Thursday, December 25, 2014


the space, nearly full, quickly emptying
lights dim
air mildly smoky with freshly extinguished candle sticks laid on seats and floor
a few bunches of excitable friends huddled in groups talking, laughing, planning
and christmas tomorrow
but she sat with us, sensitive
when he walked by, this shepherd who leads with humility, compassion, gentleness
on his way out, to home, to prepare for the morning's celebration with his own family
he stopped, caught her eye,
fully aware of her situation and the choices that she had made to bring her to the very bottom of herself
to where she sits, empty, quiet, insecure, fearful
his full attention on her, subtle, one hand pointing, one hand over his own heart
i didn't catch his words
but the non-verbals communicated loudly
we love you. we're walking this road with you. you're not alone. we know what you've done, we forgive you, and we're right here.
merry christmas, daughter.
merry christmas, sister.
we do know and we do love you and we will go forward together.


that rich Immanuel-reality, "God with us," the very first reason for any of the december 25 celebrating
it drowned this year under the build up and the decorating and the gifts
and i felt it too, gasping for a few breaths, something that would anchor me back into the Life which came all those years ago,
my purpose for existing
but with so many exciting things going on why would i slow myself to sit in a place of remembering
unless Life Himself
would graciously withhold some of the holiday euphoria from me, remove blinders, make me to see
that this is the very purpose for His human existing
He came to be flesh so that He might sympathize with us - children, brothers and sisters with Him
john piper explains the reasons for Christmas from Hebrews 2
God came - Jesus -
to sympathize with mankind,
to die,
to destroy death/the devil,
to deliver mankind from the slavery+fear+death

so, "the reason for the incarnation is the death of the Son of God"

...and if we are freed from the slavery of death, we are the freest of all peoples, and that is owed to the fact that the devil is destroyed by having his accusations removed, because Christ died, because Christ partook of the nature of mankind, and that happened because of christmas...
and because we're freed in this way, we are also the most humble and grateful of all people.

and this is why we can say with all sincerity,

merry christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


a few friends have asked why i'm not writing much lately
and the obvious answer is time
the holidays
out-of-town friends here, home
and the not-so-obvious answer is that i've been dreaming
and none of these swirling ideas are close to fruition
so i don't have much to say
but i do feel
like that little girl, lollipop in hand, wide-eyed, curious
with wonder
if God really is preparing the ground
for my little mustard seed
if this dream is the one
that combines my passions, my loves
with His
if this is the merging that i've been praying and inching toward all my life
pray for me
with me
for patience to listen and wait
for obedience to step when i hear that quiet leading
for humility to start small, to be small
for confidence in God, not me, but me because of Him

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


this line from jj heller

i don't know what You're doing,
but i know who You are.

i do know. and in You is all my hope.
and joy for today.

Friday, November 7, 2014


my dear friend has taken up the challenge
to inventory 1000 gifts this month
she invited me into it on day 3
and i intended to practice the listing along with her
and though i haven't
i'm working to incline my heart back to that habit
i've been thinking a lot about words lately
maybe its because i've been reading non-stop for the past 2 weeks
or maybe its because i have grown accustomed to formulating all of my thoughts into one-liners, suitable for a status update or a hashtag
or maybe, maybe it is because i've been studying biblical hermeneutics
where everything centers around words - origins, context, genre,
and where we talk about things like personification and anthropomorphism
and from the front of the classroom
we're challenged to understand that the point of all of it
suspending our 21st century american evangelical questions and concerns
this alone reaps those steady dividends
and i know i've been writing frequently on this humility theme
it's because i found this less-traveled road
is the only one that really moves me forward
the only one that feeds me with joy instead of happiness
the long-term protein rather than those fleeting bursts of carbohydrate energy
so i'll probably continue to talk about the same things on this blog
but unapologetically
because though it has been more of the same
i never promised excitement
i promised a testimony
and this, these small transformative moments,
are the story of a transcendent God
involving Himself immanently in this heart
refining me
to more purely reflect Him
and so
with words, lists, stories, a hand-written letter,
a quick reminder that, in korea, she is thinking of me
or a bag of split red lentils, thinking of me
the way that words alone can capture the thoughts and intentions
and teach me to trust
and lure my attention and my own thoughts back to my purpose,
my work and my worship

words hold power
they weigh down with depth
they challenge
they uplift
they shake up
they build
they engage
they hope
they dream
they worship
words are worship, for me
and for this reason i am thankful

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


i think its fair to say that i've been disengaged
in some ways
the roller coaster of thoughts and emotions
climbing with those things spoken to me, about me
[you might never understand, l,
what that not-so-impromptu starbucks chat meant to me
and j, what those morning words over the telephone lines
did to remind me of who i am in Him -
and how thankful i am for your friendship now]
and plummeting some overnights,
sleepless? a new phenomenon for me
still asking the same old questions
but really
it is so simple
1 thessalonians 4.11.
it is this mundane faithfulness
[thank you kara]
and diligent obedience
that long, faithful walk in one direction
because He doesn't ask me to make a name for myself
He doesn't ask me to build a fortress of confidence
on a foundation of my own achievements
[He and i both know it would be sand]
He asks for fixed eyes
a goal that is high and deep and wide and long,
that doesn't fit within my narrow perspective
a heart that depends on sovereignty
all the while
this body, sown perishable, in dishonor, in weakness
prepares to be raised imperishable, in honor, in glory
and i have to understand myself
while He, greatest of all,
holds all my hope and joy and peace
and every day
i fix these eyes on His glory
taking captive every thought to this end
certain that we will share in His glory
[if indeed we share in His sufferings]

jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)

this is what the Lord says:
“stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls..

Monday, October 27, 2014

street sweeper

i walked tonight
72 degrees
clouds with peeks of sun
i walked
because i like to
but also because
i needed God to do what only He can
to fix my stupid attitude.
i had nothing to say
just steps.
i noticed things
first the crushed pieces of orange brown yellow
under feet and car tires
then the thought of a street sweeper
that brushes through all of the streets in grand rapids
and cleans our streets so that we don't drive
on the wet slimy slippery sludge
that would come with the first few snows.
then i saw l's new home
so close to mine still
and she, such a treasure to me.
i remembered the conversation that she had
just yesterday
with those 3 entrusted to her,
conversation about death and life
and that beautiful hope
because of that Father of ours.
then i thought of dreams that i've had
fully awake dreams
plans that i've made with Him
those hopes and joys and the things that
in the back of my mind
wait, still,
in the steps ahead of me
then i remembered those words written
that changed me, i think
those lines on the pages
that talked endlessly about awareness and gratitude.
and how it changes a person
always and absolutely
and how i have moved away from that habit
i let go of the awareness gratitude thankfulness
and took up instead
anxiety fear impatience cynicism judgment
and pride. so. much. pride.
an impossible-to-bear yoke
and so
i remember who my God is
and i tell Him with all the words i can
i remember who i am
i tell Him with as few words as i can
and i lay my requests there
maybe even with no words
and i wait

and i wait.

Psalm 130 (NIV)

A song of ascents.

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


j uses this word a lot
and she's probably taught me more about it than anyone else i know
the gentle reprimand
drawing my attention to the state of my heart
when i speak those words
out of self-preservation
and it is a gift to me
more than anything that i could accept into my hands
is the value of that kind of friendship
and she, among others,
with the soft call back to smallness
the recognition of my actual state before
the throne of Jesus.
and words, treasures, like these
cycle between my ears all weekend
it becomes apparent
that every inclination of my heart is only evil all the time
okay, maybe not quite so bad
needy nonetheless
very much
and those professors remind
every week
that the goal
is not critical spirits
but critical minds

and this song
on repeat
reminds and reminds and reminds
deuteronomy 8
that He alone is worthy of greatness
and the smallness, mine
that gift
and i am in the place for which i was designed
and this is the best place.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


when you're skating through life
with very few concerns
nothing keeping you up at night
not even a newborn baby down the hall
there are those things that you think that you have a little bit of control over
and for that reason
who is rich in mercy,
because of His great love for you,
starts to draw the reins back
out of your control
and you are left
assessing what in your life really has value -
that stable job
that promising relationship
the ability to walk, run, with no pain
that car that has had literally no problems since you bought it
the well-being of your family
the security of your living situation
school and classes and dreams
and He
draws your attention to all of it
and He says no
these things
have no say in determining your worth and purpose and hope
and you will recognize this
or later
and He'll do it
because of His great love for you
and because He is rich in mercy

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


making lists, the discipline or organization
helps to regain
the reality of my sanity
in Christ
my joy + crown
the One for whom i lay all other things aside
and that pride
that both drives me forward
and also anchors me to those shakable rocks
time and again
but when You, Jesus, shake all that i thought was so secure
and You're all that's left peering back at me
the windows of Your soul
seeing straight into mine
and You know each thought
and the dreams that tornado there
getting tangled [too] often
in those sticky strings that stretch from corner to corner,
You see the end to the beginning
and you know
with all that confidence that is appropriately Yours,
how those webs need offer no intimidation
because the victory, the sonship, the righteousness, the finished work
they've been set immovably in their place
that dash on the timeline that we call "not yet,"
but already,
and the inhale and exhale comes shallower
and the heart decelerates
and that canvas before me bears those words
for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things
to Him be the glory forever. amen.

and does anything else matter anymore?
okay, yes, it does,
but its yoke is now limited

therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe
[hebrews 12.28]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


what if?
what if we would credit Him with the good and the bad
and label the responsibility His for our healing and our forward progress?
the 44th psalm speaks in a majority discouraged tone
as the sons of korah write in full confidence that God is the source of their
pain, scattering, disgrace, their humbling,
and the last line?
rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.
does it seem contradictory?
if you said yes you're not alone.
in fact probably the majority of self-identified christians would probably say the same
there's more to the discussion
there's more to the way that this possible contradiction plays out
a couple of options -
it is possible that the bible is full of contradiction that assists in proving the book's nature as all
allegory, poetry, art, symbolism
which leaves a lot of room for subjectivism
it is also possible that within this seeming contradiction
are layers of reality, the comprehension of which transcends human ability
and this contradiction is instead a beautiful compatibility
the coming together of sovereign God and dependent man
a partnership in which the one party is wisest, strongest, most humble, most compassionate
and the other is most trusting, most grateful, most cared for
even when
the pain, scattering, disgrace, humbling
doesn't make sense in these minds of limited capacity

just maybe
submission to the impossible-to-understand ways of the only-for-now unseen God
could pay massive dividends
in the currency of freedom
that lightest-weighted freedom
of safety, fearlessness, complete confidence, full acceptance
the kind that feels like those endless days of [healthy] childhood

and this way of living, i am convinced, would bring
an aboundingly fresh joyful light on all of these controversies and debates of our day
the ones that demand that God is chiefly concerned with mankind's pleasure and happiness
over His own glory and His wisest of all plans

and here is bit more commentary on this idea, a [crossroads bible church] sermon favorite

Thursday, July 3, 2014


find our team blog here. hear what some of our students had to say about the time that we spent in jamaica.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


the few years before this last seemed to have so many changes that i had so much to share, always.
this past year has seen consistency, which is relatively unfamiliar to me lately, but which i am coming to love more than the constant change.
God is so particular in the details that He ordains,
and the pieces of the story that have left me the most frustrated and disheartened
are the very details that have most prepared me for the pruning and maturation that He has been actively fostering in my life.
and it is now, at this place in time where i can see more of myself and more of my context than i've ever been able to before,
it is now and here that i am most softened to my need for His help and i try to wade through the day to day with
and it is from here that i can look back and see how He has answered so many of our unfinished conversations.
we have our youth pastor and a new season will begin soon.
as one of my greatest joys, my small group 6
will take some sort of new direction
...high school juniors and seniors
and em + i so [tearfully] proud of each of them.

these lifelong friendships
this year, for some reason, uncomfortable, challenging
yet now still strong, or even more so.

and that as-long-as-i-can-remember battle with myself
but with God's help i shall become myself.
and that kirkegaard quote that i have always loved
has taken on a new meaning this year.
i've found real rest
a rich and dense freedom
when Christ alone is my satisfaction
and He, who knows me more intimately than any other,
delights in the self that is free from performance or insecurity.
29 + single = still joy
and children, from sunrise to dinner time = Gospel, for the most valuable fruit
home = friendship of the truest kind. the generosity, patience, grace that i've received translates to that which i am learning to give in return.

so when you say there's something there that wasn't there before (go ahead and sing it, i am),
it is confidence. His.
and rest. mine.
and that same joy. gift.

the Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him. psalm 37.

Friday, May 23, 2014


one month until departure.
i had promised that we would have more details as time went on
but it appears that our time in jamaica will play out differently than we had all imagined.
what do you think of when you think of a "typical" short term mission trip?
building houses? building a school or church building? playing with the little ones abandoned to a the orphanages? painting? distributing goods or resources to those who live without?
some of these things were what we had expected to be doing, one month from tomorrow.
we've been reading, as a team,
this book: when helping hurts
and it has challenged us, each of us, to understand poverty differently.
"poverty is much more than simply a lack of financial or material resources and that it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve the problem of poverty" says the description of the book.
while most of the developed world defines poverty as a lack of material resources (and subsequently seeks to "solve" poverty accordingly), most of those living in poverty describe their conditions with little to no reference to their financial state, but so much more in terms of their value as individuals and as families.
if we recognize that the [self-recognized] deepest need of world's most vulnerable families is not their lack of material resources, but a lack of a sense of value and opportunity to contribute anything meaningful to society.

if indeed this is the deepest need that our brothers and sisters face, how can the church, through short-term missions + otherwise, with the vast tools and resources that God has given to us, help to alleviate poverty?

i posted an chart here that shows the avenues through which LiA seeks to care for the vulnerable. LiA partners serve in a way that avoids offering donations and handouts and instead serves to develop the individual + the community. LiA partners are many professionals who identify broken systems and capable individuals. the ministry spends time equipping and empowering individuals to step into the change process with their own feet and hands in the work. this, argue steve corbett and brian fikkert in when helping hurts, is the fundamental need of impoverished communities, families, individuals. so this is where we will begin - learners, listeners, observers, speakers of value, as we pioneer the first high school mission trip partnering with LiAjamaica. we go with an itinerary that asks of us flexibility and humility, expecting that with joy we'll have many more details to share once we return home.

thank you all for you continued prayers and encouragement as we continue to work as a team to know one another and to prepare compassionate hearts for the friends that we will find in jamaica.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


2 months from today
our team of 25
is jamaica-bound.

i am so grateful to be able to say that God has,
through my dear friends and family,
provided all of the financial support that i needed to cover my expenses.
so [THANK YOU] to each of you who have sent money to help! thank you for being excited for me and for the team as we prepare to go, thank you for praying that God would prepare the way for us + teach us along the way, thank you for asking questions and for encouraging me.

for those of you who don't know what i'm talking about...
17 high school students + 8 leaders
from crossroads bible church
june 24-july 2
partnering with the amazing staff from LIA-jamaica

Life In Abundance

the excitement mounts...i'll update again as our departure nears..!

[any additional donations will help to support the rest of the team so we would gladly receive any more gifts on behalf of those who are still working and praying for their expenses to be covered!]

Thursday, March 13, 2014


those dragons underneath our beds.

a blog by one of my favorites, [the link above]
from the Desiring God blog (Desiring God blog!!)
thankful for the voice that this man has to elevate the Gospel and to empower the Church toward greater maturity in Christ.

Monday, March 10, 2014


when i lived on frederick st.
(that little brick house that i'd move into all over again
if time would rewind)
"do i look like a stupid idiot?" she would ask on occasion
as she got ready for work, clearly disappointed with how the day's outfit turned out
and i would roll with laughter because she just didn't ever talk like that.
today, God's open hand presenting sunshine and 50 degrees,
streets finally clear of snow but wet with the melt
with ruffle pants and french braids and giggles, a bike and a scooter
we race back to the driveway,
the giggles because i'm left fumbling the little wheels back toward home
while dresses and glitter shoes run ahead
and i think about how good i feel and how rare this feeling is.
i've decided that this year will be a sugar-free lent season
and i love sugar, therefore this has not been easy (all 6 days thus far)
i don't feel like a stupid idiot, was the thought that came quietly out of my mouth
and then i laughed out loud to myself, fittingly.
but really, this is good, and i'm in denial that sugar-free lent should become sugar-free life
yet the more i read, study, listen,
i find that sugar only limits immune function, increases fatigue, stifles attention
so i'm sick and tired and incredibly unfocused: unproductive with poor time management.
i'm thankful to lay down the stupid idiot title to feel well, wholly well,
to live this life abundantly.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


it used to be that the joy fell with the snow
accumulated around feet and only stuck to boots and shoes
cloud cover rolled over the once-blue, once-hopeful, canopy
and eyes turned from upward to down
while muscles in the neck became accustomed to the angle of the feet
weary and wary
each new morning, mercy though it was said, felt like one clicking time clock after the next
longing for the dreary sky to become the dark sky
the one that gave permission to lock the door and twist closed the blinds and silence the rings and alerts and the chime of the inbox
and then i could sit quietly with my thoughts, just mine
and wonder how long it would feel this way
and how i could fix it
and why it had to be so hard.

but then i read ephesians 2

because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions

and i decided that i would believe it, hope.

the days are still short
and sky still heavy, grey and so rarely blue

yet now

i wake up laughing to myself, remembering something she said or something he did
i am genuinely disappointed when i am told that yet another snow day keeps me away from the little ones who are now my responsibility
i can say with all confidence i am well. and it is well. and this response no longer changes from day to day when they ask how are you? because it is a constant.
i can laugh out loud when i forget, yet again, that speed bump that lies pregnant there between my house and the stop sign.
chasing and wrestling with the littles on sunday afternoons no longer feels like an obligation but a joy and one of the most worthy investments.
i can sit at the coffee shop, eyes heavy with that obnoxious glare of the sun through icy skies, but still with a smile, though nothing has been accomplished.
i sleep more during these months, but guilt-free
i read more while snow blankets the ground, fruitful
i listen and pray and i'm available
because things slow down now
but i see that this is a perfect design
because with the changing seasons comes a fresh awareness of the inner life, the mind, the heart, the humility, the dreams
where seasons don't change are patterns free to stay?
and growth constrained?

socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living.
i think i agree.
and think that i'll also begin to say that the changing seasons are a gift
another grace
because it demands self examination and flexibility
in a way that the always-summer could never do.
and God is fully here. i know this because joy is full and it has no reason to be apart from His nearness.

Friday, January 17, 2014


expectations kill relationships, she writes,
among countless other treasures of wisdom.
we see it, the way that the small ones are surprised by every thing that crosses their senses
as they take it in, everything new
like all the waiting for a vacation and that morning finally comes
or the end of another semester of work and study and papers and late nights, the delight
a first adventure outside of the country
all of the curiosity of a first date
the speechless joy that accompanies an unexpected visit from a beloved friend
the announcement that another is expecting a baby in only 7 months when she had hoped for nearly a year that it would be so.
these feelings that the older, wiser ones know so frequently
that the younger, naive, helpless ones seem to receive so gratefully, often
because they don't have these expectations
and it is so true
i see it every day in these girls
over lunch
the stories and questions and giggles
all funny or exciting
ideas too wonderful to wait to be set into motion
and lunch lays half-eaten on the table
while the princess dresses go on
and the blankets become living room forts
and the crayons, scissors, tape are soon a masterpiece, even better than yesterday's
all a surprise
all joy
all grace
a chicken nugget that looks like a heart. surprise!
warm gingerbread from the oven. surprise!
a funny picture in a storybook. surprise!
a ball.
a clover.
a one-eyed snowman.
the humble live surprised.
the humble live by joy.

oh, for the perspective of a child.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

natalie grace

natalie: "birthday," "born on christmas"
grace: "favor," "blessing"

january 10, 2014, 5:34pm

you have no idea how precious you are
my first thought as i walked into the room, confronted by you,
all 6 pounds and 15 ounces of you, screaming,
under that bright pink, knitted hat.
you were so alert, eyes searching, more curious than fearful
while your pretty mama sat on the bed
looking as natural as any other day
and your daddy beaming,
so delighted to be the father of a daughter now as well.

and i wonder along with everyone else who you will become.

I pray, Natalie Grace,
that you will respond in humble obedience to the call of Jesus,
that as He teaches you of His grace for you
and all that He gave up when He came on Christmas,
that you will receive the wisdom and revelation to know Him best
and to understand that
no success
no performance
no education
no career
no fortune
no reputation that you can gain for yourself
will count for anything in the Kingdom of Grace,
but the work of Jesus on the cross,
His submission, obedience, humility
and the promises of the Father alone
will assure your place with Him and those who know Him when He returns things to how He intended them to be.
I pray that He would teach your little heart to know the hope to which He has called you,
abundant life in Jesus, genuine life found no where else
though people will try and try and try.
I pray that He grows you to be a strong woman (I see it in you already),
rooted, established in His love,
unshakable in spirit,
because your hope lies not here,
that your knowledge of His crazy love for you
would be that which drives you,
His wide, long, high, deep love,
this love that surpasses knowledge,
that you may be a child, a young lady, a woman who is filled with the unmistakable joy and peace of Christ,
that you'll have a ministry to the women that you come in contact with, flowing over with richest Truth to bring hope in any circumstance.
Baby, I pray that you will indeed be gracious,
to your mommy and daddy, to your big brother,
to the rest of your family, your friends, your future husband,
to the Church.
I pray that you know God and that you will love people,
through His incomparably great power.
I love you. We love you.

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 is, to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.