my blog has moved

i have a new blog…which will hopefully one day turn into a website.

www.createandrenew.com

but grace can still be found within the gale

It snowed.  Two years ago that took on a much different meaning.  Snow meant finding creative ways to scrape off ice on the car when already late to class and pants permanently wet from the ankle down.  I fled from the ominous snow cloud and ended up in Dallas where a snowflake sends a city into deep freeze.

Last night we got over eight inches of snow, which propelled a venture out to the lake to roll a snowman and feel guilty for disrupting the placid snow with our footprints.

This morning, I filled the coffee pot with too much water as my eyes stuck to the beauty outside the window.  When I later recovered the coffee and poured a heaping mug, I cozied down with Psalm 51.  After a week spent entirely too much on myself, my schedule, my aches, my idea of good, Psalm 51 hit me like a 30 pound snowball.  I sat on our sofa reading and catching quick glances outside when these words resonated loudly:

Purify me with hyssop,
and I shall be clean,

Wash me,
and I shall be white as snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones You have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,
And blot out all of my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Through the death and resurrection of Christ, our precious Savior, He has washed us whiter than snow.  The trees outside are covered in snow but I can still see the branches.  David writes that our sin is always before us, but Christ’s sacrifice covers us.  God sees us as children covered by the righteousness of Christ.

It’s easy to find myself jogging throughout the day – sometimes toward the prize (Heb 12:1-2) and sometimes aimlessly without direction.  Praise God to be able to take a walk in His beauty this morning.

home for the holidays

I’m thankful for a home with family that is hidden in a very simple state.

Back to Dallas now.  But, after a hectic month, I’ve started to again day dream in collages and write with excessive cursive in my journal.

Philadelphia Airport is an Igloo

Twenty minutes ago I sat on an ever so vibrant grey chair in the Philadelphia airport contemplating if I was skinny enough to squeeze under the arm rests and sprawl out for a nap. After I decided that was too much of a hassle, I eyed a row free of the suffocating arm rests and quickly set up camp. 30 minutes later, Chicago-bound passengers awoke me amidst their cheering for some football game on the suspended TV screen. Quickly, I gathered my bags and headed to a quieter spot where now I’m eating a healthy snack of bread and a cookie and eavesdropping on a TSA security debrief meeting.

As I enter 41 hours of the trip back to Vermont, my mind is filled with snapshots that might as well be recorded in this journal. On Thursday, I imagined decompressing from the semester with hot chocolate in Vermont, but that we rerouted to Phili after all my flights were cancelled because of the snowstorm tracking up the East Coast.

Unlike when this happened last year, God has kept my anxiety down and I’ve been able to soak in the quirks of thousands of people stranded in an uninviting airport. The Hampton became my tourist spot and offered a view of the snow-filled parking lot and faint buildings splattered in the background. I’ve never spent the entire day in bed, but what else do you do when that’s pretty much the only furniture in the room? Reading, movies, dinner from the vending machine, and long Skype calls sustained my sanity until late.

I was reminded that small things like a brush and tooth paste make a difference, but nonetheless, I caught a shuttle to the airport the next day chewing gum and untangling my hair. Something about the song “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and seeing all the morning/afternoon flights cancelled didn’t sit right. However, the kind lady on the US Airways phone assured me that seat 15D was in fact mine at 9:05 pm. So, I hid behind a Christmas tree, took a deep breath, and prayed for perspective that would remind me that being in the Phili airport was not Armageddon.

Chris, who was an immense blessing and encouragement, drove from H-burg to kidnap me from people-watching at baggage claim C. Mark and Adria happened to be in Phili visiting family, so we followed my drawing and incorrectly transcribed directions to Mark’s house. We met baby Silas, who slept like any 3-week old baby would, and we had some sweet time with the Weber’s. My all-carb diet was topped off with a vanilla latte from Starbucks and time reflecting on how God is graciously, faithfully, and lovingly working in the lives of us who desperately need Him every day.

The afternoon was a precious reminder that God asks for our hearts to be surrendered to Him – our Joy and Strength. Living on purpose is not supposed to be a spot on a future calendar date..it is somehow for the time spent in this grey vinyl chair and tomorrow, Lord-willing, when I get home to a place where two feet of snow is just a normal Monday.

“Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion; Bless the Lord, O my soul!” – Psalm 103:22

Off to gate B11.

God is Sovereign

Last week, Pastor Matt Chandler of the Village church had a seizure which was due to a tumor on his brain.  He is in surgery as I write this.  Sifting through my work emails was one incredible story about how God is sovereign and at work when our world is shaking:

——————

Check out this story about a Village Church (Dallas, TX) and Mars Hill Church (Seattle) connection.  The story is written by one of our Mars Hill members to their community group.

Hi Everyone, I have a chilling story and would love some prayer for my dad and Matt Chandler. I don’t know if you all are familiar with a church in Dallas called The Village.  It is an acts 29 church and the lead pastor, Matt Chandler, has been up to Seattle to speak a couple of times. It was my church when I lived in Dallas and it was also the place I came to know God more deeply and grow in my faith after I was saved. Last Sunday I was in Dallas. For the first time I told my parents that since I was there visiting I should go with them to their church (the Catholic church I have refused to go back to after I was saved).  I think my mom was so surprised that I would go with her, that instead she insisted that we go to my old church The Village. My reaction to this was pure shock, although I tried to not make a big deal of it, thinking she could change her mind (I had tried to get my family to come with me for two years and had given up) My dad ended up not being able to come b/c he got called away, but My mom, youngest brother, and I ended up going to The Village for church. I was so excited for them to hear the word of God in a different way that Iprayed all the way there. 

When we got there much to my dismay Matt was not speaking.  I thought well that’s okay, God knows what he is doing. Then another pastor gets on stage and starts telling us what happened to Matt by flowing into the details with a short story/sermon about how celebration and sorrow can occur at the same time. It was supposed to be a day of celebration b/c it was the last Sunday in the church building before moving into a bigger facility (they had been turning away 100’s of people from the each service b/c there was no more room).  Instead we were told Matt had a seizure, hit his head pretty hard and passed out, was taken to the emergency room, and found out he had a tumor on the right side of his brain.  At this point they did not know any more details of what was to come. During the rest of the time that was supposed to be church we were asked to get in to small groups and pray out loud for Matt and his family. I was so nervous about how this might make my mother and brother uncomfortable.

To my surprise, my mother embraced it.  It was the first time I have ever heard my mother pray out loud for anything other than blessing the food or saying a standardized prayer.  It was one of the most beautiful moments in my walk thus far.  She and my brother were able to see what it looks like for a church body to do exactly what we are called to do, lift up our voices to God in prayer with one another. Since last Sunday I had been in prayer for Matt & Lauren and their 3 kids, but at the same time had also been praising the Lord for how he had already used it for good, exposing my mom and brother to genuine faith.  It really made me start praying for the Chandler family even more, pleading with God to bring more people to Him through this difficult trial. That is why I got chills when I found out my dad is going to be his anesthesiologist for his surgery tomorrow.  I think the Lord wants to include my Dad in all this, how blessed I feel.  My dad, like the rest of my family, believes in God, but does not KNOW God.  So I wanted to ask all of you to pray.  Prayer that Matt’s tumor is not cancerous, prayer for strength for him and his family, prayer that the love of Jesus Christ would be made known to all the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff.  And prayer that my Dad might really come to know our Lord Jesus Christ through this.

– Rachael Ramon

Early Mornings

It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.
For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose…
-Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name

sporatic thoughts

I find that my Tuesday night class is highly entertaining.  My professor is how I would picture a nerdy Christian engineer turned Theology professor from RIT.  We email him our weekly reading assignment so that he can run a script that will take the subject line and put it into an excel sheet and return us an automatic update.  That, and his ability to make amazing star wars sounds, should paint a good picture.

He pulls out little one-liners that are either funny or simple enough to foster a silent “amen” in your head.  One of my favorites has come from our jump through the history of the church and specifically about Martin Luther – “Half and half is great in coffee, not so great in a monk.”  Last class we started breaking into a study on the church and the one simple line he wants to pound into our heads is that the foundation of the church is the invisible relationship between the Redemmer and the redeemed.

Simple? Yes. But, it has taken me a loooooong time to understand that.  I love design.  Things that look good make me smile and power point presentations, like the one I saw last night, that give me a headache make my stomach churn.  Many churches have a great appearance, but many are also empty – void of any real relationship with Christ.  It’s only from a relationship with Christ that we can exude pure love for others and trust in Him.

Last night I was at Starbucks for what would make another exciting story and met a guy who knew a friend I was with.  A quick string of conversation and I find out that he is from Essex, Vermont, went to my high school, goes to DTS, and plans to move there and plant a church in downtown Burlington with his wife.  I’ve been praying for this and walked out slightly in shock and feeling incredibly encouraged.  He wants the people of Vermont to know their Redeemer.  I’m pumped.

God loves us so much.  So much.

side note: I realized that Fall has some essential ingredients: apple cider in various forms, pumpkin muffins, colored leaves, sweatshirts & rain boots, and nice long walks…


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