BELOVED.

holy freaking crap.
just read this post by Mike Donehey (Tenth Avenue North) and i just…wow.
that is all i have to say.

my whole life growing up in the church i’ve seen communion a thousand times,
partaken of it hundreds probably and…NEVER have i had such an intimate understanding
as this.

read this.
it will change your life.

The disciples must have thought Jesus was crazy. Seriously. I can only imagine their faces. So confused, so perplexed, uncomfortably glancing back and forth between each other, wondering if they had misheard, wondering if someone could help them understand. Meanwhile, you got Jesus, unnerved, unfazed, just sitting there cooly, looking them dead in the eyes, asking them to marry Him. Yes, you heard me right…marry Him. With nothing more than a cup of wine, no less, the Lamb of God was proposing. So you can imagine their confusion right? “Wait. What? Come again? Jesus, you feeling alright brotha? I mean, I don’t think that I’m exactly what you’re looking for! You want to think about what you’re saying for a minute?”

Of course, we don’t see it that way, because we’re not Jewish. But they were, and they did. See it that way, I mean. “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” We hear these words and we think Communion, Eucharist, Last Supper. The disciples heard this and they’re thinking wedding bells.

Apparently, “In those days,” when a Hebrew man decided to take for Himself a Hebrew woman, he’d go to his father and say, “Her, Dad. I want to make little rabbis with her.” So then the dad would go to her dad and they’d talk camels, or sheep, or whatever the payment was going to be, and after they’d settled on a figure, the groom would call in all his friends and family, set a table in the middle of a room, set the aforementioned girl down in front of said table, break out a cup, fill it with wine, and set it in front of her saying, “This is my covenant with you, take and drink it.” And if she did, that was her answer. With a simple gulp and swig, she was saying, “I do,” and that was it. No rings, no fancy songs or dinners, just a cup and an invitation. And oh yeah, all their relatives sitting in the room watching. I mean, talk about pressure. But yeah, that was it. Her lips to the glass was the same as saying, “I accept your life, and I give you mine in return.”

Now, If the girl said yes, “in those days,” she would then go immediately back to her home, where she would be known as, “one who was bought with a price.” It’s true. That was her name. Kind of long and tedious, and extremely hard to shout out in a game of soccer, but that was it. And with her new identity, she would go back to her town, and start preparing for the wedding. And really, she’d just start waiting for future husband to finish what he had to do and come and get her. What was he doing? Well, during the engagement, the groom’s primary responsibility was to build a mansion for him and his bride to be.

Now girls, before you get too excited, let me explain. “Mansion” in Hebrew means, “apartment.” And what’s even better is that this apartment was actually more like an addition, because the groom would build it onto his parents pre-existing house. Yes. You heard me correctly. Their first home would be with the in-laws. And right now, I can just imagine how many girls are thinking, “oh please don’t let me marry a Jewish boy.” It’s true though. He would build his “mansion” onto the family “insula,” which is what they would call the family dwelling. You see, the entire family would just keep building on and building on until you had what was basically a city block, all comprised of one big bustling Jewish family. (And you thought My Big Fat Greek Wedding was bad) Crazy, but also true.

Well, as you can imagine, this process could take quite a while. I mean, it’s a house for crying out loud. Some scholars say it was six months, or even a year before the poor guy was finished. And get this, the only one who could decide if it was finished was the father. So he’d be working and working and working, and every day looking to his dad, saying, “Are we done yet?” And I can just imagine the father messing with him. Taking his time, looking it over, and then just saying, “Almost.” Could you imagine? Oh, the agony! And to top it all off, the groom and the bride weren’t even allowed to talk to each other. Nothing. Nada. Zip. They couldn’t see or speak to one another during the entire engagement, except for one outlet. The best man. He’d be the instant messenger if you will. Taking notes back and forth between the doting couple. And those moments were probably pretty funny. “Here’s your note, ‘one who was bought with a price.’ Check yes, no, or maybe.” Unbelievable.

But you know, how much more beautiful would that day be when the father finally approved? That day when the groom was finally finished, and he could gather up his homeboys, or ‘groomsmen’ as we westerners would say, and imperiously march into his fiance’s town? Oh it was sweet. And that’s just what he’d do. He’d get his bridal party together and they’d come to her house, and without any prior announcement or advanced warning, they would blow a shofar, which was a ram’s horn that served as a trumpet, and upon hearing it, the pining bride would come bustling out her front door and practically straight down the aisle, and into her beloved’s arms. The period of waiting and wanting would be over, and the two would be united at last to consummate their long-awaited union. Joy. Happiness. Little Rabbis… You know, all the good stuff.

So then, back to the dinner table with the 12. Can you sense where this is going? Jesus breaks into this marriage proposal, cup out, wine-filled, offering his covenant with them. They accept. “I do” to Jesus. Gulp, gulp. “I accept your life, and I give you mine in return.” So then, what does Jesus do? He explains how they have to spend some time apart. Naturally. Only this is going to be longer than a year. However, the best man was coming. His name? The Holy Spirit. So when Jesus leaves, off to get busy preparing a “mansion” for them, (“in my Father’s house there are many rooms”) He doesn’t leave them alone, but instead sends His own mediator, the Holy Spirit, to keep the messages going between Himself and his Beloved. Meanwhile, the bride is left behind in her town, keeping watch, day and night, not knowing the day, time or hour that the bridegroom will appear. Until finally, after a long-awaited return, and we’re talking seriously, long awaited; centuries and milleniums waited people, after this much awaited consummation, the Father alone will announce that the time has come, and Jesus will be coming back for all His faithful, all who are His bride. With a posse of angels and loud trumpet call of their own, He will take us home, to the marriage supper of the Lamb! And we will share in ever-increasing joy and intimacy with Him forever and ever. As C.S. Lewis so brilliantly articulated, “Further up and further in!”

And people still want to insist that Christianity is no more than a religion.

I don’t know about you but in light of this information, it puts Jesus in an entirely different light. He’s no longer an ideal, or a belief system. He’s a person. And to put it more precisely, He is a groom in love with his bride. And not just any bride, but a wayward, adulterous bride. A bride who is half-hearted at best, chasing other lovers and other interests more than Him. And still, He keeps on loving. He keeps on being faithful, He keeps his promises.

In the Old Testament, He tells his prophet Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman, to show everyone the way He loves his people. (see Hosea 3) In the New, He tells us that divorce will never be an option for Him. (Phil 1:6) Over and over and over again, From Isaiah, to Ezekiel, to Ephesians, He tells us that we are not just his children, but we are his bride. Faithless though we might be, we are His, and He is ours.

And like I said before, this changes everything. It changes the way I view prayer. It changes the way I view marriage. It even changes the reasons that I obey. As Donald Miller once said, “it’s a far different thing to break a rule, than it is to cheat on a lover.” I only pray that it changes things for you.

okay now go listen to THIS.

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if His grace is an ocean we’re all sinking.

so lately I’ve been really thinking a lot about grace and what it even truly means for my life. a lot of my close friends know that about a month ago i had this HUGE revelation on grace and for the first time in my life, i accepted it and understood what it meant for me. i had had a deep conversation with my friend Sydney and toward the end of our time together she stated “Liz. You just need to understand grace. You don’t get it at all.” I was initially confused and my pride was hurt a bit. I had gone to church my whole life, of COURSE i knew what grace was! i sang about it pretty much every Sunday right?  wrong.  i really had no idea.  my whole life can be noted by me trying to justify the way i felt by works, but DOING things.  i’ve always loved serving God and doing things FOR Him but somewhere in my joy of serving i marred the lines and what i did somehow equaled what i was entitled to with Him, at least from my own tainted perspective.  well, after having this conversation with my friend, i was very confused and slightly convicted.  if i didn’t know what grace was (biting back my pride and thinking that maybe i really DIDN’T know) well then i really needed to figure that out didn’t i? so…i began asking God and crying out to know what it meant. if i wasn’t living under grace, how could i KNOW what grace was?  in the end i borrowed my friend Cara’s book “God’s Lavish Grace” by Terry Virgo and 2 chapters in i was just bawling. God showed me. i was amazed. i remember just SHOUTING about it to Brian and Lindsey once i realized it, i couldn’t even finish reading more in the book that day because it was too much.  somehow God drew me to read the book of Romans after that and i was WRECKED for days.  in a very very good way.

so… that’s the backstory. and well, lately, i’ve been really frustrated.  a lot of people are asking me “what are you doing in your life?” or “what happened to doing the school of worship?” and the questions about the future just frustrate me. more often than not i avoid them or give some blase answer and change the topic.  the truth is, i have NO IDEA what God wants me to do. He hasn’t spoken to me about anything directionally since i moved in with Brian and Lindsey… then i resigned at my job at Buildabear and that was honestly the last time i had heard direction of any major variety.  i don’t have a lot of HUGE dreams like some people do growing up and they want to dance or run for public office or even get married and have kids…none of these things have EVER been in my heart strongly.  i always thought i wanted to teach and then a year into college i realized that was NOT it and not what God wanted for me either.  lately i’ve discovered two dreams i DO have and as i’ve talked to God about them, it’s frustrated me more and more because i don’t see any possible way for either to ever happen in my life.  i don’t want to be stuck in one town for the rest of my life, having a routine and working and raising a family. that isn’t something i would ever enjoy at least, right now i don’t see it that way.  i want to CHANGE things i want to HELP people i want to BRING TRUTH and i’ve always wanted to travel while doing that, going from place to place.  however… right now that is not what i am doing.  God spoke to me about a season of foundations but i’m really really hating it. i’ve always been such a person of action in situations that i feel strongly about that i just don’t understand why it feels like i am stuck in limbo. don’t get me wrong, learning to know Him is great and getting an understanding of what is it that i really truly believe is also great…the times with Him are amazing and He is SO faithful in them… i just feel like i am so so so so so so SO useless.

but today He has been speaking grace in all of that.
reminding me that it doesn’t matter what i do anyways.
and i cling to Jeremiah 29:11 through all of it.
but still… i don’t like it. this is a really hard season for me.

back to grace though.
i recently came upon this story that i had read ages ago in Josh Harris’ book I Kissed Dating Goodbye
and i really wanted to post it here and share it with my readers.  THIS is the most amazing picture of grace
that i have ever read. enjoy.

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Have Liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.”

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I Have Given,” “Jokes I Have Laughed At.” Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger,” “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

“No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.”

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

it’s not about crowds, it’s about stories.

i was fifteen minutes early.
the subject we were learning that day is something that gets me excited.
my heart burns with passion for it.
naturally, i was early.

as i made my way up the stairs and into the classroom, my gaze immediately settled on a slight blonde frame already seated to my right.

interesting.  i thought to myself. must be someone new…or maybe i just don’t know her yet.
letting the thought fade from my attention, i claimed my seat, dropped my things and made my way straight to the coffee.
i wanted to be very awake and alert for this night.

the teaching went on and my heart was filled with joy remembering one year ago when everything in my life came to a screeching halt. i would compare it to someone who goes into cardiac arrest and needs a defibrillator to teach their heart how to properly beat again.  that was what happened in my life, and now one year later, i was looking back and seeing just how very much everything in my life had changed from that one earth-shattering experience. my soul was refreshed with the beauty of it all and by the end of the evening, it was easy to see Redemption, it was easy to believe everything was golden and perfect.

not too much time elapsed before i immediately jumped into conversation with people. one, two, five, seven… i lost track.
but something still nagged at me.
why didn’t it seem okay to leave yet?

in the middle of the conversation i was part of, out of my peripheral i saw two figures in the hallway talking in somewhat low voices.

that’s it. i thought. what is it about her?
it was the gal who had caught my attention earlier in the evening.
…but it looked as though she was leaving.
well that can’t be what i’m feeling… and i started to dismiss the whole thing.
until she walked back into the room.

in that instant our eyes met and i saw it.
the pain.
the hurting.
the hunger to be loved and be known.
those eyes knew tears and they knew them often.

her frame was worn. she was tired, tired in so many ways.
i recognized the old me in her.
my heart was aching to hug her, but instead, i offered a smile.

now part of a new conversation, i learned her name and that she hadn’t
ever been here before and she wanted to come back.
she said we were different than people she had encountered before.
she longed to know more about who we were.

before i could even think to ask her about herself, she volunteered information, she was very guarded in all of that, but i could still tell she trusted me. then, in one moment, there was a pause and it was either a time to be real or a time to be plastic and happy.

i chose to be real.

pretty quickly i unraveled bits of my story for her, why i was here, how God had rescued me so completely and in such a way that every hurt that i had known for nearly 20 years was immediately wiped away and replaced with peace and joy and a LACK of the things that once held me so tightly.

as i spoke softly, she seemed to hang on my every word.
never interrupting, but completely engaged and taking in every syllable that escaped my lips.

Lord she needs you so very much. i can see how You love her, You’re making it so plain to me. i can see the beauty in her that You have placed there so intricately and i also see her heart.  it longs to be known.  she is craving rescue. she is hungering for love. she NEEDS a Savior. i can’t be that. i mean, how am i even here talking to her… i’ve never felt comfortable doing this before. how can i even OFFER anything to her? i’m just as broken in just as many ways as she is… the only difference is i belong to You. 


as i finished telling my personal tale of Redemption, my insecurity faded as i was so quickly reminded that i never did anything. He did everything.
He has always been enough.

shortly thereafter, we finished talking and she assured me she was coming to church on Sunday morning.
i instructed her to find me and to not be afraid to say hello.
her parting words amazed me,

“you all are so real. so genuine. you don’t even know me and i can clearly see that you DO REALLY CARE. i will be back. thank you”

i was very speechless after everything and walked out to my car in a daze.
you see, ever since i learned that Jesus doesn’t see me as someone who is invisible, and i found friends who saw me and loved me, i have had such a strong passion for people. for the hearts that are hurting, for the ones who don’t see themselves as they really ought to, as God sees them.  back when i was a teenager, my heart was for teens because i am so very aware of what a broken home life looks like and how it impacts, but now that i am older, i see everything so much differently.  the things that don’t matter, like our bank account status or our favorite clothing brand, those things so often separate us from LOVING other people and from knowing them, not just saying hi and remembering their names but REALLY knowing them.  as i was pondering these things, i came across this video journal type thing from the band Tenth Avenue North and in it, the lead singer, Mike Donehey talks about music festivals and why they as a band do what they do.  in the footage he makes a statement that totally rocked my world,

“There is no such thing as a crowd. all that is, is individual stories.” 
–Mike Donehey, tenth avenue north.

 i used to be SO AFRAID of groups of people. i hated everything about them. the noise, the chaos, the unpredictability. putting myself out there, being someone who refused to conform to the thinking of the crowd… i hated it all.  it’s very vivid to me, one speech i had to give in high school… i sat down in my seat afterwards completely aware that my viewpoints in said speech were not what a single other person in that room agreed to… not even the teacher grading my assignment.  i was a wreck about the whole thing. however, once i received the grading sheet back from the teacher, i was in complete shock about my score.  she had given me the highest grade in the class and one of her comments to this day i will never forget,”because you stood strong to your beliefs and presented everything clearly and succinctly i am giving you a perfect score.  though i may not have the same opinion as the one you demonstrated, you were able to back everything up and not only that, but also stand in front of your peers and state your opinions. well done elizabeth.”

my main point in everything i have said is simply this: do we see everyone in the crowd or do we lump them together as “humankind” and get so lost in our own problems that we lose sight of how we have been called to love.  i don’t know about anyone else who claims to love Jesus as i do, but when i say i love Him, i also choose to want to be LIKE Him.  yes i am in fact invoking the cliche’d “what would Jesus do” phrase.  i mean, if you really think about it, on a Sunday morning do you think Jesus would be the one sitting in the very front only concerned about what He could gain from the morning? no, i don’t think so.  i’m pretty certain that on a Sunday morning, Jesus would be the one standing in the back, offering up His seat to the exhausted mother who got all three of her children presentable that morning by herself and on less than four hours of sleep, dragged herself there because she was craving a touch, wanting to know love.  i think He would be the One standing at the door, handing out bulletins, not out of duty but because He truly wanted to speak to everyone walking through those doors, not a passing “hey how are you?” but a deep and REAL “how are you doing?” He wouldn’t be afraid of going up to someone who is clearly struggling to hold it together during the songs that sing of hope and light.  i’m convinced He would reach out, put His hand on someone’s shoulder who was crying, hug the one who is filled with sorrow, and get down on His knees on the floor with the one who can’t stand on their own anymore.

i don’t know about you, but that’s who i want to be.

“there is no such thing as a crowd. all that is, is individual stories.” 

in Your presence, we are undone.

Just like an icy wind in February that pierces straight through all layers, so Your mercy and love fly at us, as arrows aimed at our hearts.
Our souls know the Shepherd’s voice.
We rejoice at the pain of Your beauty.

You would NEVER tear down to abandon.
You would NEVER rip apart for desolation.

Destruction IS Your goal.
Despair is NOT.

“You make all things work together for my good.”

Our faith in You, believing You know us, even more than we think we know us, it’s our security through Your demolition in our lives.

You wouldn’t bring me this far to just leave me.

death and life.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
-2 Corinthians 5:17 

It has been one year. For anyone who knows me well, you  know that one year ago, I went to three concerts of my favorite band in one month in two different states.  While attending those shows I was changed in ways that words cannot even accurately describe.  I will suffice it to say I was depressed and dying and ready to end everything in my life and in one month I discovered hope and life and peace and joy and what it means to have Jesus Christ “dwell in you richly”.  If you are unfamiliar with that story and chapter of my life, you can read about it here.  I encountered the love of God in such a way that it completely changed me, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and within 3 weeks, moved out of my parents’ house and ventured to Kenosha, WI.  In the last year I have done things I would NEVER have dreamed of doing, met people I never thought I would get to know and God has transformed my life already.  Shortly after moving, I met a lovely couple, Brian and Lindsey Cowen and soon after that, we began doing photography together.  Shorter still after that, I ended up moving into their house with them and becoming part of their family essentially.  Because of them, I attended the One Church Ministries annual conference in Merrilville, Indiana.  Throughout that whole weekend, I was overwhelmed by God so many times… the journal entries I wrote still blow me away.  I KNEW God would show up and speak to me and He did in a ginormous way. He showed me things about my life and my future, spoke to me about change that was coming, built a faith in me and a boldness that I’d never known before and most importantly… began stripping away things in my life that I had used to build me up, things He had no intentions of letting stay in places where He belonged. Suffice it to say, I encountered something very difficult before the conference and God wasn’t finished with that.

If I could pick a theme for the last year of my life, it would be “death and life”.  In the death of the parts of me that are no good, that are not what God is wanting to refine in me, He has brought me life…and so much more abundantly than I could EVER have imagined.

In November, my best friend, Mary Burklin, flew from Texas to Wisconsin and we met in person for the first time in over 3 years of friendship. We had some insane adventures involving someone getting us lost in Schaumburg, IL at 5 am (yeah it was me……) and  God speaking to both of us in such intensity, we weren’t prepared.  (Honestly, we have this connection that God has used to seal our friendship many times over and why we didn’t realize it would be more intense when we were together, I have no idea 😛 ) So..yeah..she came and visited and her last day here, I dropped her off at the airport and proceeded to get into the car with my friends Cara and Joelle and go catch yet a 3rd night on the tour that Mary and I had gone to twice.  It was the final night of the tour and prank night for sure.  I got to watch Trent get covered in flour and water during a prank and spent time afterwards, helping clean up his kit while Skillet performed.  It felt very empty to not have Mary there after the previous two nights and so I was clinging to God with everything, helped along by the kind words and laughter of my friends in Disciple.  Finally, it was time to leave and for the first time in ages, I left a show feeling very confused and lost.  Luckily, my friend Cara was driving and her and Joelle were talking enough that I was able to be alone with my thoughts and the strange ache I was experiencing in my chest.  However, Joelle is ridiculous and I love her for it. She put on a song (on purpose) that I had mentioned before just hits home for me and I couldn’t stop myself, I was sobbing in the backseat of Cara’s car.  It was painful yet now looking back I can say with complete confidence that it was also healing.

Mere weeks later, God spoke to Mary and she took a hiatus from everything online and everything outside of her own immediate family and life.  I knew it was because God spoke it to her, but I felt like someone had clawed my heart from my chest and I was left gasping… I didn’t know what do without her for support. (this should have sent up warning signs to me a long long time ago but i never noticed).  So for over one month, I was ripped limb from limb by God and just when I didn’t think I had anything left in me to break apart, He began putting me back together.  Slowly, and cautiously on my part, I let Him work.  I began finding myself building relationships with people around me, not bothering to keep them at arm’s length because I knew there was nothing anyone could do that would hurt me more than I was already hurting, I was completely raw and quite apathetic.  I remember going to a women’s worship night and just striking up conversations with people who I had seen a hundred times but didn’t know at all.  I didn’t walk away feeling any different but I knew something in me had changed.

Then after a series of events and talking to an amazing friend (thank you Sydney!!!) I discovered I had no idea what grace was.  Immediately hungry to know, I asked Cara to borrow her book “God’s Lavish Grace” by Terry Virgo.  I remember sitting in my room one Monday morning, finishing the 2nd chapter and just crying.  I ran upstairs and even though the girls were napping I was shouting “GRACE!!!!” and Lindsey was laughing knowingly and Brian was alarmed and I was laughing and grinning for the first time in over a month.  Things only improved by leaps and bounds after that… and then God began to speak to me about foundations.  I ended up reading about the man who built his house upon the rock and the man who built his house upon the sand (Matthew 7:24) and I finally understood that what God had been stripping away, was a foundation that I had built that was not solid, was not in Him.  In the moment it hurt and didn’t make sense but now in hindsight, I’m like “YEAH” it was good.  Shortly after all of this happened, I started doing the Vision & Commitment course at my church. We went through several lessons and then hit the one about water baptism and God really spoke to me about it. “You need to do this. The time is right.” So I did. And it was amazing. There is a link HERE for anyone who would like to watch it.

The whole baptism weekend was insane.  I went back to my parent’s house on Thursday evening and spent Friday getting housekeeping items done then Saturday woke up and headed out to Madison for the Rock and Worship Roadshow.  When I was merely 5 minutes away, on the highway, my brake line snapped and disaster struck.  I began freaking out and panicking…. trying to figure out what to do.  Fear gripped me and I somehow got my car parked at the closest gas station, climbed out and shaking, called my mom.  The minute she got there and her and my dad assessed my car situation, I lost it. Tears and shaking and feeling completely hopeless.  I wasn’t going to get to go to the show, I wasn’t going to get to get baptized the next day…how was I going to get to work Monday morning??  Finally, after awhile my mom figured things out and I crammed into my parent’s minivan with my sisters, my sister’s friend and my 2 friends….we headed onwards to the roadshow.  I was still shakey and felt really sick to my stomach.  I was hoping and praying I wouldn’t get sick.  We got to the venue and I immediately set off for a bus I know so very well by now.  How I kept myself together that whole time I couldn’t tell you, by the strength of God only I’m sure… so I ended up hanging out with friends and this led to me actually legitimately calming down and knowing God’s peace.  Kevin appeared after awhile and sat next to me… I was okay and thanks to Alyssa everyone on the bus heard I was getting baptized the following day; all of my beautiful friends rejoiced with me and I was sososo happy.  Then, we went into the venue for the show, had a beautiful time and left, I went home and slept got up after like 4 hours and started driving my mom’s minivan to Kenosha. I was getting baptized. Nothing was stopping me.

Through everything that has happened, I can clearly see the hand of God and I am SO grateful and thankful that His protection covers me. His blood covers me.
I am going to end this blog post with my current favorite song.  It’s by Jesus Culture and has encouraged me so very much in the last week.  Click HERE.

Your love never fails.

Your Love Never Fails.

so last night i fell asleep with this song stuck in my head because it came on shuffle when i was at homegroup…and so this morning i woke up itching to hear it and i woke up way earlier than i needed to haha so i have put it on repeat and it’s my encouragement today. i wanted to share it with anyone who reads my blog… i had a long deep conversation last night with someone i care about who is learning what it really means to be dying to self.  this friend is in that place where fear and trust are the only options and neither seems okay if you’re looking at it in the moment, however, if you gain the correct perspective on everything, the choices are very clear and obvious.

God never changes.
His love NEVER fails.
He has brought us to a place we could never have reached on our own.

YOUR LOVE NEVER FAILS.

a tribute to the saving grace and strength of my Jesus.

today is February 1.

one year ago today my life was in turmoil, completely up and down.
everyday it seemed like i was laughing and then an hour later sobbing and didn’t understand why.
everything looked so incredibly dark and daily i was asking myself whether life was worth it.
i knew i had made a previous promise to my good friend Kevin that i wouldn’t give up on life…
but darkness was all i knew and i was drowning, and drowning quickly.
music kept me afloat and my only hope was concerts.
as soon as i left one concert, i was counting down the days to my next.
the music made me come alive and in between the lyrics and the guitar riffs, i knew the presence of God.
even though my waking hours were complete misery, music made it okay, even if only for
3 minutes and 27 seconds. even when i was ready to give up, music pursued me.
i would have lyrics stuck in my head for hours, for days.
and i’d put the pills down, put the blade away.
i would go to sleep and wake up the next morning.

one weekend, i planned to go to the Rock and Worship Road Show in Madison, WI with my mom.
i honestly didn’t want to go at ALL but she begged me to go with her and i worked in the morning so
i could go with her  and it ended up that the band whose music has impacted me the most played on that
tour, in an unforeseen series of events.  i walked away feeling loved and hearing truth and being very
confused.  i cried most of the way home because i felt loved and i didn’t understand why any single
person could care about me, i believed i was crap.
the following weekend, i went to a show in Oshkosh, WI with my beautiful friend Alyssa, who put
up with my anxiety and helped me fight through it to have a good time. we shared some intense moments,
both were overwhelmed by the kindness of beautiful people and the love of an incredible God.
i was shocked when i was asked to not drive all the way home that night because someone cared about me
and was worried it would be dangerous for me.  i was happier than i’d been in months and really excited for
the following weekend when i was going to visit my friend Heidi in Kenosha…it meant i’d get to go to church
with her and also hang out with my friend Cara. well i got to kenosha and it was pretty late at night when heidi
and i were talking and spur of the moment we decide to go to a show 4 hours away from Kenosha…in Peoria, IL.
i don’t know what we were thinking but it was Disciple and i was stoked so i agreed to go.
that concert changed my heart.
the words that Kevin spoke, the events that unfolded. God moved and He shattered walls i’d had up for years.
i was crying in the car on the ride back, completely letting Him have my life and by the time we got to
kenosha, i was smiling like i hadn’t in years.  the next morning, i woke up after only a few hours of sleep and
went to church. i knew God in a completely new way and i was joyful. i hung out with cara that day then that
evening, after being prompted by Cara and Heidi, i went to V&C for the first time ever (one year ago) and i
got filled with the Holy Spirit.

to say my life completely changed is an understatement…but it did.

2 weeks after that day, i moved to Kenosha and have lived here ever since.
God spoke and i moved.

i ran and God chased me.

i surrendered and God redeemed.

His strength is perfect and His grace is enough.
oh, how He loves.