Unforced Grace

You, Lord, are enthroned forever.

In my little life, You have already done so much.
You raised me up in Your word via loving parents.
You ignited that knowledge of the Scriptures by Your Holy Spirit.
You took me to Jamaica to break my heart for the nations.
You led me to a Native American Reservation in Washington state to set me face to face with the choice of who I will worship. In a fierce competition between me and You, You won.
Blessed be Your name.
You broke my body and wholly took control, though I fought it tooth and nail.
You shattered my pride and claimed my heart for Your own.
You led me to Mexico to discover grace and peace.
You drew me to North Little Rock to glimpse Your heart for the marginalized.
You allowed tragedy to strike as close to my heart as possible outside of my nuclear family.
I don’t know Your plan but I can see Your hand
Moving, shaping, preparing, making.

Few delights can equal the mere presence of one whom we trust utterly~George MacDonald

When I take a moment to reflect on the road I am walking,
I quickly become overwhelmed by what an eloquently written story my life is.
This God–His way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30)

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 rhythm 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 MSG

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Sunday Lullaby

Another one of God’s surprising paradoxes: one’s hometown becomes more precious and magical after a visit to a foreign place.
Little Rock is my playground.
There are no places that are better, only places that are different.
Humans are naturally jealous and I must be one because I have wasted innumerous moments wishing I was somewhere else.
People talk trash of my city and my state, forcing me to wonder if they have ever been anywhere else. All these places are exquisite in their own way. No need to trash one in appreciation of another.
I will not be here forever and somehow that knowledge serves to endear more acutely to me the present time.
I take eighteen years of built up, worldly security for granted. There are small struggles here that I will not face anywhere else; the difficulties will be foreign and seem insurmountable when I leave.
There is celebration in the up and down of the yo-yo.
God enables me to love both sides of the pendulum and to rest when I swing in between.

We are not to give up the world, nor retreat from it-just the opposite. We are to reclaim and redeem the world for Christ’s kingdom.~Richard Stearns, The Hole in our Gospel

Childhood obesity is as much of a problem as parasites carried by muddy water.
But to not have the Gospel?
This is the greatest problem. It is a difficulty that leaves the rest behind. One can’t surmount it any more than a Gospel-less person can sense his or her need for a Savior.
I love my story and I love your story.
The parts where our dramas overlap enthrall me.
I find it difficult to walk away.
When his arm is around me I see no need to move forward.
Stagnation is a grand waste of time. My life is long but also short.

Form in me a heart of divine beauty.~Rend Collective Experiment

Waves of injustice, oppression, and opportunity carry us whether we know it or not. I follow the rip tide by choice for it I prefer to hopeless wishing and washing from open sea to sandy shore.
Beauty hides in the sky and in the homeless man behind me. He is frost bitten and senile but his rattling cough is a piece of humanness no physical anthropologist can truly digest.
At times it will seem as though I have wasted my life. The cause for which I sell myself is not one with clear accomplishments. Some people will not respect what I have done. I understand that. In those hard moments, far away from sweet, quaint Little Rock, (the place I once knew intimately,) the Light will shine as He always does.

This park is perfect. This sky is immaculate. Those children are unique and dear.
The warmth in my heart which is the presence of the holy, eternal, faithful God is…
Unspeakably sublime.
Everyday I get happier.
Yet everyday the longing for every person of every nation to hear of Your glory grows more poignant within me.
Will these two always walk hand in hand?
Use me to shelter your little (and big) children here until I am ready to go.
Allow me to be a member of the team who takes the Word to unreached brothers and sisters. May my spiritual offspring be extensive, not that I may be glorified, but that Heaven may be filled.
I submit it all to You.
Enable me in spite of my (sinful) disease.

You are the Father of mercies.
You are the God of all comfort.

Precious Lamb, receive the reward of Your suffering, and my gratitude for a perfect day.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.~St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:58

Soul Trouble

“Do you think you can do a better job with your life than I can?” God asks

God’s voice, it comes, calm through stormy thoughts and emotions. Like the moon on a lake, His voice glances off every ripple, all the waves. And it’s peaceful. He calls me to go, I know not where. He promises grand adventure, I insist on knowing how I can get myself there.
But it’s not about that.
It’s about my obedience. Keeping His word. Loving the unlovable. Telling the Truth. Dying a little bit here and there.
“And I will give them one heart, and a new Spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people and I will be their God.”-Ezekiel 11:19&20
Phew. All I have to do is tell Him that I love Him.
“For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has Himself given me a commandment-what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”~Jesus
I’m not here to figure out what is going to happen next. It is my joy to follow Him around this corner, to listen, obey, speak the Good News. That never changes.

Ask Him for a some peace. Feel it wash over you, erasing the trouble from your tired tired soul.

Empow’r

The odd thing about right-now-in-my-life is that it is a time of definitions. People are watching me, my friends, all the other just-out-of-high-school-ers, to see what we do. Now is when we decide who to be.

I never thought that there was a choice: my beliefs are set; the person I want to be is in my mind’s eye, now I’ll step into that personhood. My belief system is not going to change drastically, so of course I will be a good worker, friend, student, citizen. Things will pan out….Wrong wrong wrong. One does not simply step into anything. Everyday decisions reveal to me that the girl I want to be is years away, separated from me by piles of lessons to be learned.  Contemporary choices can seem so insignificant: an unwashed shirt, a unanswered email, a gift withheld, but it is obvious now that they shape the bigger decisions. An unwashed shirt becomes habitual dirtiness, an unanswered email is a loss of opportunity, a gift withheld snowballs into chronic greed.

We will die in this wilderness but death will not separate us from the love of God.~Dr. Mark E. Ross

Not only do I want to be an upstanding citizen; I have chosen to live by a radical moral code. Wealth? Never. Clean, boxed-up, air-conditioned religion is no reality of mine. Scraping a living, thriving purely by the Spirit pow’r, it’s the plan. Yet suddenly I see, none of this is going to come easy. The idealistic world that I foresaw in my high school naivety is being disrobed. Knowing what I believe does not make me special. Convictions do not say “yes” or “no” for us. Deciding to live by these convictions is what shows true color.

Listen…has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?~St. Paul

traveler. cigarette smoker? not-pothead. hostel stayer. hard worker. too hard? No frequenting clubs. Bars will be OK. Who decides these things? Since when am I in charge? How come I choose what is right and wrong? That is not how it works. That is what my daddy does. But I never wanted him to. Now he’s not. Good. Deep breath. Smile. Sway to the music.

Only one desire that’s left in me, let the whole damn world come dance with me.~Edward Sharpe

You never wanted to be worried. You never wanted to bring lines to your cheeks. So don’t. This is the relax-if-ever-you-will time. Now, as actions shape and form to reflect my worldview, the time for no-worry is here. No such time as the present to be smiling. To be loose, to be fit and funny. To take responsibility for  mistakes and to laugh at them.

The Water is free but I should warn you, it costs everything. ~Kendall Payne

All I Can Say

After a week on the beach with some of the most beloved people that have ever entered my life, all I can say is, it is well with my soul.

I am terrified of the future, but it is well.

I am in pain; it is well.

I had a wonderful, super, fun, fabulous, hysterical week. It is well!!

Nothing is certain in my life except for the love of God. I feel nothing so poignantly as I do the call of Christ to serve Him by telling others what He has done for us.

I will go, send me.

Which of the childish habits must be left behind? What steps are mandatory, and what steps into adulthood should I think twice about? What is coming? Who will I become?

My mind reels with uncertain thoughts: the good Spirit within me keeps my heart from the same.