1. Reliving middle school. I’d be lying if I said I don’t absolutely love this song.

    (Source: Spotify)

  2. What an incredible version of an old hymn. I absolutely love this.

    (Source: Spotify)

  3. If you decide to get hooked on any song this fall, let this be it.

    (Source: Spotify)

  4. Jehovah Go’el – Lord My Redeemer

    Please let me preface this by being as clear as possible: I acknowledge that there are far more difficult situations for the Lord to call us into and there have been, are, and will be more painful things that people experience. This is simply my account of a new journey that Abba Father is leading me through and using to teach me more of his goodness and kindness and love. He teaches us all differently and is incredibly creative in the various ways he chooses to do so.

    He spoke to us in the late, rainy hours of the last days of summer. Abba asked us to end our dating relationship. We obeyed. There was no reluctance, no anger, no fighting, and no distrust. We know our Father is good. We know his love is perfect and fulfilling and that his word is entirely reliable and trustworthy. We are loved by a good and perfect Dad. Anything he asks of us is for our good, for the good of others, and for his glory. So, we listened.

    Here’s where the human aspect comes into play. Although we know how trustworthy the Lord is, that does not mean that what he asks of us is not difficult, scary, or painful. Sometimes what he wants most from us and for us is the most difficult, the scariest, and very painful. He does not desire us to be overwhelmed with a situation, filled with fear, or writhe in our pain. But, he does want us to trust him to lead us and purify us and draw us close to him through hard experiences, times of fear, and moments of pain. He creates a path through the difficulty that didn’t exist before. He comforts and brings overwhelming peace in the face of fear. And he soothes, mends, and heals the pain.

    Rob is facing a phase in life that requires him to be completely Father’s. Knowing this, we listened when Father asked us to step away. That moment of telling Abba, “Yes” together was tear-filled. Neither one of us saw it coming in the weeks prior.

    Usually in the ending of a relationship, something has gone wrong.  Someone has been betrayed. People have grown apart, become too different to manage. Or the relationship was toxic and not healthy for either partner. This was not our case. We were continually growing closer together, closer to our friends, and closer to Father through dating each other.

    So how did we process ending an already beautiful and wonderful and loving relationship that seemed endless? We had our most romantic and lovely night together. Ever. We shared our favorite wine. We danced in the kitchen by candlelight. We sat in his empty cottage on a blanket and shared our feelings, our thoughts. We recanted our favorite moments together. We prayed over each other. We cried and we laughed. Then, we parted ways.

    It was the most romantic experience of my life.

    This brings me to the beautiful lesson that Abba Daddy taught me in that moment: he loves to redeem every thing in our lives. Throughout our relationship, Rob and I experienced so many moments of the Lord redeeming our past by using our relationship to heal us. In my past, I had only experienced painful, dramatic, and scarring break-ups filled with screaming, name-calling, and abuse. But this time, this break-up, the moment was filled with so much goodness. So much grace and mercy. So much healing. So much honesty and kindness. The Lord loves to fully redeem and heal every part of our lives and our hearts. And if going through this relationship was only to learn what a beautiful break-up is like, it was all worth it. That piece of my past and heart was mended, healed, and redeemed. It was given hope.

    I want you to know that relationships do not have to leave you broken and shattered if they end. They can leave you more whole than you were in the beginning. They can leave you more loving, more compassionate, and more yourself than you’ve ever been. The Lord is so faithful to his promises. He is so freeing and filled with joy.

    I don’t know what the future looks like. What I expected it to be has been completely turned on it’s head now… But I know it’s going to be much more than I could ever ask for or imagine because my Father, my Abba, my Daddy is already there. He’s the Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End. And he is already at the end, waiting for me.

     

    Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

  5. Bring me your weakness, and receive My Peace. Accept yourself and your circumstances just as they are, remembering that I am sovereign over everything. Do not wear yourself out with analyzing and planning. Instead, let thankfulness and trust be your guides through this day; they will keep you close to Me. As you live in the radiance of My Presence, My Peace shines upon you. You will cease to notice how weak or strong you feel because you will be focusing on Me. The best way to get through this day is step by step with Me. Continue this intimate journey, trusting that the path you are following is headed for heaven.

    'The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.' – Psalm 29:11

    'The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.' – Numbers 6:24-26

    'But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.' – Psalm 13:5

    — Jesus Calling (February 4)

  6. You have to let the roots grow deep, and stop worrying about the leaves. In due season they will be made new.

  7. He Remains Faithful

    Back in late September, an old demon that I thought I had conquered came back to haunt me: the feeling that I was too far gone for God’s grace to reach me.

    Hah. How ridiculous is that?! I had just written a blog about his grace. I had been through months of trials, tribulations, and victories that proved his grace abounded. I had watched him work in me and through me just moments after my screw-ups. I should have had the grace thing down, right? I guess old habits do die hard.

    So, I decided to try to remedy this with good, old fashioned prayer (hey guys, it seriously works wonders). I spent a night face down on my bedroom floor begging the God of the Universe to calm my heart; to open my eyes to his goodness and grace. I went to bed unresolved. Calmer heart and drained emotions, but still unresolved.

    The next day, I decided to take a nap during my lunch break at home and sleep off the restlessness I was still feeling.  When I woke up, the lie was still there. The lie that I was somehow too far gone for God to eternally love me.  The lie that, at any moment, he would completely give up on me. The lie that he didn’t love me as fully as he said he did. I was fed up. I was fed up with being told this lie, and I was fed up with believing it. God had a beautiful track-record of loving me, not only in his Word, but in my life too. He had proven himself faithful over and over and over. He had shown me that he was my eternal redeemer.

    So, at the end of my rope, I begged God to speak to me. I wanted to hear directly from him that it was finished long ago; that my heart has been sealed to his for eternity. At the end of my prayer, I hadn’t heard anything, so I gathered my things and started the short drive back to work.

    As I was about to pull up to a stop sign in the parking lot outside of our offices, God clearly and concisely declared his everlasting love for me. I quickly parked my car and made a dash to my desk to grab my notebook and jot down the exact words he said so that I would never forget them. My God didn’t just speak a word, or even a sentence, of truth to me… he spoke an entire paragraph. The God that created the heavens, and the earth, and the oceans, and animals, and abundantly more saw fit to notice my hurt and confusion and speak directly to my heart.

    Since then, those words have been such a comfort when my fragile, fleshly heart begins to believe lies again. Because they have been such a help for me, I want to share them with you, in hopes that they bring light into your darkness and speak truth to combat the lies.

    "God loved us in our most unlovable state. So much so that he saw fit to live with us, as one of us. To live in the most humble way imaginable, just to be near us. Then, he took every punishment we ever deserved. He died for us, while we were still sinners. Then, he took the keys of hell from Satan, rose again on the third, and lived another forty days with us. If God would do all of that before I knew him, how could I ever imagine he would disown me or stop loving me now that I love him back. You see, our salvation and right-standing with him isn’t based on who I am or what I do, but on who he is and what he has done. He began loving me and pursuing me 2,000 years before I was born… and nothing under the sun will stop him from loving me now.”

    Dear friends, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)

  8. I want you to know
    one thing.

    You know how this is:
    if I look
    at the crystal moon, at the red branch
    of the slow autumn at my window,
    if I touch
    near the fire
    the impalpable ash
    or the wrinkled body of the log,
    everything carries me to you,
    as if everything that exists,
    aromas, light, metals,
    were little boats
    that sail
    toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

    Well, now,
    if little by little you stop loving me
    I shall stop loving you little by little.

    If suddenly
    you forget me
    do not look for me,
    for I shall already have forgotten you.

    If you think it long and mad,
    the wind of banners
    that passes through my life,
    and you decide
    to leave me at the shore
    of the heart where I have roots,
    remember
    that on that day,
    at that hour,
    I shall lift my arms
    and my roots will set off
    to seek another land.

    But
    if each day,
    each hour,
    you feel that you are destined for me
    with implacable sweetness,
    if each day a flower
    climbs up to your lips to seek me,
    ah my love, ah my own,
    in me all that fire is repeated,
    in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
    my love feeds on your love, beloved,
    and as long as you live it will be in your arms
    without leaving mine.

    — Pablo Neruda, If You Forget Me

  9. I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.

    — Dawna Markova

  10. Roommate Love

    When this posts (on October 18, 2012 at midnight), I will have lived with this amazing woman for a full two months. Lauri is such a blessing from Jesus. I have learned so much through her walk with Christ these past couple of months. I have learned about kindness, honesty, discipline, and love. I am consistently pushed to be a better friend and believer. So, here’s to you, Lauri. I’m so thankful that you were my answered prayer for a roommate in this new city.

    Side note: Our amazing friend, Chris Hall, generously shot these super candid photos for us two weeks ago. Thanks for doing such a great job, friend!