Recent thoughts..

My holidays were so wonderful and relaxing! I got to go back to Kansas City and spend some time with my parents, sister and brother in law and grandparents! I got to see some sweet high school friends and really rest. I came back and worked a few days and then joined some sweet friends in Jackson for a wedding! After all of those travels and friend and family time, I was ready to get back to the real work world.

We had a snow day today in Alabama. No one went to work. Or school. I have greatly enjoyed the unexpected day of rest.

Tomorrow my mom comes! I’m really ready for her to be in my world and for us to have fun here! The Lord knew that I would need some mom time right about now. We’ll also get to see Stephanie and Megan (roommates) this weekend! I wish Emily (the other roommate!) could join us, too, but she’ll be wishing Alicia a happy wedding weekend.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about having balance in my life and truly finding my identity in Christ and my greatest satisfaction in Him. I’ve found that it has been very easy since moving here to wrap my identity in my job and ministry. While there is a luxury in my singleness and the freedom it brings with students and time, I’m still a 22 (almost 23!) year old girl with a life outside of that. I’m continuing to think about the lines that need to be drawn between these 2 parts of me, or if there’s supposed to be lines, or where they’re suppose to go, etc. I’m trying to be thoughtful and intentional with my time… but to avoid “burnout” (is that even a real thing?!) and make sure I’m refreshing myself, too. All of that to say, I feel like I am a completely different person today than I was 7 1/2 months ago when I graduated from Union, but I am far from having it figured out.

2 Corinthians 4:5 – “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

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I’m alive! I’m alive! I’m alive!

I’m so sorry that I have dropped off the blog world. It’s not really because I’ve been too busy, but rather because I’ve grown weary of writing. But alas – here I am. And it doesn’t seem as though you’ve missed me.

So, I’m pretty notorious for my supreme hatred for Christmas decorations. Maybe because my precious mother decorated every INCH of our house or just because I would rather not fool with it. Apparently I made my hate so well known that my students came and attacked my dorm with garland, wreaths, a big bow, wrapping paper and mistletoe. And in their honor, I’ve left it up.

Last night was Christmas by Candlelight at our church… and it was such a wonderful time of worship. The music staff, choir, orchestra, tech guys and others work for weeks to make it as awesome as it was! Anyway… I don’t usually lose myself in events like that, but it was so beautiful! Maybe for the first time since I fell in love with the Gospel did I see the beauty of it in the Christmas story. Of course, Christ’s birth is so integral to the story, but He was Lord as His birth. He didn’t grow into His saving divinity, He was born that man. Again, while I knew all of this in my head, it made a huge jump to my heart last night.

You know how somedays it’s really easy to love Jesus? I’ve been in a pattern like that recently. I’m thankful for these sweet times with the Lord because it isn’t always that way. Sometimes it’s WAY more of a battle than others. But the Gospel is a beautiful thing. It demands action and life change. Christ thought that we were worth it. What is Jesus worth to you? Is Jesus worth it? May the story of this holiday season spur you on to love the Gospel more than ever before. I

Revelation 3:11 – “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”

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What I pray for my girls…

The ultimate intent of this blog was to  keep people updated on what they could pray for about my girls and my ministry here…

Here are the 2 things I pray for my girls…

1. They will understand that nothing they do can make God love them more or less.

2. They will learn now that Christ MUST be the most important thing in their lives.

Probably in the last 5 years, these two truths have been the most transformational in my life. I remember learning for the first time that God doesn’t have a secret checklist in heaven where He tracks our Bible reading and giving. Of course, He always knows, but it doesn’t affect His love for us. He sees my sin from day to day, but loves me just the same. I look back and see the glaring, dark periods of struggle as “separation” from God, while His love for me has never once waivered. There is such beauty in our Creator’s love for us. It is unconditional and unchanging. There is such freedom in following Christ!  

While I was at Union, I understood for the first time the centrality of the Gospel to my life. I learned to preach the Gospel to myself, and the importance of the spoken Gospel to believers. Because of this perspective shift, Christ had to be the most important thing. No longer could I cheapen the Gospel or His grace by living to please myself or others. I had to desire Him more than anything else.

I long to impart the final product of the journies I took on my girls without them having to hurt. But you and I both know that some of the greatest pains in our lives are the times we have learned to love Christ the most.

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In Your Arms

Jesus is my hope.

I know He stills the wind.

So take my very life away,

as long as I get Him.

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Fall fall fall.

Sorry that it’s been a little while! Things have been so busy.

This past weekend I went back to Jackson, TN for the first time since early summer. It was SO wonderful to see so many friends and to revisit a place that taught me so much! It was really hard to leave. Everyone had told me that there would be some kind of emotional letdown after college, but I hadn’t gotten there yet. Things at Shades had been so busy and had just taken off since I started in June that I guess I hadn’t really thought about it. But a good, soothing, tearful drive does wonders for the heart. Mrs. Vicki told me that maybe it’s because Jackson feels like home and Birmingham feels like the real world, and I think she’s right. I absolutely LOVE Birmingham and am so sure that this is where I’m supposed to be, but I spent a lot of time investing in a lot of people in Jackson. So, needless to say, I’m ready for all my friends to graduate so that I’m not quite so attached. BAH!

This weekend my parents and grandparents are coming to town! I’m so excited to see them and show my grandparents my Birmingham world! My dad and I are going to the biggest high school football game of the year. Hoover v. Vestavia. It’ll be an exciting evening for sure.

I can’t believe it’s October. I can’t believe that it was 90 degrees today. Thank you, Birmingham.

But I can believe that the Colts beat the Chiefs. Love you, Peyton.

And I’m loving an Alabama football fall, but I’m SO READY for Kansas basketball.

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Most important people – Part 2.

5 years ago today the Lord took home a precious brother. BJ Higgins was a fellow God-follower, a brother, son and faithful friend. We traveled to Peru together in 2005. The Lord was gracious that summer to assemble an INCREDIBLE team of personalities and people that would become life long friends. I spent the first few weeks of the trip teasing him and poking fun. About half way through the summer, we had a heart to heart about my teasing hurting him, and he made a pledge to push me to Christ and encourage me as best he could. The last few weeks were so fun. We saw the Lord do incredible things that summer. Many, many people came to know the Lord and we were privileged to watch and eager and faithful to share. BJ was a beast. He was not scared or timid… but bold and brave.

Soon after we returned home that summer, BJ became sick. At first, it looked like pneumonia and he was treated for that. He entered the hospital and our team was alerted to pray. At that point, all of us had full faith that the Lord would heal him and we’d all rejoice together at a reunion in November. But a long six weeks later, after many ups and downs, BJ’s body was released from this earthly struggle, only a few days before his 16th birthday. For those 6 weeks, his parents and sisters sat by his side and prayed for healing. Friends and family across the world prayed for the Lord to intervene and show His face. He did show His face… just differently than we had thought. God was faithful through the entire process. He was close to BJ family and was faithful to accomplish His purposes in life and death.

I never once believed that the Lord wouldn’t heal BJ, that I wouldn’t see him again. But the Lord had other plans. I was so confused and deeply hurt for a long time. I could not understand why the Lord would choose to take BJ. BJ loved God more than I did – he deserved to live. But in November, at the reunion we planned to share as a team with BJ present, his parents came and shared about their journey. His mom sang, “I’ll Praise You in the Storm” and we wept. What a testimony that she could say that. For the first time that weekend I realized that it was the Lord’s will to take BJ home. The Lord would receive more glory in his death than his life. While that thought helps me rationalize, it has never eased the pain. It has brought me more peace and a deeper understanding of God’s working, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still hurt.

The Higgins have become very dear people to me. Soon after his homegoing, BJ’s family moved to Tulsa, OK to begin a partnership with Awe Star Ministries, the very organization that we traveled with that summer. They have since written a book about his life and ministry. BJ Higgins was an exceptional young man. He loved the Lord more than anything else  – even his own life. We realized after that summer that BJ did not need to be the exception for how to serve the Lord. His devotion and desire for the Lord were not abnormal, but exactly what Scripture requires. God MUST be the greatest desire of my heart. He MUST be more important than anything else. Living for anything, or settling for anything less mocks the cross and marks my grace covered life as wasted.

I’m remembering my friend today. He taught me so much that summer about how to love Christ better, but he has taught me even more in the last 5 years.

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Most important people – Part 1.

One of my dear friends is leaving this week. We have never lived in the same place or traveled to the same country. We have never spent an extended period of time together. But long ago, the Lord knit our hearts together. He taught us to love Him more through the other and we have pushed faithfully through since then.

She leaves on Friday for a part of the world that I am deeply burdened. Our shared passion for this part of the world brings us to tears. She pushes me, challenges me, encourages me, makes me laugh – and causes me to hope for our reuniting.

The Lord has graciously involved her in His plan for redemption in this part of the world. He has graciously involved me in His plan for redemption in this part of the world. He has graciously involved you in His plan for redemption in your part of the world. Not because He needs you, but because He loves you. That in itself is a beautiful picture of the Gospel… not to mention that His plan is for us to speak the Gospel in our part of the world.

Praise the Lord that He has a plan for redemption. Praise the Lord for the Gospel. And praise the Lord for my friend and her faithfulness and obedience to follow His call.

I love you, K. Miss you already. I can’t wait for the spit.

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Things to learn…

September 1 marked 3 months here. I made it! But it has totally flown by.. here are a few things I’ve learned…

1. Life in the fall here revolves entirely around football. What else could there be to do on a Friday night?

2. Being a big kid really just means paying for things yourself and having to solve problems on your own. BOOOO.

3. High school kids have no clear thought process for how old someone is. I’ve been called 26.

4. A sweet student let me know that I was here to “find my mate.”

5. I had wonderful parents that prepared me perfectly for being on my own.

6. I MISS UNION! It was a great place for me, and I’m more thankful for it now.

7. The Gospel is the bottom line. Nothing else matters. Learning how to be faithful to that in whatever context I find myself is the most important thing.

8. Birmingham is a bubble. and such a unique bubble. Southern people are different.

9. Getting up every morning for a full-time job is HARD.

10. My body still thinks I’m on a collegiate sleeping schedule.

11. Discipline never gets easier.

And i’m ending on an awkward number.

The End.

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Learning to be faithful..

Well. Sorry it’s been a little bit. The summer has wrapped up quite nicely! This weekend was filled with a visit from my mom and sister. We had a ball! It was a little strange that they both came to visit me here… and they left me here.. and I’m not going back to school. So strange.

The following I stole from the Mahaney women’s blog. I love reading their blog and this was specifically meaningful to me this week.

::There are few times I feel less spiritual than when I face physical and hormonal challenges such as PMS and (now) menopause. I feel tired and irritable, my sin sometimes spilling over onto those around me.

My strategy has often been to try and wait it out. Once this is over, I tell myself, then I’ll get back to making progress in the Christian life. I forget that I am smack in the middle of God’s plan for my life! God has ordained these hormonal days along with all the others! Menopause isn’t simply a trial to get through. It’s an opportunity for testing faith and spiritual growth.

Elizabeth Prentiss beautifully expresses this point:

“God never place us in any position in which we can not grow. We may fancy that He does. We may fear we are so impeded by fretting, petty cares that we are gaining nothing; but when we are not sending any branches upward, we may be sending roots downward. Perhaps in the time of our humiliation, when everything seems a failure, we are making the best kind of progress.”

The best kind of progress. Far from precipitating a spiritual decline, we often growmore in these difficult seasons than when life is easy, and we feel like we’re flourishing (remember, those feelings can’t be trusted!)

That’s why the apostle Paul sees weakness as an opportunity for boasting in the Lord:

“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

For the sake of Christ, we are to boast in our weaknesses, we are to be content in menopause or PMS or postpartum depression. For when we are weak, it is then that His power rests on us. What an opportunity!::

My biggest struggle so far has been learning to be faithful to the Gospel in this new context. There is no lag time, no waiting period. The Lord is always working and always working to accomplish His plan, which means my idle by standing is in essence disobedience. May we all learn more of what it means to be faithful to the truth and to our Savior.

PS. I want to be a character on Criminal Minds. If you hear of any openings, let me know.

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Back to School

I can’t believe all my students are going back to school! Most start this week, and the rest early next week. Also weird – I am not going back to Union! So many things have changed.. But, I have really felt the Lord’s presence strongly in the last few weeks. He has been present in my personal life, in my conversations with girls, in our church, and so many other ways. The Lord has been so faithful to carry me through this transition. It’s been hard, fun, crazy, lonely, fulfilling, wonderful, scary and so many other things all at once. Woooooo.

This weekend we promote – our weekend event is called 1Up! It’s a great time for the students to spend time together as Sunday school classes as they prepare for the next school year and a new year in Sunday school.

My mom is coming really soon! YAY!

Things to pray for:

::Promotion weekend – smooth transitions, good bonding, meaningful fellowship.

::Core Groups – this is our small group discipleship. We kick it off the weekend after Labor Day. We are currently in the process of matching students and leaders, and groups, and puzzles, and madness, and AHHH!

::I am praying for good, close, godly friends. Friends that are my age and my stage of life… pray with me??

I love my girls, my church, and i love you! I would love you more if you commented, though.

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