signs of spring.

We always know that winter will come and though we do not know when it will end, we are promised that it will, and we will know that it has when we see the first fruits, the blossoms, the new life. You cannot make those blossoms grow; you cannot send away the winter or usher in the spring, and in some places, for some people, spring comes sooner than others; new life spouts up out of the dead of the winter. These blossoms are in Orlando, Florida and in Orlando the spring comes much sooner that it does in many other parts of the country. Those blossoms are a sure sign that winter is gone and spring is coming.
Everybody experiences winter in their life and for some it seems the bitter cold will never end, and just when they think the season will not end...a blossom comes forth...hope is renewed...and a deep seeded gratitude for spring, that could only be known on the backside of a hard winter, pours forth. This is one of the beautiful mysteries of God.

"Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one. For now the winter is past; the rain has ended and gone away. The blossoms appear in the countryside. The time of singing has come, and the turtledove's cooing is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs; the blossoming vines give off their fragrance. Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one." Song of Songs 2:11-13


my dog ate my...toilet paper.

Today I was sitting on Lauren and Trey's sun porch doing a little reading. Now this sun porch has doors that open up into their den where their couch is perfectly visible from where I was sitting and only about 8 feet away. I looked up suddenly because Cali jumped off the couch and was army crawling (a weird thing she does) on the floor. I noticed she had something in her mouth so I jumped up to see what it was...It was this half eaten roll of toilet paper.
When I got to her I scolded her and took it from her only to look up at the couch and find the 2 basset hounds wallowing in this mess...
...the other half of the toilet paper roll. I had 2 immediate thoughts: 1. How did all of this happen with me less than 10 feet away and 2. They ruined a perfectly good roll of toilet paper! If were honest I would say that there was a third and more quickly fleeting thought..."Why do we love dogs?"


even the demons know.

There are times where I am reading through Scripture and I see something that just strikes me as unbelievable. All Scripture is amazing of course, but some passages you read really floor you. These passages below are in Luke 4 and I just can't get over them...

33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice,34 Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God.35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent and come out of him! And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.
Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.41 And demons also came out of many, crying, You are the Son of God! But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

In both of these passages Jesus runs across demonic spirits housing themselves within human beings. The demons in both passages recognize Jesus for who He is and what He has the power to do! That is ridiculous!!!! They know He is the Messiah, "the Christ," and they know He has the power to destroy them...."have you come to destroy us." UNBELIEVABLE! The Jewish Rabbis, Pharisees and Scribes, those trained in and knowledgeable about all of the Scriptures, those who know a Messiah is supposed to be coming, do not recognize Jesus as being the Christ, the One with the power and authority of God, and yet the demons do!!!! They know it, proclaim it out loud and tremble in fear because they know what Jesus can do to them.


i bought a car...sort of on a whim.

I bought a car...kind of on a whim...?! What I mean is; I have been wanting to buy a car, I just didn't mean to buy a car yesterday! I have had my Jeep Cherokee since 2004. I loved that car very much, but it has pained me for some time to put gas in it at its energy efficient 18 miles/gallon. It was at that point of no return, that if I did not try to still get some money out of it I would have to drive it until it died, which might have been sooner than I would have liked. So, I have been looking and researching for some time for a car with with good gas mileage that I liked. My problem with getting a car has been my love of having an SUV (and my lifelong, secret, desire for a Jeep Wrangler, which gets equally as awful gas mileage as the Cherokee, but makes me drool).
So, I set out my criteria for the what I wanted in a used car (Civic, Corolla, Jetta with low mileage and low cost), I pitched this info to two people in the car world that I know, to get them to look for me and I looked a ton online to no avail. What I wanted didn't exist in the used car world because those cars hold their value well and people drive them until they have a large amount of miles on them. A few days ago my mom started asking me how I felt about looking at a new car and she thought I should go look, so I did. I went to a Honda dealership yesterday afternoon (unshowered and in a time crunch mind you...with NO intention of buying a car obviously because I just wanted to do research) and I came home with a car. I went in not really knowing what I wanted and I came out with a car, a great car actually. They had one brand new 2009 Honda Civic on the lot that they were trying to get rid of. It had more than I wanted on it, but it was not priced too much over the basic model 2010 I was looking at and it was several thousand dollars off the sticker price. This is the only reason I came home with a car.
Although, I do not regret the decision today I was VERY stressed yesterday because as I said I didn't have enough time for this. I didn't pull off the lot until 5:15 p.m. and I had 30 minutes to drive 20 minutes, shower and drive back to the church to meet a group of girls I had organized together to go to a women's worship night downtown. I had owned the car for 30 minutes and I knew how to work nothing on it! We drove halfway downtown with the lights off and one of the girls reading through the manual and pressing all the buttons trying to figure it all out!
I will miss my jeep, but I will not miss gassing it up. I am pleased with my "on a whim" purchase and I better be because it will probably be mine for the next 15 years!


Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season that moves us into Easter. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of priests placing ashes in the form of a cross on the believers forehead to symbolize repentance. In the Bible, ashes are typically used to express deep mourning and sorrow and in this season reflect the sorrow of the believer over sin.
The Lenten season is a time of preparation through prayer, penitence, and self-denial leading up to the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Typically, when people think of Lent they think of giving up something. Some give up "guilty pleasures" such as television or sweets. It is easy to see this season as one of deprivation, but the giving up is not the end goal. The end goal a deeper fellowship with Jesus and a bringing of life and light into the lives of others. We do not "give up" simply to deprive ourselves; we give up in order to step into something greater. We give up in order to give. In Isaiah 58, God confronts us on our idea of fasting. He says in verse 5,
"Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the LORD?"

He questions our practice of fasting as a turning in on one's self. Fasting was never meant to terminate on itself. He tells us the point of fasting in verses 6-7 when he says,
"Isn't the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and to not ignore your own flesh."
We are to fast so that we are more free to join God in what He is doing through His Kingdom on earth.

This season marks a time of remembrance. The idea of remembrance is sown heavily into the fabric of this season. All throughout Scripture the Lord is prodding us to remember, remember, remember. In order to help the body remember and press into this time Grace has created a 20 minute online Ash Wednesday experience. You can join the body in remembering here.


my dog the salivator

Most dogs have some type of quirk that endears them to their master or a habit that drives their master up the wall. Some dogs are high energy, some are laid back, some are nervous and anxious. Mine is of the nervous/anxious variety (lucky me). She is a little wound tight and has separation anxiety issues. Some dogs of the nervous/anxious variety display this by crying or tearing up shoes, but not my dog. My dog salivates...yep, salivates. Her chest heaves up and down and she foams at the mouth and salivates everywhere. She only does this in two situations: 1. at the back door when she wants in (she licks the door and opens her mouth sticking her teeth up against the pane and slobbers)
2. in her crate.

The first time I discovered she did this I came home to let her out of her crate and her blanket was SOAKED...the whole thing was soaken wet and her paws and chest were soaked. When I let her out she ran to the water dish and drank every last drop.

The other day my sister noticed that Cali's crate was rusted on the bottom (from all the slobber, yuck) and it was leaving a rust line on the carpet, so we put a towel under it to prevent that. When I got home from work the next day and went to let Cali out she had managed to pull half of the blanket out from under the crate, into the crate with her and she had shredded it! I flipped it around and put it back under the crate, but on the third day when I got home she had pulled the entire thing into the crate and completely shredded it! This is what it looks like now...
Cesar Milan makes it look so easy..."Just take her for lots of walks and she will stop." His show makes it seem like he can look at a dog and it will begin to behave. Well obviously I am not the dog whisperer. I wonder what he would say about my above shredded towel...Correction, Lauren's shredded towel...Sorry Lauren!


a plug for The Autumn Film.

When I was in Houston I came across this band called The Autumn Film. They would lead worship for Ecclesia sometimes when the Robbie Seay Band was out of town. They are led by an amazing woman named Tifah. She is a fantastic worship leader and song writer with a very unique voice. I have loved every thing I have heard by them and a lot of their stuff you can download for free here, which I would highly recommend doing. They have a bunch of their own music and then a hymns album which is amazing! There is just something about their style and their lyrics that resonates deeply within my soul. The music is honest and powerful when I need both honesty and power. Below are the lyrics to their song "Enough." It is quite amazing.

"And I know you're here
Cause I need you here
Sometimes it's hard to say
That you're more than enough
And I've made mistakes
Took things I should not take
Said things I should not say
While you gave more than
Enough for me

My heart's been ripped wide open

By all the things I do not need

And your heart's been
Ripped wide open
As I keep chasing other things

My love don't run I want you
Wait here I'll come for you
My love don't hide I'll find you
Wait here I'll come for you

Sometimes it's hard to say
That you're more than enough"


it is funny.....now.

Right now I am living at my sister's house until I can find a place to live. Two days in a row last week I ate a cut up apple with peanut butter on it. This past summer I became obsessed with "straight from the peanut, peanut butter" (grind your own peanut butter from Whole Foods). It has no sugar and I suppose that makes me feel like I am doing my body a favor, plus I enjoy the way it tastes. Anyway, we didn't have that type of peanut butter here so I found a jar in one of Lauren's cabinets and used that for my apple. Now there was also a jar in the pantry, but I assumed that it was unopened, so I stuck with the jar in the cabinet. There wasn't much left in this jar, so the second day I ate this snack I finished it all up and put the jar on the counter to be recycled.
Later that evening I was sitting on the couch and Lauren was in the kitchen when she suddenly picked up the empty jar and asked me, "Did you use this peanut butter from the cabinet?" I said yes, not thinking anything of it and she immediately burst out into laughing hysterics. Here is the conversation that followed:

Me- What is so funny?
Lauren- That was Maddie and Bailey's peanut butter (her 2 basset hounds)
Me- What do you mean it was Maddie and Bailey's peanut butter?
Lauren- I use it to give them their medicine. I dip the spoon back in the jar after they have licked it!!!!!!!!!!! (Insert laughter here)
Me- Please tell me that you are joking!
Lauren- No.....(Insert loud laughter here) You should have known not to use it since it wasn't in the pantry with the rest of the food.
Me- How was I suppose to know that Maddie and Bailey get their very own jar of peanut butter? I just assumed somebody put it in a strange place.
Lauren- More and more laughter

We told my mom this story and she sided with me.....that she never would have thought it was "do not eat because it contains dog saliva peanut butter." She also said she would have just thought someone put it in a strange place. From now on I will ask before I eat something not in the pantry! YUCK!


snow memories.

The only time it really snowed where I grew up was when I was about 6 years old. When I say "really snowed" what I mean is actually snowed enough to stick to the ground and play in. Snow in Bishopville, S.C. was somewhat of an anomaly. For a little kid, snow is one of the most exciting things in the world. This day that it snowed so big was a very sad day for me however, because I had the flu. Yep, I had the flu and I had to watch my sister and brother build a snowman with our dad from our glass window porch. This is snow memory number 1.

Snow memory number 2 was when I was in middle school. This time was not as big as the first, but it was big enough to have some fun in. My best friend at the time lived behind me and she had a small field beside her house. Her dad had attached a trash can lid to the back of their four wheeler and was pulling us around through the field. It was a blast. The lady from the local newspaper stopped by and wanted to take some pictures of us. I hopped on the sled and as my friends dad sped up and took a sharp turn he cut it a little too close to the fence and slung me under the metal chain linked fence. I had very large cuts all up both legs and that is where the sledding ended for that day.

Yesterday, was snow memory number 3. This is the most snow that I have ever experienced in real life. It snowed 6 inches in Atlanta. Up until this point in my life I had only made sadly small snowmen, no taller than around a foot. This day however, I made life size snowmen and it was amazing! Nobody was home, so I did it by myself and I think I actually have a knack for it. I would never want to live in a place like Minnesota where they see snow all the time, but I would not mind having a few days like this one a year. It is really beautiful.


mere men.

This billboard is along I-35 in Wyoming, Minnesota. Nobody knows how paid for it or who put it there. I am not big into politics and I don't have a staunch opinion on Bush and his performance in office of Obama and is current performance, but I actually thing this billboard is pretty funny. I know there is a large, heated debate over it brewing on Capital Hill, but what else is knew? It is funny not because Obama is stinking it up or because Bush was "better," it is funny because it is so like us. It is how we are to wish we had what we don't have and to glamorize the past (when a year ago people were ready to string Bush up by his shoes) and then to glamorize the future (when just a year ago Obama was the savior of all the world).

Bush and Obama have more things in common than they have different....they are mere men, they are not saviors and they do not have powers to change things with the snap of a finger. Every problem in this world right now can be traced back to the Fall in Eden. These issues have thousands of years of weight behind them and mankind has thousands of years of experience in screwing things up and living selfishly. There is only One who can fix all of these problems, and yet we see in the Scriptures man bucking up wildly against the way that Jesus walked the earth. If we all sought to live as He lived, to walk in the ways of the Kingdom, these problems would all dissipate, but we also know that that will not completely happen until He returns.


Francis Chan on Taking Risks.

Below is a video of Francis Chan speaking about risk at the Challenge Conference. I will admit I discovered this video on Donald Miller's website. It really is a great illustration and it spoke to me because I feel like this time in my life has been marked by feeling like God wanted me to take a risk and me holding on tightly to the balance beam. Risk is not always fun, but like Donald Miller says in his latest book, a story cannot be a good story without risk. A story, at its basic level, is about a character wanting something and overcoming an obstacle (taking a risk) to get it.


Jesus heals with a wet willy

I made it one of my goals for this year to read the Bible through in it's entirety. One of my chapters for today was Mark 7. The thing I love about Mark is how it is that it is basically a short and to the point summary of Jesus and His ministry. He doesn't elaborate much, he just gets to the point. But here in Mark 7 he is recounting an episode where Jesus is asked to heal a deaf and mute man. I almost want to believe that the details of that healing are in here to make us laugh. Don't you love when you read the Scriptures and they say something that is hilarious and you find yourself not believing that it is actually in there? So here is the verse...

33 And He (Jesus) took him (the deaf, mute man) aside from the multitude privately, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat..."

I read this and I thought..."Jesus, just gave that man a wet willy...that is AWESOME!"
Jesus can heal anyway that He so chooses, it is one way we know He is God in the flesh. I think if I had power to heal I would also choose to use a wet willy to do so.


state lines and life lines

December and January are a blur. The last 2 months could be narrowed down to "traveling" and "transition." I have crossed oceans, country lines, state lines and life-stage lines. I spent December in Texas, Germany, Africa, South Carolina and Georgia. In the last 2 weeks I have been in every time zone in the United States in a car and crossed 10 state lines. I drove with my best friend and roommate to move her up to Oregon. We "tried" to see the Grand Canyon. (It was 0 visibility...REALLY you couldn't see ANYTHING, which was one of the saddest days of my life because it has been a life-long dream of mine that remains unfulfilled) We saw the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas (I will admit a played a slot machine but rather unsuccessfully), the California Coast on Hwy 1 (BEAUTIFUL), tons of sea lions, San Fransisco, more California Coast, Redwood National Forrest, Multnomah Falls, etc. This was an amazing road trip, a once in a lifetime opportunity with one of my favorite people in the world. The journey ended with her staying in Portland with a carload of her belongings to begin a new journey, a new stage in her life, leaving me to begin a new stage in mine. This moment was a shift in something that has been one of the most consistent parts of my life over the last 4 and half years-a crossing of a life line. It was a beautiful journey and yet a heartbreaking one, filled with joy and yet filled with sorrow. It was a lesson in enjoying the moment-by-moment journey and not focusing on the destination.

Trusting that God knows what He is doing when He has spoken and asked you to move, to leave behind what is comfortable and familiar, to embark on a new adventure with Him, is one of life's most difficult challenges. I pictured myself over and over again like a little kid being dragged by the arms, all the while I am leaning back and digging my heals into the ground hoping to delay the shift if not indefinately, then only for a moment.

I had been in Houston since the summer ended asking God to open a door for me to do ministry there at Houston's First Baptist. I love the city of Houston, the church, the people I had worked with and met adn I had loved my life there. I didn't want to leave, so I waited. I waited and waited and God moved me, but not in the direction I had thought and if I were honest, not in the direction that I wanted. So after months of agony, crying out to God, battling myself in my own head, I submitted to what I believed God was telling me-a move that on the surface, didn't make any sense. I am in Atlanta, GA. I am working in a new city, in a new time zone, for a new church, in a ministry I have no experience in and I have asked myself many times in the last 2 weeks, "What am I doing here?" And then I am reminded of all the times in Scripture where God asked people to do things that made perfect sense both to them and the world around them.......WAIT....THAT ISN"T IN THE BIBLE. There is not one single story in Scripture where God asked someone to do something that made sense (logical, worldly, rational sense).

So here I am in Atlanta, GA-In my first full-time job, with no idea what I am doing and what God is up to, begging Him to show up, which is probably exactly where He wants me to be.