when enough isn’t enough.

a·bun·dance/əˈbəndəns/: an ample quantity; affluence, wealth; relative degree of plentiness.

Anyone who has experienced third-world poverty can relate to an unfading, tugging awareness of that world which exists outside of our American land of plenty. Those who whine that overseas missions are wasteful have not experienced this indescribable sensation, which pulls upon the heart of the missionary, constantly interrupting a lifestyle of privilege. The truth is that one can not simply “un-know” the reality of suffering across the globe once their eyes have met it. Once we know, it never leaves us, and we will never be at peace sitting back, refusing to fight for them; the knowingness tugs (this dose of perspective is a part of what makes missions so powerful).

A few weeks ago, I got to travel to Florida with some friends. My mind free of stress and heart open to listen, I prayed that God would simply show me something, whatever it was that my heart needed. Late in the week, we took a boat tour through Fort Lauderdale, where we saw the “Millionaire’s Row”, a stretch of land lining the water, made up of countless mansions and mega-yachts. Although I at first looked longingly at the perfectly manicured properties, with their infinity pools and impressive layouts, my admiration was halted by a voice of reason deriving from what I had seen just months before in Mexico.

After being sickened by the sight of immense poverty, he broke my heart all the more for those bathing in immense riches. The home that we built in Puerto Peñasco, in which a family of four will settle comfortably for the rest of their lives, costs less than the monthly maintenance of one of these lawns. To the owner of the 40 million dollar mansion (and his yacht that requires $30,000 a week to park), how much is enough?….

But do I really have to own a multi-million dollar home to lead a life that values physical wealth over spiritual wealth? What about the expensive prom dress, constant to-buy lists, and other continuous indulgences that I so quickly justify? What does abundance entail for me?

To redefine abundance by biblical terms: In Christ, there is no plenty. We’re no longer chasing after an unattainable goal of riches, but found within a never-ending flow of life. Jesus came so that we may be saved, that we may have life and have it to the full. (see John 10:1-21) The spirit of Christ is inside of us so that we can live with purpose, fully alive and carrying out the will of God with whatever unique tools he blessed us with.

Ephesians 2:1-10 // As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God made you uniquely YOU. We who were once dead in sin are made alive. Verse 10 wraps up our calling; he didn’t create us to blindly pursue the world-which leads to death-but to unswervingly pursue Jesus Christ, life himself.  When you walk in alignment with his hand, making art with your existence, you will be filled. The devil is threatened by someone who knows who they are and who pursues what makes them come alive.

“There isn’t one right way to do the job of glorifying God. There are many ways, a million little ways, that Christ is formed in us and spills out of us into the world.” -Emily P. Freeman

I tend to put my passions in a box, using them for my own entertainment and glory. But wasn’t God’s intention in granting each of them to me that I go out and use them to shout his name? “As long as there are people on earth, the world will have glimpses of God.” He is made visible through what his people do, and therefore the most tangible way to experience the fullness of God is by the display of his love. Jesus came to earth, fully human and fully divine, and lived in a way that we can relate to. In his perfection, he served and loved and made art with his life as the Messiah.

His followers can also live in fullness because of his life, which was the direct path to his death on a cross but spoke love like nothing and no one ever had before. The one who provided an abundance of food from five loaves and two fish offers abundant life today. He can take me as I am, when I feel that I am hardly enough, and use me to satisfy the spiritual hunger of the world.

“In the end, God will come to fix his world and make it altogether good again.
In between, his children are to go into the world and create some imperfect models of the good world to come.”
-Lewis Smedes

Be a glimpse of heaven today, engaging the world around you in the hope that you profess, clinging to the very source of life.

Little is more deeply inspiring than a person who always offers everything that they have, wherever they are. Whether making lattes or preaching in front of thousands, those who have truly experienced the power of the gospel breathe life into others by working in all things for the glory of the Lord. (see Colossians 3:23) And it’s a beautiful thing to see.

Lord, wherever I am, may I be all there, fully present among those within AND outside of the community of faith.

I contrasted third-world poverty with the outrageousness of American mansions in order to illustrate that pursuit of earthly pleasures is crippling, chasing after the wind. Much more of our life should be offered to the broken. Don’t be deceived; this wealth will never fill us, even if it may temporarily quench. Well, even the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever! (Isaiah 40:8) I will praise the giver rather than the gifts, and fix my eyes upward as I make art with my life.

a·bun·dance/əˈbəndəns/: life spirit-filled to the brim; fulfilling the creator’s purpose, contentment whether in plenty or want.




for the applause.

Being a teenage girl in this generation is getting more difficult with every passing day. Furthermore, being a teenage Christian girl is more of a challenge than I ever imagined as the 3rd grader who thought she had her faith figured out when she could recite the books of the Old Testament effortlessly. I could go on and on about the pressures of society, lethal capacity of social media, and constant competition between teens that makes living this life so difficult. But the standout killer that is absolutely taking us girls captive is the approval addiction. We love to be loved. We crave acceptance. We would rather be accepted than be righteous.

We are people-pleasers.

I talk about this a lot, because I hate it. I despise the idea that we must search (in others) for affirmation of how valuable we are, when we have already been given that affirmation by the one who created us. It only makes sense that the maker decides the worth of the one he loved enough to knit together.

I write this post because I’m at a time in my life in where it can become hard not to become wrapped up in myself and in how I appear in others’ eyes. Homecoming court festivities, two fall sports, and senior events as a whole have changed the atmosphere. I’m sure we could all use our own special upward nudge…a moment to stop and think, “Who am I doing this for?” It’s all been so much fun, but this time of reflection is a self-reevaluation in which I pray God,  free me from the prison that is people-pleasing and take hold of my heart.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 // On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

To search for acceptance elsewhere is bondage. “Running in circles inside of a prison…”

“Applause is captivating, and before you know it, applause can take you captive, because when you live for the acceptance of the crowd, you wind up in a very crowded prison.”-Rick Atchley

Keep trying to reach that desired level of acceptance. Sure, go ahead and try it. But you will fail. You’ll fall hard and it will hurt, because from the ground you will find that asking other broken people to make you feel better about your brokenness is a waste of life, and you will never win. Circles. But beyond the bruises (compromised character, shaken faith, pride) there will be healing, when you humbly see that freedom comes from letting an audience of one decide who you are to be.

The concept of an audience of one plays a major role in the way we serve as Christians.

Matthew 6:1-4 // “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

When I’m serving someone, it’s not about me and what I’M doing, because I’m only here to serve men, not please them. When I post or talk about how I served someone, doesn’t that take away from the wholesome joy that we are to receive from being the hands & feet of Jesus? Rather than serving to please the Lord, I’m actually serving myself by longing for the applause of men.

This is not to say that sharing a picture of your experience at the latest service project was sinful, or that your conversation with someone about your summer mission trip was prideful. Before you post, it’s always safe to ask “Why am I posting this?” When you honestly reflect upon your tweets, photos, wall posts, etc, what were your motives? In the conversations that you engage in with others, are you seeking to elevate yourself or enhance God’s providence?

Again, it’s not about us. So why keep doing these things to lift ourselves up by the standards of this temporary world? Jesus gave the glory to his heavenly father, serving in complete humility and unconditional love. We often make the act of service about us, and from there, convince ourselves that we deserve a specific type of treatment/behavior from those we’re “sacrificing our precious time and effort to reach out to”. We have it all wrong.

Unfriendly people make loving and serving hard, but we’re called to do it anyway. Arrogant people make loving and serving hard, but we’re called to do it anyway. Manipulative people make loving and serving hard, but we’re called to do it anyway. Regardless of the heart or attitude of the person you’re serving, serve. That is the boundless love of Jesus Christ. When you experience that, the treatment you think you deserve does not matter any longer, and what other people think of you, good or bad, does not either. Let us be reflections of that love.

“If you forget my name, please remember my Jesus.”

new grief.

“Welcome to hell.” said Mike as we reached the top of the massive hill, flies filling the open-back truck our group sat in. The statement made my stomach drop; what laid before my eyes was indeed the closest to hell that I had ever experienced. Miles upon miles of piles of trash covered the ground, indescribable sourness and filth overwhelming my senses. As the truck came to a stop, we stepped off to see another, delivering the weekly shipment of trash, immediately surrounded by a group of Dominican and Haitian people, who were searching for food as the contents were unloaded onto the ground.

My eyes scanned the masses. Nearly 50 people (although well over 100 were reported to be living there) walked among the filth, many of which were children. Our team began filling cups with soup and delivering them. I first walked mine to a pair of mothers who were perched on upside-down buckets, unable to leave their “nest” in fear that the trash they had stockpiled for their families would by stolen by other inhabitants. I choked out a “Dios te Bendiga” (God Bless You) as I placed the soup in their dirty, worn hands and walked away with my head down. After distributing the soup, Mandy and I grabbed a bag full of peanut butter sandwiches and stepped toward a crowd of hungry people. In about twenty seconds, twenty sandwiches were gone. I rolled up the empty bag and felt my glassy eyes burst. I couldn’t contain it any longer. Here I stood in their “home”, a part of the hope that came once a week to keep them alive. But never had I experienced such darkness and hopelessness.

As the time came to pray over them, we all seemed to be wondering How? How can you pray for these people, who have no education and not so much as a shack to live under? Where is the restoration? What are you doing with this, God, and where is the answer? The shock that had turned into sadness had now become anger. Toward our nation for bathing in such deep prosperity as this occurs, toward myself for my ignorance to such hurting and submission to the “more, more, more” American lifestyle. I held so much indescribable anger over this injustice.

I’ve spent months battling what I saw on that day. Honestly, it’s been a struggle to see God amidst the suffering, and to know what he wants me to make of it. Although it was heartbreaking to experience, I Praise God that I did, because my heart knows that it will not be the same because of it.

Philippians 4:12-13 // I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

We hear verse thirteen constantly recited, and constantly misuse it, ignoring that “all things through him who gives me strength” refers to the act of reliance upon the the Lord to develop contentment. Sure, he can provide the strength we need to get through that game, or that test, or that speech. He can be strong in our weakness. He can be present in our trials. But here Paul is saying that Christ will give us all that we need to see that he is all that we need in every single circumstance.

For he will be my always, in the good and the bad. In the mountains, I will praise him. In the valleys, I will praise him.

The concept of listening to God has become more real to me lately. I have seen that he speaks in the smallest of ways. We wrestle, saying ” Why doesn’t God speak to me?” and “I can’t determine whether my conscience or my creator is doing the talking.”

I adore how Bob Goff puts it: dusting for divine fingerprints…

“God doesn’t speak to me with a voice to make audio needles move, but there are times when I’ve sensed something down deep, almost like a turning fork has just been pinged in my soul. It’s not just one of those “I know because I know” things either. I think we can triangulate on the unmistakable tugs of God’s voice because we know other things about his character and nature. For instance, we know God loves us and how right forgiveness feels. We also know some truths about the world, like the love we have in our family and how we’ve always liked rainy days and cheeseburgers, that sort of stuff. From there, we can get a sense of how God has wired us and use a combination of our hearts and his truths to move ourselves in a certain direction.”

A few weeks ago, an opportunity arose for me to go a camp. I hadn’t planned on going, but decided to jump in last minute, despite the billions of other things planned for the week. On the first night, an issue came up, and because of the impulsive declaration of a friend: “Let’s just talk to her about it”, we decided to confront the issue. So while one minute I sat above, my accusing eyes upon her, the next I found myself on the floor at her side, praying aloud with my friend, crying and shaking, suffering with her. I had completely misjudged the situation and the person, and had neglected the idea that something more might be going on behind the scenes.

In that moment, I knew that God had intentionally placed us there. Because he did, we were there to support her and can continue to do so even now. It also led me to ask myself if the way I look at others is Godly. I had no desire to go, but he made sure that I did. Incredible.

We can’t expect God to speak to us clearly if we aren’t willing to get on our feet and act. I hear from him the most when I’m uncomfortable. I’ve recently learned that I have to stop shoving away the opportunities thrown at me, because the seemingly silly ones and the “out of my comfort zone” ones can be used. If I want to do amazing things for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, there will be some tasks that I do not want to take on, but must regardless. And it is okay. God moves. And he is capable of planting clarity within me that I know could not possibly come from within the depths of my own mind.

Just a whisper. The son of God was born in a manger. The God of the Universe speaks to me in a heart-shaped puddle upon pavement.

I do not know whether those people in the DR will still be living off of trash and weekly shipments of food from the Cups of Cold Water organization in a few years. Neither do they. But I do know that as of right now, I can look back upon that darkness and make something good of it. That something seems to be that my own life may be characterized by daily obedience and gratitude. My feet hit the floor every morning. I’m showered in physical blessings. Most importantly, I share with the people in the dump an extraordinary spiritual blessing, it being that in every day that I am given, I’ve already received everything through God’s grace. Because Jesus came to earth in that whisper and died, we are all blessed enough to cling to the hope of eternity.

this everlasting gratitude.


How crazy it seems that the day commemorating the death of Jesus could be called “Good Friday.” Although the day itself was full of suffering, its results were, indeed, very good. In his death we receive a glimpse of joy, because of what the Messiah promised would come from it: redemption. For although we mourn over his crucifixion, we do so in Godly sorrow. Followed by our tears are spirits that radiate, knowing that we can humbly and reverently bow at the cross, where we’ve been given countless second chances.

Easter. Three days later, his glorious light shines through. We must be careful not to go about this day of celebration absentmindedly, as I shamefully have for many years, becoming so caught up in the commotion of the holiday itself-the good food, the beautiful colors and decorations, the whispers of spring, and even the time spent with my family-that I haven’t even given adequate praise to the one who is the reason for the holiday. Let us reflect upon the wonder and beauty of Jesus Christ, who was crucified for the cleansing of our sins and rose again triumphantly.

What does the empty tomb mean to us today?

The resurrection is hope. Jesus demonstrated that physical death is not the end, and that we, too, are guaranteed to be raised again through baptism and acceptance of the Holy Spirit. God is the giver of life and has granted us the gift of eternal life through Jesus.

The resurrection is peace. We can rest knowing that death has been conquered, and that we, as believers, are “more than conquerors” through Christ. (Romans 8:37). In the empty grave lies overwhelming victory. Because the Son of God lives forever, we can face each day guided by the calm reassurance that we are not alone in our trials. Satan has been defeated. Because Jesus overcame, we will overcome by his perfect blood. He will carry us and cover us forevermore with his endless grace.

The resurrection is the foundation of everything we believe. It is a validation of his divinity: of every miracle he performed and every claim he made about who he was. If Jesus did not rise from the grave, then he was either just a good man or a fraud; he’d have no dominion over life and death, and we’d remain lost in our sin, destined to die. Through accounts of the empty tomb; through his followers’ newfound strength and passion; through countless eyewitnesses; through conversions and changed lives and martyrs; we can begin to grasp the truth and weight of this event. His resurrection and ascension into heaven prove that he did, indeed, die as the sacrificial lamb in order to save the world from sin.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Read that last verse again. “…to be pitied.” Christ is risen, and we have a beautiful reason to live because of it. We aren’t called to simply be “kind people” throughout life because some wise, morally upright teacher said so, but to be loving servants and faithful messengers for his cause because the perfect, unconditionally compassionate and selfless son of God commanded so.

Matthew 28:1-6 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Those who experienced the presence of Christ in the 40 days following his resurrection became deeply moved by the hope that he carried with him. We know that it was unlike anything that had ever happened before, because even for his very own disciples, it was difficult to grasp that the flesh and bones of Jesus Christ were again present in the room. He showed them the scars on his hands and feet, and when they still did not believe, he ate a piece of fish in their presence. In the time that he spent with them, he revealed the meaning of the prophecies regarding his death and resurrection. He gave them insight as to what they had seen and experienced meant under the light of the new covenant. They could now study the Old Testament with the benefit of hindsight and discover Jesus as its fulfillment. They responded with believing hearts, and sparked a revolution within the early church, “unable to contain what they had seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

It’s incredible how his life and death absolutely changed everything. He dismantled ethnic barriers and meticulous regulations that were set in place under the old covenant. Jesus brought freedom, forgiveness, and redemption to all people, promising that all who believe will be saved.

“Remember that the Passion of Christ ends always in the joy of the Resurrection of Christ, so when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the Resurrection has to come — the joy of Easter has to dawn. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ.”

Smile today, laugh today, cry today, and lift your hands today in gratitude to the Risen King of Glory.