Monday, November 1, 2010

A Girl Who Had the Faith to Move a Mountain

Song of the Week: "Missing Person," Michael W. Smith

Over the last week, Bobby has been scanning all of my mom's old pictures, so that she will have digital copies of  them.  (It's a little side business that he has started.  So, if that sounds like something you would like to have done for your pictures, email me.  He would love to have more customers!)

Along the way, we have come across some great (and not-so-great) pictures!  We have laughed until we practically cried at some of my outfits and my antics!  Here are a few examples:

As I looked at those pictures, a familiar thought began to haunt me.  It's a thought I have had countless times over the last several years.  It's a thought that first began to dawn on me at some point during college.  And, as I looked at those pictures, it was there staring right back at me . . .

I've lost the spark that shows up in so many of those pictures.  

I'm not sure where along the way I lost it.  Was it in middle school when I ceased being exactly who I was and tried to be the person people wanted me to be?  Was it in high school when I realized that people can be really hurtful, even when you haven't done anything to hurt them?  Was it in college when the exhaustion of trying to be good at everything (and not always succeeding) finally set in?  Was it that my desire for control supplanted my desire to follow God's plans for my life with reckless abandon?  Or, was it just the stronghold of unbelief that took my faith captive over time?  The truth is, I don't know.  I don't know where I lost it.

All I know is that I don't have it anymore.  I wasn't always as serious as I am today.  I wasn't always as ridden with doubts as I am today.  I wasn't always as terrified of making mistakes as I am today.  I wasn't always as self-concious and self-absorbed (gag!) as I am today.

You see, the one thing that hasn't changed over the years is "my faith," in a manner of speaking.  Christ drew me to Himself at a very young age, and I have loved him ever since.  Not one day, since the day I opened my heart to Christ, have I ever doubted the reality of my salvation.  And yet, the very thing that has been battered and bruised so savagely over the years is "my faith."  Sadly, the faith that I had as the little girl in those pictures dwarfs the faith that I have today.  I don't mean to imply that I haven't grown in my knowledge of Christ and my intimacy with Him over the years.  I don't mean to undermine the liberating work that He alone has accomplished in me over the last 21 years since I placed my trust in Him.  

I just want my "faith like a child" back!  For heaven's sake . . .  (literally) . . . I WANT IT BACK!

I do not want to be of no use to the Kingdom of God because I am paralyzed by fear and self-doubt.  I do not want to subsist, when I can have life--and life more abundantly!  (John 10:10)

When I was a little girl, I used to read about the people in the Bible who experienced the presence of God through visions and angels--people like Moses, Daniel, Samuel, and Mary.  I was captivated by the way that God spoke to them.  I begged God that one day He would speak to me through a vision or an angel.  And, in my innocent little girl's heart, I truly believed that He would.  (Now, before you get all theological on me, the point is not whether God still speaks like that.  The point is that I believed with all my heart that He would!)  

The day after Bobby and  I were sorting through those pictures, I heard a song that I hadn't heard in years.  It's a song I used to belt from the top of my lungs as a child, never dreaming that it would one day become true of me.  You see, in my house growing up, my sister was the supplier of music.  While I saved up all  my allowance to buy books and baby dolls, she always had the latest collection of cassette tapes and CDs.  Consequently, I mooched off her music.  Mary Ann has always been a huge fan of Michael W. Smith.  I'm pretty sure she has every CD he's ever made.  (...along w/ Celine Dion)  So, as you might guess, I was also a fan of Michael W. Smith.  The song I heard that day was, "Missing Person."  It puts into words everything I feel when I look at those pictures.  

Without further adieu, here are the lyrics to Michael's song, "Missing Person:" 

Another question in me
One for the powers that be
It's got me thrown
And so I put on my poker face
And try to figure it out
This undeniable doubt
A common occurrence
Feeling so out of place
Guarded and cynical now
Can't help but wondering how
My heart evolved into 
The rock beating inside of me
So I reel...such a stoic ordeal
Where's that feeling that I don't feel?

There was a [girl] who had the faith to move a mountain
And like a child [she] would believe without a reason
Without a trace [she] disappeared into the void and
I've been searching for that missing person

Under a lavender moon
So many thoughts consume me
Who dimmed that glowing light
That once burned so bright in me?
Is this a radical phase
A problematical age
That keeps me running
From all that I used to be?
Is there a way to return?
Is there a way to unlearn
That carnal knowledge
That's chipping away at my soul?
I've been gone too long
Will I ever find my way home?

There was a [girl] who had the faith to move a mountain
And like a child [she] would believe without a reason
Without a trace [she] disappeared into the void and
I've been searching for that missing person

[She] used to want to try the straight and narrow
[She] had a fire and [she] could feel it in the marrow
It's been a long time and I haven't seen [her] lately
But I've been searching for that missing person. 

While we were looking at those old pictures, I mentioned to Bobby my fear that I had lost the spark that lights up so many of those childhood pictures.  His response, whether he knew it or not, was exactly the encouragement that I needed to hear.  He said something along the lines of, "I know, babe, but you're getting it back."  I. am. getting. it. back!  You see, I've been searching for that missing person...

"Then [Jesus] said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven."  ~ Matthew 18:3 (NLT)

A Time for Silence

On the off chance that anyone's still checking my blog to see whether I've written anything new, let me first explain my absence from the blog world of late...

As you can see, my last post was in April.  That was right before I started my LAST round of law school exams. (Woohoo! -- I can hardly believe that season of my life is over!)  Immediately after graduation, I began studying full-time for the bar exam.  (Emphasis on full-time!)  Despite the fact that I had been duly warned, I never expected that studying for the bar would be so intense and so boring at the same time.  But, alas, I made it through that, too!  (Praise to God alone!)  Then, after the bar, I had a much-needed month off.  However, during that month, Bobby and I moved into a new rental home.  I literally began packing as soon as I returned home from taking the bar.  Most of my days during my month off were spent unpacking, painting, and recovering from law school and the bar.  So, needless to say, the blog took a back seat to all of that!  

I had planned to start back with the blog full-time once we were settled in our house, but I soon realized that I would have to put blogging on the back burner for the next year due to some responsibilities at work. So, the bad news (for the faithful few who care) is that my blog posts will be intermittent over the next year.  The good news is that I plan to be back full force next year!  I miss blogging!

In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon tells us that, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak."  (Eccl. 3:1, 7b, NIV).  For the most part, the next year will be a time of silence for my blog.  I will still post every now and then, when I desperately need to get something off my chest.  (In fact, after I finish this post, I am about to write another "Song of the Week" post that I have been pondering for some time.)  But, I won't post as regularly as I did when I first started.  So, check back from time to time if you feel so inclined, and other than that, hope to see you next year! 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What are you waiting for?

Song of the Week: "Walk on the Water," Britt Nicole

I barely have 10 seconds to post because I'm smack dab in the middle of law school exams.  But, there's so much I want to talk about, like: 
  • The So Long Insecurity Simulcast yesterday - WOW! is all I have time to say for now, but that's going to have to be a post unto itself.
  • How I feel about graduating from law school and thus closing the Wake Forest chapter of my life.
  • And, the fact that Bobby got a JOB! Yes!  And he loves it!  God is so faithful!
But, since I don't have time to talk about anything because outlines are calling my name, we'll save those topics for another day.  Today, let me just challenge you with the words of this song by Britt Nicole.  (Yes, I love her music.  She truly has a fresh perspective on what it means to follow Christ.)  The song is called "Walk on Water."  The lyrics speak for themselves:

You look around
It's staring back at you
Another wave of doubt
Will it pull you under
You wonder

What if I'm overtaken
What if I never make it
What if no one's there?
Will you hear my prayer?

When you take that first step
Into the unknown
You know that He won't let you go


So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to alter you

You know you're made for more
So don't be afraid to move
Your faith is all
It takes in you
You can walk on the water too

Verse 2:
So get out
and let your fear fall to the ground
No time to waste
Don't wait
Don't you turn around and miss out
Everything you were made for
I know you're not sure
So you play it safe
Try to run away

If you take that first step
Into the unknown
He won't let you go


(Step Out)
Even when a storm hits
(Step Out)
Even when you're broken
(Step Out)
Even when your heart is telling you, telling you to give up
(Step Out)
When your hope is stolen
(Step Out)
You can't see where you're going
You don't have to be afraid

So what are you waiting for?


 I can't find a music video for the song, but at least you can listen to it:

No copyright infringement intended.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Little Girl

Song of the Week: "More Beautiful You," Jonny Diaz

Girl Looking in the Mirror in Dress-Up Clothes

I know it's been a while since I posted a song of the week.  Been swamped lately.  Anyway, I've mentioned that I'm participating in Beth Moore's So Long Insecurity Discussion Group together with some of my law school girls.  Thus far, the journey has been eye-opening, refreshing, and liberating!  I believe I speak for all of us when I say that, we are desperate to throw off the insecurities that so easily entangle us!  And we are eager to run the race set before us by our Maker!  (Hebrews 12:1)  We know that we can't run to our full potential if we remain hampered by the chin splints, or worse, paralysis of insecurity!  And, we have come to God in this season asking him to set us free! (Psalm 71:2, NLT).

With all things insecurity on the brain, I have been listening to Jonny Diaz's "More Beautiful You" a lot lately.  Jonny's song is a beautiful reminder of the security we have in Christ.  Generally, I am one of those people who listens to a song over and over again until I am sick to death of it.  But, I must say, this song never gets old!  Why?  As long as I live, I will never tire of hearing that my Heavenly Father looks at me with love in his eyes and sees me as beautiful--in spite of my weaknesses, in spite of my sin, in spite of the extra pounds I gain, in spite of wrinkles that will gradually take over my body, in spite of my humanity.  When God looks at His children, He does not see all of those things that we see when we look in the mirror.  He sees the radiance of Christ by the miracle of the cross!  How could anything be more beautiful than that?!

Here are the lyrics to Jonny's song, but I strongly encourage you to watch the music video below.  You won't be sorry! 

Little girl fourteen, flipping through a magazine,
Says she wants to look that way,
But her hair isn’t straight, her body isn’t fake,
And she’s always felt overweight.

Well, little girl fourteen, I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart,
And you were made with such care your skin, your body, and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are.

There could never be a more beautiful you.
Don't buy the lies, disguises, and hoops they make you jump through.
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do,
So there could never be a more beautiful you.

Little girl twenty-one, the things that you’ve already done,
Anything to get ahead.
And you say you’ve got a man, but he’s got another plan,
Only wants what you will do instead.

Well, little girl twenty-one, you never thought that this would come.
You starve yourself to play the part.
But I can promise you, there’s a Man whose love is true,
And He’ll treat you like the jewel you are

There could never be a more beautiful you.
Don't buy the lies, disguises, and hoops they make you jump through.
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do,
So there could never be a more beautiful you

So, turn around you’re not too far
To back away, be who you are
To change your path go another way
It’s not too late, you can be saved.
If you feel depressed with past regrets,
The shameful nights hope-to-forgets
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the One who’s strong, can right your wrongs,
Can rid your fears, dry all your tears,
And change the way you look at this big world.
He will take your dark distorted view,
And with His light, He will show you truth,

And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl

There could never be a more beautiful you.
Don't buy the lies, disguises, and hoops they make you jump through.
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do.
So there could never be a more beautiful you
There could never be, a more beautiful you.

Precious Father, we pray that you would shine light on the lies of our insecurities.  Show us the truth of who we are in Christ, so that we might fill the unique purpose that you have for our lives!  Set us free!

No copyright infringement intended.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Do you ever have those days when life just feels heavy?  Like the evil of this world is too much to take on?  Like your heart is on the verge of breaking when you think about the burdens that the people around you have to bear?

Today is one of those days.

It's one of those days when the bleak tapestry of the sky matches the canvas of my heart.  It's one of those days when life handed me lemons, and I don't have the energy to make lemonade.  It's one of those days when as much as I've tried to rouse the Spirit within me, I cannot shake the desire to get back in bed, go to sleep, and try again tomorrow.

What are we to do with days like today?  If I had the answer, I probably wouldn't be writing this post.

What I do know is that Jesus tells us to come to Him when we are "weary and heavy-laden," and He "will give us rest."  (Matthew 11:28, NASB)  I love how The Message translates this familiar passage of Scripture:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."  ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Another verse I cling to when the life seems heavy is Psalm 126:5 - "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.Perhaps, this verse holds the key to surviving days like today--remembering God's goodness in times past.  (One of my friends calls this practice a "having a positive confession.")  Psalm 126 is one of the Psalms of Ascents that was sung by the Pilgrims as they ascended to Jerusalem.  In this Psalm, the Pilgrims recount God's faithfulness to them.  As they mount the steps toward home, they remember the many tears they cried in exile and the shouts of joy they lifted up to God when He brought them home.

Again, Eugene Peterson's translation of this passage is masterful.  Check it out:

"And now, God, do it again—
      bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
   So those who planted their crops in despair
      will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
   So those who went off with heavy hearts
      will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing."
~ Psalm 126:4-5, The Message

When we have trouble finding joy in today, at the very least, let us not forget the faithfulness God showed to us yesterday.  Let us also look forward to the hope of tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Song of the Week: "You Reign," 4HIM

Though the title of this post may lead you to think (and rightfully so) that this is a post about my personal struggle with control, it's not.  It's something much bigger than that.  It's about sovereignty...the sovereignty of God.

We live in a mean world.  In the midst of that world, it can be incredibly hard to keep the faith.  Our flesh is weak.  What's more, as followers of Christ, we fight an enemy who likes nothing better than to see our faith waver.  He will use all sorts of tragedies to rattle our faith.  If we live long enough, we will undoubtedly go through seasons of intense trial and tribulation, many of which will hit far too close to home.  The sad reality of life in this world is that our faith is constantly under attack, even by tragedies that don't affect us personally.  When trials come, we need to know that God is still in control!

During my first year of law school, I heard the devastating news that seven college students from South Carolina were killed when the beach house they were staying in caught on fire.  I did not know any of the victims personally, though I have several friends who did.  Despite the fact that I was personally removed from the suffering, the news of the tragedy rattled my faith unlike any personal tragedy I have ever endured.  For the life of me, I could not understand why God could allow something so awful to happen.  Because I grew up at the beach, the idea of gathering with friends at a beach house is so familiar, so sacred to me.  The idea of such joy turning into such grief is horrifying.  For weeks after the tragedy, I felt as though a black cloud had descended over my faith.  I never stopped believing that God is sovereign, but I just ... couldn't ... understand.  I can't begin to imagine how their loved ones felt.

Yet, somewhere in that bleak place of confusion and doubt, I heard these word from the song "You Reign" by 4Him:

"This is the peace in my heart
The strength of my soul
Whatever happens in life
This much I know
You are in CONTROL!"

Having wrestled for days to understand why God didn't prevent such a tragedy, I came to the conclusion that, this side of Heaven, we may not know why certain things happen.  It is enough to know that God is in control. For weeks, I listened to the song on repeat, allowing the words to wash over me and to restore my faith.  Though I still don't fully understand why God allows such tragedies as the Ocean Isle Fire, or more recently the earthquake in Haiti, I do know that He is sovereign.  I also know that all of the sufferings that we endure in this life are woven into his perfect plan of redemption. 

So, if you ever find yourself wondering where God is in the midst of your own suffering or even the suffering of others, consider the words of this song.  (It's a beautiful song, so I encourage to listen to it as well.  Here's a link to the audio.)

Long before you ever said
“Let there be light”
To long after this world has had
Its final night
Great god in heaven you’ll be
Where You’ve always been
Seated on your holy throne
King of all kings
Looking down on men

You are ruler above all the nations
Sovereign through all generations
Lord you reign
One day
All kings will tremble before you
I will bow down to adore you
Lord you reign

Morning and night the sky shouts
Your majesty
Saying the whole universe
Is under your feet
This is the peace in my heart
The strength of my soul
Whatever happens in life
This much I know
You are in control

There none like you
Lord you are worthy
Everything you do
Always is perfect

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us!"

Today is an exciting day because Beth Moore's new book, So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us, just hit the shelves! If you haven't heard about the book, check it out here on Amazon.  Two other exciting tidbits to go along with the book:

  • Starting next week, Beth is going to lead a study of her book through her blog. (The LPM Blog)  Every week, she will assign a couple of chapters and post discussion questions.  People will post their responses to the questions on her blog.  Our law school bible study is going to participate, and I encourage you to, too!
  • On April 24, 2010, Beth will host a LIVE teaching event on the topic of insecurityThe actual event will be held in Atlanta, but it will be broadcast live via satellite to many other host sites across the US and Canada.  Over 600 churches and schools have already signed up to host the event, including my church!  To find a host site near you, click here.  Just to give you an idea of what an amazing opportunity this is, over 100,000 people across the United States attended the simulcast for Get Out of that Pit!  Regardless of how many people attend this one, I know that God will show up--and that alone is reason enough to go!
 (Image provided by

Monday, February 1, 2010

"I feel pretty!"

If my blog could sing right now, it would be singing "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story!

Don't you love the new look? I do!

Many thanks to Kelly at Fabulous K, who turned a drab-looking blog into something fabulous!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Wonderland!

At first, I titled this post "Snow Day," but somehow that title only seems appropriate for a day when school is canceled.  (I'm holding out hope that such will be the case on Monday, but it's still too early to tell.)  Anyway, here's a glimpse of what Bobby and I woke up to this morning.  (Bobby, the photographer, says please ignore the trash compactor in the foreground.)

 Unfortunately, we don't have any scenic pictures of Bobby and me frolicking in the snow because both of us would much rather stay inside where its warm.  Beach people to the core, one snow every decade is plenty for us!  Here are a few examples of what I mean:
  • You know you're from the beach when you refer to snow by year (as in the Snow of '89).  
  • You know you're from the beach when you have to go sledding on the hill of a highway overpass because there's no other hill to be found.  (Actually, we didn't have sleds at all - we used our hydroslides!)
  • You know you're from the beach when you don't own a snow shovel and you have to use a dustpan as an ice scraper. 
  • You know you're from the beach when the closest thing you have to snow boots are Sperry's and Rainbows.  
  • You know you're from the beach when school is canceled if they play "Let it Snow" on the radio within earshot of the superintendent. 
  • You know you're from the beach when you start telling people you've moved to the North, and you mean North Carolina.  (Ok, I know that doesn't exactly have to do with snow, but I couldn't resist.  I'm still mourning the loss of my SC license plate.  Seriously, NC needs to step it up a notch in that department.  I'm pretty sure the NC license plate hasn't changed since they invented the automobile!) 
Just look at all the beautiful SC plates we've had in my lifetime alone...


(All License Plate Images from

Happy snow day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Still standing!

Song of the Week: "Shadow Feet" by Brooke Fraser

Portrait of a woman with her arms spread out

It was only a matter of time before I mentioned it. The pink elephant in the room of my existence . . .

Law school.

Did I mention I'm a 3L? The past two and a half years of law school have been a lot of things--exciting, challenging, tiring, and interesting--to name a few. I have made some of my most dear friends in law school, and I have enjoyed (for the second time) the rigorous atmosphere of Work, I mean, Wake Forest.

If you've ever thought about going to law school or known someone that has, you've probably heard the old saying that corresponds to the 3 years of law school: "First year, they scare you to death. Second year, they work you to death. And, third year they bore you to death." The mere fact that there are people still alive to tell the tale means they don't do anything unto death, but you get the picture. For the most part, though, the old adage has some truth to it.

As I mentioned last week, there's a soundtrack for every season of my life. The song of the week this week was not just on the soundtrack from my 2L year. I would go so far as to say that it was the anthem of my 2L year. Despite the fact that I have mercifully progressed into the boredom of 3L year, I could not miss the opportunity to share the song that got me through most of the days last year.

So, without further adieu, the song of the week is: "Shadow Feet" by Brooke Fraser. (Click here to read the lyrics, and here to watch a really awesome music video of the song.)

If I had to pick an adjective to describe my 2L year, it would be overwhelming. (I might add that two other "ing" words, namely planning + wedding, contributed to my stress level last year.) But, the majority of my stress came from school. Never had I felt more like I was constantly treading water only to sink lower and lower beneath the surface.

The words of Brooke's song gave me the strength I needed to keep treading. I claimed the words of her song nearly every day. Here's how the chorus goes:

"When the world has fallen out from under me,
I'll be found in you, still standing.
When the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees,
When time and space are through,
I'll be found in you!

Though I'd love to sit down and unpack all of the eschatalogical implications of this chorus, it was the daily promise of the song that meant the most to me last year. Brooke's song taught me this lesson: Just because the world around us is crumbling (or so we think) and just because all of the balls we've been juggling come crashing down around us does NOT mean that we have to fall too.

"I'll be found in you, STILL STANDING!"

As I ponder the words of this song, I cannot help but think about Luke's account of the death of Stephen in Acts 7. Stephen was one of the first seven deacons chosen by Jesus' disciples to minister to the widows and the sick. The Bible says that he was "a man full of God's grace and power." (Acts 6:8, NIV) Stephen is also known as the first martyr for the Christian faith.

What's most amazing to me about Stephen's death is what he said right before he was stoned to death by the angry mob. "Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56, NIV) The cool part is this -- normally, Jesus is pictured seated at the right hand of God. (e.g. Ps. 110:1; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3), but Scripture tells us that Jesus STOOD while Stephen suffered death on account of his faith.

I don't mean to compare my law school frustrations to Stephen's martyrdom (or the serious tribulations that a lot of people around me are facing right now.) Nevertheless, when I reflect on Luke's account of Stephen's death, I cannot help but cherish the image of Christ Jesus standing while his follower suffered intense tribulation for the sake of His Name! Whether Jesus stands when we face less trivial tribulation or whether he remains seated is really unimportant. No matter what the tribulation, "it is God who enables us . . . to stand firm for Christ." (2 Cor. 1:21, NLT)

Even though it's not my song of the week this week, I cannot resist closing with the words of the song "The Stand" by Hillsong United.

You stood before creation
Eternity within Your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
Carried the Cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon Your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to you

So I'll walk upon salvation
Your Spirit alive in me
This life to declare Your promise
My soul now to stand

So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to you

So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all

So I'll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours.

Here's the video for "Shadowfeet":

No copyright infringement intended.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blessed is She

Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes has probably heard me quote Beth Moore. When asked one time in an ice breaker, "If you could be twins with anyone, who would it be?" I quickly responded, "Beth Moore!" And, not just because of her good hair!

Though I have never met her face to face, Beth has been my "resident" bible teacher for the last decade, just as she has been for thousands of women across America. I cannot begin to express how my faith has grown through her bible studies. To be clear, (and I'm sure Beth would say the same), Beth's wisdom and insight into the Scriptures has been entrusted to her by God and God alone--not by her own intellect, though she has plenty of that, too. Neverthless, I am so thankful that Beth heeded the Lord's call on her life. Most of all, I am thankful that Beth has dispensed with appearances in order to be transparent about her own struggles and the victory that she has found in Christ Jesus! Lord knows, I am better off because of her testimony!

This week, I have been listening to a recording of a message Beth gave to a group of women at the Living Proof Live event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The message is entitled, "The Perfect Storm," based on Acts 27. You can purchase it here. In the message, Beth talks about the impact that storms can have on our lives. The message is chock full of Scriptural truths that are worth reflecting upon, but in the interest of time (homework's waiting), I will get down to the main point.

Toward the end of her message, Beth said something that stopped me in my tracks. She said,

"Some of us have gotten a clear word from God that we have given up on."

Then she asks, "What did God tell you? ... Do you still believe Him for that word, or have you given up on it?" She goes on to say, "There is something on the other side of this storm that you must endure to be able to receive what God has for you."

Finally, Beth quotes a verse of Scripture that blew me away. Luke 1:45 (NIV):

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" (Luke 1:45, NIV)

Though I had read that verse before, I had never noticed the feminine pronoun. The verse actually uses the pronoun she! To be perfectly honest, I usually couldn't care less whether an author uses a masculine or feminine pronoun. (In fact, in my undergraduate days of writing papers for my English major, I was annoyed when my professors required us to use gender-neutral pronouns. To me, it's jarring to the reader to use the combined form of "he/she.")

But, something about the use of the pronoun "she" in that verse is so touching to me! Why? Perhaps, it's because I am still desperately clinging to a word I received from God a few years ago that has not come to fruition yet. (I'm talking about white-knuckled, nails-dug-in kind of clinging.) Perhaps, it's because there are days when I just want to give up on the belief that what He has promised will come true. But, you know, the amazing thing about waiting on the Lord is that just when I think I have lost all hope, God speaks to me through his Word to remind me that He is a God who fulfills his promises - even to the "shes" of this world!

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Don't Be Afraid to Stand Out!

Studio Shot of a Joyful Man Standing in a Crowd of People With Their Backs Turned, Punching the Air and Cheering

Since I'm new at the blog thing, I have been looking around at various blogs to see what works the best! In addition to more varied posts, a lot of bloggers do a routine, weekly post centering on a certain theme. For example, BigMama, one of my favorite bloggers, does Fashion Fridays - giving her readers ideas for internet deals on fashionable items. (Don't worry, Bobby and Dad, I'm not going to start giving fashion tips. You can keep reading...)

Last night, while I was in the shower, (that's where I do my best creative thinking for some odd reason), I was brainstorming ideas for a routine post that I could do. Besides brainstorming, another one of my favorite shower pasttimes (probably to the dismay of all my former roommates) is to blare music & sing at the top of my lungs! (Did I mention that I'm borderline tone-deaf w/ a raspy voice to boot?) Anyway, the combination of these two activities spawned an idea for a routine post fitting to me. I will pick a song of the week that inspires me. Or, at least, I'll give it a shot this week. If it doesn't work, I can always scrap the idea later.

For someone who cannot sing whatsoever, I have a remarkable love for music! Perhaps, my affinity stems from the fact that songs are really poetry put to music. Like many, I tend to process life through the music I'm listening to (and the books I'm reading) at any given moment. There's a soundtrack to accompany every season of my life!

Before entering the current season of waiting that I mentioned in my last post, I had just come out of a crisis of faith regarding my calling. For about two years, I struggled with extreme unrest and doubt about God's purpose for my life. I was paralyzed by the fear that I would miss my destiny. To be perfectly honest, I am still not over this struggle. I still have moments of panic. I still wonder on a regular basis if I will ever amount to anything of value for God's kingdom. (I realize this is a very egocentric fear...I'm just being real.) Thankfully, however, through God's grace, the promises of His Word, and the encouragement of family and friends who believe in me more than I believe in myself, I have come to some semblance of victory over this stronghold.

In the midst of this struggle, I heard a song on the radio that encapsulated all of the hopes and fears that I had been feeling for so long. It's called "The Lost Get Found" by Britt Nicole. Britt is a contemporary-Christian artist about my age from North Carolina. Her song inspires listeners of all ages to rise up and do something for the glory of God. The chorus goes like this:

"Don't let your lights go down.
Don't let your fire burn out.
Somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe.
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out,
That's how the lost get found."

At the end of the song, Britt asks a question that continued to reverberate in my mind after I heard it the first time.

"So when you get the chance, are you gonna take it?
There's a really big world at your fingertips,
And you know you have the chance to change it."

For months, I had been so paralyzed by fear over my calling that I stood motionless while people around me needed to hear about the hope of Christ Jesus. When I heard the question in Britt's song, it was almost as if God himself was asking me. Like He was saying, "Missy, you leave the specifics of your calling up to me. I just want to know one thing - when I give you the chance, are you going to take it?" You see, God's purpose for his people is twofold. First, God has an ultimate purpose for our lives. But, the awesome thing about God is that he also gives us a purpose for each day. Until that point, I had been insisting that God reveal to me the ultimate purpose for my life before I moved a muscle. As a result, I had missed out on so many daily chances to fulfill my calling. Fortunately, our God is a God of second chances. So, I challenge you through the words Britt's song. "When you get the chance, are you gonna take it?" "Don't be afraid to stand out, that's how the lost get found!"

If you want to hear the song & see the profound music video that goes with it, I encourage you to watch it here. (If you just want to read the lyrics, click here.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

While We're Waiting

In my short tenure on this earth, I have found that the Christian life, like time itself, is marked by seasons. Solomon affirms this truth in the book of Ecclesiastes: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." (Ecc. 3: 1, NLT) During the past several months, Bobby and I have found ourselves in a season of waiting. While we have experienced countless emotions since we tied the knot in May (mostly the sweet contentment of marital bliss), we, nevertheless, have spent most of our time in "the waiting room." Waiting on a job...waiting on God...

Long before the wedding, Bobby began looking for full-time employment in North Carolina so that he could join me as I finish my last year of law school. Despite Bobby's tireless efforts to network and submit applications, still no full-time employment opportunities have come to fruition. So, we keep on waiting.

For several months, I wrestled with God, asking him, "Why?" I thought it must be me. I thought maybe if I prayed harder, God would provide Bobby with a job. I thought maybe if I tried harder to please God--did my quiet time more, resisted my flesh more--maybe God would come through for us. But, finally, I realized that I was projecting man's logic onto God. A currency-based relationship with God. "I'll do x for you, God, if you do y for me." "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." Praise God, that is not how He operates! Our God is a God of abundant mercy and grace!

As my perspective changed and I became more at peace in this season of waiting (to be sure, I still have my days), I prayed that God would help us discern what he desires to teach us through this season. Because God desires our sanctification and his Holy Spirit always works in us to that end, we can be sure that any season in our lives is purposed by God to teach us and refine us. Whether we receive his teaching, however, is up to us! Bobby and I still can't see God's end goal in this time of waiting. Even so, we can already see some of the good that has come out of this season. Without further adieu, here are some of the lessons that Bobby and I have learned while we're waiting! (Some are less serious than others. Special thanks to Bobby for helping me compile the list.)
  1. God's sense of timing is different than our sense of timing! 2 Peter 3:8-9a says, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise..."
  2. The customary American business practice of sending invoices when a payment is due does not apply to COBRA insurance. Pay your bill on time, regardless of whether you receive an invoice, or they WILL cancel your converage. We learned this the hard way!
  3. God's ways are higher than our ways! (Isaiah 55:8-9) No matter how hard we try, or how badly we want something to happen, if it's not in God's plan, it will not come to pass. Yet, "...God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Rom. 8:28, NLT)
And, last but not least, number 4: God always provides ENOUGH for us! A few days ago, the passage of the day in my new devotional was Exodus 16. What a providential reminder of God's presence amidst our season of waiting! Exodus 16 recounts the first time God provided manna to the Israelites. Like Bobby and me, the Israelites were in a season of waiting. Delivered out of Egypt by God, the Israelites were waiting for God to lead them into the promised land. And, they had become weary of the wait! Like we often do, they began complaining to God. Yet, in his great mercy (despite their ungratefulness), God rained down manna and quail to sustain them in the desert. The manna fulfilled three purposes: 1) It provided the Israelites with physical sustenance (i.e. food!) in the desert; 2) it served as a sign of God's faithfulness to them during the wait; and, 3) it forced them to depend on God to meet their needs. (Ex. 16:6-8)

But, here's what stood out to me as I reread Exodus 16 - the manna God provided was always enough. No matter how much manna each person gathered, they all had exactly what they needed! (Ex. 16:18, The Message) During our own season of waiting, God has been just as faithful to us as he was to the Israelites! God has never failed to provide enough for us! If there ever comes a day when Bobby and I are more financially solvent than today, my prayer is that we will continue to depend on God with the same desperation we have known in this season.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Go Deacs!

UPDATE: Deacs win in overtime! 85-83. What a fun game!

Bobby and I are excited to watch our Demon Deacons take on the Maryland Terrapins tonight at LJVM! Looking forward to a good game! Go Deacs!

Cleveland St. vs. Wake Forest

Monday, January 11, 2010

A New Path for 2010

Salut! and welcome to my new blog Things Hoped For . I have been wanting to start a blog for sometime now. My husband, after hearing me ponder the idea, dream about the idea, and do just about everything with the idea, except actually start a blog, gave me the most wonderful surprise for Christmas. He arranged to have Kelly from FabulousK Creative design the header/background, etc. for my new blog. His gift was exactly the impetus I needed to put the pen to the page (metaphorically speaking) and start writing. So, thanks Bobby! Hopefully, the blog will get a much needed makeover from Kelly soon, but I couldn't wait any longer to get started!

During our drive back to Winston-Salem, after spending a delightful Christmas in South Carolina with our family, Bobby and I listened to a sermon by one of our favorite pastors, Andy Stanley. As his name suggests, Andy Stanley is Charles Stanley's son and the pastor of NorthPoint Community Church in Atlanta. (I have my dad to thank for getting me hooked on Andy's sermons--he's listened to nearly all of them!) God has gifted Andy with the ability to deliver His Word in a profound, yet simple way that forces you to put aside all of the preconceived notions you might have about a given Scripture. And, he's hilarious to boot! If we ever move to Atlanta, I would love to be able to attend NPCC or Buckhead Church, but until then, I'll settle for the podcast.

Anyway, the message that Bobby and I were listening to that Sunday afternoon was from Andy's series entitled "Destinations." (You can find it in the NorthPoint podcast on iTunes.) In the first message in the series, Andy introduces us to what he calls "The Principle of the Path," based in part on Proverbs 7. The principle of the path is this: "Direction, not intention, determines our destination."

As Andy suggests, this principle at first seems intuitive, obvious even. But, when we transpose this principle from the world of geography to the world of everyday life, the implications are staggering. To further borrow from Andy's analogy, most of us realize that if we drive up I-95 north, we will not end up in Florida - no matter how badly we want to go to Florida, or even how desperately we intend to go to Florida. And, yet, somehow, when it comes to the paths we take in life, there's a disconnect. In everyday life, we stubbornly maintain that the desire to end up a certain place is enough to get us there. The truth is, only the paths we choose determine our ultimate destination!

At the end of his message, Andy gives a list of very common ways that the disconnect is manifested in our lives. I was so convicted by the simple truth of Andy's message that I began to reflect upon the ways "the disconnect" was manifested in my life in 2009. I'll share just a few:
  • "I want to know God more than I want anything else in the world, so I'll watch TV more and read the Bible less."
  • "I want to experience the Sabbath rest of God and the peace that passes all understanding, so I'll work harder, do more, strive more, and maybe one day I'll find it."
  • "I need to get in better shape and maintain a more balanced diet, so I'll just eat one more donut and drink one more coke."
Those are only a few examples of the disconnect in my life--there are many more! After recognizing the disconnects in my life, I began to long for a new path for 2010. I realized that, in order to chart a new path, I must choose a new direction. Similarly, to set my direction, I must first determine my destination. As I contemplated this, I was reminded of the verse in Hebrews, where Paul exhorts believers:

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us
fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross." Hebrews 12:1b-2 (NIV)

Not only does this verse reveal the destination I was searching for (Jesus!), it also demonstrates our Savior's perfect implementation of "The Principle of the Path." And, what a marvelous picture it is!! Scripture tells us that as the time of his crucifixion drew near, Jesus set his face like flint toward Jerusalem. (Isaiah 50:7, Luke 9:51) Jesus never veered from the path. There were no disconnects in his thinking. With singular focus, Jesus walked the path that led toward our salvation. A path that required him to suffer the most brutal death on a cross. All for the joy set before him. What joy, you might ask? "The joy of bringing salvation to the ones he loves."* What better reason to run on the path that leads us into the arms of such a Savior?

I invite you to embark with me on a new path in 2010. As we begin, we can take comfort in this word from Psalms 32:8: "The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." (NLT).

*(Morris, The Expositor's Bible Commentary)