Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mom, I don't think I have enough toys...will you buy me a new soccer ball?

I know how to sit, shake, and lay down. Does incessant barking qualify for a treat, too??

Nali's the big tease...she has to remind Maia at times that she's not as big as she may think!

Monday, August 28, 2006

"More Than You'll Ever Know"

A friend loaned me a CD over the weekend, and I must say that I have listened to it nonstop. Some of you are familiar with Watermark's latest album "A Grateful People." On my way to work this morning, an old favorite was playing: "More Than You'll Ever Know." Although I've always enjoyed the song, it was never one that really resonated with me. However, things have changed over the past year. Things I once took for granted have suddenly become so much more valuable. As I move forward, I don't dwell on the past, but my appreciation and love for those I hold dear has dramatically increased.

And this picture speaks a thousands words: me and my best friend. The casual onlooker may say, "That's a fun picture," or even, "You two have been friends for so long," but it's so much more than that. This a woman I have grown and laughed and cried with since those awkward years of junior high. We made it through high school, sometimes wondering if it would EVER end, and entered the college years knowing that anything was possible. We went to different colleges and met new friends: became involved in different organizations, took different trips around the world, and individually witnessed the transforming power and grace and mercy of the Lord. Through all of the changes, the times of growth, the occasional valleys, we have continued to persevere in faith and by His incomprehensible grace. And still...we have stuck together. I still look at pictures such as this, smile, and thank the Lord for my friend. She is still a rock in my life, a voice of truth and genuine compassion. I still learn so much from her. In certain ways we are still very different, but the Lord has so intricately ordained that our lives be intertwined throughout the years and the many changes.

So thank you, friend. I love you "to infinity and beyond!" And with you in mind, I'm sure I will be humming this song for the remainder of the day. And one more thought as you're viewing this picture--You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl~

"Something brought you to my mind today
I thought about the funny ways you make me laugh
And yet I feel like it's okay to cry with you
Something about just being with you
When I leave I feel like I've been near God
And that's the way it ought to be...
(CHORUS) 'Cause you've been more than a friend to me

You fight off my enemies
'Cause you've spoken the Truth over my life
And you'll never know what it means to me
Just to know you've been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
More than you'll ever know
You had faith, when I had none
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn't think I could find the strength to sing
And all the while I'm hoping that I'll
Do the kind of praying for you that you've done for me
And that's the way it ought to be... (CHORUS)
You have carried me

You have taken upon a burden that wasn't your own
And may the blessing return to you a hundredfold"

Friday, August 25, 2006

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone, this Solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease!
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone! - who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This Gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid:
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till he returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!
(Keith Getty & Stuart Townend 2001 Kingsway's Thankyou Music)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bring it On



Our company's annual field day.

Just watch out because I'll be the one winning the potato sack race.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This Matter of Femininity

Princess. Dancer. Singer. SHEERA. I vaguely remember, as if a mere dream, of aspiring to be one of these at some point or another, but it was so long ago. As I grew into early adolescence, those awkward teen years seemed even more awkward than most. I was an 11-year-old being raised in a house of boys. There I was, a young girl torn between glittery nail polish and my big brother’s musical selections. I wanted to be just like him: listen to all of his preferred music, tell his jokes, watch his favorite movies. I never really understood why I was so different than all of the other girls my age, especially those who were my dearest of friends. The Lord is sovereign over all…even over events such as divorce when His hand may not be so visible. I hold no bitterness or enmity toward my parents, although there was a day when such feelings were at the forefront of my mind.

“Little girls are looking for role models to see what it means to be a woman. . . . There is a lot that God has put in our nature and character as men and women that we need to recognize and nurture in a way that is honoring to Him.” This is an excerpt from Dr. Russell Moore on a day here recently when he was filling in on Dr. Mohler’s radio program for a show entitled “Barbie, Lara Croft, and Biblical Femininity.” Many women also in attendance at Southern are there for some type of women’s ministry. While that has not been the primary focal point of that to which I have been called, I have recently been thinking on womanhood and femininity. What does it mean to be a woman who exhibits the glory of God? I wasn’t raised up in a way that encouraged godly womanhood nor was I taught those things that make up the character of a woman of dignity, worth, and value. While my father had good intentions and my mother was absent during many crucial times of growth, I was just confused. I did, however, have models in the church. At a very poignant time, the young age of fourteen, the Lord began bringing women into my life whom I will forever hold dear. They were not models of morality, self-esteem, or those things which constitute today’s modern, confident woman. Instead, they were women who were the first to admit that their righteousness was not their own. They were of such deep influence because they gently and humbly lived the truth that they were not worthy of such mercy and grace. I was often puzzled by them, and at times even in contention with them inwardly, because they were in stark contrast to the world’s standards of womanhood. I never had a gentle and quiet spirit, yet they were a constant source of such biblical, Christ-exalting femininity. I never wanted to be a nurturing mother, but I began to see that there was something more to being a truly good mother than making sure there was dinner on the table. And motherhood to them was not about putting their needs first, but continually dying to self in order that their relationship to their husbands would be one of daily sacrifice and sanctification.

Now I am of the age they were when our paths were ordained to cross, and I find myself more mindful than ever of how much I still have to learn and grow. I don’t know how to cook. As a matter of fact, I often get nervous at the thought. I have had little experience in caring for young children, and I am a scatterbrained mess when it comes to keeping my home in order. Knowing what I know, having had the Lord reveal what He as regarding biblical womanhood, I can’t even begin to imagine myself trying to teach a little girl what it means to be a woman of grace and femininity in the eyes of God. I never had it in my own home growing up, so how I can I expect to implement such grace to my own children? I can, however, tell you what I do know. I am fervently committed to my home being one in which the Word is spoken and lived out, and that begins with my relationship to my future husband and how we relate to one another. I cannot entertain the thought of being a godly woman and mother in the home without first knowing my relationship to Christ and how that is depicted and manifested in how I relate to my husband. A key problem I think I will have is that of allowing him to treat me well and protect me. I was not protected nor was I treated as a young girl growing into a woman of dignity and grace.
That very grace is what sustains and keeps me persevering as His child and as a woman who is hopefully teachable and receptive to hearing wise counsel from others. I still have such a long way to go in this matter of biblical womanhood and femininity, but I trust that He will accomplish all He has purposed and promised. Praise be to God the Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

"This is what I understand to be the essence of femininity. It means surrender. Think of a bride. She surrenders her independence, her name, her destiny, her will, herself to the bridegroom in marriage." ~Elisabeth Elliot

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"There is no abiding joy without holiness...How important then is the truth that sanctifies! How crucial is the Word that breaks the power of counterfeit pleasures! And how vigilant we should be to light our paths and load our hearts with the Word of God!" ~John Piper, The Pleasures of God
"A thing sanctified is not made holy simply by being set apart; it derives its holiness from that to which it has been devoted. Because only God is holy, He alone can impart holiness." ~Robin Boisvert, How Can I Change? Victory in the Struggle Against Sin

Monday, August 21, 2006

...from self and pride to set thee free...

I Asked The Lord

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He'd answer my request
And by His love's constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
"Tis in this way" The Lord replied
"I answer prayer for grace and faith"

7. "These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me."

©2004 double v music (ASCAP).
John Newtonalt. Laura Taylor
Laura Taylor

Friday, August 18, 2006

"Seeing With New Eyes"

I spent a number of my adolescent years knowing what the Lord was calling me to, but never really knowing how that was going to pan out. Trusting in Him and the plan He had already set into motion, the bombarding of questions from others came without me having a specific, defined answer of, “This is the exact title for the career I am working towards.” This conviction only deepened as I entered into my college years, knowing that He was preparing me both socially and intimately for the field of counseling. However, I was often unsettled because I was becoming more and more aware of how unclear this portrait of my career looked. I knew I wanted to counsel, but I knew it wouldn’t be through the school of psychology. I knew I wanted to counsel, but I knew it wouldn’t be through what I had oftentimes seen labeled as “Christian counseling.” The more I meditated on His Word, the more I wrote and prayed over this very issue, the more sure I was of His counsel and authority over my life and how that would be manifested in my interactions with others. The authority of His Word supercedes all other theories and practices. While I do not necessarily hold some level of disdain for most psychological views of the person, I cannot in the conviction of the Holy Spirit, in the sufficiency of Scripture, support any other practices as being authoritative in aiding broken, sinful souls. The Lord has shown me time and time again the depth and weight and truth of such passages as that found in Hebrews 4:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

My convictions for counseling under the authority of God and His Word have been part of His sovereign plan for my life, and part of His plan has been this season I am in as a student at Southern. My heart swelled when I first heard of the changes being made to the counseling program just months before I was supposed to begin classes at a sister seminary. David Powlison has an article in the Journal of Biblical Counseling which has been adopted by the seminary as affirmations and denials regarding the definition of biblical counseling. Here are a few excerpts from his article:

“We affirm that the Bible is God’s self-revelation in relation to His creatures, and, as such, truly explains people and situations.”

“We affirm that the Bible teaches, invites, warns, commands, sings, and tells the solution for what troubles humankind. In the good news of Jesus Christ, God acts personally. In word and deed, He redeems us from sin and misery through the various operations of His past, present, and future grace. God uses many means of grace, including the face-to-face conversations of wise counseling.”

“We deny that any other solution or therapy actually cures souls, and can change us from unholy to holy, from sinners to righteous, from insanity to sanity, from blindness to sightedness, from self-absorption to faith-working-through-love.”

“We deny that there is any method for instantaneous or complete perfection into the image of Jesus Christ. The change process continues until we see Him face-to-face.”

“We deny that the persons and problems addressed by the activity termed ‘psychotherapy’ fall outside the intended scope of the ministry of Christ in word and deed.”

“We affirm that the Scripture defines and speaks to the gamut of problems in living for all people in all situations.”

“We deny that psychological research, personality theories, and psychotherapies should be viewed as ‘objective science,’ as that term is usually understood. Neither should they be seen as extensions of medicine and medical practice.”

Yes, this truly is a new paradigm, a new way of seeing the field of Christian counseling. Where psychology is quick to answer the question of “what” in diagnoses and prescriptions, biblical counseling goes straight to the heart of the matter—“why?” What is the sin that so easily entangles? Where is this individual’s situation one affected by a true medical issue? When those questions are brought to the table, when the Church counsels from the sufficient Word of God, the root of the problem will be exposed.

We live in a fallen and depraved world, and only by His grace are we truly saved, healed, and persevere in sanctification.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

According to Google

My middle name

My favorite color

My pets names (yes, there is more than one pair with the same names!)

My favorite fruit/veggie

My bad habit

Monday, August 14, 2006

From Osh-Kosh to Coldwater Creek (and still somewhere in between)

One of my dearest friends brought up one of my all-time favorite movies in one of her recent posts—“You’ve Got Mail.” Joe (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen (Meg Ryan) are corresponding via AOL (oh, how thankful I am for DSL) and he says:

“Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

While I don’t live in New York, I do have some weird affection for fresh, new school supplies. Notebooks, spirals, pens—my occasional journey through Office Depot is like a kid in a candy store…Yes, I like school supplies and yes I know it’s weird.

So I’m sitting here on this first day of the week, the first week of school, sipping my coffee and thinking about this brand new semester. My mom came to Louisville for a visit a few weeks ago, and treated me to a new skirt from Coldwater Creek. As I was putting it on this morning (of course you have to save new school clothes for the first day of school!) I couldn’t help but wonder at the transition. I can still remember my mom helping me with my new, snazzy denim Osh-Kosh B’Gosh jumper and brushing my hair for the first day of school. And now I’m here. I’m 24 years old, and rather than a new wardrobe consisting of Keds, jumpers, and the biggest hairbows you can find, I’m wearing a skirt from Coldwater Creek. (And it’s a very pretty skirt I might add.) When my mom and I went into the store, I still felt like a kid in some ways. There are certain stores I have and will always associate with my mom, so when I start finding things in the very same stores that catch my attention, I know that something has changed. When did I become a woman in my mid-20s? When did kids I babysat start entering their church youth groups and others even graduating from high school for that matter? And on top of that—I’ve realized more than ever that I really don’t have my brother’s metabolism! There was a day, much longer ago that I often realize, when I was off the walls on my constant sugar rush. If you don’t know me…yes, it was constant. For those of you who do know me…thank you for being my friends.

The point of all of these ramblings on this early Monday morning is to say that I am thankful for where the Lord has brought me. Although it’s hard for me to take it all in at times, how much has changed, how much I’ve grown (and considering the growth I still desperately need), the Lord has been faithful. My desire is for others to see His faithfulness in and through me. Here at my workplace, and even on a seminary campus, it’s very easy to blend in and go about your business. But that’s not enough. I don’t want to settle for that. I don’t want to be noticed for my own sake, for my own words and achievements, but may He use me as a vessel of His mercy and grace. He has afforded me much, and much more than I could ever deserve, earn, or hope for. There was so much going on last school year, what with the transition of living in another state, my own medical issues, and other details in between, much of it now is a blur. However, as grateful as I am for where the Lord has brought me, I hope in His future grace. My eyes are not to be fixed on the past, continually reminiscing over things that once were, but rather looking ahead to what He has in store. This doesn’t make me less grateful, but actually increases my gratitude. We don’t run this race looking behind us, but instead we press on, looking to Him, the Giver and Sustainer.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” –Hebrews 12:1-2

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Just Can't Help But Smile!

The girls are about to fall asleep...

Maia at 3 months~

Friday, August 04, 2006

All I Owe

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then, how much I owe.

And all I owe you paid for me
From all I owe I've been set free
And all I owe proves your great mercy to me

When I stand before Your throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see You as You are,
Love You with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then, how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

Words by Robert M. McCheyne and Matthew S. Smith. Music by Matthew S. Smith.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

And my soul wells up

I was wandering around the Lifeway store on campus today during my lunch break(one of the perks to being a seminary student), browsing the card section as my mom and dad's birthdays are quickly approaching. In the hustle of trying to pick out good cards (I'm slow), take care of my student account balance, drive home to feed the pups and manage to find something somewhat substantial to feed myself, I paused for a few moments while reading one card in particular. It was a birthday card in the midst of a new assortment I hadn't seen previously. Each of the cards was based on a song by singer/songwriter Chris Rice, and one in particular caught my attention. Everytime I hear this song, my soul wells up at the beauty and splendor of the Father, and I'm also personally reminded of dear friends of mine who are many miles away from me. I remember my friend singing this on a particular Sunday at my home church, and due to the recent valley she had walked through by her husband's side, the words to this song struck a particular chord in my heart. So I saw this card today at lunch, and stopped for a brief moment in the middle of Lifeway as I was compelled to quietly praise the Lord for His sovereign grace, His peace which passes all understanding, His goodness. My soul welled up in such a way that I could not fully express to you now how sweet that moment was. How often I lose sight of His daily, constant presence and abundant grace.

A purple sky to close the day
I wade the surf where dolphins play
The taste of salt, the dance of waves
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs
A lightning flash, my pounding heart

A breaching whale, a shooting star
Give testimony that you are
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs

Oh praise Him all His mighty works
There is no language where you can't be heard
Your song goes out to all the Earth
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

O cratered moon and sparrow's wings
O thunder's boom and Saturn's rings
Unveil our Father as you sing
And my soul wells up with hallelujahs

Oh praise Him all His mighty works
There is no language where you can't be heard
Your song goes out to all the Earth
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

The pulse of life within my wrist
A fallen snow, a rising mist
There is no higher praise than this
And my soul wells up
O my soul wells up
Yes my soul wells up with hallelujahs

Oh praise Him all His mighty works
There is no language where you can't be heard
Your song goes out to all the Earth
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
O hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!