small steps

small steps

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Along the Road

Today is my sweet mother's birthday and as my thoughts have turned to her throughout this day, my heart has also continually been reminded of one of the stories I  have always loved hearing her share.

When my mom was in her twenties she was driving down the road out in the country and her car broke down. This is at a time before any cell phones or car phones. She found herself outside on this country road wondering if she should start walking for help and debating what to do. All of the sudden, she looked up the road and there was my grandfather driving down the road in his truck. They had not communicated that day about where she was going, he just happened to be headed in the right direction at the right time just when she needed a rescuer. I have always loved hearing that story because of the beauty of the timing. I am also a girl who really has a soft spot for her grandfather and this story always made him all the more the hero to me, knowing how he swept in and was there to help his own daughter just when she needed him.

I love to marvel in the beauty of how much this story reminds me of God's desire to meet us absolutely wherever we are at...the broken down moments and all the meetings along the way. God always knows where we are headed before we do and what we need before we need it. What joy comes when we allow ourselves to look up and see that He is right there to meet us wherever we are headed.

The longer I continue on this journey of full time student  ministry the greater this becomes the prayer of my heart for my students. For them to know this great love that God has for them and His desire to meet them each along the road. To rescue them. To give them hope. To fill them with peace. As I enter my 10th fall as a youth director, I am praying for the wisdom and heart to know how to direct these precious teenagers that cross my path towards their Father who is waiting with open arms.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


 On this Maundy Thursday, I have found myself thinking a lot about the way this Holy Week rolls around each year. How these days are different. How they all build upon one another to lead up to Sunday. We celebrate them similarly each calendar year yet they are set apart for a reason. There is a sacredness in walking through these days leading up to the victory of all victories.

Can I just confess that this year my heart and life need this set apart Holy Week. I am desperate for the reminder of the victory and to wrap myself around the truth of  the ultimate gift of selflessness and love given by Jesus. I am overwhelmed by the conversation and the tension and the stuff that just gets in the way of  rejoicing in this victory daily.

I need these days that are set apart. That are holy. That allow me to remember that before He suffered on the cross He knelt down and washed the feet of the ones who had served with him and done life with him. He washed their feet and He knew what was coming.

I know there have been years when I have let this week become all too full and I have lost track of the need for it. The holiness of it. This year in my own desperateness for it I am praying to know how to truly set it apart in my heart so that the message of the victory lingers through the long weeks and months to come.

That the victory that comes through the Resurrection is so present in my life, in my calling, in my love for others that I do not even have to speak of it--it lives through my actions and my words and my life. Oh, I am sure that I will fail along the way but how thankful I am for the grace and the chance in this moment I can choose to find holiness in the One who claims the victory for all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My joys.

I'm sitting in front of my computer working on a seminary paper and a text message pops up from one of my volunteer youth leaders. We talk a moment about the students they are pouring into and how proud we are of the way these students have grown. I am suddenly flooded with emotion as I remember the first moment I saw their sweet faces nearly five years ago. They were just middle school students and now in just a few months they will graduate high school. My joys.

The first group of 5th graders I ever led in "tween bible study" are now half way through their freshman year and have found their confidence and stride in the halls of their high school and when I look at the group on a particular programming day I can't tell who is a freshman and who is a senior because they are all meshed together in one big card game or crammed in our window seat booth eating breakfast. My sweet joys.

The fifth graders who just six months ago were hesistant and shy in coming over to the student ministry building now run into programming on Friday nights yelling "I love it here!" They pull in their friends by the hand to meet us and show them around like they own the place. My amazing joys.

The throwback Thursdays of Instagram and the Facebook flash backs pop up pictures of these years that have passed in a blink. There are faces of students who weren't here when we first began as youth directors but are now so rooted in this ministry just because they were brought by a friend one single time and it was their home. I do not even remember what ministry was like without them in it and I do not even want to remember it without them. My precious joys.

Every student. Each a joy. The introverts and the extroverts. The athletes, the musicians, the artists. The ones that love video games, legos building, reading and every interest in between. The ones I see every week, the ones who pop in every other month and the ones I have yet to meet. All a gift. Each and every one a joy.

Some nights, like tonight the tears stream down and my heart overflows because I cannot even put into words what their young lives mean to me. I cannot even begin to describe the honor and the gift it is to know them and know their sweet families. For all we have shared together, the memories, the mountain tops and the valleys too. What a gift. What a joy.

And then there are those days when the joy is hard to find because it's buried under paperwork or drama or politics. But God is faithful when we trust Him with the joy He has given us. He sends us reminders. He knows when we need those nudges in the forms of text messages and smiles. This full time ministry life is so different. Forever changing. Forever moving. But oh, the joy. My joy. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I hate to admit it but I'm all too familar with car accidents. I count my blessings over and over that the accidents I've experienced haven't involved any injuries more extreme than bruises and stitches. I am, however, familar with the scene of twisted metal and broken glass. The images are cemeted in my brain with those shards of glass on the road and the powder from the air bag. In these experiences I've had with car wrecks--in those moment all I can focus on is the mess.

In my accidents physical injuries haven't played a major role. So, in those seconds after the accident my freak-out nature tends to fixate on what this means. How much it will cost...can the car be repaired...what happens with do I get a rental car...are the questions seem impossible. The twisted metal and broken glass in front of me seem permament.

In the moment of the wreck all I can ever focus on is the brokenness itself. I've been wondering recently, why am I like that. It's kind of brutal for my heart to type this all out and admit it. But maybe you're reading this and you've faced a wreck of your own. Maybe you've stood on the side of the road in the midst of the brokenness and wondered how in the world did I get here. Maybe your wreck has nothing to do with a car accident.

My own heart tends to reflect that of the scenes I've faced in car accidents when I am hurting and unsure of what lies ahead. My heart drifts towards focusing on what is broken...what is out of my control to fix. All to easily, I allow myself to just plop down in the midst of the wreckage in the hurt and the unknown of where to go from here and stay there.

Ya'll, I do not have a bunch of wrecked cars that don't work sitting outside of my home. Through God's grace and provision and moving one foot in front of another, the wreckage is towed away. Cars are repaired or replaced. And in a more powerful way, Jesus is able to heal hearts from the wreckage and the hurt--even when all I can see around me are the shards of what I loved so dearly. Jesus is greater than whatever wreck I find myself within.

 I remember one Sunday when I was a little girl, my sweet Sunday School teacher scooping me up into her lap and smoothing out the lace on my dress while wiping tears from my face...I think I was crying because there weren't enough markers at the table for us all to have a pink any case, she said, "Jesus cares when you hurt." That moment has stayed with me. I cling to it in the storms and the car accidents within the hurting and the wreckage.

It was just the reminder I needed today and if you're reading this I hope it brings you some sort of hope in the midst of whatever fender bender or collosion you may be facing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Finding Balance

Here is the quote that has completely wrecked me. It comes from author and pastor Larry Crabb:

Happy people do not love well. Joyful people do. That’s why happiness, the pleasant feelings that pleasant circumstances generate, must be taken away and replaced by joy. Happy people rarely look for joy. They’re quite content with what they have. The foundation of their life consists of the blessings they enjoy. Although they may genuinely care about those less fortunate and do great things to help, their central concern is to keep what they have. They haven’t been freed to pursue a greater dream. That’s why they cannot love well. In His severe mercy, God takes away the good to create an appetite for the better, and then, eventually, He satisfies the new appetite, liberating them to love. It comes down to this: God’s best is available only to those who sacrifice, or who are willing to sacrifice, the merely good. If we are satisfied with good health, responsible children, enjoyable marriages, close friendships, interesting jobs, and successful ministries, we will never hunger for Gods’ best. We will never worship. I’ve come to believe that only broken people truly worship. Unbroken people – happy folks who enjoy their blessings more than the Blesser – say thanks to God the way a shopper thanks a clerk. 
It’s a great tragedy when Christian people make it through life without ever discovering that their happiness is no different from the happiness of circumstantially well-off pagans. I fear that millions of Christians have never made that discovery and therefore blissfully continue to drink watered-down grape juice when fine wine is available. " -Larry Crabb

The first time I read this I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. The second time I read it I realized that this is something I need to digest over and over again. Now, years later from when I read this for the first time I'm still striving to figure out what it means to find this balance.

How do I find the balance of striving for God's best in the midst of my brokenness all the while savoring the shower of His blessings in my life?

Some days I do want to rest in the comfort of my amazing friends & family. I do find joy in the growing student ministry I'm so blessed to help lead.

But then the quote creeps back into my heart..."Happy folks who enjoy their blessings more than the Blesser--say thanks to God the way a shopper thanks a clerk." That's the part that hits me like a bus and brings me to my knees in a plea for the balance. I'm reminded of a verse from the book of James 1:22--"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

The strive for this balance is not an easy one. Our culture has become so busy and full that I believe it's become all to easy to keep drinking that watered-down grape juice. I fall for it all the time. I allow myself to fill my calendar full with life--and honestly mostly good stuff but ultimately the reason this quote from Larry Crabb messes with me so much is because I am not wired to just want a life filled of good stuff.

My Creator has wired me for more. He has wired me to seek Him and His Kingdom. In the midst of my mess and my struggle to strive for this balance all He seeks is for me to begin by resting in Him.

In the midst of these next few days giving thanks for the blessings I'm praying for a thirst for a greater dream. When my stomach is full from turkey and pumpkin pie, I hope I cannot fully forget that there's more to strive for...fine wine is available.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Filled with Awe

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2: 42-47

I have read this beautiful passage in Acts 2 dozens of times over the years. The book of Acts has become a source of hope and renewal for me. I love to be reminded of the fire and passion of the early church. I love this example of these first Christ followers. I've brought it in front of students over and over again. I've asked the question--what does this look like for us in the church, today? My heart has wrestled with this passage and found hope in it's example of living for Jesus. 

A couple months ago, I was sitting in our staff meeting when our senior pastor shared his heart. He shared how God had nudged him as our spiritual leader to help create a weekend for our church family with an emphasis on spiritual renewal and unity. His vision was different from anything we had thought of tackling as a church family or a church staff--atleast in the four years I've been blessed to serve at Castleton UMC. One of the things, I so appreciate about our senior pastor is that Pastor Frank knows he needs help with the details. He had been prayerful over the direction we needed to go but knew it would take a team to make a purposeful spiritual renewal weekend a reality. I watched in the weeks to come as he reached out to church members, church leadership & our staff to make all the logistical details of this past weekend possible. Again and again he reminded us to cover it all with prayer. 

This past Sunday, I sat in a different spot of the sanctuary then normal for our combined worship service. I sat in the back on a folding chair so that the pews could be packed in. I watched as all ages filed into worship. I began to reflect of the dozens of ways the people who were entering into worship had reached out to serve our neighborhood and had come together in fellowship over the past 48 hours. And then as the music for worship began, I could not hold back my tears, immediately God brought to my heart this passage from Acts.

I realized I had found the answer to my question that my heart has wrestled with for so many years--this is how the church today lives out this walk with Jesus as a family of believers. Over this past weekend, it didn't matter our preference of worship style, it didn't matter how long you had been a church member or not. Teenagers were serving in the midst of an older generation...children were working alongside their parents and their church family.  There was love and selflessness poured into every meal served to every worker, volunteer & community member. We ate together. We served together. We laughed together. We saw the love of Jesus within one another. We went beyond the walls of our church to share that love with others. On Sunday, we witnessed some profess a desire to say yes to a relationship with Christ for the very first time. 

We are far from the perfect church. This past weekend wasn't about being a perfect community of believers. It was however, a powerful reminder of what it means to allow our Perfect Savior to guide work together in His name. I never could have imagined this kind of renewal but I'm thankful for the reminder of Acts 2 now more than ever and I am filled with awe.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Foggy Hearts

I was running late this hair was wet...I realized half way to the car I still had my slippers of those kind of mornings. After pulling myself together and starting my drive, I realized the thick fog of the morning. The first one of this fall that I have witnessed so far. A foggy morning always amazes me---especially when I haven't experienced one in awhile. The roads and path I so frequently travel all of a sudden completly different--and as sure as I am about where I'm headed, I'm also a little unsure of the path that will get me there.

In the midst of my foggy drive, God reminded me that this is the place my heart has been lately. I have still been fixed on Jesus and living out His will for my life and for the ministry He's entrusted me with but the road has been a bit hazy. My heart a bit foggy.

It gets clouded with the lies I tell myself that I'm not good enough to be used by my Father, that I'm not smart enough to take on seminary and full time ministry, that I can't give my students all they need--that I'm not wise enough or discerning enough. My path gets bogged down with the fear of the unknown and change--even though with unknown and change comes great revelation of God's timing and plan. My heart just gets foggy when I allow all of the lies & fears to creep in for a bit and settle over me.

The road underneath me--the direction I'm headed still remains. I do know this truth-- I am not enough on my own--I never will be, but my Savior is more than enough. He is bigger than my worries & fears. He knows that trusting Him with the changes in my life allows His timing and plan to wrap its presence around my heart greater than any fears ever could. He is greater than my foggy spirit and it's ultimatly His light that breaks me free of the fog I've allowed to weigh me down .

One of the greatest blessings that's come into my life this fall is through my participation in a Sunday afternoon Bible study with a group of women of mixed generations and backgrounds. These women have quickly become sources of encouragement and inspiration to me as I have witnessed their devotion to God's Word and their willingness to be the church together as sisters in Christ. I have found myself often silent during my time with these women because my spirit is truly just soaking in their wisdom and examples of grace and truth. What a precious reminder these women and my time with them continues to be to me of seeking the Kingdom...of the road we are on together.

In the midst of the fog--God reveals His light, how thankful I am for a season in life to learn from the haze and ultimately to trust God's timing and leading.

  1. All to Jesus I surrender;
    All to Him I freely give;
    I will ever love and trust Him,
    In His presence daily live.

  2. I surrender all,
  3. I surrender all;
  4. All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
  5. I surrender all.