Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Great Purpose

There is comfort found in knowing this truth. 
"There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with great purpose." - Alan Redpath

Monday, November 26, 2012


November 15 was eleven days ago. And I realized this week that, sadly, this was the first time in 5 years that it had not been a day of great meaning for me.

Five years ago, on November 15, my family got a phone call. It was a Thursday afternoon at about one o'clock, and the debate practice tournament was that Saturday. I can still picture exactly where I was sitting (in the loft) and what I was doing (putting all of our printed evidence into my binder).

My mom was sitting by the computer, and answered the phone, like usual. It seemed like a normal conversation, until I heard her say, "Yes, I'm sitting down." That's when I began to wonder. And worry. I don't remember the rest of what was said, but I do remember exactly what my mom said when she hung up. "I have cancer." Those were devastating, life-changing, scary words.

I knew that those words should have made me cry, and made me scared. But they didn't. All the adrenaline that comes with preparing for a tournament stopped those words from impacting me the way they should have. That is, until Sunday morning, after the tournament adrenaline had worn off.

That's when the full weight of what was happening really struck me. I have such vivid memories about that Sunday, even down to what song we sang for choir, and how it seemed perfect for my situation:
In prisoner's chains, with bleeding stripes,
Paul and Silas prayed that night,
And in their pain, began to sing.
Their chains were loosed, and they were free. 
'I bless Your name. I bless Your name.
I give You honor, give You praise.
You are the Life, the Truth, the Way,
I bless Your name. I bless Your name.' 
Some midnight hour if you should find
You're in a prison in your mind
Reach out and praise,
Defy those chains
And they will fall in Jesus' name.
 I remember sobbing during worship that morning, and then sobbing some more alone in our bedroom that afternoon, questioning the Lord and His purposes. Didn't He know that I needed my mom? I dug into Scripture that day like I have at no other time. And then something changed. Hope came into view. I will never forget the power that Psalm 18 had that day:
"You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop ; with my God I can scale a wall...For who is God besides the LORD ? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."
It's been five years, and other than that one day where hopelessness reigned, all I can remember is God's goodness.

His goodness when I could no longer stand.

His goodness when the storm raged.

His goodness when it was all I could do to face another day.

His goodness to provide exactly what I needed when I needed it.

The cancer is, by His grace, gone for now, and has been for four years. What remains is memories of who God is and the great things He has done. My mom's journey through cancer was a time when I knew the goodness of God in the most powerful of ways. It was not easy, but it is a time that I look back towards with great joy because I was so desperate to know the truth of Jesus. And He was so very sweet.

For that reason, I am sad that I did not remember November 15 this year. That day has always been one of the biggest reminders of His faithfulness and grace. It is a good thing to raise our ebenezer, to remember that it was He who has helped us thus far and it is He who will bring us safely home.

May we always remember His goodness to us! If He loved us, rebels against Him in every way, enough to give His own son to die in our place, how can we not trust Him through the pain? Trials will come in this broken world, but in the storm, let us seek His goodness, His grace and His strength.

We will find Him faithful.

And may His faithfulness bring us to our knees in worship.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekend Links 11/24

It's been awhile since I've shared links that I came across over the week, but it is a habit that I want to begin again. So without further ado, here are some of the articles and posts that have been a blessing to me recently.

John Owen's Final Words - "The long wished-for day is come at last, in which I shall see the glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing in the world."

Faith, Work and Vocation as a Single Woman - I appreciated this article on working in a way that glorifies God in the midst of a desire for marriage and children.

The Devil's Destructive Lies - John Piper on the absolute vitality of prayer in every area of life.

Satan, Sauron and the Blindness of Evil - From Barnabas Piper; particularly appropriate considering the fact that the Hobbit will be released in a few weeks. "By setting out to gain victory over Jesus by killing Him, Satan condemned himself."

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Shannon - From R. C. Sproul Jr. on the death of his daughter Shannon. Don't miss out on this. "She always beheld His glory. The gap for Shannon between earth and heaven was just one small, unsteady step."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hawaii Pictures

Earlier this month I got to go to Kauai with my Aunt as a belated graduation gift. I thought I would share some of the photos that we took. 
The Na Pali coastline in early morning light. 

More views of the Na Pali coastline. 

Snorkeling! It wasn't as exciting as I had hoped - we only saw a few different kinds of fish. But it was a beautiful area and that made it worth it. 

I got to go zip-lining, which has been on my bucket list for ages. This is part of the ranch we zip-lined over. It's been the site of over 20 movies and it was easy to see why. 

The before shot. 

And after. All of that gear is incredibly attractive. 

Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We got to do some hiking around the canyon, and it was stunning. 

Views from the Kau-Lau-Lau trail out to the waterfall. 

A fresh mountain apple picked off of a tree on the side of the trail. We also picked guavas and blackberries as we hiked. 

Hanakapi'ai Falls. The trail out to the falls wasn't very well marked, and once we thought we were there. It wasn't very exciting - three 5-foot waterfalls. Nice, but we weren't sure it was worth the 8-mile hike. And then we saw another trail marker, kept going and saw this glorious sight...300 feet high. One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Thankful

Thankful today, for who He is and for what He has done.

For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. {John 1:16}

Indeed, I have truly known only grace.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Remember How It Ends

It's easy to forget that what we are experiencing right now is not indicative of what is to come on that day when our precious Lord will make all things, all things, new.

Though we do not know see Him, we love Him and rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

By His work, in His grace and for His glory, we look forward to how it ends.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

He Redeems in Power

I have many fond memories of learning to crochet in our living room as my mom read aloud from one of our school books - it was an almost daily occurrence for many years. As much as I loved listening, there are only a few books that I still remember today. One of those is Peace Child by Don Richardson, one of the most powerful testimonies of how God's grace through the gospel transformed the hardest hearts and tore down the highest barriers in a small tribe in Papua New Guinea, by His power and for His glory.

It has now been 50 years since the Richardson family went to the Sawi tribe, and Pioneer just released a video that shows a reunion between Don and his three sons with the Sawi people. The redeeming work of our God is so evident. Those who used to be enemies have become friends. Those who used to kill have laid down their weapons. Our God does great work!

Take the time to watch this video - the testimony of what God has done cannot help but cause us to wonder at the greatness of our God.

Never the Same from Pioneers-USA on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Song: Not for a Moment

My friend Hannah, who blogs over at Unveiling Truth, shared this song on her Facebook page. Such a needed reminder of who God is through every season of life.

Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1
You were reaching through the storm,
Walking on the water,
Even when I could not see.
In the middle of it all,
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did You forsake me,
Not for a moment did You forsake me.

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me

Verse 2
You were singing in the dark,
Whispering Your promise
Even when I could not hear.
I was held in Your arms,
Carried for a thousand miles to show
Not for a moment did You forsake me

And every step, every breath, you are there.
Every tear, every cry, every prayer
In my hurt, at my worst,
When my world falls down,
Not for a moment will You forsake me.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I love to be moving. The adrenaline that a busy day brings is one of my favorite feelings. And now that I'm working full-time, I find it easier and easier to be constantly busy. I only really have extra time on my lunch break and evenings during the week, and those fill up very quickly. But lately I've been reaching Sunday afternoons (usually my one quiet stretch of alone time during the week) and realizing that I have forgotten how to not be busy.

I've forgotten the simple joy of reading in a hammock, of vacuuming the living room and washing dishes, of practicing piano and learning new songs, of simply sitting outside and enjoying a beautiful afternoon. I have lost the joy that I once knew in simply being quiet before the Lord.

But I've been realizing over this past week how necessary those times of quiet are for me. I am not introverted, at least not in the fullest sense of the word, but the times in life when I feel the most confident in my relationship with the Lord (both in who He is and what He has completed) and when I feel most refreshed are the times when I have space in my life to just...be.

Not just times in Scripture and prayer...those (usually) happen whether quiet is there or not, but time to reflect and process all that has been happening, which usually doesn't happen during one specific activity, but during a specific type of activity - one where my mind can wander. During those times, I am most aware of where my heart is with the Lord and can take the necessary steps to make everything right.

Intentionality is becoming more and more important in my life - I have to make time for what I truly care about, since time just doesn't happen as naturally as it used to. And just like so many other things that I love, time to be quiet is essential for my spiritual health, so if you'll excuse me...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Go Farther On

Oh my brother, are you weary
Of the roughness by the way?
Does your strength begin to fail you
and your vigor to decay? 

Farther on, still go farther!
Count the milestones one by one.
Jesus will forsake you never - 
It is better farther on.

I've never been a big hiker - my family doesn't tend to take "active" vacations. We do a lot of sightseeing, but hiking and camping have never made that list. So while I was Hawaii, I went on more hikes in one week than I have gone on in my entire life. One of the hikes was particularly difficult - 8 miles round trip, with lots of hills and rocks to climb; the trail also crossed the river about 6 times (I didn't step in once - I'm pretty proud of that, since I'm not known for my balance). The last 2 miles were brutal. By that time it was noon, most of the trail was in direct sunlight and it seemed like we were walking uphill for a lot longer than we had walked downhill on the way in. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other, as beautiful as it was and as much as I was enjoying myself, it was hard.

I'm not particularly athletic. Actually, I'm not athletic at all. As a result, I haven't really pushed past my limits very often. Once we finally made it over the top of the hill and starting heading down toward our car, the song that I shared above came to mind. I felt weary, and the path was rough. My initial energy was most certainly gone. But there was no choice but to go farther on.

I'm quick to give up when something doesn't seem easy. I like to be comfortable and I don't like denying my desires. But the hike was such a vivid example of what perseverance looks like. It isn't easy; it isn't comfortable. It is painful, but it leads to beautiful things. And it turns out, even when it feels like there is no possible way to pick up my foot and take another step, I can do it anyway. 

It's easy to sell ourselves short. It's easy to give up when the going gets tough. But may we be a people whose lives are marked by perseverance, not because it is easy, but because we are hidden with Christ and that is worth all of the pain in the world. It isn't a blind perseverance, for we are not a people without a sure hope. Indeed, we have a living hope of an inheritance in Christ that can never be taken away (1 Peter 1:3-5). Jesus will never forsake us and it is better, so much better, farther on. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hawaii and Election Thoughts

I haven't had much extra time to blog these last few weeks - I had a really busy time preparing for my trip to Hawaii (a graduation gift from my Aunt) and then while I was gone I hardly even looked at a computer. I had a great time - we spent almost a week in Kauai, and it was so good to get away from everything for a little while. We ziplined, snorkeled, hiked, shopped, and more...One of the trails we hiked was lined with guava and blackberry bushes - I have never enjoyed freshly-picked fruit along the trail before and it was tasty! On Monday we did an 8 mile hike (longest I've ever done!) out to a stunning 300-foot waterfall. It was absolutely glorious. I don't have pictures yet, but I will be sure to post them when I do.

I'm so thankful that I was able to take this last week off from work and life - it was a blessing to be able to distance myself from everything that has been going on, process through it, and be reminded of what is really important. I'm tired from traveling, but I feel refreshed.

On a completely different note, while we were on the plane flying home last night, they announced the election results. I was disappointed, but regardless of who won the election, the most important things remain the same: our God reigns and He holds the fate of all nations in the palm of His hand. That is ultimately where our assurance rests, not in the hands of whoever runs our country. For that, I am thankful.