Namesake.

If you would have told me 8 years ago that I’d be a Bible teacher at a Christian school, I would have laughed at you.

If you would have told me 8 years ago that I’d be in charge of a high school prom, I would have laughed at you.

If you would have told me 8 years ago that I’d be coaching cheerleading, I would have laughed at you.

ImageIsn’t that fitting, that I’d be like the Biblical Sarah? She laughed because she didn’t see how God was going to accomplish the impossible in her life. She laughed because she didn’t think it could be that good. A son? At her age? No way.

I’ve only been doing this for 4 years. But in those 4 years of ministry I have experienced great fruit – seen kids understand grace, wept with students who have begun to heal, and even played a [tiny] part in seeing students come to know Jesus. Isn’t that crazy? God has allowed me to watch Him woo hearts over and over and over again.

Although ministry and especially life is not what I would have expected, it is exceedingly, abundantly more. I love the privilege of living life with these students, love seeing them every day, and especially love seeing God grab hold of and transform their hearts. My prayer is that I’d continue to be like Sarah, not in her laughter, but in her faith.

“Now Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” -Hebrews 11.11

http://www.esvbible.org/Hebrews+11/

Sweet moments.

This summer, near the very beginning of the summer [I think it was the first real week of camp] we were facing a lot of difficult circumstantial issues. There were many things that kept cropping up, and so I wasn’t really surprised when Cheryl Anne asked me to announce for all the support staff to gather together after chapel.

There we all were, sitting on the back porch of the Henson Haus, the mountain air cool and the sky almost black with darkness. Some were perched precariously on the edge of the railing, others sitting in chairs or against the building. We could hear the yelling of campers waiting for their night medicine at the infirmary along with the constant chirping of the crickets. And there, in the middle of our circle, lay sweet Jessie the dog, who always seems to know where she is supposed to be.

This was our team for the summer, and this was one of our first moments in the trenches. We sat together, heard the needs, and began to pray. One by one people spoke up to pray for our fellow staff members, the campers we were ministering to, our beloved camp, and most of all for the kingdom. We prayed for God to demonstrate His sovereignty, to be merciful to us, to demonstrate His goodness and glory through whatever circumstances He decided to give us.

As the popcorn prayer wound down, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. ‘Sing.’ He said. I ignored Him. ‘Sing.’ I brushed it off. Finally it was loud enough I couldn’t ignore it. I knew exactly what song to ask everyone to sing. So we sang.

I love You Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh my soul
Rejoice
Take joy, my King,
In what You hear,
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
In Your ear.

As we finished singing, everyone slowly looked up and around, letting the silence linger in the air. It was a sweet moment, full of unity and peace. Dave and Jeremy said a few words, then we dismissed and went to bed – the next day was too full to sit and chat.

—–

I am grateful for this summer, for the sweet memories like this one that I want to capture and write down while I still remember. I am grateful for prayer and the gospel and common kingdom goals. I’m grateful for a team like this one to strive side-by-side for the sake of the gospel. I know that we, in that incarnation, will never be together again, which makes those moments all the more precious for my soul.

These are some of the finest people I’ve worked with on support staff. They were a joy.

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Sweet words.

Sarah,

Receive well. Let me give you grace. Let me lavish love on you. Do you see Me? Do you see the cross? Do you understand how I bore the weight of your sin and your mess there on that tree? I gave when you were weak and powerless. I gave of Myself. I sacrificed so that you could be brought in, not as a slave, but as a child. I love you and am for your good.

Oh my sweet girl, receive. Stop earning. Stop striving. Stop being anxious. I will provide for every need and I will give you what you most need. Don’t fear. Don’t be anxious. Calm and quiet your soul. I bore your sin and the Father’s wrath. And Sarah, I am not ashamed to call you sister. You. Are. Mine.

I just want your heart. I don’t want your efforts – I want your heart. I know you’re anxious and when you’re anxious you resort to doing. But I don’t want your doing, I want you. Sweet girl, rest.

 

 

I’m ready for…

…the heat to be scorching and unbearable.

…cold early mornings that require long sleeves.

…canoeing and hammocks and hikes.

…lightning drills and the chaos of planning around them.

…Catchphrase with the staff.

…walking into the [old] Ranch House to check the mail.

…the chapel trail.

…runs to the Island when I don’t want to.

…Chaco tans.

…hi, hi, hiyah.

…chapel the first night compared with chapel the last night.

…Sunday mornings at the Drip.

…double-chocolate chip cookies.

…sunsets at the upper field.

…Ingles.

…the chaos of camp-wide games.

…popsicles.

…tie dye [!]

…quiet times before everyone wakes up.

…good conversations.

…sweet moments with Jesus.

…grace upon grace.

BUT today I am here, not there. Today I’m sitting in the break room at work, doing less exciting but no less essential kingdom work. Today I’ve got to give a quiz and a test and grade them this weekend while planning for next week. Today I’ve got 100 students that need Jesus just as much as the 1000 campers we’ll see this summer.

Pray that I, even in my excitement, not miss today because I’m looking for tomorrow?

Love.

Convicting truth.

Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of a superior satisfaction in God; it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.

The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.

Jesus said some people hear the word of God, and a desire for God is awakened in their hearts. But then, “as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). In another place he said, “The desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful”(Mark 4:19). “The pleasures of this life” and “the desires for other things”—these are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God.

-John Piper, A Hunger for God

Oh so grateful…

Things I’m grateful for today:

Jesus and the cross that saves and sustains and protects, in spite of my selfish and prideful and idolatrous heart.

Spring weather where the front door can stand open and the birds can be heard loud and clear.

The combination of Casi Cielo and Sumatra coffees in the coffeemaker.

Old friends that refresh my heart.

The privilege of teaching the Bible day in and day out even though I don’t deserve it.

Good haircuts.

Finishing a watercolor and loving it.

God’s faithfulness to refine and crush us for our good.

Sleeping in until 8 because it’s Spring Break.

Checking things off to-do lists.

Meeting new people who also have had their hearts captured by the gospel.

Waking up and realizing my birthday is in 2 days!

Good smelling candles from Bath and Body Works.

Dying to self.

The Avett Brothers, Jon Foreman, Mumford and Sons, Shane and Shane.

Colored tulips in the kitchen.

Getting emails that a monologue I wrote in high school is still being performed by people.

The tender, tender grace of a God who knows my weakness and loves still.

Handstands and cartwheels.

Mail.

Honeymoon chats with the roommates.

Getting better at cooking.

God’s faithfulness to provide.

Hope that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

The ability to run, even when I hate it.

Knowing it is well with my soul.

Oh, all this is grace.

The process.

I hate the process.

No, really. I like finished products. I like accomplishing things. I like checked-off to-do lists. And I love when I can look at something and say it’s done.

It’s why I have a closet full of abandoned crafts that were taking too long to complete. It’s why I’m tempted to play dumb computer strategy games that you can beat. It’s why I rush through novels as fast as I possibly can.

And it’s why I am really bad at being human – a sinful, broken human.

I want to be as wise as possible because I don’t want to make the foolish, youthful mistakes humans are prone to [and I try to hide my absolute fear at the fact that most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing in life - but that's another post for another day]. I want to finally reach a point in life where I’ve learned how to balance everything and be an awesome teacher and have enough money in my bank account at the end of the month. I want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant” but I don’t want to wait until I die. In my mind, that’s an achievement to be unlocked as quickly as possible – how foolish!

I want answers, not questions. I struggle with knowing how to pray – I want clarity, not greater trust. Or if I’m really honest, I want greater trust so that I can get to what I really crave – the clarity. I value appropriate behavior above relationship with God. I want to be right, to behave right to become what I know He has made me to be in Christ – NOW. I don’t want to wait for glorification or to wait for the natural growth of sanctification. I’m so impatient with others, with God, with myself.

This is why I need other people to share my heart, to understand this about me, and to patiently show me that He who began the work will be faithful to complete it. This is why I can’t do this alone. I will never be okay with the process unless I have very patient people around me who tell me to rest. I will never be okay to wait on the Lord unless I’m seen in this mess and I’m gently and kindly loved in it.

I am thankful for those who have done this in the past. And while it feels like that will never happen where I live now, I’m trusting that I’m supposed to be here and God will provide – in His time – those people who can do that for me here. I hope I can do the same for them, whoever they are.

 

Miscellaneous.

Life feels really crazy right now. It’s normal crazy in lots of ways, at least for teacher life [which is pretty crazy on its own]. Here’s a list of all the things/responsibilities going on:

1. Trying to move house stuff around for a new roommate to move in
2. Building shelves/refurbishing a shed for my things/her things3. Alumni Leadership Council
4. Photography stuff to finish
5. Prom [I'm a junior class sponsor, we have to do workshops]
6. Running [the half is this weekend!]
7. Church stuff [I've joined a small group on Mondays]
8. Trying to be the best teacher possible
9. Developing a potential gymnastics program at my school [before April]
10. Building relationships here

All of this [and the hundred other little things I'm forgetting] mean that life can seem very, very full. But it’s good, even in the hustle and bustle and difficulty.

I’ve been reading “Ruthless Trust: a Ragamuffin’s Path to God” by Brennan Manning and he talks a lot about how gratitude is an overflow of the heart that trusts God.

And I am grateful – for roommates and for redesigns and for feeling like this school is a little bit more home and for conversations with sweet students and wonderful notes in my box and chocolate chip cookies and SUFFERING that makes us look more like Jesus and the way the days are getting longer and the way I feel after long runs and even the pain of being able to run and giving books to students and coffee in the mornings and Saturdays when I get to sit and be with Jesus.

All these are grace. Because as much as I’m doing, doing, doing in all those areas of my life, my value and the gifts God gives me are not determined by how I perform. They’re only ONLY because Christ gave His life for me. They’re only because I can receive full rights of sonship in Jesus. They’re only because I’ve been adopted into God’s family and He’s a good Father who gives good gifts.

Let us rest in that truth even amidst the busy-ness.

Through and Through.

You see me

and you know me

and you love me

through and through

I love songs with rich theological depth, songs that make me think and meditate on the complexities of the gospel and Christ’s sacrifice.

But sometimes I need to be reminded of the sweet simplicity of grace – being known and loved still. I need to just sit and remember that because of Christ’s finished work I am safe to be honest with myself, with my students, with my friends, and with the Lord. May I–we–walk in that today.