Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Ponderings

The day is said and done, the left over turkey and trimmings stored away in the fridge, the family gone their separate ways until the next holiday or celebration or nice meal brings them together again. And here I am, sitting in a big red chair, thinking many disjointed thoughts. Blame it on all the sweet tea, but my mind has been reeling non-stop for at least the past 4 hours. About what, you ask? Anything and everything from my aunt's vegetable casserole to my sweet lab Abby who experienced a hit and run from an unknown vehicle last night (don't worry, she only has a bruised back foot) to my quickly approaching wedding to all the songs I want to write in my lifetime and what they should say, to my family--albeit dysfunctional (aren't we all though?) to our morally declining society to early nineties windsuits and back to my aunt's vegetable casserole (just kidding about the windsuits). Told you they were disjointed. I can tell you right now that this won't be your typical Thanksgiving Day blog. Nope. I can't say that I'm really in the mood. Now please don't get me wrong here. I am exceedingly grateful for more than I could ever list--the people who love me and challenge me to live to the fullest, the trials that come as a result of living in this fallen world that only teach me to trust in my faithful God, the opportunity to grasp how high and wide and deep and long is the love of Christ and knowing that His loving sacrifice raised me to life, along with health and physical provisions and my amazing fiance and waterfalls and vegetable casserole. Among a host of other things. After all the ways I've been cared for, after all I have received, after all He has can I not be thankful?

Perhaps it is this gratitude that moves us further. And here's what I mean. When we have received such abundant grace and been given the chance to commune daily with the God of all time, when we have been changed by such a love that knows no limits, what is our response? You'd think that our natural reaction would be to love as Jesus loves, to live as He lived. To extend ourselves to no end, to give when we have nothing, to love even when our hearts ache, to pour out when we're running on empty. When all is said and done, what else is there? I mean, let's face it. We only get one shot at this thing called life. And yet I often find myself acting out of selfish impulse rather than being sensitive to the voice of the Lord and the needs of others. I feel like Paul, doing what I don't want to do, not doing what I ought. Yet all the while something rises up within me, and I know it's the Holy Spirit inside, prompting me with such urgency and compassion to be the voice in the silence. And not just me. You too. While John Mayer and loads of others may be sitting around waiting on the world to change, we cannot shut our mouths another day. The situation is too desperate. Time is too short. People are too valuable. So here's the challenge: let's love like Jesus. I mean, REALLY love. Sacrificially. Whole-heartedly. No matter what it costs us in time or money or man's approval. Let's love them all. Rich, poor, black, white, American or not, young and old alike, for there is no favoritism in the Kingdom. Let us purpose in our hearts to be the very mouthpieces of God, to speak truth and love and be salt and light in a world whose eyes are veiled to The Way, even if they hate us. After all, they hated Jesus first. After all, we are the Church, the actual Bride of Christ, set apart as holy, joined together as one body with Jesus as our Head, called to be like one Man who was truly God. So what do you say?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Everywhere God

This morning I woke up early as we were just driving into New Mexico. Now I don't know if you've ever been to New Mexico, but it's a type of beauty like I've never seen. Vast desert, unusual rock formations, and scattered mountains paint a picture that I had only before seen in movies or on the Discovery Channel, and as I beheld such a landscape this morning, the Holy Spirit moved my heart to worship. How could I not be moved? Look around. Creation is shouting of His glory, of His beauty, of His artistry, of His great love. God, in His sovereignty, could have easily left out the details that we so often take for granted, and we never would have known the difference. But instead, out of His goodness and divinity, he painted for us beauty at every turn. Sunrise and sunset, dawn and dusk, mountains and valleys, oceans and rivers and waterfalls and rainbows and stars. And these are but the outer fringe of His wonders. Don't even get me started about finding Beauty (God Himself) in the people He loves so much, no matter what age, no matter what background, no matter what color, race, or profession. I think of the children in India and Guatemala that I have grown to love so much during my brief visits into their world. Rejected by society and even by their parents, yet ever loved by God and set ablaze in this dark place to shine of the hope they have found in their Jesus. He is in it all...their laughs, their tears, their play, their pain, their hunger, their joy. He is there, in their midst. We worship a God who is everywhere, in everything.

And He is there with you, right where you sit. The Lord your God is with you. But not only is He present, He is active. Whether or not you believe it or feel it, God is not standing idly by, twiddling His thumbs. He is on the move. His Spirit is always at work in and around us. This truth is a great source of comfort, for even when our eyes cannot see the steady hand of the Lord constantly stirring and drawing and embracing, He is working still. We can rest in that. We can stake our lives on the fact that God is faithful in the most turbulent and gut wrenching of circumstances. I'm not quite sure why I'm writing this when I had all intentions of exploring God in everything (Colossians 1), but obviously He is working even now in this blog. So friend, wherever you are (physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually), the Living God is in your midst. Calling. Loving. Searching. Correcting. Drawing. Healing. You. And me. Praise the Lord that He would be willing to look at me in all my filth and lift me from ashes to beauty. And He wants to do the same thing for you. All you have to do is let Him. Redemption is sure, and there's nothing His mercy He can't cover. My prayer is that you would allow this everywhere God come near to your heart and be everything to you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Picture Time

In Redmond, WA with my new friends,
Addie and Aspen.
I've definitely conked my head a few times.
After our Portland show. The Aaron Shust Band,
Jason Roy of Building 429 and Mark Roach.

Bend, Oregon

My homies, Eric and Andy.
Signing shoes. With my buddies Mark, Josiah,
and Micah in Bend, Oregon.
Mt. Bachelor.

Eric, Scotty, Aaron and me beneath the
beautiful Cascade Mountains.
Jason Roy, Mark Roach, me and Aaron Shust.
With Sarah and Daniel.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just Jesus

Another day, another city. Portland to be exact. I'm sure it eventually becomes tiring sleeping on a bus, traveling from one town to the next, playing music every night...but honestly. Not everyone has the opportunity to travel the country with two busloads of great people and do what they love all the while. I'm loving every minute. After my sound check today I was literally running around the church out of pure excitement. And I assure you there was no caffeine involved.

Now as I sit alone in my dressing room and begin to quiet my heart for what is coming in about an hour, amidst the deep joy and gratitude, excitement and newness of it all, there lies something else. Fear. Not necessarily the kind of fear that Paul referred to in his second letter to Timothy, "a spirit of timidity" and not exactly the fear of man that Proverbs warns us about ("Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." Prov. 29:25). The kind of fear I'm referring to has little to do with uncertainty regarding the future and everything to do with entrusting my future to the Living God. Proverbs 9:10 sums it up beautifully: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Psalm 9 adds, "The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever" (v. 9). What does it mean to "fear the Lord?" To walk uprightly before Him, to approach Him reverently but confidently, to be clothed in humility before a Holy God? I want to know. And not just knowledge that exists in my head, but the kind that translates to my heart and overflows into my actions. This is what is required of us, "to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8). So I'm finding that this fear I can't seem to shake is in all actuality a desirable thing. I want to run the race with perseverance, keeping my eyes on the Prize, remaining faithful in large and small things alike so that in the end, when I have testified of God at work in my life and preached the Good News to all who would hear, I would not be disqualified.

Allow me to unpack this just a bit more as it pertains to where the Lord has me at present. Here's some honesty for ya...I just signed a record deal about a month ago, a decision I believe to be ordered of the Lord, but I am scared out of my mind. Not afraid of radio interviews or photoshoots or meet and greets or concerts, not afraid of disappointing my label or managers or audience or even loved ones. Nope, that's not it. My greatest fear in all of this is that I would fail my Lord. After all He is to me, after all He has accomplished in my life, the very last thing I can do is dishonor Him by making all this about me. Because it just plain is not. Everything I have and everything I am is all because of Jesus. Period. Not Jesus and some good training. Not Jesus plus the right connections. Just Jesus. My heart cries out for the supernatural grace to be faithful to my faithful God. And at the end of the day may my lips speak of, my hands reach for, and my soul long for one thing...just Jesus.

3 Days Down

The third night of the Aaron Shust/Building 429 tour has concluded, and I have to say I'm having the time of my life. What a privilege to minister alongside these guys each night and get to know their hearts on and off stage. I am greatly humbled by it all. I'll write more details about the tour and all it entails very soon, but for now I am posting a video of a radio interview from Wednesday morning. Fun times. Enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Here we go...

Well, it's official. I have now joined millions of others in the adventurous world of blogging. And I know you're thrilled. ;) I'm pretty excited to say the least. Now I know maybe I should give a little introduction as the initial blogspot blog, but let me just say you're welcome to stop by anytime. You and your mom and even your dog. Anytime. Ok? Ok. You see, I don't claim to have anything super genius and definitely not any revelation that would change your life. Not at all. I'm just a girl, typing on her PC (no grief from the mac users, please), asking you to read me....err, the blog, that is. Some will be completely silly, others more serious. The single aspect I'm most jazzed about is the fact that you can respond to my ramblings. We can interact, hang out a bit. I'm all about community, ya know...just living life together, sharing the good and the bad, gleaning from one anothers' experiences. So that's it in a nutshell. Now I'm gonna run out and sing the closing song with Aaron Shust, Building 429, and Mark Roach.

More to come on that...