Sunday, January 28, 2007


How often do you cross paths with individuals who seem to be sincere answers to prayer? It isn't something that occurs on a regular basis. How many friends have I known who can testify to the feeling of moving somewhere new and not having those friends around who really know you? Or, in comparison to my own experience, how often are you in a setting where the weight of nobody really knowing you seems to never lift from your shoulders? I don't ask such questions as someone who has been in despair over such things, but I can say that I have experienced that loneliness on occasion for almost two years. I had resolved to accept that I wasn't known, really known, by anyone here. I know plenty of wonderful, encouraging women, but I have never gone beyond mere acquaintance and frequent hugs with them, aside from some of the older women at my church. I confess that I have been somewhat lonely for a kindred spirit in close proximity. Those who know me best, aside from my wonderful boyfriend, live hundreds of miles away, whereas there are no friends here with whom I have the freedom of candidness and digging deep into conversation. However, the Lord has been my steadfast Sustainer. On those nights when I could have really used an evening with a dear friend at a coffee shop, or sitting on my couch watching a girly movie, He has been near. He has also blessed me with an encouraging boyfriend who knows me enough to know when I'm lonely for the "girl talks."

If you read my recent post, you will know that I am thankful for this clever outlet of communication called blogging. It has provided a creative way of staying in touch with the best of friends, and has also been a door to meeting the new acquaintances. I met Gretchen a couple of months ago after she came across my blog and left a comment. Time quickly told of our similarities, whether in books, opinions, or deep convictions. Gret and her husband were moving to Louisville soon, so we made it a point to meet up when they made their first trek down to get some moving details taken care of. Then, just a few days after they officially moved, I invited them over for some Texas-style chili (sorry, no pictures). We had SUCH a good time simply getting to know each other over bowls of chili and cornbread. I quickly sensed the humor and like-mindedness between them and my boyfriend and I. After such a nice evening, we made immediate plans to meet for dinner at their apartment just a short week later. Therefore, I present to you pictures from Saturday night!

I know that there is still plenty of "getting to know you" left, but I also know that I have met a kindred spirit after all. You can tell quite a bit about someone by the things they share with the world on a blog, and I was definitely in anticipation upon meeting Gretchen. In a nutshell that doesn't remotely do my joy justice, I have been so encouraged in recent weeks. How refreshing (and relieving on some days) it is to have a dear friend with whom you can share both joys and frustrations without feeling like you have to hold back. At this point in time, my prayer is simple: that I hope to somehow given in return the honesty, genuine opinion on both big and "small" matters, and joy that I have seen in my new friend.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Soup n' Snow!

In celebration of both the pending snow and this adorable little man, my boyfriend and I ate dinner at our friends' house. Bob and Dan have been best friends since college, and Eryn just graduated from PT school in Abilene. Bob and I have thoroughly enjoyed having friends here in Louisville with whom we can share both new and old memories. They've had Jackie, the big sister, for a couple of years now and have been wanting to find a little brother for her. Last week, they brought Otto home, and he definitely had everyone's attention!

Jackie strongly disapproved of a dog she saw on TV...

Meet the chefs! Bob and Dan slaved away in the kitchen for a couple of hours. While Eryn was supervising Otto, I asisted the men in the kitchen. And what did I make, you ask?


Bob made this incredible homemade baked potato soup! Dan and Eryn have invited us for dinner on several occasions, so we decided we would return the favor. With my delicious bisquits and his divine soup, we had ourselves one tasty dinner! I love that we can get together with good friends, friends who have come with us from Texas to Louisville for that matter, and do such things as eat and drink in fellowship with each other. Forget events scheduled on the calendar--nothing beats randomly celebrating the first snow and getting together with friends for an evening of soup, bisquits, and doggies. (Forgot to take pics of the cheesecake--that wasn't homemade.)

Snow the Next Morning

from my bedroom window
view from the livingroom

you should see this neighborhood in the fall...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ramblings On Rather Unexpected Instruments

A few weeks ago, my pastor gave a brief word of encouragement to one of my fellow praise team members. We were gathered behind the stage as usual to pray together before the service started, and the bass player said something (I don't even remember what now) about his desk job. Pastor Ryan looked at him and very simply said, "Just think, though, of how instrumental a desk job can be for your sanctification." Those words stuck with me, and in recent days they have been resonating with me all the more. I can attest that having a desk job, particularly one that doesn't involve extensive communication with others, can become mundane and restless. There is an exhaustion from it that is difficult to pinpoint unless you have experienced it for yourself. Such exhaustion is not comparable to working in a stockroom somewhere, working the third shift at UPS, but rather a more subtle form of fatigue. One finds it easy to sink into the routine, mindless work that comes with staring at a computer screen forty hours a week.

How, then, has my job been so instrumental?

I must first provide clarification in saying that such a setting has the opportunity to be such a tool. In fact, the average "Office Space" caricature may not see such opportunity at his or her place of employment. They either settle for the mundane 8-5 or are burning the candle at both ends to receive a promotion. Settle for monotony or compete for worldy success--the standard expectations in a thriving work environment. But how often do you hear of individuals eagerly discussing with one another how the Lord has used their status as a setting for personal growth and sanctification? Here is only a brief sampling of how this desk job, this computer I have become so acquainted with, has been a significant instrument for refinement and encouragement. I arrived at work yesterday morning, both thankful for the position I have to look forward to each day, and also eagerly remembering that I have only until next week before school commences. I also approached my desk remembering that I had a few pieces of paperwork left to finalize for updating my insurance information. Such updates required that I sit down and rework my monthly budget. I looked at the expenses scribbled down on my blue notepad. It wasn't but mere minutes later that I set down my coffee cup and stared at the numbers before me wondering how in the world I was even going afford basic groceries in the months ahead. Thus began a rather familiar snowball effect... As is standard, I descended into this depressing mode of doubt and anxiety. The pattern seems to repeat itself at common times of the year, particularly when a new school semester is approaching. All things considered, I was due for a day of sobbing and doubting where I am at in life with my 25th birthday just around the corner. After a seemingly endless rest of the afternoon, I got in my car and started crying. The overwhelming anxiety had bubbled over and I just could not contain my emotions any longer. As I was pulling into a gas station (and fretting over this expense I can barely afford), a recent blog entry from an old friend came to mind. The glory is given to the Lord alone for bringing it to my attention at such a time.
This friend, fellow Texan, and former East Asia team member, recently wrote his thoughts on the Christian's struggle with finances. I read it last week, thankful for such a good reminder, especially from one meager student to the other, of placing our trust solely in Him for providing every step of the way:

No job, no bank account, no riches are ever secure . . ., but the God who loves me infinitely owns "the cattle of a thousand hills." I'm not sure what the current price is for cattle, but that's pretty good money! This is no theological revelation, persay, but a very necessary process of God exposing my motives, unconcious desires, etc. I think it is so hard to trust because I haven't truly admitted that it isn't my job to provide. So I struggle with pressure to finish my degree quickly, instead of living where God has me at the moment. I struggle with the guilt of not being the
breadwinner, when neither Kristin nor I really are. And probably over all of this is that secret pride that just won't admit that I can't provide. . . He is worthy of trust, and to refuse to trust Him is one of the greatest insults we can offer Him.

As soon as this reflection came to mind, a beloved song began on the CD player in my car. "The Church" is my favorite song, and recorded by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Derek Webb. The music and truth of the first verse filled my car,

I have come with one purpose - to capture for Myself a bride - by My life she is lovely - by My death she’s justified
I have always been her husband - though many lovers she has known - so with water I will wash her -
and by My Word alone...

and I was moved to tears. The tears came not out of worry and self-pity, but rather from remorse over my own sin. There is a reason why this "snowball" is such a seasonal, patterned occurrence. My besetting sin is unbelief, while the Groom has called me by name and given me the title of Bride. My sin is worry and angst, while He continually provides and has given me the very breath that flows from this mortal body. I doubt the provision given by the One who promises that He will keep and sustain. The reality of such sin, and of my total inability to redeem or provide for myself, is all the more ugly when held up to the Truth of, "By My life she is lovely, by My death she's justified."

Reader, I hope this has given you even a brief glimpse of how beneficial such instruments can be. I am thankful for this job the Lord has given to provide for and sustain me while completing my seminary education. One only needs to see the links on my blog to observe the constant encouragement I receive on a daily basis, and such that I may not receive otherwise were the setting to change. Only the Lord could ordain events and circumstances in such a way that blogs, websites, emails, and Windows Media Player serve as instruments in refinement (necessarily brutal at times) and daily growth.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Christmas 2006

Merry 4th Christmas together, boyfriend~

Nali found someone to give her attention and didn't leave his side for four days~

Maia's going to get tired of all the pictures one of these days...

Opening presents is hard work!

Eating a big breakfast is hard work!

Man, Christmas is just a tough day!

One of the many great gifts I received~

Owner of a Digital Camera - FINALLY!

Just chillin' with my girls


Friday, January 19, 2007

The Lord of the Rings Symphony


All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken:
The crownless again shall be king.

Monday, January 15, 2007

No - The strings section will not be dressed like Orcs...

~January 19, 2007~
The Lord of the Rings Symphony
performed by the Louisville Symphony Orchestra
Aside from weddings and other monumental celebrations I have attended, I don't know when I've been more excited about an upcoming event. I ordered tickets for this the day they went on sale, and I have been waiting in eager anticipation ever since. There was no greater gift I could have presented to my boyfriend on Christmas Day. Considering how significant the Lord of the Rings trilogy has been to us these past three years, I could not imagine a more magical event for us to attend together.

When the cold of winter comes - Starless night will cover day

In the veiling of the sun - We will walk in bitter rain

But in dreams - I can hear your name

And in dreams - We will meet again

When the seas and mountains fall - And we come, to end of days

In the dark I hear a call -
Calling me there, I will go there -
And back again
"The Breaking of the Fellowship/In Dreams" E. Ross

Lay down, your sweet and weary head

Night is falling - You have come to journey’s end

Sleep now,and dream of the ones who came before

They are calling, from across a distant shore.

Why do you weep? What are these tears upon your face?

Soon you will see - All of your fears will pass away

Safe in my arms, you’re only sleeping.

What can you see,on the horizon? Why do the white gulls call?

Across the sea, a pale moon risesThe ships have come, to carry you home….
"Into the West" A. Lennox

May it be an evening star ~ Shines down upon you

May it be when darkness falls ~ Your heart will be true

You walk a lonely road

Oh! How far you are from home

Mornie utúlië (darkness has come)

Believe and you will find your way

Mornie alantië (darkness has fallen)

A promise lives within you now

May it be the shadow's call ~ Will fly away

May it be your journey on ~ To light the day

When the night is overcome

You may rise to find the sun

Mornie utúlië (darkness has come)

Believe and you will find your way

Mornie alantië (darkness has fallen)

A promise lives within you now

A promise lives within you now

"May it Be" Enya

Don’t say, we have come now to the end.
White shores are calling.
You and I will meet again.
And you’ll be here in my arms, just sleeping....

Friday, January 12, 2007

He is the Giver and Creator of Life

Everyone has those issues that make their blood boil. More than simply bothering you, some issues hit you at your very core. What may seem to some as a differing viewpoint is a deep, crucial doctrine that is definitive of who you are in relation to the surrounding world. Not only do such things give others a glimpse of who you are, but they also shed light on the God you worship: who He is in relation to the created order, how He created, and why He created man in such a way.

Three issues that grip me at any mention of them are ones having much to do with how individuals acknowledge Scripture--whether or not His Word is authoritative, true, and sufficient:
1)The view of God referred to as Open Theism-- i.e. God cannot know the future since it has not occurred and is, therefore, unknowable. The God of Open Theism is not sovereign, not all-knowing, and therefore, there is room for mistakes and surprises. An infinite God has been narrowed down to the comprehensible box that limited man calls understanding and experience.
"Remember this, and be assured; recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, for I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it." Isaiah 46:8-11
2)The belief by some that Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior, did not suffer a painful, horrific atonement-- i.e. How could a God who is so loving and compassionate cause His own Son to go through such a horrific death? Is that what a loving Father would ordain for His own Son?
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit." 1 Peter 3:18
3)The advocacy of abortion, pro-choice, and embryonic stem-cell research-- i.e. We are simply improving the quality of life, advancing in science and technology for a better world.

Embryonic stem-cell research, when one puts aside all of the support of such advancements, runs along the same lines of abortion. When we find it ethically acceptable to take embryos originally designated for fertilization, embryos that are already alive, and turn around destroy them for research, I have to wonder what it's going to be next... There are serious implications to be considered.
While I could devote entire posts to the above-mentioned issues, my original intent was to focus on embryonic stem-cell research. I must first confess that I have not kept myself informed up to the present on this issue. Because I was not informed, I was unable to engage in wise, careful discussion of such an ethical concern. However, after hearing increased news on the matter, I was compelled to do my homework and find out more of the details on this particular area of increasing interest in our society.
Here are just a few articles I read through this morning, all from well-known news sources. The first article discusses advancements in stem-cell research across the ocean in Great Britain. The country has continued to pride itself as the leader in stem-cell research, and one only has to read such updates on this area of study to see how far they have gone: -- "In a paper published last month by Britain's Department of Health on proposed revisions to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology act, which covers stem cell research, the government proposed outlawing the creation of hybrid embryos combining human and animal genetic material. Current restrictions on this practice, according to the report, are based on public concerns." Once you have passed the gross factor, consider what is currently going on in Great Britain-- "proposed outlawing" means that research currently involves the creation of hybrid embryos...If you read further in the article, experts have also requested the ability to use animal eggs.
In hopes of keeping up with other European nations, Switzerland has recently enacted its own law in regard to embryonic stem-cell research: -- "The law allows researchers to take stem cells from 'supernumerary' human embryos, in other words embryos created for in vitro fertilisation but not actually needed for implantation." This article from a Swiss news publication offers hope for the future of curing Alzheimer's and other degenerative the expense of human embryos that just "weren't needed."
The issue then comes a little closer to home when you read (or if you watched) news of the stem-cell bill that breezed through the House of Representatives yesterday:,4670,CongressRdp,00.html. The majority vote was against the bill, but by a rather slim margin. The bill only needed two-thirds the vote, and those advocating the bill barely missed getting what they hoped for.

Now that I have thrown out several news references, give yourself a moment to sit back and consider the implications. Consider the implications and the future of a society that condones the destruction of human embryos. If you're a believer, ask yourself what the authoritative Word of God says in regard to human life, and ask yourself what you are going to stand for at the end of the day... Readers, we are depraved, sinful human beings, marred by the stain of the Fall. We deserve a just punishment, and we are promised that this world is only going to worsen with the passing of time. For those who are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus, we have an eternal salvation and promise of victory. The time will come when this world will take creation into its own hands, worshipping the creation rather than the Creator, and I think such an issue has opened my eyes to such a reality as we read of in Romans 1. Oh, that we would stand for truth, for life, and for the precious, sufficient Word of God~

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Brief Reflection on the Brink of a New Year

As may be the case with others, I am often driven to extended periods of reflection during the holidays. As Christmas quickly approached just as I was getting over the Thanksgiving rush, my days were filled with shopping when I wasn't working, thinking of what I needed to shop for when I was working, and making sure I didn't leave a loved one out in my stack of stamped envelopes and Christmas cards. Then, just as I was getting a taste of the sweet Christmas traditions and celebrations, seemingly seconds later, I was sitting on my couch Sunday night eating apple pie and silently wishing my dear friends near and far a very Happy New Year...So what is my reflection this year? What about the year left behind just days ago am I most mindful of? In thinking on this very question, I have been reminded of just how scattered I've been in designating quiet, still moments to read, write, and simply give thanks to the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. In years past, I have filled the pages of journals with Scripture, thoughts, prayers, etc., while this past year had chunks of time for which nothing was recorded. I was a little discouraged upon this realization until something else occurred. I was transporting necessary dates and information into my crisp, new 2007 planner (one of my random little highs in life)which gave me time to look back on all that occurred in 2006. Had I not been sitting here at work I would have exclaimed aloud, "Well no wonder I didn't take more time to stop and reflect!" Not that a busy schedule is any excuse for not resting--it should be all the MORE reason to designate times of much-needed stillness. But here is a brief glimpse at the month-to-month events which summed up this past year:
  • January-- 1) joined small group at church; 2) attended the Tuberous Sclerosis conference where I was observed by a team of medical doctors and given the official diagnosis of my condition; 3) had my first CT scan and ultrasound of the brain, chest and kidneys
  • February-- 1) spent much of the month in a daze with the realization that the CT scan revealed a tuber and a couple of other minor calcium deposits; 2) also in a daze due to the $2500 medical bill sitting on my desk at home
  • March--became an official member at Immanuel (the same day as my boyfriend)
  • April-- 1) my brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer; 2) I discovered that I owed the IRS $800 due to work status as a contract worker; 3) involved in my first car accident which was completely my fault, on my birthday, and on Easter Sunday; 4) all in one week I received a letter from the hospital saying that a scholarship had paid my entire medical bill, and also received the letter announcing that I had received one of the six Women's Auxiliary Scholarships at school
  • May-- 1) MRI of my brain--further confirmation and better detail of the tuber previously found in the CT scan; 2) my brother had a successful surgery the exact same day as my MRI to remove the tumor--all further tests showed no further spreading of the cancer
  • June-- 1) much-needed trip to Texas to visit my dearest friends; 2) my little Sheltie arrived from her breeder in Missouri at all of 8 weeks old, the little miss I named "Maia" (and who is affectionately referred to as "Maia Moo"); 3) given full-time status at work including benefits and all other perks
  • July-- 1) moved out of my campus apartment and into a much older one in an old, cozy neighborhood--complete with hardwood floors; 2) my mother came to visit and accompanied me to the Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic in Cincinnati where I met with a team of excellent doctors; 3) my boyfriend had to make a last-minute trip to Texas when his grandfather's health took a turn for the worse--thankfully, it was only a scare and he is doing better
  • August/September-- school resumed with the calendar consisting primarily of typical classwork and other weekly events
  • October-- still a fairly quiet month with the exception of Fall Break--what my boyfriend and I tagged as "A Week of Sharks and Stars" due to our visiting the aquarium in Newport and planetarium at University of Louisville
  • November-- 1) sang the National Anthem at an on-campus basketball game; 2) began singing with the worship team at Immanuel; 3) another trip to Texas, this time for a family visit for the Thanksgiving holiday
  • December-- 1) finished the semester with a gladly-accepted cumulative GPA of 3.38; 2) my dad came up for a nice Christmas, complete with Christmas Eve dinner at my small group leaders' home and Christmas morning spent with him and my boyfriend
    December: GPA 3.38 after semester, Dad in town for Christmas

I don't mention all of the above for any other reason than to follow it with what I know after such a rollercoaster year. I know now more than ever that the Lord is faithful, that He is near in our darkest hours, and that His precious Son Jesus Christ is to be exalted for suffering on the cross for His Father's glory and for predestined life and salvation. I know that He appointed each person in my life, family and friends alike, as the instruments they are in ministering His grace and truth. The love and respect and admiration I hold deep for my boyfriend as increased as he has not wavered in holding my hand through all of the ups and downs, spurring me on and continually encouraging me to keep my gaze fixed on Jesus Christ. I know that I could never believe anything apart from the Truth of His Word, that nothing is outside of His sovereign plan. Such truths and the deep threads of hope and promise He penetrates the heart with through His Word are more real to me after this year than they have ever been before. We read so much in Scripture, as well as from great fathers of the faith, on trials and valleys, of the Lord's sustaining power and steadfast love during such seasons. The pastor at Immanuel summed it up well in just a few short words last week during prayer before the morning worship service: "Here lately, I've been reading rich truths in the Word, and not only reading them, but reading them and then saying aloud, 'and it's true!'" In the midst of the scattered, seemingly endless months I went through this past year, I was able to declare with assurance, even though I was so weak, "He promises this...He says this in His Word... and - it's - true!"

Well, what was intended as a brief summary of the past year as apparently turned into a mini-novel. These are my reflections on this past year--a year wrought with moments when I felt like I was crying out to the Lord in a dark closet--a year in which I have grown and become more thankful than ever before. A year in which I count Jesus Christ as my greatest joy...I am incapable of counting anyone or anything as any greater.