Friday, December 27, 2013

Pet and Pray

Ok so my cat hates people. Like she runs and hides from strangers and she stands so that she is just barely out of reach for you to pet her. Don't even try to pick her up or put her in your lap. 

Get it? 

Well last night she was sleeping in my bed. I figured she'd run once I tried to climb in, but instead, she snuggled up right next to me. I fell asleep with her purring by my side. In the 11 years my family has owned this cat, nothing even close to this has ever happened. 

Anyway, as she was next to me, I was petting her and a familiar song came to mind 

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry 
Everything to God in prayer 

I don't know why petting my one-time only loving cat made it so easy to unload all my burdens, but it did. She was there and it was a reminder that Jesus is on the throne interceding for me. 

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? 
Take it to The Lord in prayer
In his arms he'll take and shield thee
Thou wilt find a solace there 

Sprizzo found solace by my side, and I found solace in Jesus Christ 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Seize the Day (and the new year, too)

My dad asked me for suggestions for Christmas. I first said I didn't have any. Then I said I would need a journal. This is what he picked. 

I still remember the first time I saw Dead Poet's Society. I was fresh off a year of Ms. Zinos' honors English 10 class, where we studied The Grapes of Wrath and The Crucible and Huckleberry Finn, and of course Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson. At Blockbuster with my parents, they assured me I would love Dead Poet's Society. 

They were right. It quickly became one of my favorite movies and its use of the phrase Carpe Diem stuck out to me.

I love the journal and I love that it's something special from my dad. 

But I also love that it encourages daily intentional living. 

Seize the day. 

Isn't this the message of the new year? Of a full life? 

Today's seize the day moment: 
New strings, new case to take the violin off of hiatus. 

The violin was played like crazy through high school, although to be fair, I was under contract to practice for my quartet. I played on and off my first two years of college and rarely after that. I got really into guitar and I traveled a lot and the violin took a backseat. 

But this year, I'm going to rekindle that violin fire. 

Carpe Diem

Seize the day 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How Firm a Foundation

Merry Christmas! 

Right now, look up Jesus, Firm Foundation Mike Donehey on YouTube. Please? For me? 

I had the hardest time coming home for Christmas. I was awake for 40 hours. Crying babies, chatty seat mates, and long long hours of travel. I was dying. 

I memorized Titus 3:3-7, balm for an aching soul. And I sang, if only in my head and with my pen. 

And though even hell should endeavor to shake 
He'll never, no never, no never forsake. 

I wrote, 

"Lord, I surrender to your ultimate goodness. I love you and I will grasp for joy if I have to. Maranatha - come, Lord Jesus" 

Hundreds of moments try to steal my joy but that babe in the manger came that my joy be made full and no powers or principalities or height or depth can separate me from that. 

I prayed last night and watched me need turn to thanks. 

"Lord, may Christmas be Emmanuel - God with us, God with me. No matter what the day brings, You are so good. Things may be bad. But I am resting in your goodness. Your hands fashioned the earth and knit me together. Thank you. You have place me here, and now in a way that ultimately works for my good and your glory. Thank you- great is your name! You came as a baby, helpless and needy. Thank you for reminding me of my need for my Father's care. You does for my sins. Thank you is never enough. You rose me to new life and will usher me into    Your kingdom of forever happiness. Thank you, my Jesus! And Lord thank you for being enough. Thank you for giving and thank you for withholding. Blessed be your name, Lord Jesus. Thank you for being on the throne. You are beautiful my sweet sweet song and I will sing again. Amen." 

What more can he say than to you he has said 
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled 

How firm a foundation 
How sure our salvation 
And we will not be shaken 
Jesus, firm foundation 

Mild he lays his glory by 
Born that man no more may die 

He'll never, no never no never forsake 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is actually the greatest movie ever. History. Human rights. Justice. Equality. Faith. Freedom. Love. Perseverance. Struggle. Victory. What else do you want? And it's even better if you've read the biography of the same name by Eric Metaxas. And William Wilberforce's book. And if you have his 1789 abolition speech in your car on cd and you may or may not have listened to it 50 or so times the first week you had it...

Ok so I like William Wilberforce a little. 

But the guy was so incredible. He worked tirelessly to end the slave trade in Brittain, when his colleagues mocked him. He never grew weary of doing good (Galations 6:10) and he continued to love God and love people no matter how hard it was. His mentor was John Newton, the slaver-turned-writer of Amazing Grace. When the slave trade was abolished, Wilberforce sat weeping in the House of Commons. Newton heard the news and died shorty after. A frail man, Wilberforce then labored for the restoration of morality to British society. 3 days before he died, he learned that slavery itself had been abolished. What a fully lived life! 

And so few people know his name. When you think political abolitionist supporters, you probably think Abraham Lincoln. But Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation 74 years AFTER Wilberforce have his first speech in the House of Commons. 66 years after Britain ended the slave trade. And 30 years after the British abolition act. Wilberforce was the catalyst (and oh yeah, before he took on the salve trade he also advocated for Britain to give America its independence and withdraw its troops). 


Quotes from the movie that prove its greatness: 

William Pitt: "You don't believe you and I could change things?" 
Wilberforce: "I would change myself first" 

Butler: "You've found God,sir?" 
Wilberforce: "I think he found me. Do you have any idea how inconvenient that is?" 

Wilberforce: "Billy, no one of our age has ever taken power" 
Pitt: "which is why we're too young to realize that certain things are impossible. So we'll do them anyway" 

Wilberforce: "I'm here to ask your advice" 
John Newton: "When you were a child, you used to ask God for advice" 

Wilberforce: "God has set before me two great objects: the abolition of the slave trade, and the reformation of society" 

Wilberforce: "Barbara and I have discovered that we're both impatient and prone to rash decisions. But she wants to tell you about it yourself" 

John Newton: "Although my memory is fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior"

Pitt on his death bed: "I'm scared. At this moment, I wish I had your faith" 

Wilberforce's greatest adversary, when abolition of the salve trade passed: "Noblesse nobility obliges me to recognize the virtue of an exceptional commoner" This he said as he stood with rest of the House to give Wilberforce a standing ovation. 

And then it ends with Amazing Grace on bagpipes. 

Prophetic Perfection

Today I learned about a new tense: the prophetic perfect. 

What is that, you say? It's when you use the past tense to talk about something that hasn't happened yet. 

Why would anyone do that? 

As Pastor Andrew said today, because "When God says yes, the answer is never no" 

As in, what God says will happen 

As in, he will never be thwarted

As in, he never changes his mind and is never wrong 

As in, even when it doesn't look like Jesus is the king, he is because he has already sat down at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1) and he lives ever to make intercession for us (Romans 8) 

Isaiah knew these things. Check your Christmas texts again (and Easter while you're at it - Isaiah 53) Isaiah 9 - "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" 

Jesus hadn't come yet

But God promised

And God's promises are as good as done. 

Mary knew it too. "He has helped his servant Israel" (Luke 1:54a)

Every promise has its yes in Christ and God's yes is never no and Christ has come and is coming. 

He is coming. 

I listened to Josh Wilson's "The Saints" on the way home and sang that bridge all day long:

He is coming soon 
He is coming soon 
He will take his bride
He will make her new 
He is coming soon 
He is coming soon 
To carry us home 

Christmas means Christ has come and I am saved and am being saved; Hallelujah to that! 

But it is also a reminder that Christ is coming and I will be brought to completion and taste that full salvation. 

Because in Jesus, God has said yes to me 

And God's yes is never no. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday Morning

I thought I'd provide the readers with some entertainment. Elizabeth and I both work at the same time on Saturdays; however it looks very different. Here is a typical day

6:10am Kate's alarm goes off but there is a 65% chance she already woke up 

6:15am Kate turns on light and heat and reads Old Testament and devotion book and journals and gets dressed 

6:45am Kate makes and eats breakfast while reason New Testament. Elizabeth usually goes to the bathroom 

7:00am Kate knows Elizabeth is probably awake but Elizabeth is actually stuck in her bed 

7:10 Kate makes coffee and begins anxiously anticipating the paper 

7:15 Kate drinks coffee and packs bag for work 

7:45 Kate begins to doubt Elizabeth's awakeness

7:58 The paper arrives. Finally 

8:03 Elizabeth comes bursting out and runs to make coffee while looking for missing socks and backpack items

8:08 Kate wants to leave at 8:10 so she begins turning lights off and putting her coat on 

8:09 Elizabeth pours coffee into mug and begins looking for keys

8:09.5 Elizabeth brushes teeth 

8:10 Kate stands by door. 

8:10.5 Elizabeth goes back to room to grab something 

8:11 Elizabeth retrieves water bottle from living room 

8:11.5 Elizabeth decides to change shoes and struggles with boot souls. Kate is internally struggling because being late makes her physically anxious but is laughing at Elizabeth anyway

8:12 We leave, and yes, we do arrive at work on time. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Kiss Lips and More Joy

I love Christmas. I actually don't understand the people who don't. I think of you don't love it then you don't actually understand it. 

Christmas is joy and hope and rich colors of red and gold because the Messiah has come and is coming again to restore the forever happiness and make all the sad things come untrue. This is why we can read Habbakkuk 3 and say even though nothing grows and the stores are empty, a God is oh so very good. The good news of great joy has come; Hallelujah! 

I forget. I forget when dressers won't come together and when traffic is stop and go and when Ella the rebel will not stop. 

And then Ella the rebel, on the last day before the break, beckons me close to her and I bend down and she readies her lips for a kiss and it is one of the sweetest graces I've tasted all week. 

Because the baby Jesus came down not to be kissed and loved but to kiss our very souls with the whispers of his kindness. 

And if Christmas is Christ mas which is more Christ who can complain about that? 

So even though our consumer driven world that says you need more - more food, more stuff, more joy, remember Psalm 4 and then you can say with surety, "Thank you, Lord, for you have put more joy in my heart than they have when their wine and grain abound" 

More joy 

Because Christmas is more Christ and he came that our joy would be full and that means we have more joy. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Such a Time as This

I was reading The Greatest Gift this morning when I saw that time keeper in the corner of my kindle: 20 minutes left in book. 

What? Only 20 minutes left? 

Oh yeah, today is the 18th day of Advent. Only 6 days to go. 

Do you feel the expectancy? 

Today I read about Esther (see Esther 4) and how we are all born for such a time as this. Esther's place inside the gates of the palace wasn't for her own comfort. It was to be given away. 

Writes Ann, 

"And there's One whose home was the original palace, One who is the apex of beauty, One who put Himself in the place of you outside the gate, you in the muck and the mire and the stench of sin. There is One who came to a barn and made Himself a bridge back to the King by laying down His back on the bark of that Tree. He looked at you desperate on the outside of the gate, and His love was instant...
"This is the love story that has been coming for you since the beginning. That Babe in the manger - He is Prince on the Cross who save you with His life, so your identity is no longer wrapped up in being on of the rich ones inside the gate. Your identity is wrapped up in being one of the rich ones inside of Him" 

You were born for such a time as this; He came, and He is coming 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Good

Sunday was a hard day. Clearly. But if your Sabbaths aren't a little hard, maybe you're not doing it right. Because if you come face to face with the Holy of holies and don't at least wonder of your life is in sync with His person you might need to ask a few more questions. 

I hope no one was too worried. I really am doing just wonderfully. Although I would be lying if I said I'm not looking forward to seeing my peeps. For your reassurance, though, here are some tidbits. 

4 year old Grace told me she prayed for me yesterday. I wanted to cry but I just hugged her instead. 

Last night I walked home in the fog and I was talking to God and I had to fight the impulse to yell, "I love the gospel!" to the night. Because only insane people do that...

I sent a friend a letter today and basically gushed about Jesus the whole time. 

I read Small Things with Great Love by Margot Starbuck and wow. I dare you to read that book and not be affected by it. 

I have the super chick water buffalo song stuck in my head because I did it FOUR times today with energetic children. 

I found out I know all the words to every verse of What Child is This. I started singing it and was surprised as the words came to me. This may be aided by the last month of Christmas music in the car and almost 2 months of guitar playing...

Basically, to quote Trip Lee- I'm good. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

That Time I Looked Around...

I had a bit of a life crisis this afternoon. It probably began brewing last night but it came to fruition today. 

I love Advent. I love the way Anchor church is doing Advent. I love that when I was talking to Jill, Debbie came over and put her hand on my shoulder and asked how I was. I love a lot of things. I am not in anyway unhappy 

That being said, I looked around me at church as we were wrapping up. And looking around can do a lot of things. I sat next to Chris and Jill, who are my age and married 8 weeks ago. Sydney and Ian sat in front of me - also my age, married 4 weeks ago. I saw Aimee and Bryan and Dan and Alyssa and Kathleen and Mike and a ton of kids under the age of 6 and I just cracked. 

There was not a single other person at my place in life there. Victoria hasn't been here in weeks, nor Craig nor Trent; Jenn moved to LA; Gab is with family in Florida. I say in that room as the only single 20 something recent college grad. 

And I like everyone there. It's not a problem necessarily. I just felt so raw and so a room full of people...I don't really feel known. 

And yet I felt so known by God. I came right home and poured out my heart to him. I played out my soul. And he met me. But not in a I-prayed-and-read-my-Bible-and-prayed-and-worshiped-so-everything-is-fine-now kind of way but in his way. 

The I-love-his-plan-and-rejoice-in-his-sovereignty-way. 

The I-can't-see-anything-but-I-can-still-see-Jesus-way (the Genesis 16 way). 

The The-Lord-is-all-good-all-the-time-way. 

The O-For-grace-to-trust-him-more-way. 

I looked around my living room and I felt whole and full and a room by myself.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Ella has been mentioned here before. She is four years old and my constant headache (heartache)? 

At the beginning of the preschool year, she would just scream and cry because mom and dad weren't home. She would talk to herself, trying to calm down. 

She has now graduated to open defiance. First of all, I can never discern whether she is talking to herself or to me. She calls herself honey, but she frequently calls me that as well. Staying in line is a challenge for her, as well as not skipping to the front and keeping her hands to herself. The look on her face she has while hitting or pushing another child is one of malice and spite. She is doing it on purpose. This leads to her frequently sitting with me. 

Since our preschool has a specific structure for discipline, I am expected to follow it. 

When I see her misbehaving, I point it out and let her know her choices. 

"Ella, I see you are having a hard time keeping your hands to your own body. You may choose to set them in your lap or put them on your head. If you choose to keeping touching our friends, you will be sitting with me" 

As the offense continues, I remove her, saying, "I see you chose not to keep your hands to your own body. Come sit with me now". She usually wants to sit on my lap at this point, and as long as she is looking at me, I'm fine with it ( she is an adorable child, really). Now I can tell she hates discipline because she always gets quiet and sometimes starts shaking. 

"Ella, why are you sitting here?" 

"I don't know" 

"Ella, you are sitting here because you are having a hard time keeping your hands to your own body. Why are you sitting here?" 

"I don't know" 

After repeating this 3-4 times, I decided maybe she wasn't getting it, so I did a test. 

"Ella, my favorite color is yellow. What is my favorite color?" 


"Ella, we have rules to keep all of our bodies safe. Why so we have rules?" 

"To keep all the bodies safe" 

"Ella, we go to preschool to learn new things and have fun. Why do we go to preschool?" 

"To learn and have fun" 

"Ella, you are sitting here because you are having a hard time keeping your hands to your own body. Why are you sitting here?" 

"I don't know" 

It is now crystal clear she is doing it on purpose. She cannot rejoin the activity until she can tell me why she had to sit out. I continue to offer opportunities to her but she ends up sitting out at least half of gymnastics. 

I tell you this story because Ella is my every day reminder that sin is real. We sin on purpose. We are bad on purpose. We defy God on purpose. 

But when we turn to him instead of from him, he welcomes us. We repent and he receives. We are free to join in and rejoice in him. 

Sin is real

And so is grace. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Magnifcat

Today I learned that my church is going to be breaking down Mary's song until Christmas. Today, we looked at the first four verses: 

And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.

An unmarried teenager finds out she's pregnant and she rejoices? 

Why is this crazy girl named Mary singing? 

She's singing because she has such faith and confidence in God's redemptive plan and she is overjoyed that she gets to be a part of it. 

And she's on the other side of the cross. The side before the coming. The side before the resurrection. The side before redemption. 

How much more do we have to sing about this Christmas? Because we know the whole story. We know what that baby will grow up to do. We've tasted and seen Christ's work in our lives. 

We sang a song today that I'd never heard before, about Mary's joys, and I LOVED IT. From what I can tell it was originally Catholic or Episcopalian perhaps, but our worship leaders edited it into an evangelical hymn (the differences are minor, but more in line with our theology...I could get into why it's important to bring good theology into worship but that's a whole other story). 

The Seven Joys of Mary

1. The very first joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of one
To see her blessed Jesus
When He was first her Son
When He was first her Son.
ChorusWhen He was Her first Son, Good Lord;
And happy may we be,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
To all eternity
2. The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of two
To see her own son Jesus,
To make the lame to go.
To make the lame to go. Chorus

3. The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of three
To see her own son Jesus,
To make the blind to see.
To make the blind to see. Chorus

4. The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of four
To see her own son Jesus,
To read the Bible o'er.
To read the Bible o'er. Chorus

5. The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of five
To see her own son Jesus,
To bring the dead alive.
To bring the dead alive. Chorus

6. The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of six
To see her own son Jesus,
Take up the Crucifix.
Take up the Crucifix. Chorus

7. The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of seven
To see her own son Jesus,
Ascended up to heaven Heaven
Ascended up to heaven Heaven Chorus

Friday, December 6, 2013

Good News of Great Joy

The Christmas-gospel story drives me wild. In the best possible way. 

Like when it's the fifth day of Advent and I'm up at 4:30 in the morning to read the Bible and talk to my Jesus before I meet at 6 with my church to study the Bible and talk about Jesus. 

Or when I'm driving home after we ended 45 minutes late because God's goodness for his church can't fit inside and hour and a half box and I have errands to run but I see the sun rising over the mountains and I have tears streaming down my face so I pull over and snap a picture that can't even capture the ten thousand reasons I have to praise The Lord. 

And then I'm at the grocery store buying groceries for one and I pick up hair brushes and shampoo and socks and gloves and glittery hair things and toy cars and chocolates and toothpastes and Chapsticks for people who have nothing because Jesus has given me absolutely everything. I'm sure the checkout lady thought I was nuts. But as Tim Keller says, if you know what Jesus said about the needy and you say you believe he has given you everything but you don't actually give or serve, then you don't actually believe the gospel is true. 

And then there's the moment when my acquaintances update their adoption journey blog and I feel the grace of having been adopted by the Heavenly Father and my bank account says I have more than I need and I give what I can to bring a little girl into a good home. 

And then my dear friend finds out that the baby she carries is a little boy, and she's due 11 months after she married the love of her life. 

This is the scandal of grace. Because over 2,000 years ago a teenager was nine months pregnant with a baby boy - the baby boy - who would turn the world upside down. 

It was Christ. The Christ. 

The one of whom the angels said, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people" (Luke 2:10). 

The good news is that Jesus has come and the great joy is that his life and death and life has given us the fullest life we could never dream of. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Beginning

I have a Christmas secret. 

Lean in: 

Start at the beginning. 

And not Gabriel and Mary or even Elizabeth, but the real beginning

In the beginning God created. 

Because the story, our story, the salvation redemption story, the Christmas story, it all starts there. 

Think about John's gospel: In the beginning was the word. 

Jesus was in the beginning and he became in another beginning. 

It's not too late to go back to the beginning this advent. 

Ann Voskamp is turning my Christmas upside down with her book, The Greatest Gift. John Piper starts Good News of Great Joy in Luke. 

But Ann starts where we all start: Genesis. 

Is that crazy? 

Today is day three of Advent, soI read, 

The woman... Saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some of the fruit to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they his from The Lord God among the trees. Then The Lord God called to the man, Where are you? Genesis 3:6-9 (NLT I think) 

Did you see it? 

Right from the start, we have the reason for the one who is coming. 

Writes Ann, "And that moment when your heart turns to His heart - already turned to you? The fall turns into a falling into His  everlasting arms" 

Arms wrapped in swaddling cloths and later, stretched out on the cross. 

We were created for His joy and then Jesus came as man for ours. 

But it all starts in the beginning. Don't miss it this Christmas. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent: He Came, and He is Coming

Today, during communion time, I felt so overwhelmed with all my sin. Coming to the table before the cross, I see Jesus for who He is and His radiance shows me my filth (see 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). I sat there, head bowed, and then I heard a whisper to my soul, "Give thanks, my daughter, I am coming. I came and I am coming. Come to the table, my loved one". I stood before the cross and dipped the body broken for me into the blood poured out to cover my sin and I tasted it and that the Lord is GOOD (Psalm 34:8). I stood with my church family as we proclaimed,

Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man may no more die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king

Because today is the first (Sun)day of Advent

And Advent means coming

And the angel Gabriel came to tell Mary that the God-Man would be coming to her body and to the earth (Luke 1:26-38)

And Jesus came that we might see His glory and be rescued from our sin, that one glorious day we would come to the feast of the Lamb

Because He came

And He is coming