Monday, March 25, 2013


I'm going to try to post more.


Here's the start... by me posting TWICE within a week!

I saw this today on Tony Evans' Facebook page and liked it. What makes me smile? When I have joy, but sometimes joy can't be brought on by just happiness. It has to come from deep within... kind of a confident assurance from Jesus that You are loved, cared for, and accepted, despite external circumstances. To me, often joy goes hand-in-hand with peace.

A smile can do a lot... and when you can't muster one because you "feel" like it, reach deep inside yourself and find your Faith... and I guarantee, it will bring a smile.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Garden

By now, you would think I could have the more elementary things figured out in life, such as...

Being selfish doesn't make you happy.

No matter how much you gain or lose in life, true joy and contentment comes only from having Christ.

People will always disappoint you, because they are imperfect. God will not disappoint you, so why not trust Him?

Daily communion with Him (prayer, reading the Word, worship), the closer you feel to God. It is a relationship that is always worth investing in.

Love and grace are a gift given to you by God. Ask for them and use as needed!

So, all of these things and more, God has been teaching me lately. Attaining completeness in any of these concepts will be a lifelong journey, really. I will only truly be complete when I reach Heaven.

I feel God drawing me close to Him right now. Or maybe it's just that in me "drawing near to Him, He is drawing near to me." Whatever the case, I am loving the feeling of peace I have regardless of my external circumstances. I have had a lot of opportunities to trust Him lately. I am thankful for a God who loves me and cares for me so deeply.

As the Easter season is upon us, I have been thinking a lot about His sacrifice lately. I can have a tendency to become apathetic towards repetitive holidays, no matter how spiritually meaningful they may be, much to my shame. This year, however, God has awoken me to a passionate longing to meditate on the importance of His sacrifice and plug in to His Word in general right now.

Last week, I studied and shared with the ladies at prison the story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I'm not sure why, but recently that story struck a chord in my heart. I believe it's the idea of Jesus praying to God in the garden with tears of agony, knowing full well what His mission would be but in his humanness, wondering if there would be a way around it. He knew what He had to do to save mankind... But, was there any other way?

There wasn't. And while Jesus asked, He also said... "Not my will, but thine."

How often do we have this attitude? As humans, we want to avoid the path of hurt and pain. Sometimes, we feel it impossible to believe a loving God would allow it. Are we as quick to say,"Not my will, Lord... But yours?"

Jesus knew it was the only way, yet as a human he could have also chosen not to go through with it. He could have thrown in the towel.

Why not? Up until this point, it's not like we had a very good track record with him. His own disciples-- those closest to Jesus while He lived His life here on Earth-- betrayed Him, denied Him, and scattered.

I think they wanted to believe Jesus. But in the final moments, they were scared. Scared for themselves. Scared of what would happen. Selfish.

And yet, Jesus decided to save us. He did it because He loved us. And He loved us despite how short we fell.

I go back to the story of Jesus in the garden because to me, it illustrates a struggle. It shows me that while Jesus was perfect, He was also human. And being human, he experienced our pain, our shame, and our problems. He knows what we go through when we cry, when we're angry, when we are sad or upset or disappointed. When we feel lonely or forgotten or betrayed... He knows. He knows what it is like to have to make a hard decision, even if you know in your heart it is the right one. He knows what it feels like to be beaten, tormented, despised, and rejected.

He also knows what it feels like to smile, and to laugh. To feel human touch, and to give a hug. To walk next to a friend on the sand, and to reach out a helping hand. He knows what it feels like to have little children sit on his knee, and he knows how to teach an audience. He walked and talked with several personalities while he was here, and he loved them all.

Anyone who may know me, knows that I am all about being "personal." I don't typically enjoy small talk and avoid it if at all possible. With that, I have loved revisiting how very personal our God and our Saviour is... So personal, in fact, that he "dwelt among us in the flesh."


Tonight I had the privilege of going through a "journey to the cross" tour that my church put on. It was phenomenal, and told the story of Jesus' path to the cross while tying in personal meditation and reflection. As you were led through dark hallways lined with little lights and into dark rooms with a narrator and soft music, you were guided through the story of Jesus. You smelled the ointment Mary used to wash Jesus' feet. You held coins in your hand and listened to the clank of then as they hit the table to symbolize Judas' betrayal. You saw His crown of thorns and meditated at the foot of His cross. You saw the rock close up the tomb, and the hope and light of a risen Saviour.

This Easter, I am thankful to Jesus for deciding to love me and save me. I am thankful for Heaven. Some days, when Earth seems hard, I wish I was there now. But selfishly. Because while I am still here, it must mean God has work for me to do.

Lately, my prayer has been one of open hands... In most all areas of my life.

I have been asking the question:

God... What will you have me to do?

Love you all.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meeting Cori

I have always loved letters in the mail.

Several years back, God put it on my heart to get involved with the prison ministry. I didn't know how or why, but I knew it's where I needed to be.

I became involved through my church by visiting inmates in a nearby county jail. I am scheduled to go talk with these women about once a month on a Sunday morning. I love it.

Not long after I started doing this, my church also offered a program that involved writing to the incarcerated. Because of my loves for letters and my heart for those in bonds, I knew it was the perfect fit for me!

I was assigned a girl named Cori. I could tell from her very first letter that it was going to be good. She wrote honestly and thoroughly, and I immediately felt a connection. We continued to write letters back and forth during the entire course of her stay in prison, which ended up being for the next three years.

It was amazing to see her growth, and watch her transform throughout this experience. I was amazed at her attitude and her candidness, and how willing she was to learn and grow.

She is only three years older than me, so it felt easy and natural establishing a relationship with her. We talked about a lot of experiences, thoughts, emotions, fears, and struggles. It was always so refreshing to hear from her. We wrote about me coming to visit her while she was in prison, but it never worked out.

Last Spring, she was released from prison. She is under a 2-year house arrest, so when we talked about meeting again, that meant that I would go to her.

This past Saturday, I made the 3-hour trek to Grayslake, where her parents live. It was a drive, but it was so worth it. People kept questioning me about safety, and why I was choosing to drive such a far distance in a short amount of time, etc.

I knew it was right, and that's the confidence I stood by. I knew in my heart, based on our letters and our relationship, that I could trust her. And I wasn't surprised at all when I pulled up to her parents' house, and it was in a very nice neighborhood.

I used the drive to pray off and on all the way there. I really wasn't nervous to meet her-- just excited. When I arrived, Cori met me at the door, as well as a big, burly dog :) She invited me to the basement to chat for awhile. Unfortunately, I was on a time crunch, but we talked away 2 hours without it feeling like any time at all had passed!

Overall, I was amazed and overjoyed by how grounded she was. Her outlook on life, her insight about situations, her advice, and her attitude were all amazing. I was glad to hear about many support groups and people in her life to help her get through this time. And most of all, I love her honesty and forthrightness about where she is at. She told me about her desire to grow.

"My biggest fear is to wake up a year from now the same person I am today," she said, "I want to be able to look back and see growth in my life."

This hit home hard with me, as I have recently traveled through an apathetic stage in my life... it's easy to fall into a rhythm that is selfish and simple, when we are called to live radial lives of challenge, growth, and love!

If I lived closer to her, I know I would visit her more often, but we said we would definitely keep in touch via phone and letters.

That night, when I got home, I received a text message from her saying,

"It was really cool to be able to spend time with you in person today. Thanks for making the trip out, I know it wasn't a short one. It was by no mistake God placed us in each others lives. I'm grateful you're on this journey with me."

I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Love you all,