Thursday, December 17, 2015

He Writes

Several months have passed since posting any thoughts. I may have subconsciously wanted to give it a break and see if I would miss it. Or perhaps, I wanted to be sure of all of my motives.

With finals done, a lull in my work schedule, and the rain keeping me indoors, I´ve felt nudged by a still, small voice to make writing a priority again. I have been reminded of how much writing means to me. Writing brings greater introspection and awareness. Writing gives clarity, perhaps because the letters are arranged at regular intervals on a white page and neatly lined up in rows. The written words are, much like photographs, my souvenirs of having lived.

And so, I write. I want to write about Him—the tireless Writer. For when everyone gives up, He writes. When the present with its joys and troubles is all we can see, He writes eternal thoughts. When we think surely He has abandoned us, He still writes in a quiet corner. When in our weakness we are swept away by enemy floods, He wages war with His pen and rescues us.

His intent is simple, almost childish. His hands hold a writing tablet and He etches, a millimeter at a time, all things beautiful. But four letters take precedence.  An L, an O…and with painstaking precision a V and an E. Over and over, He carefully seeks another empty surface on the same tablet and begins again. He will not stop until it is perfect, until every space and corner is filled with His Love. He who has begun this good work will surely complete it.

And this is my hope. For when I am not faithful, I am called back and still God writes.

“The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written. Now the tablets were the work of God and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets.” (Exodus 32:15, 16)

“…not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

“…this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33) 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

For One

Reminiscing from Redwood Creek Summer Camp 2015

It took one small face. And then everything made sense…

His name is Bryce*. Almost from day one, he caught Joshua´s attention. “There´s something about that kid,” Josh told me, “He reminds me of me when I was that age…kind of troubled and yet there´s a spark inside of him.” Over the course of the week, Bryce´s reserved yet eager spirit had won my heart too.

Friday night comes. Most everyone has dispersed from the campfire area into the darkness. Bryce stays behind with head lowered. Thin shoulders heave slightly with emotion. His counselor, Leif, sits protectively close, visibly compassionate. Live embers still glow and spark in the fire area.

Josh and I linger nearby. I know Joshua longs to rush to him, but he considers for a moment. I am touched to the core by the small tearful figure. 

Joshua makes his way towards the two on the bench. From a distance I overhear snatches of an exchange among the three boys who all know more than a thing or two about hard things in life—Leif on one side, Josh on the other, both turned toward their younger brother who is hurting. I hear Bryce say “don´t have any parents” and “don´t ever want to leave camp.” They talk in quiet voices. I hear words of strength and comfort.

“Can we pray together?” Leif asks Bryce. The earnest young eyes shine as he eagerly nods. How I wish we could take him home!

The scene is embedded upon my soul. Everything makes sense now. He is the reason. Bryce is the reason. His young face makes every hour in board meeting, every minute spent on grant applications, every early morning at camp, all the rushing back and forth to the rappelling rock, every prayer offered in preparation for camp…all of it…he gives it purpose! He´s the reason why! He makes everything worth it a million times over!

Yes, every camper is equally amazing and important but with unexpected passion I realize we did everything for Bryce. He is enough. Without second thought, I´d do it all again…I´d do more…just for him. I´d heard our girls´ director say several times that we would do it all for just one camper, but now it clicks. I´d do it again…just for Bryce.

I look skyward, stars visible through the encircling trees. Leif and Bryce have gone to bed. Josh sits a few feet away deep in his own emotion. I can´t stop the tears that keep welling up in my eyes because…

God would do it all again. The cold nights, the days with little food, the profound exhaustion, the friends who betrayed, the death sentence, the Father´s face stolen away. God sees my tear-stained face, forlorn and needing a home…and He´d do it all again…just for me. I am enough. I make it worth it.   

 *Name changed

Sunday, August 9, 2015


The green is more brilliant today. The sky is more strikingly blue. This is the clearest it´s been since the fires started over a week ago. The smoke has dissipated and the vibrancy of color returns. I´d almost forgotten what normal was.

I contemplate a comparison between the clearing atmosphere and the moment when we´ll at last see our God face to face rather than “through a glass dimly.”

We've almost forgotten what normal was. We hear only distant rumors of how life was before the haze of sin hid our Father´s countenance and sucked color from our vision. Were we indeed destined for evening walks with our Creator God?

When time brings restoration, a vaguely familiar face will appear—the Holy One who is Love, in full and glorious color. A hidden spring will flood my heart with recognition…this is the face we once knew. This is the original spectrum of color unveiled. Our souls will eagerly drink in the sight…because we´d almost forgotten what normal was. 

Friday, June 19, 2015


June 18. L.A. airport. Saying goodbye. My birthday gift.

“It wasn´t supposed to make you cry,” Joshua says. 

“It can be good to cry, Josh,” I reply, “these are not sad tears.”

I hold the notebook in my hands, turning the pages with incredulity. They remind me…of how God works, of His endless depth, of His heart-stirring call to a simple girl.

The notebook filled with reminders is an amazing gift. Likewise, the boy who gave me the notebook is also an amazing reminder from God—a reminder who brings joy to my existence and talks to me.

God knows I am forgetful and weak. I need reminders. Without them I will waste hours and days and years pursuing goals that get me no closer to lasting happiness. 

Where might I be without reminders?  Without a mother who prays for me, without friends who show me grace, without my Bible waiting at my bedside? Where might I be without kindred spirits who send me messages saying that they are praying that I will draw closer to Jesus´ heart this year than ever before? 

In life the stakes are high, but I forget. The Love is deep, but I turn from it. The God of my soul surrounds me, but I am blinded.

He sends me reminders in many shapes and sizes. Some of them I recognize and they make me cry at His goodness.

I close the notebook…fully re-minded.

“…but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Can´t Wait

Time. I perceive it differently now. Every time his silver Honda disappears from view, time takes on new dimensions, a new edge. I can´t wait!

I can´t wait until the next time I get to see his smile or hear his familiar greetings over the phone. I suppose it´s a common enough type of anticipation felt by couples in the courtship phase of life. However common it may be, it is richly significant.  

It was this slight ache of anticipation one day that caused me to glance upward and ask, “How in the world do you do it, Father God? How can you possibly bear the centuries-long ache of waiting to embrace us and have us nearby?” 

If, after all, I find it difficult to wait a few days to see the boy who is winning my heart, what must be the depth of anxiousness that God feels towards several billion dear ones who He passionately loves and longs to dwell with? How must it feel for our God to be perpetually consumed with the intense feeling of “I can´t wait?” 

God´s response intrigued me.

“You´re right,” He said. “I can´t wait in a way that is far beyond your mind´s grasp. But one thing is better than being tangibly and visibly with you. One thing makes the wait bearable.”

“What would that be, Father God?”

“Being with your spirit. Communing with you heart to heart. I´d rather have this kind of closeness any day. Closer than close. Sure, I dream of embracing you, but until then I just want to dwell in your heart. And one day…I´ll have you nearby in every sense of the word. Truly, dear one, I know how you feel. I can´t wait.”   

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


“Can I ask you something?”

(I´m never quite sure what to expect when I hear this question from Joshua. It could be a cute, silly question he´s about to ask or it could be a more difficult, heart-probing one. Nonetheless, I always say “Of course.”)

“Are you a little bit jealous?” he asked with a rare intonation in his voice that I couldn´t interpret.

“Um…hmm, let me think…I guess I haven´t really identified that emotion in myself very often, so I´m not sure exactly how it feels…but yes, it could be I´m a little jealous.”

His reply was a chuckle.

“Why are you laughing, Josh? It´s obviously something I need to work on.”

“It´s funny thinking of you being jealous. It´s kind of cute. It´s been a long time since someone cared about me enough to be jealous.”

It was a small incident. He had met with a friend to study for an exam. The friend was a girl. He hadn´t thought anything of it until it had come up in our conversation. He immediately apologized for not having explained his plans to me first before meeting with his classmate. I knew he hadn´t intended to keep anything from me and I was ready to move on to another topic when the whole “jealousy” question came up.

Joshua´s comments had an unexpected impact. I had to stop and contemplate the implications of godly jealousy versus human jealousy. I went to the scriptures and confirmed that God´s word describes God, not just once but several times, as a Jealous God. Innately, God is a God of passion and zeal. While my jealousy is most likely centered on self, God´s jealous nature is focused on a deep desire to be close to us, to be in relationship with us. When other things and other people get in the way of us being completely His (and thus, completely happy), He is jealous. When sin separates us from Him, He is angered, not because He is angry in human terms but because He ardently Loves in Divine terms. 

Although God´s jealousy is far too sacred to be described as “cute,” it is sweetly incredible that He cares enough about me to be jealous.

“Yes,” God admits, “I´m a bit jealous over you.”  

"They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols."
Deuteronomy 32:21

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Family Man

 “He was love, but he was alone, and love alone is lonely.”

Once upon a time we were created. We came to be not because God needed more created beings in order for His universe to subsist, but because the highest happiness that a God of Love could envision was the happiness of being a Father.

God intentionally made us in His image, which meant we were also capable of creating our own family units and loving our offspring to amazing degrees. In His Love, God made us capable of experiencing this utmost happiness with Him.
When Jesus came to earth He did not simply show us God, the Supreme Creator and King. Jesus came to show us OUR FATHER. Jesus came to show us that God is a family man and that we are His kids.

In essence, I exist because God wanted a family! Long ago God intuitively captured that His own highest calling was Fatherhood—the raising of children in the light of His own Love! With all His intellectual ability, limitless physical capacity, and creativity, the supreme satisfaction for His soul was found in having a family to nurture and Love.

He would do anything to see His family whole and harmonious again! Restoration is perhaps within reach…perhaps beginning with me recognizing how important the symbolism of marriage and family is to our very identity. Perhaps my perspective can begin restoring God's shattered vision, one family at a time.

(I recommend listening to the song Family Man by Andrew Peterson after contemplating the foregoing thoughts).  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

That Word

As I told the story, I cringed when I heard myself saying a certain word.

It didn´t matter that I was speaking in Spanish. It´s a word that has been diluted in every human language. It´s a word that is pure glory... and yet it now barely flickers shrouded in centuries of tainted interpretation. 

I don´t want to use it. But I have no other choice. No other expression comes any closer.

Every time I say it, I feel an urge to expound on it and explain its growing significance in my heart. But my words would probably do it more injustice.

I simply say it…hoping it can fend for itself as it travels on waves of sound. 

Sadly, its truth—a blend of beautiful fragility and echoing power—is mocked, made superficial, or misunderstood by most of us.

The word is “Love.”

I used to subtly dislike the word for other reasons. It seemed too romanticized, too emotional, too much associated with crying. People who “fell in love” often did impractical things and threw wise counsel to the wind. It wasn´t until more recently that I began identifying all the distortions linked to this word. I decided to let go of my notions about what Love was and let God define it for me. Little by little God has been adding to His multi-dimensional definition. This incredible adventure of learning God´s definition stirs me to want to share, write, sing, and be joyously quiet.

And yet I cringe, for neither my weak words nor my amazed silence are eloquent enough…and the word may continue to be misunderstood by us all.

"...for Love is of God..." 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

That Was Me

She gave vague answers and avoided a few of my questions altogether. I never did find out how she had ended up alone on an isolated stretch of Highway 36 as the sun was about to set.

I´d glimpsed her sitting on a rock as I maneuvered one of the highway´s many curves. Curious and concerned about her safety, I wondered if I should turn around. In a matter of seconds I had prayed, slowed my car, and almost involuntarily found myself heading back the way I´d come.

I rolled down my window and asked if she needed help. She looked slightly nervous but accepted a ride. As we exchanged some words, I realized very quickly that she was mentally unstable and hearing voices (either due to a psychological disorder, drug use, or both, I do not know).

“Are the voices making you afraid at all or are you okay?” I inquired as nonchalantly as possible.

“I´m okay right now,” she said.

For a few moments I doubted whether it was wise to have a woman like this in my car but then remembered it was God who had made me turn around and give her a ride. I tried not to worry.

“Do you have any cigarettes?” she asked.

“No, I don´t smoke. Are you hungry?” I ventured.

“Actually I am,” she said.

After eating two scones that I had with me, she still was giving me only non-specific responses to my efforts at conversation. I turned on a Christian music CD and focused on driving. A few times I could feel her gazing at me. Our mutual silence was only broken by her random bursts of laughter and a bit of unintelligible mumbling.

As I dropped her off at the store I had agreed to leave her at, I made a last effort to confirm that she actually had a place where she would be able to stay that night. She said she´d be fine as she wrapped her shawl around her arms more tightly and walked away with barely a word of thanks.

I drove back towards home. Her strong body odor lingered in the air for a while. I wondered if there was more I could have done. God seemed to assure me that, just as He had sent me to care for some of her needs, He would continue to watch over her. I thought of how much heaven Loves that scared, muttering, broken lady and I hoped that some part of her knew that I loved her.

Had she seen God´s Love in me? If it had been Jesus in the seat next to me, would I have treated Him any more politely or any more warmly than I did that lady?  

In a way, the true answer is “no” because as Jesus says Himself, “That WAS me.”

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 
Matthew 25:40

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Infinite Need (Part 2)

I didn´t even know my own NEED. It was this growing sense that found me walking aimlessly and troubled through the snowy woods. “Oh, to know my poverty, to see my wretchedness, and to feel my need,” I kept thinking over and over. God´s piercing light was working to drill through my autonomy and blinding self-sufficiency. Truth be told, I was slightly terrified that He would never break through and that I would be stuck forever with a proud, lonely, and lost heart.

I sat down on a fallen tree and began to cry. The stunning sunset colors only seemed to represent an amazing love that I would never experience if I never felt my true need for redemption. As my shoulders heaved with pent up emotion, I knew that at least momentarily I was needy. I had nowhere else to turn with my desperation. I felt need…a need for something I knew only God could give…a need perhaps for God Himself. His thoughts of hope, patience, and calling intermingled with my anguished ones. He spoke my name and told me my tears were beautiful to Him. I think I knew then that it would be okay. He still wanted me with a passion, despite everything.  

One place we will never leave, throughout all eternity, is the place of needing God. Never will some spiritual level be attained at which our deep need for His love will disappear. Our desire for independence will fade away but our need for His closeness will only wax stronger. He comforted me by showing me that my struggle and tears were the beginning of me NEEDING Him more…NEEDING Him even to instill the greater sense of NEED in me. He was becoming necessary to my soul´s peace and joy.

I stood and leaned against a nearby fir. I glanced to where I had been sitting previously and realized I barely recognized “that” girl…the girl who moments before had sat dejectedly weeping with her face in her hands. Was that really me? So broken? So helpless? So needy for an understanding embrace and loving word from her God?

Yes. That was me and that is me. I found the real me in a perfect place that I cannot risk forgetting or leaving—the place where I need God more than life.

Our need for love is our need for God. Our need for comfort is our need for God´s arms. Our need for hope is our need for God´s unbreakable promise. Our need for truth is our need for His words. We truly need Him! Our inner being thirsts for Him with an infinite and undeniable need!  Our hearts will indeed wither away and perish without their Creator and Sustainer!

We can pretend that intellectual acceptance of our need is enough, but it isn´t. Mental acknowledgement of our dependence on God is simply a springboard from which to dive into a continual and conscious experience of heart-felt, emotional need. How God wishes to be unashamedly needed! Is your need for Him real?

Infinite Need (Part 1)

(previously unpublished from December 2013)

I stepped off the porch steps and my shoes crunched on the mixture of snow, ice, and gravel. My thoughts were far from confident. I was sure of only one thing…well two, actually. I was sure that God´s love was real and I was sure my only hope was in continuing to seek Him. Five days of inner tumult had worn me down emotionally and just breathing in the freezing air caused tears of desperation to form in my eyes. 

I knew I needed God. But that was nothing new; I had known that for years. The fact was I was being convicted to FEEL my pure need for Him. And that was something I had never deeply experienced. 

His Love had been crashing over me like waves of a passionate sea. I had never known love like this before. I was allured by it and wanted to go deeper. The feeling of being loved as I didn´t deserve provoked rays of love in me towards God that were more beautiful than 1000 sunrises. I truly wanted this encounter to continue into eternity. I wanted this love.

But then the question came, “Do you just want my love, or do you need it? Do you just want to be in a relationship with me, or do you desperately need me?”

I could not move past the question (for five days) because both God and I knew the answer. I was well rehearsed and practiced in the art of professing to need God while inwardly relying on the deception that “I was rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing.” I wanted to reply to God´s question and say, “Yes, I need you,” but I could not make myself give a response that I did not feel. I did not feel my true need for Him and thus, I could not correspondingly add one more lie to a lifetime of pretense.  

While relishing in the wonder of this new love experience, my heart was yet failing to fully acknowledge or understand my NEED for this experience with God. He knew there was no other way but to ask me directly and to let the question linger until I was broken. “Do you truly need my love? Because if you don't truly need me, I can't ever become your Everything.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

God´s Kind of Gift

It is uniquely fulfilling to see Ocean proudly wearing the jersey I brought him from Brazil…to see my Mom using the Nikon we got her for Mother´s Day…to see my friend reading a book I've shared with him.

I try to imagine how I can make God feel that way. How can I bring a smile of utter satisfaction to His face by how I respond to His gifts? How do I even accept a gift that I feel undeserving of?

It was four months ago and some.

I glanced at Joshua's profile in the seat next to me. My eyes blurred slightly with tears before I decidedly moved on with my next statement, “It's one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me.”

It was an unanticipated gift. One I had not been looking for. One that, honestly, I had not even prayed for. Yet, here it was. Here HE was—a young man who had decided to pray and consult with my family (for several months) before ever approaching me to express his particular interest. My friend Joshua—by choosing to honor seemingly old-fashioned, scriptural principles of pursuing a relationship—was extending to me the priceless opportunity of experiencing a God-guided courtship.  

I was a bit stunned then. I am incredulous yet now, by the gift of godly courtship and the gift of Joshua's admiration. I did nothing to deserve this.  How could God trust a fumbling girl with such lovely realities?

“Don´t worry,” God whispers, “Take them. They are yours. I trust you. Enjoy them.”

Words fall way too short. But with as much depth as I can muster, I will cherish the gifts God has placed in my hands. I want God to smile as He sees me delight in what He has bestowed. In the sincerest form of gratitude, I will enjoy this page of the life He has granted. 

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Prayer That Is My Life

I pace back and forth. My steps taking me past familiar cement pillars. My bridge.

Almost without warning, tears spring naturally to my eyes. I know He is here. I know I matter to Him. I know His emotion toward me will never change.

As I ponder the dynamics of friendship with God at the dawn of 2015, one thought takes hold.

The greatest thing I have ever done was sit on the cement railing of this bridge and say a prayer. Fifteen months ago, I said the words that reflected the heart of a springing conviction.

“I don´t Love You, Father God…but I want to. Show me Your Love. Teach me how to Love You back. Whatever it takes…I won´t rest until I can say that I Love You with all my heart and mean it.”

Much has happened since I said that broken prayer. I have sought God with varying degrees of passion and have at times been completely distracted. But my prayer has not died because I stand here on January 6, 2015, echoing its sentiment with fresh abandon.

Whatever I may have accomplished in my brief life, whatever I may accomplish in the future, the greatest thing I ever will do on this earth has been done—I said that prayer. That prayer has become my constant. May my soul revolve around that prayer! May nothing deter me! May nothing else take priority! May that prayer BE my life-long pursuit—for my soul truly only longs for Him!