A D V E N T U R E

I made a sign for my room this week. I think it’s laughing at me.

Adventure-0219

I’m living in Plymouth this summer. It’s new – but it’s also been hard. These first few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out how I fit here. I’ve spent a majority of my time at home, applying for jobs. I don’t want to complain about it, because I’ve had some really lovely times over the past few weeks. But it’s tough sitting in a small town with few people who really know you and trying to deal with the all-star Instagram feeds of friends on faraway adventures. [Comparison sucks.]

My heart yearns for adventure. My eyes want a fresh view, a novel experience, something that takes my breath away. Untouchable beauty. Something to remind me that I’m alive.

I came home hoping for adventure in a new place. But what happens when things don’t happen the way I expect?

I pout. I feel sorry for myself. I want adventure. My adventure.

But that’s not how adventures happen, do they? I think of Frodo wishing the ring had never come to him. Steve Rogers missing his dance with General Carter. Susan and Lucy crying as Aslan is killed. Things are so different than I expected! My heart then yearns for somewhere safe, arms that hold me secure: home.

Maybe home and adventure aren’t mutually exclusive. His arms are my home. He leads me through each twist and turn, and we twirl and dance together. I let go, trip and stumble. He brushes me off and picks me up, the rhythms of grace alive in our dance.

Alone in our new house, I whittle away at the tree bark. Down in the basement, I carefully collect the shavings once I’ve scraped away at the branch with my blade. I think about adventures at camp, jumping off the zip line platform, and telling kids about Jesus. I think about seeing Germany, the mountains of Switzerland, the Eiffel Tower. I think about Plymouth, Indiana, full of people whose faces I might come to know and love.

Solomon said, “In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” [Prov. 16:9].

If adventure is just exploring faraway places, thrill-seeking, or checking something off my bucket list, is that enough? I don’t think so.

A few years ago, I started trying to write down little memories from each day on index cards. I remember the little moments of each day with joy: my very own adventures. I look at my memories from yesterday alongside the memories of yesterday-last-year and the year before and smile. There is still adventure right here, right now.

2012: 1st time belaying!, 2013: big event at Touchdown Jesus, 2014: Worship @ the Living Room

Adventure is being held in the arms of my Creator, led forth with peace into the great unknown… or maybe just into my small town. He directs my paths as I trust Him. I venture safe in his arms into the sweet and turbulent moments of the day. Every morning when I wake up, I want to remember that this adventure I’m on is His, not mine.

I don’t want to miss a single beautiful view on this path.

Adventure Sign in My Room

“we learn through the process”

The dry erase marker squeaked across the whiteboard as the professor inscribed these words:

“We learn through the process.” 

I was a graphic design major, a junior still trying to figure out the world. The time had finally come for me to take a painting class. Working with oil paints was something new to me. Something I had virtually no experience with.

Starting the demonstration, the professor dipped his brush into the medium and began to mix color on the palette. Gracefully applying it to the canvas, He modeled for us the proper way to use the materials, to mix the colors, to reveal the tones of the image. I was excited and nervous all at the same time, my mind swirling with the possibilities of what I might be capable of creating. Yet a large part of me was afraid. Afraid that I would try and fail.

My paint was runny. I used too much medium, and the texture wasn’t there. I stepped back to examine my work and sighed in frustration. Some of the tones looked too harsh. The blending was rough. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Why is this so difficult? I don’t even know what I’m doing.

 Image

But I continued to work. I worshipped the One who created light and dark, form and texture, space and substance. I started again. And I began to learn. I learned much more than I ever could have from watching the professor complete an entire painting. I just had to pick up my brush and do it. We learn through the process.

Sometimes I decide I’m not capable. I decide to let the fear of failing keep me from trying. I tell myself that I’m not a gifted evangelist, a strong leader or a captivating speaker. I forget that these people had to develop their gifts.

I tell myself that I’m not good at sharing my faith. Have I tried? I say that I’m not assertive enough to be a strong leader. Have I put myself in a situation where I have the opportunity? Many times, that answer is no.

We learn through the process.

May you and I have the courage to try and fail, even when we fail spectacularly. May we get up and try again, releasing to God our fear and resting in the hope that He is conforming us to the likeness of His Son. Because He is worth the risk and the reward.

Pursuing Holiness

I am beyond blessed to go to a school that will cancel class for a day so that we can gather together and worship our Creator. Every fall and spring, we have Day of Worship. It’s not just a time to sing praise songs and get pumped up on a spiritual high, but a time dedicated to beholding God through praise, scripture, teaching, and time spent alone with him. Usually each one has a theme, and yesterday we talked about holiness.

So often I sing some variation of “God, you are holy,” but I realized that I have let those words fall empty on my lips. The idea of God’s holiness is so, so far from me. I look to this world to find some semblance of holiness – but holy is distinct, set apart from this creation in every single way. I could never set up any kind of standard to measure it. HE is the standard. It is simply unfathomable; my mind cannot even grasp it. Confronted with this holiness, my first response is to fall to my knees and just cry. Even my shadowy, small view of his holiness is enough to ruin me – I have missed the mark so spectacularly. I feel much like Isaiah before God, saying

“Doom! It’s Doomsday!
I’m as good as dead!
Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted—
blasphemous even!
And the people I live with talk the same way,
using words that corrupt and desecrate.
And here I’ve looked God in the face!
The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!” (Isaiah 6:5, The Message)

So what about God’s holiness causes Moses to worship him for it in Exodus 15? Why should we rejoice over this? Well, it was his very holiness that set apart the true living God from the false idols of Egypt. The same is true for us. No idol I could ever turn to could ever bear the weight of my sin. No idol meets the standard of holiness needed for redemption that is found in Christ alone. Especially considering that my biggest idol is ME. Looking at my life, it doesn’t take me long to conclude that I could never live up to that standard. But praise God, I am saved by grace, and my position before God stands on the perfect holiness of Jesus. Can I get an amen up in here? That is why his holiness causes us to well up with joy and thankfulness – without it we would be left to our sin. But our God chose to wrap himself in humanity, veiling his holy deity in flesh to die for us so that we could have salvation on the basis of his perfect sacrifice.

But that’s not all. And this is where my mind blows up a little bit: the Holy Spirit of God actually dwells inside us, helping us to pursue holiness. I have not been abandoned as an orphan to follow Jesus’ commands in my own strength, cause guess what – I can’t. But that same unfathomable holiness lives inside me through the Spirit, and I don’t have to live in slavery to my idols, to myself, to the lies I’ve believed. Peter says, “just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” Why would he tell us that if we were not to pursue holiness? We need to have hearts that seek the Spirit and say yes to what he is guiding us to do. I know that some days I will fail to do this, and other days I will succeed, but I rest in knowing that God is faithful, and he isn’t done with me yet.

1 Thessalonians 5:24-25:  “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”

Work in Progress

Well, I’ve officially started my junior year at Grace College, and I’m loving it so far! Sometimes I just stop and wonder though: how did I get here? How am I already the confident upperclassmen who really, in all honesty, doesn’t have that much college left? I feel like I have so much left to learn about life before I am thrust out the doors into the real world. I think that’s something that God has really pointed out to me over the course of this summer: I really don’t know all that much.

You see, I have this tendency to pretend like I have it all together. I don’t. I often listen to the deceitful voice that tells me that if people knew what I really looked like on the inside, they would leave. But this I do know: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)

I am the queen of unfinished projects.  I am constantly starting something new and then shoving it into the back of my closet and forgetting about it. Seriously, right now my closet has half a quilt, about five in-progress knitting projects, unpainted frames, mason jars I meant to use, and let’s not forget about the shoebox of ticket stubs and scraps I’ve been meaning to scrapbook.

Wood-plaques in progress in Bacharach, Germany

Wood-plaques in progress in Bacharach, Germany

But though I may never finish some of this stuff, God says that he has predestined us as believers to be conformed to the likeness of His son (Romans 8:29). Wow. What God starts, he finishes. Though I am a walking work-in-progress on this side of eternity, one day the work will be done! How I long for that! But in the meantime, I take heart knowing that he’s not done with me yet.

moving – and longing for a heavenly home

our house in South BendIf you haven’t already heard, my parents are going to be moving to Plymouth, Indiana sometime this year. My dad accepted an associate pastor position at Crossroads Evangelical Free Church, and I really think this is a good fit and a good move for both us and our home church. At the same time, change is weird.

South Bend and CEFC are home to me – my parents moved here from our home in Bremerton, WA when I was four years old, so really, this is all I’ve ever known. But I’m extremely thankful for God’s goodness in allowing my parents to have an effective ministry here throughout my whole K-12 education. What a blessing to not have to move and make new friends during my awkward/formative years. I also keep reminding myself that Plymouth is only 40 minutes away from here, I’ll be at school anyways during the year, AND I have my own car.

So why does it still feel weird, and a bit unwelcome, this change intruding on my life? I would consider myself a pretty easygoing and adaptable person, but the one thing that’s stayed pretty much the same for me is this place I’ve come to call home. But nothing on this earth is permanent. This is not really my home. Bremerton wasn’t, South Bend isn’t, Grace College isn’t, Plymouth won’t be, if I move to Haiti or Paris or Timbuktu one day, they won’t be home either. My home is in heaven. I am a citizen there, and it’s kind of inevitable that there will be times when I just feel like a wanderer on this earth. It kind of reminds me of something Jesus said:

“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matt. 8:20)

Jesus’ home was with his Father, as is mine. So I’m thankful for this weird feeling that is reminding me of that, and I’m praying that God will use this change to get me out of my comfort zone and kick out some apathy, too.

relentless love

Went on a walk with Dad a few nights ago to spend some quality time. What a guy.

Went on a walk with Dad a few nights ago to spend some quality time. What a guy.

This weekend is a pretty big one for our family – today is my dad’s birthday and my parent’s 35th anniversary, and it all falls on Father’s Day weekend! Yesterday we all celebrated together with 4 dads – my Dad, Grandpa, brother-in-law, his dad – and the rest of our family members. We went out to eat, had WAY too much dessert, and just had a really nice time. In the midst of all this, I think it’s pretty important that I stop and thank God that my family is not only intact, but seeking to serve Him as well.

I don’t know what it feels like to have parents who hate each other, or siblings who’ve completely dropped off the map, or a father who was never there. I know this isn’t the case for many people I know and love, and when these kind of family times roll around and everyone posts the mandatory Facebook photo of them enjoying these moments together, I can’t help but feel for people who are left wondering what happened to their family. I can’t even imagine what life would be like without mine. But I think something I’ve realized during my time at school is that good relationships are intentional relationships. For most of my life, without me consciously realizing it, my parents have cared for ME, set up times with ME, pursued ME. They’re not perfect by any means, but they’ve given me an awesome picture of God’s love for me, intentionally pursuing me even when I mess up.

Away from home, I had to realize that it’s my turn to be intentional. I realized that I have to make more of an effort to connect with people if I really desire a deeper relationship. As an introvert, sometimes that’s pretty hard for me. Sometimes all I want is to curl up with a good book, watch a movie, or finish a craft project to recharge. But then I remember that it’s people that matter. (Not that recharge time is bad – it’s actually pretty dang important.) In the end, it probably doesn’t matter if I knit a hundred sweaters or finish all my homework the day it was assigned or check everything off my to-do list on a particular day – but if I can encourage someone, show them I care, make them smile, point them to Jesus with my time, it’s worth it. So, so many people with hurting families don’t have a reference point for that relentless love that I’ve gotten a taste of through my family.  So Jesus calls us to love them. They may not have earthly families, but we can “adopt” them into ours and show them what it feels like to be wanted and pursued. Just little things like sharing a meal, giving a ride, asking more than surface level questions, and opening your home can make the gospel relatable. Often times these little things are really big things when you look back at them. Sometimes in the everyday I lose sight of this and slip back into my happy little snow globe of comfort. But Jesus didn’t come to earth to be stifled in a glass bubble. So today, I choose relentless love.

The Freedom Project

Hey errybody! Just wanted to share with you my photography portfolio project! I got to spend 8 weeks shooting for my theme, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I call it “The Freedom Project” – I wanted to take a personal look at how the light of the gospel sets us free! I chose to use two images for each work to represent how the truth of Christ (light) stops us in our tracks and then how we can stand fearlessly in that freedom that is found in truth. Thanks SO MUCH to everyone who helped out with this! All photos were taken with an Ultra Wide & Slim 35mm toy camera. If you want to read more about the concept, my artist statement is here.

photography project filmAlex - the freedom projectsarah - the freedom projectnina -  - the freedom projectcharissa - the freedom projectrichard - the freedom projectamelia - the freedom projecttina  - the freedom projectgloria  - the freedom projectscott - the freedom projectbecky  - the freedom projectsteph  - the freedom projectandrew - the freedom projecttyler - the freedom project

 

 

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy —  to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” {Jude 24-25}