a prayer for the broken-hearted

from Psalm 147:

Father, I pray that You would turn our hearts to praise, even as they break over so many things. Build us up and encourage us, Lord - even as You have already been doing. Your Word says that You heal the brokenhearted and bind up our wounds, and I pray You would do that - continue to do that - for us. Thank You for the ways that You speak to us, for the encouragement we feel as we spend time with You, realizing that You have known all along the way things would go and are with us in the midst of it.

You are great and mighty, Star-Counter, Star-Namer; Your understanding has no limit. Thank You for knowing how much we need to be humbled and graciously bringing us to brokenness and humility before You. You sustain us there, and we would rather be humbled and sustained by You than cast to the ground with the wicked.

Fill our hearts with joy and gratitude as we count the cost of following You, even in situations where it would be so much "easier" to just get mad and sulk. Rain-Maker, Grass-grower, Provider for all of creation - may we be people You delight in. Teach us the fear of the Lord, and to hope in Your unfailing love at all times. As we praise You in the midst of these storms, strengthen us, bless us, grant us peace, and satisfy us with the true Bread of Life. Jesus, You truly are more than enough for us.

By Your word, all that is exists. All seasons come by Your command. This season in our lives is here by ordination - and I pray, Lord, that we would learn all You would teach us here, and emerge the better for it. Reveal Your Word to us - may we be fascinated by You and You alone, Jesus. I praise You, Lord, for all that You have done, are doing, and have yet to do in us. Have Your way.


home again, home again

Yesterday was about as close to a perfect day as any day can get. Good music, good weather, good friends, 7 hours in the car... :)

Highlights of the road trip:

* spending an hour or so on the beach at Lake Michigan, reading, napping, listening to the waves, just being (which was possibly the best part of the day altogether, tho I loved the rest of it too!)

* a great deal at a book store - 2 books and 5 cds for $40! :)

* catching up with 2 of my old roommates, whom I haven't seen in almost 2 years

* celebrating two years of birthdays and Christmases with Jeni in the middle of June (yay, presents!)

* dinner at The Curragh, a terrific Irish pub

* seeing Josh Schicker, an old friend from college, in concert (shameless plug: you should check out his stuff on ITunes - he's very talented)

* sunshine!!!! - which seems like a silly thing to celebrate, but it's been pouring rain for days, and it's cloudy again - so one whole day of sunshine was wonderful. :)

No matter where I go in this world, West Michigan will always be home. I'm not sure how to explain it or even why it's so - but the minute I cross the Michigan border, I just start to feel happier. (pun intended, lol) I smile for the last hour and a half of driving. Katie says I even walk differently when I'm home. Lighter. More free. And especially on the beach there - I just feel more like me than I do anywhere else. I'm not sure why that is, but thank You, Jesus, for the gift of one more day spent there. I needed that.

how to open a present

It's my friend's birthday, and she lives in Texas, so I hardly ever see her, but she was here today, and we had plans for lunch. So of course I got her a present. And a really pretty card. Which she liked. A lot. Like, so much, I was starting to wonder if she would ever open the present, lol. But she did. And I have to tell you - I already love giving people presents, but if everyone in the world opened presents the way this woman does, I would be flat broke because I would want to do nothing else but watch people open their gifts.

It was an eclectic, 4-part present, all from Ten Thousand Villages (which in and of itself is cool - i mean, come on, social justice and a present? how much better does it get?) - and when I said, somewhat apologetically as she opened the box, "it's kind of an eclectic present...", she said, "I would expect nothing less from you!" and that was a compliment. :) And then she proceeded to go through the box.

I probably could have gotten her anything under the sun, and she would have thought it ingenious. She took her time opening those gifts, and the delight with which she found each item in the box.... I'm not sure I've ever felt so treasured. To hear her talk and to see the look on her face as she read the tags explaining the background on some of the gifts and the explanations of fair trade marketing - to see the way she traced the stitches and read the labels - you would have thought every dream she'd ever had just came true. She loved it.

I thought, as I shopped, "well, she's very hospitable and she journals a lot, so..."

She thought: "someone who knows me well just got me the perfect present."

What if we opened God's gifts that way?

What if, instead of simply thanking Him out of habit for our food before dinner, we actually stopped and marveled at the way tomato plants grow? What if we rejoiced over the rising of the sun, and instead of shushing our kids, joined them in hysterical, uncontrollable laughter, in appreciation of humor and the freedom we have to laugh? What if we noticed, not that our shoes got wet as we crossed the lawn to get the paper, but that the dew fell and sparkled in the sunlight? What if we got distracted by the rainbows the sun makes on the ceiling over the kitchen table when it shines just so and refracts through the glass-topped coffee table in the next room?

What if the fact that we can breathe in and out suddenly floored us with an understanding of God's goodness and mercy?

What if the fact that we have clean water wasn't something we took so for granted?

What if a realization of God's incredible, precious, abundant grace suddenly broke over our souls the way waves break over the rocks on a shoreline? What if we suddenly realized (again) how desperately in need of that grace we are? And how blessed we are to know One who so freely gives it - at great cost to Himself?

And what if we really knew how to open a present? I think a lot more people would smile, don't you? :)

reflections on greatness

Maybe it was because I'd just read this passage that I caught it while watching Prince Caspian last weekend - the funny little contrast between Reepicheep's silly arrogance and his claim to "great humility." It's odd, isn't it - the minute you become aware of your humility, it really isn't humility anymore. And yet it's something that, as believers, we strive for, long for, hope for, ask for - humble hearts, no longer full of pride.

Last week, reading through 2 Samuel 7, I caught something I hadn't before. I knew this passage was about God telling David he wouldn't be allowed to build the temple, but that he would have an enduring legacy. But reading it this time, one of the phrases God used really struck me.

God reminds David, in a message relayed by Nathan the prophet, of the great things He has already done in his life, and then He says,"Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth." (v. 8-9) Almost instinctively, I asked the Lord, "Why would you tell him that, God?" And almost immediately the answer came: "Because he could handle it."

And he could. David didn't go getting all full of himself - "I'm going to be one of the greatest men on the earth." He "went in and sat before the Lord." (v. 18) Can you picture that? The king of Israel slipping into the tent of the Lord and just... sitting.

And then he says, "who am I?" and "Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?" (v.18-19)

Can you hear the humility? He's not jumping around, shouting it from the rooftops. David is remembering the deeds of the Lord (Psalm 77:11-12), and it draws him to worship. He could have fallen prey to some feeling of "entitlement"- after all, God had promised him he'd be king, and now he was, so it was all just justice now, right? and hey, look at all that time I spent hiding in caves - I should hope I'd get some sort of reward for that, and... No. I doubt that line of thinking ever crossed his mind. David loved the Lord, and the fulfillment of His promises led him not to self-righteous, arrogant pride but to worship.

David worships the Lord for His goodness to him and to His people, and then he accepts God's new promise. "And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that Your Name will be great forever." (v. 25-26)

In other words, "I'm okay with You making my name great, because it will make Your Name great when You do it."

I want that kind of perspective. I want to want God's promises over my life to be fulfilled not just because they're great (which they are) but because His Name will be made great in my life as I walk into the fulfillment of the destiny He's planned for me. It isn't about me. It's about Him. (says the woman indulging her narcissistic tendencies by blogging and hoping someone will read it.) :P

But it is, really. At least, I want it to be. I want the very fact that I live the life I choose to live - going the places He calls me when He calls me to go, doing the things He wants me to do when He wants me to do them - to point to Him, to His glory, to the greatness of His renown. Something we often pray before band practice is that God will help us to be excellent and to play well together not so everyone will think we're so great but so that we can't possibly be a distraction to anyone by our mistakes and fumbles onstage. We don't want to hit wrong chords or walk into the screens suspended from the ceiling on either side of the stage (not that this ever happens, lol) - not because we want to look/sound polished, but because when we do, people are free to not notice us at all. The music we play, the lyrics we sing, point to something greater - become something greater - than we could ever be on our own, and it gives Him glory when that happens. And I think the same sort of principle can hold true in our individual lives. We can become excellent at the things we do for the wrong reasons, and get all arrogant about it - but there are right reasons to pursue excellence, whether that's excellence at a skill or a job or producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives or walking in His specific will for our lives, etc. - and the best reason is to give Him glory.

And it's interesting how it's often when you don't notice you're doing it that you are.

If I'm going to be "great" - I want to be great the way David was. If I am remembered for anything, I want to be remembered for the way I walked with the Lord, and the way my life pointed to Him and gave Him glory. And I guess what really struck me reading this conversation between David, Nathan, and the Lord is that you don't have to be oblivious to the gi-normity of God's call on your life (tho to put it in persective a bit, the fact that God calls any of us to anything is pretty gi-normous, right?) - you just need to recognize that it isn't about you going anywhere or doing anything - it's about God being given the glory that was His all along - it's about living your life in a way that inspires others to worship.

Maybe it's just because I'm worship person, but I think that's just cool.


A few weeks ago after minichurch, Jake and I got into a swordfight. (Granted, they were styrofoam swords with plastic handles, but still...) I'm not sure which was more satisfying - the look on his face when he realized that I was actually going to fight back, or the fact that I won. (I had a broken sword by the end, but I was still standing.) :)

Rob, one of the guys in our minichurch, took a video of the swordfight on his cellphone. There is a great moment in the video where he was filming over Jake's shoulder, and all you can see of me is a continuous blur of styrofoam sword. "I look like Reepicheep," I observed, while watching the playback after church on Monday with someone who hadn't yet seen the incriminating evidence that yes, on occasion, I really am that randomly feisty.

Our small group has now taken to calling me Hapicheep.