03 May 2013

from one degree of glory to the next

tonight as i began to pack up my room, i found myself remembering all that the Lord has done in and through me this year. as i got ready to go to sleep, my mind was swirling with the ways i have seen my Father's hand, and more importantly His face. i have seen Him through the brokenness, the pruning, the healing, and the redemption. He is faithful.

as i pulled my blog up for the first time in a while, i began to realize i have 7 blog post drafts archived-  ones that i had began to write but didn't want to finish.

so here's the blog post i have been putting off for almost a year.

the last time we met, i was about to go off to camp for the summer. it is so crazy to me to look back on that time and remember who i was a year ago. praise Jesus i am not the same. i went into camp nervous, unsure and fearful. little did i know that i would spend the next three months at camp feeling and living under the spirit of slavery. my people pleasing and approval seeking tendency came out on the surface for all to see.

my time at camp was one of severe pruning and true suffering. i feel like this statement may sound dramatic but i believe this is a true picture of my summer.

one picture that the Lord continued to bring to my mind over camp was the picture of silver. in order to purify silver so that it is whole and without blemishes, you have to melt it. you have to put it through fire. while it is in the fire, all of the dirt, scratches, and impurities are removed. when it comes out of the fire- ah ha! it is new. this is what Jesus was doing to my heart this summer. melting my heart- putting it through the fire- so that all the impurities of my heart would be removed.

although there were times this summer when i felt like i was being severely burned (both spiritually and physically... Texas summer is forreal), the Lord constantly reminded me of His word:

fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
when you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm
you. when you walk through the fire you shall
not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God. {isaiah 43: 1-2}

although each morning at camp brought a new testing of faith, He was bringing me just a step closer to Himself. it was hard and it was painful and i left with scars that needed healing, but i can fully say "it is well with my soul."

coming home was so wonderful and exciting and i was ushered into a new semester by family and friends and many hugs and prayers. little did i know what laid ahead of me. as i moved back to tuscaloosa (only 2 days before school started), reality hit hard. i was exhausted. i was dry. and i was broken. as i began to have reunions with sweet friends, i immediately began to deflect everyone's question: "how was camp?"

how was camp? where do i even began answering this question? do you have 5 hours for me to answer this question?

my response? "it was good! hard, but good!" and then i would quickly change the subject so that they wouldn't ask me anymore questions about my summer. i was determined to leave camp in the past and never look back. i wanted to move on as if camp never even happened. 

thank you Jesus for community and for friends and for family! it is here where i began to expose my wounds and tell my story of how my summer really was. as heartbreaking as it was to relive, each time i talked about camp, i began to receive healing. i began to be freed from the name i had: slave. this was not an overnight process but a daily, weekly, monthly process over this year where i began to sift and remember the things i had learned: the good and the bad. remembering is not always easy, but it is vital for healing. it is vital for redemption. and it is vital for worship.

this summer i took on the identity of a slave because i believed i had to work for God's (and man's) approval and i had to work to be accepted. little did i know that as a daughter, i live from my identity and not for it.

romans 8 does a better job explaining than i can:

for you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear
but you, my daughter, have received the spirit of adoption by
whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

this summer i experienced an identity crisis because when my circumstances got hard, my view of God got smaller and smaller. i forgot to remember and believe in the God who is both holy and loving; both wrathful and forgiving; both King and shepherd; both master and loving Father. His character does not change just because my circumstances do.

i think this is why i love the book of exodus so much. although i read it and think how silly the israelites are, i began to realize that i am an israelite. so here's their, our, story: they are enslaved to pharaoh and God sends delivery though Moses and they doubt; they see God's protection and provision each time a new plague comes to hit their land and they question; they are covered by the blood of the lamb and they forget; they see God change pharaoh's heart so that they may live in freedom and they want to go back into slavery. as they begin their journey to a new place as the family of God, they come across a sea. a big sea. and pharaoh's army is close behind. at the first sight of trouble, their first instinct is to fear, doubt, and complain. oh may i not let the circumstances that are set before me blind me from the faithfulness of my God. may i rest in knowing that even when i can't see His hand, i can fully trust His heart.

 i began to see how this summer i viewed God as a "hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed, so i was afraid and i went and i hid your talent in the ground. here you have what is yours." {matthew 25:24} instead of using the talents He gave me to multiple and grow like the other servants in this parable did, i didn't trust God's character so i did what He asked of me to do and nothing more.

God is redeeming my story and my identity as i remember that "He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant (amen), but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" {hebrews 12:11}

my God is a good and loving Father. He only wants the best for His children, even if His best for us is suffering or a trial or pruning it is so that we may be glorified with Him. how loving of a God is He that He wants to share His glory with us? He does it because "God is treating you as sons" {hebrews 12:7} , not because He is mad or repaying us back for something we did

the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.
He does not deal with us according to our sins nor repay us according to our
iniquities. for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast
love towards those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does
He remove our transgressions from us. as a Father shows compassion on His children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. for He knows our frame, He
remembers that we are dust. {psalm 103:10-14}

how cool is it that the Lord wants us to know Him fully. not just as a mean God of wrath but one that is merciful and gracious,  slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He is redeeming the old and making way for the new. in Christ, i am a new creation. thank you Lord for the fire because through it, we are not burned. thank you for loving me enough to discipline me for it is a natural outcome of my identity.

take heart that your circumstances do not define your God. He does not change nor grow tired or weary even when we do. He is faithful when we are not. His steadfast love is from everlasting to everlasting.

remember that He calls us by name before He speaks direction.
rest in and receive your identity. it is fully approved by the cross.

bless the Lord!

26 March 2012


so here's the deal:

summer's coming. faster than i could have ever imagined. the closer and closer summer gets here, the more i must begin to fully embrace all that this summer will bring. the more i must begin to prepare my heart. the more i must trust. the more i must rely. the more i must abide

as may 18th (the day i leave for camp. and not to mention... kevin's birthday..) inches it's way closer by each page-flipped on the calendar , it finally hit me. oh man am i giving up a lot this summer. giving up time hanging out with my favorite, my family, my Shades.         

it's a lot to take in. 

the reality of my physical absence from my home this summer slapped me across the face tonight. i was overwhelmed. uncertain. questioning. confused.

"why, Lord? why are you calling me to give up all these things this summer? these are all GOOD things. things that bring You glory. so why?"

can i just stop and say that i am thankful that i serve a God who cares. He cares so much. enough so that He would reveal to me that in order for Him to receive the most glory this summer, i would have to pack up my things and move to columbus, texas for three full months. 

"THIS is how I will receive the most glory this summer. by you being absent from your loved ones, your comforts. in order that I may become all you could ever need. this is how I will be glorified the most." 

while seeking for comfort, the Lord brought me to a website that explains the different names of God. there was one particular name that brought me so much comfort and joy i didn't know what to do. other than worship and be completely content.

jehovah-jireh: the God who WILL provide. 

not who might provide. or who has proved to have a high percentage rate of providing. but a God who WILL provide. absolutely. every time. everything. every time. every time. 

when they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. but the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” and he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”  and Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. and Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. so Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide” as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (genesis 22:9-14)

so here's the crazy thing. God asked Abraham to sacrifice, to kill his only son. this is the son that Abraham has waited years and years and years for! through this son, he would be the father of the nations. this is the son that God provided to fulfill His covenant with His people. this is THAT son. 

now Abraham, go and sacrifice him.

and what does Abraham do? does he question? does he delay? no. Abraham's trust was so deeply rooted in the Lord that he was willing to kill the only son he had because he trusted that through his son's death, God would be most glorified. (foreshadowing of Christ's death, much?)

what if my outlook on this summer was this? not resentment. not fear. not doubt. but trust. complete trust in the Lord that He WILL provide and sustain me through the distance, through the pain. that through all this, HE would be the MOST glorified. 

so this is it. i have decided: i will not withhold anything from the Lord. not my summer. not my time. not my life. nothing. because He has proved Himself over and over again. i can trust Him with these things. i can trust Him with everything.

may our hearts prayer be, "whatever. whatever to bring about the greatest & highest glorification of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. whatever the price. whatever the sacrifice. all so that the Lord may be MOST glorified." 

I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. every branch that bears fruit, He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. abide in Me and I in you. as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. (john 15:1-17)

it is good for me that i was afflicted that i might learn your statutes. (psalm 119:71)

  1. tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
    just to take Him at His Word;
    just to rest upon His promise,
    and to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

  2. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
  3. how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
  4. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

  5. oh, for grace to trust Him more!

i withhold nothing. 

16 February 2012

how He loves

so somehow I'm just now jumping onto the John Mark McMillian bandwagon (if you aren't on board with his junk, get with it)

i was in much need of this truth this morning.. happy listening!

but if they confess their iniquity that they committed against Me.. if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham... when they are in the lands of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God.

but I will for THEIR SAKE remember the covenant with their forefather, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I AM THE LORD.
(Leviticus 26)

may your heart reflect on the truth that He brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery, out of bondage to your sinful desires. and although we may go outside of our covenant with Him, for our sake, He remembers covenant with us. He is faithful. even when we aren't.


16 January 2012

let Love keep my will upon its knees

may my prayer like incense rise before You
the lifting of my hands as sacrifice
oh Lord Jesus turn Your eyes upon me
for I know there is mercy in Your sight

Your statutes are my heritage forever
my heart is set on keeping Your decrees
please still my anxious urge toward rebellion
let Love keep my will upon its knees

oh God, You are my God
and I will ever praise You
oh God, You are my God
and I will ever praise You

to all creation I can see a limit
but Your commands are boundless and have none
so Your Word is my joy and meditation
from the rising to the setting of the sun

all Your ways are loving and are faithful
the road is narrow but Your burden light
because You gladly lean to lead the humble
I shall gladly kneel to leave my pride

I will seek You in the morning
I will learn to walk in Your ways
and step by step You'll lead me
and I will follow You all of my days