would have cried even harder! Haha I’m sorry, I have to laugh at that because I know it’s true.

Back then, I think I felt a real desire to be cherished by my “prince charming.” I had no idea how cherished I already was by my Prince of Peace.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

My relationship with Drew was a pretty typical high school relationship: short-lived, dumb and filled with mistakes. If there’s a time in my life I’m most ashamed of, it’s definitely how I behaved while I was dating Drew.

I love Romans 5:8 because it reveals that Jesus did not just die for me on my best day, but on my very worst day, Jesus loved that 16-year-old girl enough to die in her place. There is nothing in my life that is too dark for Jesus to rescue me from.

One memory I really treasure from 10 years ago today is when my dad came to pick me up from my boyfriend’s hometown that was over an hour’s drive away. My face was red with tears and black with mascara as I got into my dad’s truck and he drove me back home.

I can’t imagine how much hurt and frustration my dad felt that whole drive, but for me, I saw a beautiful picture of what my Heavenly Father does for me. When I call, he answers. In the middle of my mess, my Abba Father rushes in to rescue me.

I could write forever about the lessons I have learned over the past 10 years of entrusting my heart to our Creator God to watch over, guard and protect. Maybe one day I will write more, but for today, I felt I should share this small part of my story to hopefully encourage someone with a broken heart.

The past 10 years have been some of the very best. They have flown by as God has held me by the hand leading me through this incredible adventure we call eternal life with him.

I am more in love with God today than ever before. He has restored my purity entirely – in fact, I feel more pure now than when he saved me at 7 years old, because I value my purity so much more than I did then.

It’s been 10 years since I’ve held a guy’s hand or kissed a guy, but purity runs so much deeper than romantic relationships.

I love how 2 Timothy 2:21 says, “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.”

Each time I open my Bible, God purifies me by his Word. Each morning and night I steal away to spend set apart time with my Maker, God makes me ready to be used for his very best works!

I encounter a lot of people who think because I’m nearly 27, haven’t dated in 10 years, and have no romantic relationship on the horizon, my life is somehow incomplete. I understand how they might think that because I probably would have thought the same thing 10 years ago.

But I’m here today to say that my life is hidden with Christ and I can boldly declare all my soul’s desires are found completely in him. Jesus is the satisfaction. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is better.

If that’s all you read today, I pray you read that and believe it. There is no one like Jesus. I have nothing against dating and marriage, in fact, I am probably more open to the possibility now than ever before. But I don’t think I was created to date and get married. I believe I was created to shine the glory of God.

If I meet a man along the way who, together, we shine brighter for God than we do apart, then by all means, let’s date and get married. I want to bring out the very best in someone, and I want him to do the same for me. I want to inspire someone to love God more, and I want him to do the same for me. So far, that hasn’t happened. So I’m going to keep on chasing after Jesus – my Greatest Love who is entirely faithful and leads me along the very best pathway in life!

I am no superhero of the single life, I’m just a girl falling more in love with my Prince of Peace each day, and I pray my little story can encourage you today to press on and do the same. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

*The names of my high school friends and boyfriend have been changed for obvious reasons

 

[[ I’ve never been a fan of posts about marriage and dating, but I really felt led to take a risk with my reputation and share this so even one person might be encouraged like I’m encouraged by Psalm 73:25-26, “Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” I believe in sharing the hardest parts of my story for God’s greater glory, so if you want to talk with me more about anything I shared in this post, please feel free to reach out. Most of all, I pray you cry out to God for rescue, and thank him for his enduring love that knows no bounds. ]]

Only God

Something was keeping me in my chair. Though everyone else was getting up to leave, I felt a strong yet subtle urgency to remain seated. It was not yet time for me to go. And so I waited. I lingered. I listened. I closed my eyes and sat at the feet of my heavenly Father, who gently picked me up to sit in his lap and gaze at his beauty as he delighted in me simply being with him.

So often I fill my schedule with so many things from my to-do list, because I feel if I am not out doing something, I am wasting my life. But we were made for so much more. We were made to live in the fullness of the presence of the Lord.

Paul says it this way in Acts 17:24-28, “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs – for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him – though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.”

It was so refreshing to not have anywhere else I felt I needed to be that night in Kenya. Though I did not expect it, God had carved out that evening for just the two of us, and I am so grateful he did. I don’t know how long we spent together that night, but it was enough time for me to receive his complete healing he has been offering me ever since I returned from Amsterdam this spring. It was enough time for me to repent for not treating him in the same way I talk about him. But most of all, it was enough time for me to be overcome by the sheer wonder of his love.

Tears rushed down my face as I silently cried out to God in adoration, “No matter how much I fall short, you never give up on me. Though I neglect you, you still love me. Even more, you continue to pour out your grace upon me. You are still accomplishing your great purposes in and through me. No matter what, you still love me. You love me. God, how can you love me like that? It’s who you are.”

So wrapped up in the love of my heavenly Father, I began to softly sing the words Chris Tomlin etched so well, “You’re a good, good Father – it’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are. And I’m loved by you – it’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.”

Here I go again. Even as I write this, I am once more overwhelmed with love for God in response to his abundant love for me. Friends, if you confess and believe Jesus Christ is Lord, you are and forevermore will always be a beloved child of God. And for those of us who have received his adoption as sons and daughters, he no longer looks at those things we feel the need to apologize for. Jesus paid for all of that in full on the cross so we might truly live in the freedom of who we are: loved by God.

On the first day of 2015, God gave me two words I prayed would define this year and each day that filled it: “Only God.” When I began this year in Amsterdam, I never imagined I would close the year in Kenya, but God knew. All along, God knew.

His best is worth living for, and according to history, he felt our worst was worth dying for. How can we respond to God in anything but love for him when he has loved us so?

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” -Romans 5:8

Only God.

*If you want to spend time in the fullness of the presence of the Lord right now, I encourage you to close your eyes and listen to this song “A Little Longer” by Bethel Music all the way to the end.*

Twists and Turns

I so desperately want to understand every twist and turn in the plot of my life story.

I know I spend far too much time wondering why things have played out the way they have, and dreaming about the rest of the story that still lies before me. I love a great story. I am fascinated by the motivations that drive someone to take the time to tell their story. I delight in uncovering themes woven into small details throughout someone’s narrative. I believe God is the author of his great story we are all a part of, and I believe he cares enough about each one of us to weave those powerful, but sometimes quiet themes into this one life we are given.

This summer I have had the joy of seeing God make a way for me to follow him into a thrilling next chapter in my story. My God can move mountains. My God can calm raging seas. I am convinced there is absolutely nothing my God cannot do. I am in awe of the majesty, power, and boundless love of my King: my Savior and my God.

Even so, I’ve got questions. I’m convinced there’s a reason for some of the breathtaking twists and turns God has guided me through in this life. I’m convinced this story is not finished yet. My heart swells as I consider the overwhelming grace God has lavished on me. I don’t deserve his goodness, but may I forever receive and extend his goodness with joy. At the same time, my heart aches as I see the tragedy caused by my own choices or someone else’s. Sometimes I wonder, how long must I wait to see how this story goes?

Tonight, I get the feeling God welcomes my questions. I think he enjoys how much I enjoy him telling his story. I think perhaps he throws in some of those special hidden details because he knows I’ll search for them, and when I find them, I will love him even more. I really believe God loves to love me. I really believe God cares about me. I really believe God never gives up on me, never gets tired of me, and never leaves me. I really believe God delights in every detail of my life and he gladly holds my hand. I really believe God gets a kick out of me being filled with wonder at the work of his hands. And I believe he loves you that much and more. I believe he loves you in the way you love to be loved.

Even though for a brief moment tonight I felt there was a part of my story God has neglected, he compelled me to begin writing, and in the midst of these words, he has reminded me that no part of me is forgotten. I am entirely known by him, my Creator and my Sustainer. This story is not finished yet. I need to hold on and trust him in the waiting. I need not fear the future or the past, but press on believing he’s already there, and surely his goodness and unfailing love will follow me all the days of my life.

I thank God I know him as my God. I pray he makes himself known in your heart tonight as your God. I pray he reveals himself to those around the world who have never heard his name before tonight.

Lord, I know my story is not the most important story. I know how the most important story ends. So with a grateful heart I pray you use this generation of believers to spread your fame across the globe. I pray you come back soon. And I thank you for loving me better than anyone else could ever love me as I wait for you to carry me home with you forever. With all my heart, I love you.

Scars

My feelings may deceive me, but God never has and he never will. Sometimes I need to feel the cold ground I’ve stumbled on before I can take hold of the outstretched arm of grace he extends for me. Last night I collided with some of the pain in my heart and the only thing I knew to do was write. This is what came out and I pray it draws you nearer to our always loving Savior like it did for me:

I feel like I have everyone to talk to and no one to talk to. When I have good news and encouraging things to share I feel like my friendships abound. But now that I feel broken, and I can’t seem to put words to this carnival ride inside of me that leaves me feeling upside down and inside out, I don’t know where to go or who to turn to. All I want to do is hide away in the strong arms of my Savior. I’m hurting. I know the way to peace, but it’s like I’ve lost my vision and my voice. I don’t know where to walk. I don’t know what to say. Though I know my Solid Rock will keep me standing, I’ve never felt so unsteady. I fear the whole world looking at me and writing me off as a disappointment without a second thought. After I’ve been sifted like wheat, who is left? Who, then, remains? Only Jesus. Only Jesus. There is none but Jesus.

And as the scars are being driven into my real and true life story, he says, “I love you. You are mine forever. I loved you then. I love you now. My love for you will always be. Look at my scars. Just as my scars show my love for you, so your scars show my love. I want to show you my love, and through you I want to shine my love. But how can a light shine through a jar of clay? No, you must be broken so my light will break through. Look at my scars. Come to me and drink from my life-giving fountain. I know you are thirsty and your soul needs rest. I’ve brought you here so I can be that for you. I want to be everything for you from now through eternity. I love you. You are mine forever.”

Blind to Receive

I was a sight to see as I ran through the city streets, carrying bags full of left over supplies I used to cook dinner for some friends on a cold winter night two weeks ago. My tram to take me home was coming any second. If I didn’t make it to the tram stop in time, I would have to wait nearly an hour to catch another tram home.

The tram stop was just around the corner when I saw him. He was the first blind person I have seen since I moved to Europe four months ago, and I ran right past him. I moved into the bike path to give him plenty of space to walk safely, but I never stopped running.

I didn’t stop.

Minutes later I was nestled inside the warm tram headed home. As the tram continued to slow down and stop for people to get on and off, I wondered why I did not slow down and stop for that man.

Why didn’t I ask him if he wanted to see?

The question consumed my thoughts. With each stop, I was convicted once again.

Why didn’t I ask him if he wanted to see?

Once I was home and tucked into bed, I told God, “I’m sorry I didn’t stop and ask him if he wanted to see. If I see another blind person in this city, I will stop and I will ask.”

Eight days later, I was about to hop on a different tram toward the city center to have my first official session with my mentor. She is extremely punctual, so I knew I could not be late. Once the tram stopped, I walked straight up to the entrance-only door to step on and pay for my trip. The door opened and a man stepped out and nearly ran into me. He was blind. There was my second blind man, but onto the tram I went.

I can’t be late.

I didn’t stop.

I spent the whole tram ride to the city center listening to God. I felt like he was saying, “I am ready to let my Kingdom come and my will be done on earth as it is in heaven, but are you? Are you living in such a way that you are ready to receive whatever you ask for in my name?”

After our session, I walked all around town posting flyers on bulletin boards to raise awareness for a new community group I am creating. I had a lot of ground to cover in only a few hours before I needed to be back on the other side of town dressed and ready for my dance class.

On my journey, I had to cross through the hottest tourist spot in town. Living in a city full of pick-pockets, I already had both of my hands firmly gripping my purse in front of me, knowing I should keep an eye out for people who work together to distract me so they can steal my money. As I walked past a towering 15th century church, there he was. My third blind man. This man was begging.

What if he isn’t really blind? What if it is just a trap for me to get pick-pocketed?

I didn’t stop.

I kept walking and turned back to see an old woman giving money to the blind man begging behind me. As I crossed the street toward the next bulletin board I needed to post a flyer to, I prayed, “God, I’m sorry. I didn’t feel safe. Please, if you place another blind person before me, I will stop and ask if they want to see this time. I will pray for them, and I believe you will open their eyes to see so the world will know you are Lord. Lord, help me to believe. Help me to stop and ask. I want to see your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Help me to live in such a way that I am ready to receive whatever I ask for in your name.”

That was just three days ago. I haven’t seen another blind person yet, but I pray when I do, I will have the courage to be obedient to the Lord’s prompting of my soul, and the compassion to stop and ask if they want to see. I believe God will equip me with every bit of faith and humility I need to pray for that person in the name of Jesus Christ to receive their sight. And I trust that if that day shall come, God will receive glory, even if only in my own heart. But what if he decides to give that blind person sight so the world will know he is Lord?

I will never know if I don’t stop.

I pray I stop.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” –John 15:16

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” –Matthew 6:9-13