Tag Archives: trust

My Favorite Small Moment in Guatemala

“Am I not enough?”

I carried that message – that question – close to my heart for those 5 days in Guatemala as the Lord and I continued an ongoing conversation.

And on the last day of ministry, as we arrived at the abuelo’s (grandpa’s) home for those of an older generation that needed care, but had mostly been abandoned by their families, while I still didn’t necessarily “feel” much different, I had a deep appreciation for the peace that came with simply knowing … that He was God, that I was there because He invited me to join Him there, and that He was enough.

guate7

After painting the nails of some of the women at the home, I sat down with one of my teammates, Sara, who had struck up a conversation with two adorable ladies … one of whom was 96 and blind. She made sure to tell us that several times. Her name was Nina. And she was precious.

Even with the language barrier, we managed to have a decent conversation that was filled with our limited Spanish vocabulary, the help of Google translate, many smiles and so. much. laughter. I think those ladies were quite amused by the way we pronounced our limited Spanish with southern accents!

After more-or-less exhausting our conversation abilities, Sara moved across the outdoor hallway that surrounded a beautiful courtyard to visit with another gentleman and I moved from my spot on the floor to the empty chair right beside Nina.

I hadn’t been there longer than about a minute when she reached for my hands and pulled them both closer to her, so she could rub my hands and arms.

guate6

It was such a simple gesture on her part, but in a way I can’t quite explain was such a huge blessing for me.

And that seemed so backwards.

Because wasn’t I supposed to be there to bless and to serve her? Not the other way around?

I couldn’t help but think this must of have been a small taste of how the disciples felt that night at the last supper when Jesus washed their feet.

As if it wasn’t supposed to be that way.

But it was supposed to be that way, and it was right.

And so was this small moment with Nina.

She expressed to one of our leaders how grateful she was that we were there … that we were taking the time to just sit with her, to just be with her.

And in that moment, I knew with even more certainty that this trip back to Guatemala, one that was full of questions on my heart and full of moments that were tempting to view as small and insignificant (but somehow weren’t at all), wasn’t about me.

It was about the Lord moving in and through me to do the work and have the encounters that He had prepared in advance.

All He needed from me was obedience and trust.

And this obedience, this walking out the Gospel in the small interactions that I have with those who cross my everyday path … some who I’ll almost definitely see again and others who I almost certainly will not?

This is what this life is all about.

Seeking Christ, following Him where He leads, and being fully present in each moment with each individual He places before us.

And yes, sitting with Nina as she rubbed my hands was an incredibly small moment, but it was entering into her world, being present with her there, and loving her well.

And that really wasn’t small at all.

This is how we’re called to live. To enter into the mess and uncertainty of relationship. To do life with others. To sit with them where they are.

So I held hands with a 96-year-old Abuela in Guatemala. And I know that we were both sitting in the presence of Jesus the whole time.

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A Weekend Word

Because this is too good not to share…

the God of hope

And who doesn’t need to hear this reminder, this encouragement, this TRUTH?

At the end of a weekend … full of many good and rich and wonderful things that in our weak moments threaten to exhaust and overwhelm?

At the beginning of a week … full of work and routine and busy that tempts us to get lost in the mundane?

In the everyday … as we learn to trust Him more one moment at at time?

Trust the faithful God of hope.

Be filled with joy and peace.

So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit alone.

—–

ps: just for fun, if you happen to love this print as much as I do, check out StudioJRU for this & others!

When You Realize Writing is Not Actually Your Dream

I saw the invite – a save the date, really – and immediately checked my calendar to make sure the day was still free. It was the last time I checked (when there was only the hint of an event), but I had to be certain.

Because when Emily Freeman started talking about this Barn event – an afternoon At the Barn with her family and a relatively small gathering to spend time in soul-encouraging conversation about art, dreams, goals – all I could think was YES.

I’m in.

when you realize writing is not actually your dream

But as I purchased the ticket, I couldn’t help but also stop and think about how I now find myself taking all kinds of risks (of the best kind) with community and events and opportunities – like spending an afternoon with a bunch of fellow blog readers or spending five days getting Wrecked in Guatemala with complete strangers … and then doing it again six months later. All because of this gift of blogging which began as an extension of this gift of writing.

And it’s all in the very same season that I find myself pulling back on the frequency of posts and re-evaluating the purpose of this space.

A couple of months ago, I wasn’t even sure if I should continue blogging. This community is small and I’m not always convinced my words are necessary additions to the noise of this world.

But this community is also growing, and opportunities keep crossing my path to connect with other artists and other Jesus-followers as a result.

And I just know.

It’s not time to give-up this blogging thing yet.

Someday, God may ask that of me, but as I’ve been praying over and carefully considering whether or not that time is now, although the sitting-still long enough to think and write has been hard lately, I find I’m not finished here yet.

I want this space to be a place of restful harbor, filled with peace, where God speaks.

And more than anything, I want to honor and glorify Him in and through it.

So this community is small and the growth is slow.

But it’s His. And it’s good.

I began this blog a little over three years ago with a thought in the back of my mind that someday I might like to publish a book of some sort, but I could go ahead and start blogging without knowing if that would ever happen. I could begin sharing the message that the Lord had placed on my heart. I didn’t have to wait for that.

But somewhere along the way, I began to realize that while writing is a part of me and is a craft that I both love and enjoy, writing (or perhaps more specifically, publishing) wasn’t actually my dream.

The only problem? I didn’t know what was.

But all I knew to do was to keep writing, to keep taking small steps in obedience and faithfulness, and to keep seeking the Lord’s face.

Because that’s always right.

And through the writing, I kept sensing that there was something in all of this, something that I couldn’t quite figure out, something that I still needed to learn.

So now in this season, as my dreams and goals for this life are shifted and refined, I’m beginning to see at least a part of that something.

I’ve sought hard and waited long for the sort of dream I’m now beginning to consider. The one that in intentionally broad and vague terms revolves around orphan care (and no, I don’t know exactly what that means or what it will look like), the one that is so far beyond me and my ability, the one that scares the heck out of me, and the one that feels more like a God-whisper than anything I could dare to imagine on my own.

I’m not against the idea of publishing if that’s where the Lord leads and I suspect this won’t be the last times my dreams undergo some refining, but I also know this dream that’s slowly unveiling finally feels like mine. Like something only the Lord could have orchestrated and begun to reveal. And that makes it worth wanting and working toward and continuing to figure out … because it’s really only just a glimpse of a fuller vision. A hint of what could be.

So I’ll continue to write and I’ll continue to blog in this space.

And I’ll continue to lead and encourage this community to draw near to Christ.

To seek Him more. To know Him more. To trust Him more. To rest in Him more.

Because nothing – no amount of dreaming regardless of how right the dream seems – in this life matters more.

The Part About Moving I Don’t Remember Hearing

This moving thing.

It’s messing with me in all sorts of ways.

With my routine. With my comfortable and familiar. With my control. With my ownership of, well, anything.

And I’m not even moving that far away.

I suppose any move involves a certain degree of figuring out and re-organizing and shuffling around and re-prioritizing.

But this is new for me.

I haven’t moved all that much, and this weekend, I’ll be moving for the first time in 5 years.

That’s right. I’m the single 20-something that 6 years later still has the same job I began the summer after I graduated college and still has the same roommate in the same rented townhouse I moved into one year later.

And now that roommate is buying a house. And so I’m moving with her.

the part about moving i don't remember hearing

And truth? There are parts of this move that scare me. There’s some unknown here. There are fears I haven’t yet fully figured out. Even some of the irrational ones (because even I know I’m being ridiculous about certain things…).

But when I share things about this move that are hard, no one seems overly surprised. Everyone seems to understand how disorienting and frustrating and draining a move is.

But it’s not something I remember hearing.

Oh, the living out of boxes thing, yes. The inconvenience of it all, sure.

But this heart stuff? Not so much.

But if there’s anything I’m learning in the process, it’s that this move is not just a physical thing.

And in some ways, because of that, it might be a catalyst for something really good. An opportunity to be pruned and refined.

But it’s hard. And some of it hurts. And I just can’t seem to get a grip on it.

I can’t get a grip on what’s going on in my own head. I can’t make myself think a certain way or react a certain way.

Even when I know my approach is all wrong. Even when I can see (when I force myself to look at it somewhat objectively) that I’m being ridiculous and self-centered and unChristlike.

But by trying so hard to wrap my own head around what’s going on in myself, I haven’t been seeking Christ nearly enough.

With all of my margin pushed out and my mental energy spent, I just plain haven’t been spending the time with Him that would actually begin to make the somewhat uncomfortable and unknown seem less like a big deal.

And I know that the more I seek to get Him right in front of my face, the more my own thoughts and inadequacies fade from significance and prominence.

And I know that the more I’m in His Word and intentionally mindful of His presence, the more anything seems possible because my hope and security and trust is firmly rooted in Him and His Word and His promises.

And I know that more than anything, I need Him in the midst of this.

Desperately.

I don’t expect a change in me to happen overnight. I will likely continue to handle aspects of this move ridiculously and immaturely and all wrong.

But I also know my hope … my trust and my security and my stability … is in Christ alone.

Even when my life is in boxes. Even when I’m spent and I’m at the end of myself and I have nothing left.

So through the hard and the hurt of this move, I still choose Him. I press on. I lean in.

And I pray with everything in me that through it all, He does in me what I cannot do in myself.

That He changes the parts of my heart that need changing. That He conforms me to His image. That this move, in all of its momentary discomfort, doesn’t win. That I would be more firmly grounded in Him.

“This God – his way is perfect;
the Word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?”
2 Samuel 22:31-32 (ESV)

Graffiti Summer: Silence Births Vision

We’ve been intentionally leaning in to the Lord and stepping out to serve where He leads for six weeks now. This is the last week!

Thank you for coming alongside and hanging in there with me!

This Graffiti Summer Study and Do has certainly been both a journey and a challenge. But as the formal study comes to a close, I pray our hearts remain in this rhythm of seeking and serving Him for a lifetime.

For this last week, we considered how Moses approached times of quiet before God, how he handled times when God seemed silent, and how we can be encouraged during such times as well. Check out Alene’s post here for more!

DO Assignment: Look back over the Graffiti study and consider whether God is being silent or if He has already impressed upon your heart what to do next. And then DO it.

graffiti summer - silence births vision

As badly as I wanted to begin this study with a neat and tidy post, I maybe even more badly wanted to end this Graffiti Summer challenge with a neat and tidy post, but the truth is, I still just can’t.

Because the questions, the struggles, the unknowns … they don’t end here.

But the One constant hasn’t changed: Christ.

And I can think of no better note on which to end this Graffiti Summer challenge than to once again recognize that I don’t have to plan this life around a particular ministry or place to serve.

Rather, I simply trust the One who calls.

As my life revolves around Christ, I trust Him to take care of the details … the how, the where, the when. He knows the seasons of waiting, the seasons of doing, and all of the seasons in between that aren’t so easily defined.

He alone holds the future.

So I want to continue doing. Not just filling my head with knowledge that never makes a difference. But experiencing a change of heart that can’t be contained.

And I trust Jesus to do that in me. Because I certainly can’t do it in myself.

And yes, sometimes in the midst of the heart change, God seems silent.

But I wonder if more times than not it’s because I’m expecting God to speak in a certain way while He’s attempting to show me something in a completely different way.

I may not have perfect clarity regarding where He’s leading and re-directing. I may only have been given a glimpse. I may only have the one next small step. It may all still seem hazy and shadowy. But even in that, I hear His voice. I see His hand at work. I feel His prompting to love and serve.

And through the help and words of a dear friend, I see that through all of it, He’s leading me into an ever deepening trust in Him and in His faithfulness and in His Word.

So in the moments when that feels like God is silent, I want to sit in that silence. To be in His presence. To trust Him fully. To rest in Him completely.

So that all that’s left is humbly and honestly seeking His face.

Knowing Him more. Surrendering once again to His will. His way. His time.

Because this life isn’t about me.

And as I listened to the sermon on Sunday regarding the freedom we have in Christ, I couldn’t help but see the connection.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13 (ESV)

I’m free.

I don’t have to feel crushed under the weight of what I don’t understand in this life.

I won’t always know exactly where or how to serve. I won’t always get it right. But I can still live a life characterized by the love of Christ. By recognizing the freedom that is mine, by seeking first His kingdom, by stepping out and serving (in big ways and small) as He leads along the way.

So I keep seeking. I keep following where He leads. I keep trusting.

And He [God] said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14 (ESV)

Count it All Joy

As soon as I started the car Monday morning, I knew something wasn’t quite right. But it had been raining for two days, and historically, the battery sometimes just needs a little extra time to get warmed up in such conditions.

But as I pulled out of my neighborhood, I realized whatever was wrong wasn’t correcting itself, and it seemed I was at risk of the engine choking out at any moment. So instead of heading to work (because there is little that terrifies me more than the car breaking down on the side of the road. seriously.), I drove the shorter distance to my parents’ house, not able to go more than 40-45 mph. And let’s just not even talk about the car’s distress on hills and at stoplights. Once at my parents’ house, I knew my Mom could drive me to work and my Dad could look at the car after work. (Huge shout out of thanks to both of my parents!)

count it all joy

By mid-morning, safely at work but with the knowledge that I was either facing a new car purchase before I was fully prepared or a likely substantial repair, I knew that the correct response to this situation was something along the lines of James 1:2

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”

And while I was incredibly grateful that I had started the morning in focused prayer, to at least give me a fighting chance to maintain proper perspective … even uttering these very words, “Lord, this day is all yours” … this wasn’t exactly how I would have planned for that prayer to be lived out.

So as I reflected on the right response, to count it all joy, realizing that I was pretty much failing miserably at it, my thoughts shifted towards what this passage wasn’t saying, to hopefully better understand what it was saying.

It wasn’t really saying to find the silver lining that somehow made the circumstance ok.

And it wasn’t really saying to be happy about what just went down.

But it was saying to count it all joy because of what was coming.

“…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James 1:3-4

Because there is great hope and expectation in what lies ahead after and because of the trial: steadfastness which leads to perfection and completeness.

That’s where the joy is rooted. In the assurance and security of that promise.

It’s letting the worry and concern and circumstances fade in the light of Jesus Christ. It’s moving closer to Him in faith regardless of the trial. It’s knowing and trusting and abiding.

Honestly, even with all of that at the forefront of my heart and mind, I still feel like in many ways I failed. I knew the right response. And my flesh continued to battle with my spirit over it all day.

But at the end of the day, if nothing else, I just know.

I know I’m a day closer, a circumstance closer, to Him.

I know a rest in my soul because I know He’s here in the midst of my car issues and my heart issues.

And for today, maybe that’s enough.

Because He’s enough.

Story

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

story

I see story in everything.

And trust me, that’s not all bad. In fact, for the writer in me, that’s really good.

When it comes to my own life, I’m pretty good at seeing how the details work together … I’m good at fitting pieces and elements of my journey up until now into a coherent and plausible story.

I can take small snippets of memories and feelings from particular times and see a story written into the in between moments and the everyday.

I can look at transformative life events and see how God has been faithful, how He has never left my side, how He has stretched me and grown me and drawn me closer to Himself, and how He has used certain circumstances and people for His purpose.

I can look back over my life until this present moment and see how everything that’s happened and every path I’ve gone down (yes, even the wrong ones) has been intricately woven together to bring me to the place I am now.

As I analyze and observe all of these elements, my tendency is to make them fit neatly together, to see patterns, to make sense of circumstances (however scary and unknown they were at the time) that led to other circumstances that each serve as individual pieces of a bigger plot culminating in the right now of today.

And in some ways, this is all fine and good and maybe just part of being human.

But in other ways, it misses a very important truth: my story isn’t over.

There’s still a lot of unknown.

And the Author?

Well, to put it bluntly, it’s not me.

It’s HIM.

And by trying to make so much sense of the unfolding story in this moment from my limited perspective, although there may be elements of truth in what I come up with, I may also be overlooking the possibility that the place I am now was never meant to be a chapter break … that the story wasn’t supposed to make sense here at all. It may just be a small part or a next step or a preparation for something in the future that I can’t even begin to imagine.

But the Author of my story?

His stories are beautiful. He already knows the end. He knew it when He started writing. And His good work will be completed.

The middle may not always make sense to me, but each part fits into His whole story perfectly.

So I trust this Author.

Because ultimately, I want to live my story according to His pen and watch with eager anticipation as He weaves each detail together while simultaneously weaving together a far bigger story, the greatest story of all … of undeserved redemption and unconditional love … His own.