Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

'Cause this is not about what you've done.
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to.

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you've made.
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes.
You are more than the problems you create.
You've been remade.

-"Remade," by Tenth Avenue North

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

"From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised."

-Psalm 113:3

The Son is risen!

Happy Easter, dear friends! Rejoicing with you on this beautiful day and praying you are blessed by our wonderful, victorious Savior.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jesus' Followers

The twelve Apostles of Jesus fascinate me.

They’re so real. So human. And so inspiring.

I love that they are not portrayed as perfect in the Bible. Instead, we’re given glimpses of their moments of confusion, doubt, fear, and pride.

Yet time and time again, they rise above their human tendencies and show extraordinary faith and courage.

Despite their weakness and sin, they kept following Him.

It’s especially incredible when we remember that they didn’t see the whole picture as we do—this story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

The Apostles didn’t see it all—but they lived it. One moment at a time. Never knowing what was coming next.

Despite the uncertainty in their lives, they kept following Him.

They spent three years of their lives at the side of this amazing man with life-changing teachings, watched him perform countless miracles…

Only to then watch him suffer excruciating pain--seemingly helpless and powerless on the cross.

Despite their fear and though they followed from only a distance, still they kept following Him.

On this Holy Saturday, this waiting time between Jesus’ death and His rising, I think about the Apostles and their consistency in following Jesus despite the difficulties. How did they do it? How did they overcome their fear, doubt, and uncertainty? How did they continue to follow despite never-ending obstacles in the path?

By trusting Jesus.

They couldn’t trust in a specific outcome, for who knew what would happen next? There were no guarantees.

But they could trust in who Jesus was, and that He was in control no matter what events occurred. They knew His character. They had spent these years with Him experiencing His love, power, and compassion. They didn’t have to understand all that was going on. They didn’t have to know it would all turn out okay. They could continue to hope and keep following because they knew and trusted their Jesus.

What an awesome example.

I love the Apostles.

Friday, April 22, 2011


It's Good Friday. A day of fasting for Catholics around the world.

So I'm hungry.

But it's a good thing. Because it reminds me...

-to be in solidarity with the poor who are hungry every single day.

-just how much time and effort I put into meals and snacks each day; that even food can become an idol.

-that I need to "eat to live, not live to eat." (You know who you are that reminds me of this!)

-not to place so much value on things of this world; to instead seek first the kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

-that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). Fasting purifies us and strengthens us, especially against the Evil One (Mark 9:29).

-to be more aware of my daily habits and the way I spend my time.

-to deny myself and take up my cross as Jesus commanded (Luke 9:23).

-to fill myself with the Bread of Life and be truly satisfied (John 6:35).

Thank you, Lord, for the lessons you show us in fasting.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Before the Resurrection

I passed by a sign outside a church today that read, “Come, celebrate the Risen Lord with us on Sunday.”

That’s wonderful--we should indeed celebrate the glorious rising of our powerful, loving God.

However, it did make me go on to ponder that as beautiful as it is to celebrate the Resurrection, there’s something lacking if we fail to include what happened before the Resurrection.

When that same all-powerful God sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsamane the night before He died—His trusted followers sleeping through His agony. When He was beaten and scourged simply to please the people. When He walked a long, bloody path burdened with a rough cross and the weight of our sins. When he hung from a cross, with torn and bruised flesh, nails in the hands that healed so many, sharp thorns stabbing His head. In short, when He was “pierced for our offenses and crushed for our sins” (Isaiah 53:5).

It’s messy and heartwrenching and disturbing to see Jesus like this—“one of those from whom men hide their faces” (Isaiah 53:3).

But it’s true. And He endured it all for us.

I think that remembering and reflecting on those events give us a deeper appreciation of His Resurrection.

It’s so connected. You can’t have one without the other.

Just like you can’t have a sunrise without first having darkness.

Or healing without a wound.

A rainbow without rain.

Spring without winter.

Rejoicing in Jesus’ victory over sin and death (as well as any victories in our own lives) is sweeter and deeper when we remember the pain and suffering endured before it.

Let’s go with the women to the tomb on Sunday and celebrate our Risen Lord with joy and awe. But in the days before, let’s walk with Him on the journey to Calvary. Let’s stand at the foot of the cross, look up at this bleeding, suffering Savior, and see in His eyes a personal, unfathomable, endless love.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and everyday. Either he will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings."

-St. Francis de Sales

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beginning Holy Week

I’m so grateful that when I just don’t get it sometimes, God sends someone who does.

I glared studied the calendar for this week, pen in hand. Something written on each of the days.

My brother had recently shared with me some wisdom from his priest at college—make Holy Week a retreat. Put aside your usual activities and immerse yourself in the beauty and meaning of these days of Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

I loved this advice.

So why was my calendar looking rather full for the week?

My roommate Andrea came up behind me and teased me about my solemn stare-down with the calendar. I complained explained my dilemma and frustration that I wouldn’t have as much free time as I wanted to focus on Jesus and His journey.

And then she smiled and calmly blew me away.

Be like Jesus, she told me. Give of yourself to the people you’ll encounter this week in the same way He gave His all for us in His sacrifice on the cross.

So simple. So practical. So profound.

Then she turned back to making breakfast.

For herself, of course. I already had some humble pie that needed to be eaten.

Monday, April 18, 2011

At My Master's Feet

I sat in the Adoration Chapel. Mind going at its usual fast pace. Distracted. Trying to focus and pray while the background thoughts raced by.

Sit, I commanded myself frustratedly. Just sit still and pray.

I grinned inwardly at myself, noticing that my admonition sounded like I was talking to a dog.

As humbling as it was to compare myself to a dog, I realized dogs have some very admirable qualities. They love unconditionally. They obey promptly (most of the time). They keep their eyes on their master. And they love to sit at his or her feet.


Sometimes I need one-word commands like a dog. Simple cue words to remind me of my priorities.

Sit. Put aside the need to do, and just be. Pause throughout the day. Rest in the Lord’s presence. Let His grace fill your heart to overflowing, replenishing your strength for the remainder of the day.

Down. “No servant is greater than his master,” Jesus said (John 13:16). Humble yourself. Follow His example of serving others in love and humility.

Stay. Stop trying to figure out your future. Stay in the present moment. Look for the opportunities God sends each day for you to follow Him one day at a time. Stay by His side. Don’t try to run ahead.

What simple yet profound lessons for me.

Loving Father, please help me to keep my eyes on You. Make me eager to please you and prompt in obeying you. And help me to learn to sit contentedly at Your feet.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Signs of Spring

As I was walking into the library to write this very post, I almost missed them.

The quaint purple violets, the cheerful daffodils, and the charming hyacinths.

Lovely signs of spring.

How ironic that as I planned to post pictures of the signs of springtime in my backyard, I almost missed these signs of spring right in front of me!

Thankfully, I stopped to enjoy the moment—to drink in the beauty, as Anne of Green Gables would say.

I wonder how often I miss the figurative signs of springtime in my own life. The times when God brings blossoms from the dirt, sunshine after darkness, and rainbows after storms. Am I too busy to notice because I’m still focused on the dirt, the darkness, or the storm? Or am I missing the signs of growth and beauty because they don’t look quite the way I expected?

Something to think about.

For now, I’m looking up. Looking around. And seeing chubby robins scavenging in the grass. Daffodils peeking out of their golden bonnets. Feeling warm, fresh breezes. Hearing joyful melodies from the sparrows in the morning.

Mmmm. Springtime is here, my friends.

And life is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed."

Isaiah 53:5

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slowing Down

It was five o’clock on Friday, and I was speeding hurrying home from work, glancing at the time and the speedometer as well as the roads. (Now I want to interject that I was hurrying because I wanted to get to the Stations of the Cross church service on time. No excuses, of course; I’m just explaining.)

And as I sped along the roads, I had a flashback to another moment in my life when I couldn’t have hurried even if I wanted.

It was one week after I had major surgery in Nebraska and my parents and I were beginning the long car trip back to Ohio. We had stopped for some lunch at one of those mega rest stops, and it was crawling with people, like a giant ant hill—everyone busy with something to do and somewhere to go.

But for me, just walking from the car to the restaurant was wearying. Each step was taken cautiously. I was a snail amid this swarm of ants who were scurrying to and fro, utterly oblivious of me. Or perhaps they did notice me, but to them I was simply a girl in their way, somewhat disheveled and definitely too slow. It was an incredibly humbling experience for me.

Then as I painstakingly hobbled back to the car, an older man appeared on the sidewalk in front of me. He looked at me—and saw me—and he walked over to open the passenger door of my car for me.

That was it. Just a simple act of kindness. But it touched me deeply at the time.

And as I reflected on it once again, it reminded me of how important it is to choose




To look around and actually see the people around us.

To ‘open doors’ for them when they are in need.

When our eyes are watching the clock or focused on speeding along in our busy lives, we can easily miss the needs of our fellow travelers. A small, simple act of kindness can mean so much to those who feel like life is swirling around them while they stand—or hobble—unnoticed.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, I made it to church on time last Friday.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

At the Cross

I was cuddled in my papasan chair (the coolest chairs ever) a couple nights ago, praying my rosary and reflecting on the suffering our Jesus endured for us (it’s Lent, after all).

And as often happens when I pray, I got distracted, and I found myself meandering into the realm of worrying over details of my life.

In that half-conscious mix of reflection and distraction…in that moment of finding myself slipping into fear and worry and confusion…in my mind I saw Jesus on the cross. Dying for us. Dying. For us.

And I was drawn to Him.

Instead of feeling repulsed at this bleeding Jesus on a cross, I wanted to be near Him. I was inexplicably drawn to the foot of the cross and wanted to stay there. I felt comforted.

Why? I asked myself.

Why would I find such comfort in this image of my suffering, dying Jesus? Why here at the foot of the cross instead of at His feet when He was teaching? Or hands lifted high worshipping Him in His glory? (though I love those aspects, too.)

Because when I see Jesus on the cross, I realized, I see the ultimate picture of love. Extravagant, unconditional, never-ending love. Love that draws us to Him, that gently calls us to trust this God who would give His all for us.

In a couple weeks, we will celebrate His glorious rising. But for now, we remember that without the cross, there would be no rising. Sacrificial love on a cross. Glorious victory over death. I’m so grateful for both.

Later that night before bed, I noticed the words to a song playing in my head: Sweetly Broken, by Jeremy Riddle. They are so beautiful and so appropriate…

At the cross you beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words
So lost in love
Sweetly broken, wholly surrendered...

And in awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous your redeeming love
And how great is your faithfulness.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"To learn humility is to learn contentment in all circumstances. Humility is not in what we own or achieve, but in maintaining a teachable attitude, a willingness to bend to the will of the Father."

-Jan Silvious

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

March Girls' Night: Spring Cleanout

March Girls' Night

March 25th, 2010

Theme: Spring Cleanout!

One girl's junk is another girl's treasure...

We cleaned out our clothes, perfume, lotion, jewelry, and more. Then we set up shop and had a trade fest! Too much fun! I love you girls!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Better Late Than Never

March of Books 2011 at

Somehow March just flew by and I (almost) missed the YLCF blog event "March of Books." Thankfully, they have allowed the deadline to extend into April (for people like me). Take a look at their collection of book reviews-- 68 and counting! What a delight for book lovers!

Instead of reviewing just one book, I decided to do several mini-reviews of a few favorites. Some of are recent finds, and some are treasured from years ago...

Fiction: Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Need I really expand? She was one of my best friends in my pre-teen and teen years, and continues to be such a part of me that I've been nicknamed after her. Author Maud shows such mastery in her weaving of words that you feel you've always known the delightful characters, that you've been to Prince Edward Island with all its breathtaking beauty. You see what they see, and you feel what they feel.

Mystery: A Quarter for a Kiss, by Mindy Starns Clark. This one is actually from the Million Dollar Mysteries series, by my favorite Christian mystery author. Main character Callie Webber is a young widow and private investigator who investigates charities requesting grants. She's such a neat blend of intelligence, strength, and femininity. The hero's not too bad, either, let me tell you. And the mysteries keep me guessing to the end. Warning-- don't start one of these books unless you have a lot of time-- because you may not be able to do anything else until you finish it!

Christian Inspiration: When Wallflowers Dance, by Angela Thomas. This is a recent gem I found through the library. Angela's honest and heartfelt, casual-yet-passionate style of writing drew me in. The author repeatedly directs our attention to God and His unending providence and love. She asks us to trust Him and learn to dance with Him through life instead of sitting safely on the sidelines. I wasn't quite sure this book was for me in the beginning, yet as I closed the back cover, I realized Angela had become a friend and mentor through the pages. My favorite chapter was Chapter 9, where she lists and explains several actions and attitudes to persevere in no matter what the circumstances.

Magazine: Citizen, from Focus on the Family. I'm so grateful for this publication, and for the many courageous Christians who are working to bring our country back to its original God-honoring principles. In my own little bubble, it's easy to forget the bigger picture. This magazine keeps me aware of the important issues that DO affect us as a nation whether we realize it or not. It convicts me-- to stand up and speak more, and to kneel down and pray more...that God will heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Classic: I thought about An Old-Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott, (my official favorite book), but it's already been reviewed on YLCF, so instead we're giving the award to...Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Undoubtedly one of my top five, P&P has all the essentials to an undying classic--great writing, great characters, great plot-- yet I feel any review I could attempt would fall short of adequately showing its merits. So I think I might just read it again instead.

Series: Redemption series, by Gary Smalley and Karen Kingsbury. My mom, my sister, and I went on a craze with this series a year or so ago. The series follows the God-honoring Baxter family through the ups and downs of life. My favorite thing about them is that they're just. so. real. I know they're fictional characters, but I truly believe my faith was strengthened by their stories and enduring faith.

Mmm...books are such a blessing! I'm cozied up at the coffee shop as I write this post (and enjoying my white chocolate-raspberry scone and chai tea!) and as I review all these books, I'm reminded of how books have had such a huge influence on me throughout my life. I'm so indescribably grateful for this-- for the ability to read and the availability of books.

Life is beautiful with books.

Thank you, Lord.