Friday, December 30, 2011

Fullness of Joy: A Tale of Christmas

Will you tell your kids Santa is real?

A week ago, I probably would have not even thought twice about the question…of course I will let them believe in Santa! What a horrible parent I would be if I didn’t!! Just to think of all the joys of the season they would never experience…yes, my kids will believe in Santa. I will even aide the little story…the presents magically appearing in the night, the list mailed to the north pole. Oh and we mustn’t forget the cookies bitten into and the carrots nibbled away, milk guzzled down as well. Yes, my kids will believe.

This year I got to experience Christmas here in Arkansas with a sweet family that has become my home away from home. Though I missed that precious time with my parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews, I kept busy just trying to keep up with this family of eleven! Oh how blessed I was! You would think a house of nine little ones running around would be the last place one would experience peace at the core…and yet, I felt nothing but such a peace which transcends all understanding within those walls.

This Christmas more vividly then any prior, I saw Jesus. In everything.

Oh yes, there were presents galore. There was more food then mouths to feed. Delicious food. There were games and laughter, fighting and tears. There was excitement in the air. Anticipation of the day to come. Big red socks filled to the brim, presents hugging the tree all around, plenty of sweets for all to share. But there was more, so much more!

On Christmas Eve, the dad, the leader of his home, he gathered up all of us kiddos as we circled around on the floor, looking up to him with joyous anticipation of what was to come. He told the youngest ones they would get a gift on this night, this night before that glorious day. With excitement, they each received. With an okay from dad, they opened, one at a time. First one: a baby Jesus. Second: a baby Jesus. Third…you get the idea. They were all baby Jesus from various nativities around the house. There was wonder in their eyes, as they each look up to daddy. He explains to them with deep conviction and joyous praise of the One for whom this day is made. We hear the Truth of the Christ, the baby born in the manger, the One who took what I deserved, the One to who gave me hope, peace, joy, and love.

“Daddy, what is joy?” Well, son joy is like happiness. Expect whenever something really sad happens, it doesn’t go away. It is from deep inside. We can only have it because of Jesus. Dad continued to pour wisdom over his little ones, raising them up into a life of godliness. Little murmurs of wonder and question to interject once in a while. He spoke rich Truth of why we celebrate Christmas. We get to open presents in the morning…we get to eat these special foods….we get to gather up in the living room and sleep…we get to open stockings that mommy and daddy secretly fill in the night…all of this is fun and sweet, but remember it is all about Jesus. This day is to celebrate Him.

This year, mom and dad decided to add a trumpet to the tree, up top by the angel. Dad went on to explain to the kiddos that not only do we get to celebrate Christ’s birth but we are celebrating that He is coming back!!! The sound of the trumpet…“Come Lord Jesus, Come.” That is a promise…He is coming. We get to live with joyful anticipation of that day. That is worth celebration!

Then we all curl up on beds in the living room…yes everyone! Dad leads us in worship…the whole choir sings out in praise to the Giver of Life. This is almost too much for my hungry heart to bear. Do families really worship the Lord together like this? No instruments? No big building of people? It was as if the Lord began peeling back layers from my eyes. I began to see the society that has fed me from birth such a tainted message for what it really is. The new clearness with which I could now see was like a dream—a fantasy. What joy. Holding back the tears, I just sing softly along, praising Him for this moment which is etched in my heart for life.

To quiet the hearts filled with excitement, mom and dad read scripture until everyone falls asleep. As I am laying on my bed, cuddled up and reminiscing, I wonder how I ever got here…to this very spot in this house in the woods in Arkansas with this family who wash me in the Word as I drift to sleep with their children on Christmas Eve. Then the tears begin to fall as I am reminded of His faithfulness in my life…the fullness of His presence in that moment contrasted with the hopelessness of growing up apart from Him—fullness of joy barely contains my heart. His perfect plan which far exceeds mine always places me exactly where I am supposed to be—without a doubt.

My very first time opening a stocking...
and I got TWO!!
With the sunrise, I hear little voices, filled with excitement. The day has finally arrived! We open gifts and play. We speak words of thankfulness for what we receive. We are blessed. We eat deliciousness. We gather around while dad reads to us a story of redemption. His humble tears move me. I wish I could press pause in these moments and never forget the fullness of joy contained. I wish I could give others a little glimpse, a little taste. Oh, I hunger for this. Nothing less will do.

This beautiful family, they are not prefect by any means. They are real and flawed and in desperate need of Christ, just like me. But they love Him wholly. They love Him more then presents, more then Christmas, more then Santa, more then the season. Their worship is to Him and Him alone. Their children know it too. And the younger ones will not be able to deny it. His holy name echoes through those walls.

That is what Christmas is about.

If the Lord allows me to raise a family some day, my kiddos won’t know Santa, but they will know the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Savior born in a manger. Is this not who we are celebrating? Then why do we fabricate this jolly old fella in a red suit when we can offer them someone so much greater?! I love that one day my family can squeal in excitement because of the Christ, the one who came and is coming again!! That is where the fullness of joy is found—that is Christmas.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Friday, December 23, 2011

Created for Something More

This past week has been much of a blur. The battle of feeling as though I was created for a world far different from this one rages wildly within my core, a storm within destroying the little wall of protection I had built up the past months.

 A wall built of bricks. Each one locking into place as my (deicetfully wicked) heart has so quietly nestled its way into the confidence of this life over the next. Is it not so easy to be decieved? To believe that instant gratification far exceeds what is to come. To be convinced that a title or money or a new outfit is going to make us feel better...lighter somehow, more free. Are we not constantly longing for intimcay with others? Friends, parents, roommates, siblings, our spouses (or spouses to be!). Searching through the crowds for the ONE that is supposed to stand out.

What is it that brings lasting satisfaction, contentment of our souls, in this life?

I have searched high and low. I have tried these other things. I have found nothing but Christ and Christ alone which brings such as this.

So if I really beleive that my life comes from Christ--that eveything I do and say and think and feel stems from a desire, a necessity really, to know Him above all else, then it would make sense that I feel lost in a world that screams otherwise.

It makes sense. And yet it is frustrating, a battle that will not simmer down within me.

This is personal--it is an attack of the supernatural designed to peirce the core of the "have nots" in my life.

For instance, I feel as though I should be spending an hour in front of the mirror, primping and proding my hair into perfection, running out the door with a man at my side--out to take on the world, oh and have some fun while we're at it.

I feel as though I should stay out late--hanging out and flirting from across the room.

I feel as though I should be content watching some silly chick flick, regaurdless of what I hear or see in the process.

I feel as though I should be a normal college kid...squeling with excitment over a homecoming victory last week, celebrating late into the night.

 And yet somehow what I FEEL I should be doing in order to be like everyone else is so far from the reality of my life.

Most days, it is a noteworthy victory to even get a shower. The application of makeup to this face--well that is like a miracle. Jokingly I think to myself, a boy? What does one even look like?
Most days, I am in bed before it's even dark outside. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. Most days, I am the first of my roomies to shut my door and turn off my light.
Most days, my stomach begins to turn as I walk by a TV blaring thougthless langauge and scene after scene of intimacy, frustration hunkering up from somewhere within that is unfarmiliar to me.
Most days, I look at college life and walk a little more quickly in the direction of home, looking to my future of leggings, blanket and a book on the couch with anticipation.

I do not feel like I belong in this world--especially in this world of college. Sometimes, I beg and plead for the Lord to just give me the ability to simmer down and be more "fun," whatever that means. This weekend I became so angry--so frustrated by my lack of "funness" if that's even a word. Comparision always destroys.

Almost two months after writing this post, I still don't have any answers and the battle continues to war on, lighter some days then others. And yet, I am learnng to be content where ever He has me at. If that is at a party with international studnets where I feel as though I am out of place, if that is in the classroom learning things that contradict my beleifs, if that is at home with my roommates who are pursuing different thing then me, if that is alone in my room weeping over my inabilty to measure up to this fantasy I have in my head, over the fact that I may never have it all together, over the fact that I will never find contentment in this life.

Praise God that my heart is deicitfully wicked and that my feelings are not my Truth. Praise to Him, for His word is perfect and unchanging. He is perfect and unchanging. That is my only hope, my only promise, my only place of peace in this life. Oh Lord, give me those eyes to see and ears to hear--to see and hear YOU over all the rest.

Daniel 9: 17-19
17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord,[a] make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Tale of Thanksgiving

When I walked into my sister’s house on that chilly Thanksgiving afternoon, I had butterflies fluttering from head to toe. I had not seen these people in years. With DNA entangling us in some beautiful mess, I knew nothing about them aside from a man we all call dad.

I could not even believe I was doing this. I mean, what could they possibly want with me?

Give them an hour or two and they will regret this, Courtney. As they look you up and down with disproving glances when you turn your back, you will know I am right. You will feel it, every glance, every disappointment. I mean, you know they would never love you if they had any idea the mess your life has become…right? Well, it’s true. You better stand up straight, suck in that gut, and smile real big—its your only chance at making it through the evening. You’ll see…they don’t want you. Smile now.  

At this point in my life, I was enslaved to lies. I was insecure, selfish, and hopeless—I was convinced I was a failure and would never be good enough to receive anyone’s love.

I was lost in the darkness of an eating disorder, depression, and self-harm. I didn’t see a purpose in my life anymore.

As the door opened, the warm air wisped across my bare neck, sending a tingle down my spine. High pitched voices going off, much like fire works sounding on the fourth—one after the next, in synch. All the women of course. So much noise and commotion—and yet I feel oddly peaceful. Hugs—the good ole hug like ya mean it ones. Twenty of them—at least. I had forgotten what that felt like. Food—everywhere.

Somewhere in the middle of all the commotion and all of the people packed into my sister’s warm house, was me. This broken, hurting little girl. I was sitting in a chair next to the couch, just taking it all in. My sister came up behind me and started playing with my hair as she began speaking words of life over my dehydrated soul.

Across the room, sat my sister-in-law and brother. I remember looking up and locking eyes with my brother in this moment—he just smiled at me, not the fake kind though. He needn’t say a word—his eyes told me I was worth more. They told me I could trust him. I felt like my heart could penetrate through my chest at any moment. What was happening to me?

I had never experienced anything like this—the warmth, joy, noise, messiness, smells, voices, laughter, touch, joy, thanksgiving, genuineness—the love. I remember thinking, “Why am I feeling so sentimental all of a sudden? They wouldn’t be this sweet if they really knew me. A girl can dream, right?”

That night, I felt more love then my heart could handle. I could not remember a time in my life when I felt so at home—so at peace—and so loved. It was like a crystal clear, beautiful lake sprung up in the middle of my desert. There was something very different about this family—something that drew me to them, something far greater then the DNA we shared.

But what?

I did not walk out the door night with an answer. However, I did leave with a hunger and thirst for something ever so tangible, yet unlike anything I had ever tasted. I remember trying to figure out what it was about being in their presence that brought out this odd thirst for more—this peace that there is actually something more to thirst after.

They had no reason to embrace me, to speak words of life over me, to welcome me with open arms, to love me—but they did.

Little to my knowledge, it was on this chilly Thanksgiving evening driving home on the windy roads, that my stone cold heart began to melt, just a little.

Five years later, on this beautiful afternoon, I will walk into my sister’s house once again. I will smell glorious things, be met with hugs galore, and I will still hear the squeals of women who love me. I will sit down in a chair in the middle of my crazy family. Lock eyes with my big bro, assured nothing I will ever do could possibly hinder his love for me, thankful for his protection.

My heart will feel as though it could burst through my chest at any moment as I reflect on God’s faithfulness to draw me out of the darkness and into His glorious light. I will think about that girl who sat in that very same room half a decade ago, and a tear might fall in thanksgiving to a Lord and Savior who I met for the very first time sitting right in this spot.

People often ask me about my story—if I didn’t grow up churched, then how did I come to know Christ intimately? A big smile across my face, I begin to tell them about this very day, walking into that warm house, experiencing the love of Christ from my siblings after years of being apart, and walking out unsure of what just happened, but sure of one thing. I wanted whatever they had.

The past five years have been journey, an incredible testimony to His ruthless pursuit of His daughter. Things got worse before they got better, even after I came to know Him. I still screw up—all the time! But by the grace of God, I am a new creation. I have a purpose. I have a hope and future. I am completely in awe when I reflect on the perfection of His sovereign will, humbled that He would not only choose me to know Him, but that He would use the unconditional love of this family to draw me to Himself, bringing them into my darkness, into my dry land—what a stream of living water they offered. As the battle wages on in this fallen world and within my sinful flesh, I am confident of the victory that has already been won!

Today, I am thankful for Christ. I am thankful for life—for freedom in Him. I am thankful that He is yet to complete the good work He has begun in me. I am thankful that I am no longer that hopeless little girl. I am thankful that I am a slave to righteousness over sin. I am thankful that I don’t get what I deserve. I am thankful that I walked in that door five years ago today. I am thankful that He is ever so faithful to draw me closer and closer to Himself, that I might love with that kind of love. Oh Jesus, today I am thankful for you—and for the family you sent in ruthless pursuit of me, that I might know you and make you known.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On Entering Adulthood

As a child, I always imagined this day. That final crossover from dreaming of being all grown up to actually being there. I think that we often long to be in the next season of life. Already today, I feel as though I am ready for marriage and motherhood! How faithful He has been these past twenty-one years--how faithful He will continue to be in this new season of life.

Celebrating my 21st birthday the past several weeks with many loved ones, I feel incredibly blessed.

Over my birthday weekend, I went out to dinner with some of my best friends to my FAVORITE place to eat! Then I came home to a huse full of balloons, glitter, sparkling grape juice, presents, and cake!!! It was such a sweet time and so encouraging. Then on Saturday (my actual birthday) I tailgated with my international friends before the last Razorback game of the season and spent the night with one of my precious daughters, Emna.

Then this past weekend, my mom and two of my best friends came down to visit and celebrate with me! We went to a new museum that was really cool, stayed up late catching up on life, shopped forever, and ate--a LOT!!! It was such a sweet time and I was so encouraged my time with them. I really got a clear glimpse of the way God really has slowly been restoring my relationship with my mom over the past few years--oh is He faithful to complete the good work He began in each of us! Then my best friend Ash stayed til Monday and we drove back to St. Louis together. Now I am excited to celebrate the holidays with my family!

Here are some pictures from the birthday festivities!

My daughters, Seonguen and Emna

So blessed by these girls.


Bestest Friends

Sweet Roomies

Emna gave me is a heart engraved
and it says "For the best Mummy."

I was cracking sweet sis Heather got me
the NIV Study Bible I've been wanting!!!

Glitter scrapbook from Rach!

Me and Mom

Okay, I don't know why Julie is not in any
of these, but insert her here!!!!

love the tree!

Out to dinner...again :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

21 Reasons I am Thankful on my 21st

  1. I am thankful for God’s miraculous beauty that comes alive at this time of the year. Fall brings peace to my soul.
  2. I am thankful for over-sized t-shirts, leggings and boots.
  3. I am thankful for a warm place to sleep in.
  4. I am thankful for my family, that thy fight for me and encourage.
  5. I am thankful that I get to worship freely everyday.
  6. I am thankful that I get to live in a community of believers.
  7. I am thankful for best friends and the Truth that pours off their tongues, daily.
  8. I am thankful for the relationships I am so blessed to have with international students.
  9. I am thankful for freedom—thankful that He is making me new.
  10. I am thankful for pictures, with pale faces against bright fall leaves, and the memories they represent.
  11. I am thankful for adulthood, beginning today.
  12. I am thankful for pumpkin everything—bread, muffins, cookies, candles, waffles.
  13. I am thankful for God’s Word being life to my dying soul.
  14. I am thankful for the hope that I have.
  15. I am thankful for my education, no matter how much it takes out of me some days.
  16. I am thankful for my daughters, the way He has so perfectly placed them in my life for this season of time, the way they love me so well, the way we get to do life togther, all that they have taught me.
  17. I am thankful for belly laughter with dear friends.
  18. I am thankful for Jesus Christ and the death He died in my place, making a way for me that I never could have earned on my own.
  19. I am thankful for my spiritual families, who have so graciously adopted me intimately into their lives, training me up in godliness.
  20. I am thankful for God’s provision in my life daily.
  21. I am thankful that His ways ALWAYS far exceed anything I could ever ask or imagine. Oh, is He faithful to complete the good work He began!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Longings of a Daughter

I do not understand why the Lord permits certain things to happen--or how it all works together for His glory. I do not understand the extent of my sin. I do not understand the outrageous and jealous love He has for me. I do not understand the death of His Son, that I might experience that kind of love in the midst of my sin.

I do know that regardless of my understanding, or lack there of, He is the PERFECT FATHER.

It seems to be a consistent theme, a steady stream of running water. My daddy issues, that is. Always lingering, consistently simmering just beneath the surface. This weekend, there was an explosion. And now, well now, I suppose it is some kind of a glorious mess.

I feel like the more I get to know girls my age, the more entangled our thread of stories become. My generation has been strengthened by matriarchs, yet ever so tainted with these all too familiar issues, simply a result of growing up without dads, with passive ones at the least.

As counter-cultural as I sound, I am convinced men and women were created differently. More so I am convinced men and women were created to serve differently--to carry out differing takes based on gender, on how we were created. Genesis makes it very clear we are made in the image of God. Thus, men and women are equal in the sense of dignity and value. However, they differ in their roles; men were created to be the head (1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5:23), women the helper (Gen. 2:18-20). In other words, they share equal worth, but different roles.

Genesis 2:18-23 continues to say that from the rib of man came woman.

Is there not a bit of irony in the fact that woman came from the rib of man, and that is still the very core of where we, as women, desire to be--protected, loved, held tightly, safe beneath the warm embrace of his arm. I know I do, anyways. Of course someday, I want to be protected by the embrace of my husband, but for the past twenty years of my life, I have so desperately longed to nestle into that cozy, safe place beneath the arms of my daddy.

My heart does leaps when an older, wiser, loving man reaches in for the tight embrace. At church. Around where I live. Heck, I would take a hug from the man at Walmart if he offered. There is something deep within me that longs to feel safe and loved by man.

Men were created to lead by protecting and providing for their families.

Women were created to help by affirming him and being the nurturer in the home.

So I do understand why I have this longing, what I don't understand is how to satisfy the aching of this longing being unmet by my earthly dad.

Today half of marriages end in divorce. Men are getting lost in their own passivity, forgetting what it means to be the leader of their home. Women are finding far more satisfaction in power, wealth and control then they are in giving up a salary, title, and control in order to nurture their children.

The roles have lost value. We have forgotten how we were created. We are believing a lie.

And then we sit and wonder, years down the did things ever get to this point? 

We forget, in the midst of this glorious mess, that everything we are doing, saying, feeling, and thinking is sending the same lies right down our tree. No longer a tree of life, but a tree of generations cursed by death! Do we not get it???

My dad has hurt me in ways that penetrate beneath my core, into the depths of who I am. Even this weekend, his words stung. His requests drained everything inside of me.

But by the grace of God in my life, my children are NOT going to know this pain. And by the grace of God alone, He is healing my wounds. He is making me new--whole really, like only He can do. He is ejecting the tape of lies constantly echoing through my mind, and replacing it with a new anthem, a new song--of His Truth, of His freedom, of His love. His perfect love that will never leave me or hurt me. His perfect love that is nothing like anything my dad knows how to give me.

So while the battle rages, while I bow down confessing the sin of my unforgiving heart once more, I hear whispers of the Truth all around.

He cannot give you what he does not have. You must give him grace, think of how often you screw up. Do not forget what you are capable of--what you have been saved from--who you are apart from Christ. You just humble yourself, Courtney, get back down on the floor and you cry out "Abba Father...draw my daddy back to you." You cannot change him--you cannot fix him--you cannot fill him. But you better be asking the One who can to do just that.

Okay Lord, okay.

For all of you fatherless women out there, hear this: His love is perfect and He is more then enough to fill up that hole, that longing, that desire. Nothing else will ever compare. Doing life without an earthly dad just so many of the consequences of sin that we experience daily. But praise God that we are privileged to be chosen by Him, to be called out, to be elect that we might get to walk in the love of the PERFECT FATHER. What a gift, what a gift that I do not deserve, yet receive anyway.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pinterest Projects

Well, the past several months have been touch and go with many craft projects....I am FINALLY getting around to finishing some of them! Of course, many are fully pinterst-inspired. Several weeks ago was "craft-fair" weekend here in NW Arkansas which also inspired several of these ideas. This is what I LOVE doing when procrastinating (which occurs WAY TOO much lately!). My room is finally just about well as my bathroom. Three months later, I guess I'm finally settled in! :) Here are some of the pictures I promised months ago....more to come of the bathroom and some other little projects. I love feeling like I accomplished I actually made something with my hands and creative juices...EXCITING!!

My room :)
Love how this turned out!

The whole verse hangs across my wall above my closet.

Before...after Ash and I picked it up off the side of the road!!


Loving candles lately!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hunger Crisis In My Own Backyard

Tonight I got to attend a panel discussion of various professionals determined to see something done about the hunger crisis in Northwest Arkansas.

Honestly, I don’t even know how I ended up at this thing. I simply have to laugh at the greatness of our God.

I think my jaw nearly hit the floor beneath my seat when I heard that Arkansas was the number ONE STATE in the country in terms of starving children. Beyond that, it turns out that Washington County (the home of the U of A, where I live) is actually the number one county in the entire state for child hunger.

Let’s just get this straight—of anywhere in the United States that God could have sent me to get a degree in dietetics, he plops me down in the middle of the most starving state in the most starving county in the entire COUNTRY. Okay Lord. Now what?

After working with a ministry reaching out to underprivileged families and children in Fayetteville last year, I was aware of the need—to an extent. If truth be told, though, I had NO IDEA the extent of the need. Homelessness in Fayetteville? I mean, yes in a big city it makes sense—but here, in a predominantly “college town”—more starving children then in the heart of downtown St. Louis? As the extent of the need begins to course into the depths of my heart, I am drawn to compassion.

 I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. I believe God brought me here for so much more then a place to obtain a college degree. I believe He brought me here for this very purpose.  

The Lord’s timing seems to bring me to laughter often these days. Sometimes, we just have to laugh in the face of the enemy. The past two weeks God has been more clearly defining His will in the next year or so of my life. Closing doors and throwing others wide open, just waiting (oh so patiently) for me to put on my “big girl pants” and walk on through.

These two verses have somehow seeped their way into my core, that place where the spirit dwells—the place from which we as believers are drawn to compassion—to change—to a persistant yielding of our flesh and submission to the Spirit. You know what I am talking about. In fact, the latter of the two has mustered its way up onto the vast wall above my desk, those bold letters continually lingering above me—literally—a challenge…a calling…a Truth from God’s Word.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  James 1:27

Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

The funny thing is, that I have been convinced these verses sum up the deepest passions of my heart—the life to which God has called me. These verses describe without error the hope to which I have been called. They explain why I am getting a degree in dietetics. They explain why I plan to serve overseas this summer—and upon graduation. They explain my heart for underprivileged women. They explain my draw towards  those who have been enslaved and trafficked. They explain where I have come from. They explain the unconditional, undeserving love of Jesus Christ which has been so generously lavished upon each of us who call ourselves His children. They exemplify the life of Christ.

Putting aside marriage and childbearing, this is what I desire to commit my life to doing—after graduation of course. Wait what? Well, yeah. AFTER graduation. I mean, there is no way I can be a full time student…roommate…work…serve in the church body…and live a life of service the way these scriptures depict it…right?

Tonight the Truth really pierced through my “plan” for my life. The timing of it. The way it needs to happen. The method to which I will get there.—to that long-desired, ever dreamed of place where I finally get to DO THAT with my life.

Tonight I realized I get to do that every single day. I have the choice. I can in fact pursue a degree that will better equip me to do that while in fact DOING JUST THAT. I am so excited to see how the Lord connects me with one or more of these organizations and how I actually get to use my degree for the first time—not to work in a hospital or to do a mock interview on my roommate, but to actually SERVE an underprivileged woman in need of help—to actually meet a real need!!

Whether it is teaching women and families about nutrition...for themselves, for pregnancy, for children, for gluten-free or diabetic diets. Whether it is developing a book of recipes using only ingredients available at the food shelters in town so that these women can begin to learn how to cook--rather then feeding their families fast food each night. Whether it is in fact teaching them how to cook. Whether it is planning and mobilizing the formation of a garden from which fresh produce can be provided for these children who have never even seen an apple in real life. Whether it is just serving--delivering food, watching kids, filing papers in the office.

I don’t know what the Lord is up to, but the further into the world of dietetics that I get, the less I want to look like the “typical” dietetics student in pursuit of and internship and then the career of a dietician. The further into the field I get, the more I want to use the little bits of knowledge I am learning to just apply them—not three years from now when I have the title of RD—but to apply them NOW!

I beginning to see how what I am learning inside of the classroom can truly apply to and change the community I am living in—and potentially the world. What a motivation to really understand what I am learning. For the first time in my life, the big test of my education is no longer determined by a letter grade, but by the lives impacted by it.

What a burden lifted—and what a mission to carry out.

What a faithful and patient Father. What a good and glorious plan.

What a story of God's redemption in my life--that learning about food can actaully save a life rather then obsessing about it to the point where it nearly took one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When the Spirit Speaks

This weekend I got to head home to participate in a special event for a cause near and dear to my heart.

Mercy Ministries is a biblically based treatment program for young women battling life-controlling issues such as addictions to drugs and alcohol, eating disorders, abuse, sexual sin, depression, self-harm, teenage pregnancy, suicidal thoughts, etc. Mercy takes in every girl free of charge so that the girls know that no one is trying to make money off of their issues. In addition, Mercy takes no government funding so that they are not limited by the state in their ability to share the transformational love of Jesus Christ. Lastly, Mercy gives back 10% of everything they receive to other ministries.

Almost three years ago, I walked in the doors of Mercy Ministries—hopeless, broken, and dying. During my six months at Mercy, I fell in love with Jesus Christ and the Lord used Mercy to teach me that I had a choice—I could choose death or I could choose life. Mercy taught me how to choose life. Two years out of Mercy, I am so far from perfect and I face struggles in my life daily—but Mercy gave me the tools I need to live a life unto Christ, even in a fallen world.
My roomies and my daughter :)  

This weekend I got to head home to St. Louis with my roommates and friends to participate in a 5K Run and Family Walk to benefit Mercy Ministries. This is actually my third year participating in this event, but this one was by far the sweetest for me. I got to share the story of God’s transforming power in my life. I have shared several times for Mercy events over the past several years, but this time—this time was different.

This time, it was the nearness to my utter depravity over the past several weeks that brought me to my knees—oh not my words, but His. It was the crowd cheering me on, the proclaiming of “Amens” to God’s faithful work in my life. It was looking out into the crowd and seeing so many faces that have remained close to my heart over the years. It was those brief moments of locking eyes with the ones I love—the ones who knew the darkness of my before as I stood, proclaiming the holy Light of my here and now.
My precious family all came to support Mercy!

It was seeing my family, all there together—celebrating their love that brought me from that darkness into His glorious Light. It was seeing the tears of a battle fought and won etched across their faces. It was seeing the chains being loosed as the Truth pierced deeply. It was my legs trembling as the words I had barely rehearsed began to flow from somewhere far outside of my fallen flesh—with precision and sureness. It was the boldness with which the Words poured forth, like a fountain unafraid to overflow.

This time, it was not me speaking, but His words pouring forth through my lips. Oh, not in my strength, but by solely by the power of the Spirit of Truth. Purely beautiful.

Totally ran a 5K in boots!!
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.                                                                                                                            -1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Here we go...

Gotta get the hair just right...

My beautiful sisters

Roomies and Best Friends

Good job brother!!!

What a beauitful mama.

precious Jakers...getting TOO big!!!!

Love my family