My Utmost for His Highest.
Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance plus the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered. The greatest fear a man has is not that he will be damned, but that Jesus Christ will be defeated, that the things He stood for – love and justice and forgiveness and kindness among men – will not win out in the end. Then the call to spiritual tenacity comes, not to hang on and do nothing, but to [work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be defeated.]
If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means they are being purified. One of the greatest strains of life is the strain of waiting on God.
Dare 1: I dare you to be tenacious. To hold fast. To stand firm in faith that He has won, is winning, will win. Your God is not going to be defeated.
They exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. Hosea 4:7
He gives us beauty in exchange for our ashes. Glory in exchange for our disgrace. And He’s not keeping track of the trade. He wants to clothe you in splendor, and when He revives you He says “off with those grave clothes”. It is finished; it is done. He’s made you a new creation. He already qualified you to share in this inheritance.
Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion. For this is what the Lord says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” Isaiah 52:1-3
He has endowed you with splendor. Isaiah 60:9
The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah, for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. Isaiah 62:2-4
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Colossians 1:27 (NLT)
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
He holds our filthy hands in dark places and prays with us audacious prayers, then delights in the Father answering them. – Love Does
Dare 2: I dare you to believe what He says about you, and to pray audacious prayers. Ask Him for what you need. He won’t be offended. He wants your heart.
One Thousand Gifts.
Eucharisteo. [from the roots charis: grace and chara: joy]
Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the eucharisteo – the table of thanksgiving. The height of my joy is dependent on the depth of my thanks.
As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.
“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” – Erasmus
Moving ink across the page opens up the eyes (John Piper) and I can drive out habits of fear, doubt, uncertainty, wavering faith with habits of eucharisteo, recording the story of the Lord’s faithfulness and His abundant blessings. Drive out Satan’s nails with grace nails.
“To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it. Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant – a seed – this plants the giant miracle.” – Ann Voskamp
Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives.
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. Psalm 50:23
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.P the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5
He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, and renews. All we are asked – and what a joy it is – is to praise Him. Bless Him by naming the blessings He’s poured out for us.
“Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.” – Ann Voskamp
Thanksgiving opens our eyes to the ways He is already working. It remembers. It builds faith that He will continue to work.
“Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10
Dare 3: I dare you to try it. Bless the Lord, O my soul, by thanking Him for the little and the giant blessings, the visible and invisible ways He’s working in your life. It will re-focus the eyes of your heart upward, rather than inward. You will grow steady faith, and discover the well of joy.
And when you stand firm on the Truth that He is good, see the glory He has planted in you, and realize He has already blessed you abundantly, I promise (pinkies included) that you’ll overflow with joy.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Acts 1:8
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Romans 16:18
We know and rely on the love God has for us. 1 John 4:16
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:18
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Corinthians 4:20
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
Is not the Lord your God with you? And has he not granted you rest on every side? 1 Chronicles 22:18
Then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters tone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. Job 11:15-18
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:19-20
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
Perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18
I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:14
So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:7
I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Malachi 3:6
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? Romans 8:31-33
You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. Romans 8:15
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:7-8
The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. Deuteronomy 28:7
Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? Isaiah 50:2
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant. Psalm 143:12
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14
My God is:
repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings (Isaiah 58:12).
rehabilitator. renewal. rock. righteous.
rest. (Exodus 33:14).
giver of life. breath into dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
Author of the Word that sustains me (Isaiah 46:4).
Creator. Potter (Isaiah 64:8).
present. Father. intimate. forgiver.
ready. patient. sincere. devoted.
…What is love, a word that loses weight in our language the way it gets thrown around?
This is the Love I know:
Love remembers, cherishes.
Love recognizes, calls by name.
Love speaks life into being.
Love does not question goodness.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love does not give so that it can receive; it just gives. Love gives first.
Love is gentle.
Love chooses to express itself despite how it feels.
Love does not withhold because of behavior.
Love manifests itself not only in words or speech, but in action and truth (1 John 3:18).
Love does no harm.
Love stands firm.
Love roots and grounds.
Love plants seeds.
Love bows down, humbles itself.
Love looks and sees; it opens eyes.
Love whispers; love listens.
Love overlooks offenses.
Love is the first fruit.
Love does not discriminate.
Love is limitless; it knows no bounds.
Love colors outside the lines.
Love holds together.
Love fights for what is good. Love conquers evil.
Love doesn’t affirm the power of the grave; it knows it’s been emptied of its power. Love has already won.
Love is not afraid and does not doubt.
Love does not tangle with anxiety.
Love displaces darkness, drives out fear, chases whimsy.
Love doesn’t need a plan; it’s on an adventure.
Love returns. Love moves towards.
Love is inexplicable, extraordinary.
Love never relents.
Love never ends.
the parable of Yosemite.
On the way to the place He called me, I stopped a dozen times - I had to, I’d never seen such beauty. Yet that was only a glimpse; I could see only in part what He had in store. It took longer than originally planned to get to the valley, but I loved my journey. It’s not the path everyone travels, but its the one The Lord led me on, and He was with me every step of the way. His Spirit carried me forward when my body was content to stay where it was. If I didn’t follow His leading, I would have never gone all the way. I was content with what I had and how could I believe that what He was beckoning me towards could be more magnificent? My heart knew that the journey had only just begun, so I let go of the best I had seen, the good I was holding, to pursue what He promised is better. Better not only because it’s spilling with glory, not because I could see right away that it was better, but because He called me there.
The center of His will is always the best place to be, even if you don’t FEEL it at first. You may not feel it for a long long time, but your heart rests in peace because it knows. The satisfaction of walking in obedience to His will is always worth the sacrifice you must make to get there.
Sometimes we are blessed with feeling His goodness, tasting and seeing it, but on days when we simply eat the manna - the mystery - He tells us to TRUST His goodness. Trust His heart; He knows yours.
What He offers is better than all the bests you’ve acquired in your life and holds more promise than all you must hold loosely to follow Him. He can see what you can’t and He is a good God.
If what you’re letting go of is what He has for you, it will be here when you get back. His purpose will stand, His will cannot be thwarted.
Whatever He’s calling you to - hit the ground running towards it. Let nothing take your gaze off of Him. Delight yourself in The Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). You may be surprised to find that He knows your heart’s desires better than you do.
“There’s a reason I’m not writing the story, God is. He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means. The holes of my life can be see-to-God places. I can choose to live as one filling with His grace, choose to say yes to all that He freely gives. When I am despairing, I can choose to live as the Israelites gathering manna. For forty long years, God’s people ate manna daily - a substance whose name literally means “what is it?” Hungry, they chose to gather that which is baffling. They fill on that which has no meaning.
More than 14,600 days they take their daily nourishment from that which they don’t comprehend.
They find soul-filling in the inexplicable.
They eat the mystery.
And the mystery, that which made no sense, is “like wafers of honey” on the lips.
- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
This book is teaching me a lot about how we can find God in the inexplicable, and find joy in the uneasiness of not knowing so many things. We give thanks. Thanks for the beautiful moments, thanks for the hard ones.
“At the table, “Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples.” The original translation of “He gave thanks” is eucharisteo, derived from charis, meaning grace, and chara, meaning joy. Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the eucharisteo - the table of thanksgiving. Eucharisteo - thanksgiving - always precedes the miracle.”
Ann Voskamp took the challenge of writing down one thousand gifts from God’s hand - one thousand things she’s thankful for - and the numbers on the page became a habit of praise. I want to live that way, to always have thanks on my lips.
Thank You Father for offering higher expectations; for raising our low expectations of what you can do to new heights.
Thank You for holes in the clouds where Heaven pours through and fills my thirsty soul.
Thank You for cornfields, almond butter & jam sandwiches, park benches, a newborn baby’s chest rising and falling on mine, friends that bring dinner in a time of need. Thank you for earthly love, a way to feel You in the embrace of Your people. Thank You for silly children’s books with “thneeds” and Velveteen Rabbits.
Thank You for the questions, which keep me constantly seeking You, thirsting for You. Thank You for being big enough that I can pound on Your chest when I’m frustrated and yell too loud and walk away, and You’re always there when I turn around. Thank You for your Word, which speaks louder than the enemy and puts him in his place when he whispers ‘failure’ or ‘lost sheep’ in my ear. Thank You that your love never fails. The pitfalls, misery, and poverty of this world do not contradict the truth that You are good, You are in control, Your love cannot fail. Your ways and thoughts are higher than mine, and nothing is amiss. Nothing has escaped You.
Thank You for parables spoken and Truth revealed in Your handiwork in nature. Thank You for peace in order, like perfectly aligned crop fields stretching on for miles, for You are not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Thank You for pursuing me with Love all the days of my life.
Thank You for adopting us in love as sons and daughters, for grafting us into Your family and setting the example for us. Thank You that I can talk to you anywhere and You know my name, hear my prayers. Thank You that the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with Your will (Romans 8:27).
Thank You that I don’t have to have all the answers, because You make all things work together for my good. I don’t have to fit the jagged puzzle pieces together; You soften the edges and sew them in with grace and a steady hand. You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. (Psalm 139:5)
Thank You that You will fulfill Your purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever. You will not abandon the works of Your hands. (Psalm 138:8)
Thank You that I’m called according to Your purpose, not my own. (Romans 8:28)
I don’t know so many things, but I know that He is still working. And in Him I place my hope. Do not abandon the works of Your hands, Lord. Moses kept right on going - he persevered - because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). Thank You for hope I can stand on and for sustaining me on the mystery.
Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? Romans 8:24
Dear beloved friends and family,
As many of you know, I’m on a daily journey of discovering the way God wants to use my life. When I graduated from UF seven months ago, I moved to Georgia on faith, feeling called to serve refugees through World Relief.
By faith Abraham, when called to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. - Hebrews 11:8
I’ve witnessed incredible work by the hand of God in my short time in Georgia: mountains moved, faith grown, families made, love discovered, comfort found. Precious people fleeing for their lives placed in a home and given rest for their weary souls. I’ve watched Him write redemption and hope into stories of people from every continent - stories of lives bruised and tattered, struck down but not destroyed, held together by grace, avalanched by love. And I’ve discovered something fascinating, a fact that has changed my life: despite our drastic differences, we have something to offer each other. Something stronger than understanding and more healing than forgetting: presence.
That which pulls us together - our hearts, our ability to love - will always overpower that which threatens to alienate us from each other. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)
All the while, my heart has been taken captive by the faces and stories of imprisoned children in Uganda.
Those two words should never be neighbors: imprisoned and children; but due to the relentless destruction of corrupt governments, wars, poverty, AIDS, and other factors, the most vulnerable of God’s children end up in desolate dark places.
Government facilities called “remand centers” exist throughout the continent of Africa. These facilities were created for children who have committed a crime. The homes are overcrowded and horribly underfunded. The living conditions are shocking. The worst part is this - the vast majority of the children in these facilities have not committed any crime. Mostly, they are children who are simply unwanted. They are street beggars who have been rounded up by the police, unwanted children who have been dropped off by a stepparent, handicapped and mentally disabled orphans and orphaned refugees fleeing war torn countries in Africa.
Sixty Feet was created to bring hope and healing to these children through the love of Jesus Christ. We are improving the facilities by providing clean water, sanitation, bedding, clothing, medical care, nutritious food and school fees. We are also working to remove the most vulnerable children and place them in a loving, safe environment. (sixtyfeet.org)
I will be joining Sixty Feet in their mission to bring hope and restoration to the imprisoned children of Uganda. As a member of the team - His hands and feet to these little ones - I will have the privilege to assist with child sponsorship and justice work, teach preschool, bathe and hold the hands of children whose lives look so different than mine. I hope to be their voice and tell their stories, to love them with every fiber of my being. To be present with them and love them where they are, praying and working towards the vision that they won’t be there forever.
As my friend Bob Goff says, “The kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright… It’s more about presence than undertaking a project. It’s a brand of love that doesn’t just think about good things, or agree with them, or talk about them… Love does.”
If you would like to support the work of Sixty Feet and my time serving in this ministry, you may visit my personal fundraising page:
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” - Matthew 25:40
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” - Matthew 19:14
I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. - John 14:18
“In Jesus’ life and mission we see what compassion means. It is not bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.”
Yahweh Yahweh, great is Your glory, You go before me.
A form of the Hebrew name of God used in the Bible. The name came to be regarded by Jews (c.300 bc) as too sacred to be spoken.
Meaning: “He causes to be”; “He creates”.
The moments that make up my days are so rich I can hardly stand it. God is so good. He’s good even when I don’t feel it, but these showers of blessings fill me to the brim with thanksgiving and joy.
Little pleasures like sitting on a tree in the middle of a wood, somewhere we can’t be found. Peanut butter and jelly and the windows rolled down. Sneaking out the back door with four of my favorite kiddos; tackle football in the grass, swinging and twirling sweet baby girl around. Tattered hand-me-down sweatshirts and pajamas with boots.
Comfort like a pile of tangled limbs on the couch watching a movie, kid food wrappers littering our laps. Brandon’s fingers entwined in mine, Bella a bundle in my arms and me a bundle in his. Joy like Aidan’s explosive laughter when he beat his 24-year-old partner in CandyLand. Bella peeking around the corner until I look, then giggling and scurrying off again.
The fullness of my heart as I love those kids like they’re mine. Reading Brown Bear & Goodnight Moon. Rocking Bella to sleep singing praises over her, because she’s going to know she’s loved relentlessly. Squeezing the boys tight as I can, kissing them goodnight.
Forehead and nose kisses, which say “you’re precious to me.” There’s no greater feeling than to know you are treasured; valued; your life is sacred. It energizes you to be fully yourself, gives you confidence in your skin. It calms you down, stops the buzzing of your mind and invites you to be still, to soak it in. It fills you up so you can pour right back out. There is power in your love.
He leads me to water for He knows I’m thirsty.
They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for them from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out. Isaiah 48:21
And I know the goodness of His blessings has only begun to shower down. Heaven is coming. Bring on the rain.
Times of transitions are often bridges of sadness of what’s left behind us, uncertainty of what’s ahead of us, and bitterness of the woozy path under our feet.
As we forge across these bridges of life, time twists and tricks. Sometimes daylight scorches the earth and refuses to recede, sucking us dry and leaving us bare. Other times thick darkness slides surprisingly swiftly over the path of sunshine it has overlapped, as a frozen blanket of sheer emptiness. The days are long and the nights are short, but the nights are long and the days are short. As we are caught in the middle of this bridge, second guesses sneak towards us from both ends, and doubts sink into our hearts. We forget our purpose and question our worth.
In this place, let us not focus on the height of the bridge and the drop below us, the missing slats in the way slung ahead of us, the uneven pavement on the road in front of us, or the weathered gnarls crawling underneath us. Instead, like the rushing water beneath us and the fierce wind beside us, let us move forward, as creation is meant to do. Let us continue on, one stepping stone to the next until we reach the other side. In fact, sometimes all we need to do is take our eyes off of our feet on the bridge and look over the side at the dangerous yet glorious expanse around us. There lies the easily overlooked beauty of the journey.
Every bridge has an ending at a new beginning, and as we ask for the peace and confidence to make it to the other side, God will guide us there.
After all, He built the bridge.
They tell a story all by themselves.
Anointed and blessed are my days. His fingerprints are all over them.
This week began in a 15-passenger van packed with 8 languages and 7 eager faces ready to put their best foot forward. Hours and interviews later, I’d picked up new words in each language and forgot for a moment that people actually get paid to do this. I love teaching our clients and learning from them; the city is our classroom and it always feels like recess.
I love racing a child on his tricycle in the rickety WR van; rearranging carseats and buckling kids; making faces when words are few, lost in translation and teaching me to value the quiet. I love feeling like a mom as we adopt every person in love, as Christ adopted me. I love realizing that we’ve moved from strangers to family.
Looking through pictures of the refugee camp, S’s whole family, and his best friend’s wedding, my heart does not pity but rather swells as I see in his eyes that these are good memories, and this new season is good too. It’s amazing what our eyes can communicate without a word from our lips.
I love how much I’m learning and how much I still don’t know - about people, God, the world and its stories -and the hunger for more.
I love authentic Ethiopian food, eaten only with your hands, and the way I speak refugee on accident these days.
I love the story that unfolds over three glasses of peach punch around the dining table. The one that I’m so careful not to ask about. I love that the laughter is more powerful than the pain and loss - which are being redeemed. He is already made new, restored; he’s just figuring it out one day at a time.
Today I helped one of my favorite people apply for jobs, spent time looking at a map, meandered the international farmers market, wrote a letter in spanrwali (a delightful language that fits me perfectly - Spanish, Kinyarwanda, & Swahili), and tucked away a few smiles. I love those moments - when you don’t want the other person to know how much they make you smile so you wait until they’re not looking to let it light up your face. It’s a special kind of secret with God, and He smiles with me.
These are good days. He is in the details.
The angel of The Lord encamps around those who fear them, and he delivers them. - Psalm 34:7