think think think.

Well some things never change. Here I am, the night before my first test in Grad school, and my mind is overflowing with thoughts - not on phonetics, of course, but on life, love, shooting stars, the mystery of the Gospel, obedience in trials, true religion, etc. Some of my best thinking occurs when I should be thinking about other things. Funny.

Actually, I've been thinking quite a lot, recently. So much so that I feel somewhat like Winnie the Pooh.

I have too many thoughts to make up one post, but it needs to start getting down on paper so that my mind can begin to see things clearer. God has been showing me so much lately, through sermons, songs, conversations with friends, books I'm reading, and scripture.

He's teaching me about obedience - a necessary function of grace.
He's teaching me about loneliness - how joy and happiness are very different, and how happiness is not required to have joy.
He's teaching me about sacrifice - how my life is lacking and yet longing for this.
He's teaching me about longing - how it's Holy and good and blessed when it is for the right things.
He is teaching me about His kingdom - I finally am beginning to truly understand in my heart what a treasure it is.
He's teaching me about wisdom - and how it's not something in mind, but in heart and action.

Mostly, He's teaching me about the Gospel - what a mystery! What a romance! We have condensed it to become logical, reasonable, and tame. Let it loose! Refuse to understand it, but let Him woo us! This is my favorite to think about recently, because I am getting glimpses of His crazy love for us, and how it compels us to truly live. How many of us can say we truly live?

This is my goal - to truly live that the Father may be glorified through the Son in me.

Think think think...


famous fridays: hudson taylor.

On this day in history, June 25, 1865, Hudson Taylor founded China Inland Mission. Today this missions organization is known as Overseas Missionary Fellowship International.

A long time ago, I read a biography of Hudson Taylor, although I must admit that I don't remember much of it. One thing does stand out to me, though, that I never forgot, and that was his prayer life. Whether he was in England, where he was born and raised, or China, where he spent most of his life and died, his existence was focused on prayer. He said that he resolved "to move man, through God, by prayer alone," even practicing this discipline in prayer for his boss to remember to pay him his salary. Time and time again the Lord answered, fulfilling one of Taylor's favorite promises in John 14:13, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

Hudson's mother found this verse while praying for the salvation of her son, and began rejoicing in the fact that Hudson was saved two weeks before she confirmed this. She rejoiced because she knew; she believed the promise Jesus spoke, that whatever we ask in His name, that He will do.

I want to include the following story I read about Hudson to highlight an important point that I am learning right now:

On January 20, 1858, Hudson Taylor married Maria Dyer, a missionary located at Ningpo. In the summer of 1867 their little Gracie, eight years old, idol of their hearts, fell critically ill. A few days earlier Gracie saw a man making an idol. "Oh, Papa," she exclaimed seriously, "he doesn't know about Jesus or he would never do that! Won't you tell him?" He did so, the little girl following with eager interest. Later on she prayed most earnestly for the idol maker and for all the idol-making, idol-worshiping Chinese.
Just a week later Gracie was dying. Their loss was overwhelming and the tempter whispered, "Your God has forsaken you." But the father wrote a few weeks later: "Our dear little Gracie! How we miss her sweet voice ... and the sparkle of those bright eyes. But He who said, 'I will never leave thee,' is with us ... nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ."
Excerpt from this biography.

I am afraid that we often read John 14:13 and we interpret it naively to think that whatever we ask in His name, He will do. But isn't that the promise? Yes. It is the promise. But the promise is fulfilled when "the Father is glorified in the Son" through whatever He does. Hudson Taylor knew this, for while I'm sure he prayed fervently for the health of his Gracie, and I'm sure he believed with all of his heart that the Lord heard him and would answer, He knew something of even greater importance.  Nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ. Nothing! His trust was not in the prayer that he was waiting to be answered. His trust was in the glory of God!

What a testimony of faith. To pray with complete confidence, not in the response, but in the responder. For nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ, not even an answered prayer.


good morning!

I realize that it is now 11am, but I will still say good morning, because it has been a great one!
Woke up at 6.
Snoozed until 7.
Hit the road to the lake at 7:30.
Chatted with sweet Amy and Summer until 8.
Cycled until 9.
Stopped by Albertson's to pick up shampoo and Gatorade.
Made it out with conditioner somehow instead.
Homemade smoothie (banana, blueberry, cantaloupe, honey, protein powder, milk).
Skyped Amanda.
And now to read and write until lunch with my grandparents.

And this little playlist kept me running and smiling. Enjoy:
John Mayer - In Your Atmosphere
John Mayer - Why Georgia
John Mayer - Bold as Love
(can't ever get enough of him)
Mumford & Sons - The Cave
Mumford & Sons - Awake my Soul
Muse - The Resistance
Muse - Muscle Museum
DMB - JTR (John the Revelator)
(gotta get my Dave in for the day, of course)
Wakey!Wakey! - Brooklyn
(as featured on One Tree Hill...no judgement, I love that show)


same blog, new background.

I like change.

I got tired of looking at a looming mountain with raindrops.

I wanted Fall leaves, but I decided to wait until Fall and opt for a "summer scene."

This will be a good practice in patience.


10 things: dallas edition.

Dallas. What's not to like about it? Well I can think of a few things. I'm also discovering many "loves" in this city. Here is my rundown thus far.

10. Dallas is not a college town.
I love this! While there are several Universities in and around Dallas (UT Dallas, SMU, TCU, DTS, Baylor, etc.), Dallas does not spring to life based on the constituents of these schools. It's nice to live in a city and not be assumed to be in school, even though I am. I am enjoying being an active member of a city, not just of a school. Verdict? "Like"

9. There are so many churches to choose from!
College Station definitely had variety, but nothing like here. I could spend years trying to find one to get involved in. It looks like I'm going to just pick one that I know is good, and stick with it. Right now that looks like Watermark Community Church. I agree with their beliefs, like what I've heard, and have loved the messages on Sundays. They also have a large community of believers my age, and reach out to young adults on Tuesday nights at The Porch, drawing in many people who are not yet involved in church. I'm excited to be a part of this community. Verdict? "Like"

8. Shopping.
I feel like one word does this justice. I have never been anywhere that had shopping opportunities on every corner. Houston isn't even this exquisite! And much of it is very high-end shopping. I feel rich just walking around these stores. The first weekend I was here I needed to purchase some khaki pants and a couple of shirts to wear to my Observation Practicum (where I observe speech therapy), so I wisely headed up to the Outlet Malls in Allen, and bought everything I needed from Gap Outlet. My pants were $16, my shirts were under $25, and I threw in a cute pair of sandals for $15. Very reasonable. Well, I caved a couple of days ago and went to Anthropologie, which is one of my favorite stores, but not in my budget. Of course, I purchased something two shirts. I'm not going to post them because then you'll see how much they were. Oh, what the heck, I'll show you. They are so cute.

Apparently the second one is in the online section for "intimates," where in the store I thought it was a shirt. Oops. It's cute regardless. Anyway, I will not be shopping anymore, especially since I'm learning to practice living simply and radically so that I will have the opportunity to give more away to people in need. If you need to shop, however, Dallas is the place to do it. Verdict? "Dislike"

7. Cost of living.
Along the same lines as the previous point, it costs more to live here than College Station, or even Houston. Everything is just a tiny bit more expensive. Probably because the atmosphere is so great and fun. Regardless, it's a shocker to spend 10 bucks on a movie ticket when I'm used to only dishing out 4. I have found ways around this, shopping at the Dallas Farmer's Market, cooking, packing my lunch, and limiting my entertainment (such as movies) for the weekends. But overall, I would have to say: Verdict? "Dislike"

6. Restaurants & Entertainment.
While we are on the topic, I must say that I love the variety. After living in College Station for 5 years where the variety was limited, I have enjoyed having options to choose from. There are almost too many. I typically return to my favorite place over and over again, but with so many restaurants to pick from, I feel guilty not giving them a try. Verdict? "Like"

5. If you want to go out, you have to dress up.
This is something that I have never understood (just ask my mother, who used to fight me tooth and nail to get me to wear something other than jeans and a t-shirt). College Station was a wonderful "transition" for me because frankly, I didn't have to transition. Jeans and t-shirts were everywhere. I am staying with a friend in Highland Park right now, one of the best areas of Dallas, and at dinner with one of her friends, I quickly learned the protocol around here. Madeline (my roommate) was saying how her daughter had left the house with her hair wet on a few occasions (there's something wrong with that?), and her friend quickly agreed. She said to me, "I guess wet hair is better than dirty hair, but NEVER leave the house with your hair wet, and AT LEAST put some mascara and lipstick on. Then at least people will see that you've tried." I couldn't believe she was telling me this! My mom would probably say that she can't believe I needed to be told this! I guess this is innate knowledge around these parts. Needless, to say, I see the value in looking presentable while you're out. You never know who you will see (boss, clients, future husband, etc.). Two weeks here and I have never gone out with my hair wet (well, once I ran in to get a cookie after swimming). Verdict? "Learning to like"

4. Going out requires planning ahead.
In College Station, just about everywhere I needed to be was 5-10 minutes away. This doesn't require much planning ahead, and it never required getting on the highway. Goodbye to small-town traffic and last-minute planning. Thankfully, Madeline knows all the back ways, so I really haven't experienced much traffic. I do, however have to leave 20-30 minutes before I have to be somewhere. Verdict? "Dislike"

3. It's like I'm a freshman in college all over again.
I'm learning how to meet people again. It's odd to have to start all over. I have to remind myself not to get creeped out when strangers come talk to me. Everyone's a stranger! That's why we must talk - to meet people. We must be cautious, but not fearful. I'm rediscovering the joys of meeting new friends, building up acquaintances, and stepping out into new social settings. Verdict? "Learning to like"

2. With a new place comes a new culture.
Add up all the points I mentioned above, and you get "Dallas culture." The people here tend to be pretty material, enjoy the comforts of living in a booming metropolis, and have a knack for fashion and good eats. Most of them also go to church. Enter someone who easily loves the poor, the strange, the tatooed, the weird, and the needy, and I feel lost. God is ironic, isn't he? Teaching me to love the people I find it hardest to love, and placing me in a situation where I will struggle to cling to Him. It's funny how He does that, but I am excited about learning to be "in" this culture without being "of" it. Two weeks here and I can already tell it's going to be difficult. But that is my calling. That is my mission. Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." Verdict? "Learning to like"

1. White Rock Lake.
I have saved the best for last. Yesterday, Tiffany and I went and rode around White Rock Lake. I fell in love. There is a bike/run path that circles the lake, and there is no point where you are farther than about 50 yards from the shore, and often you are just a few feet away. One of the things I was worried about was that being in a big city would prevent me from being able to run and bike and be active outside. Dallas has actually proven to be a better place than College Station for this. What a blessing! I am a mere 10 minutes from the lake where I can either ride 9 miles around or 11 miles around. The lake path connects to White Rock Creek Trail that goes north another 7 miles. What a great ride! And all out of traffic. I plan on going back one morning or afternoon this week. Verdict? "LOVE"


i want my life to mean nothing.

This is an excerpt from David Platt's new book Radical:

One Christian in India, while being skinned alive, looked at his persecutors and said,
"I thank you for this. Tear off my old garment, for I will soon put on Christ's garment of righteousness."  As he prepared to head to his execution, Christopher Love wrote a note to his wife, saying, Today they will sever me from my physical head, but they cannot sever me from my spiritual head, Christ." As he walked to his death, his wife applauded while he sang of glory.

As he walked to his death, his wife applauded while he sang of glory.
The first time I read these words I cried. This kind of love is elusive to my paltry emotions. A love that applauds death, applauds detachment from the things of this world, even when those things are dearly loved themselves. How great a love for Jesus to applaud His glory, and her husband's soon union with his Maker. I cannot fathom, but I wish I could. My heart twinges as I read of this, and the faintest idea I have of it is enough to make me yearn.

I pray fervently that I, that we, could love nothing so much that we could not lay it on the altar for the glory of God, if asked. I would hazard to say that I pray that none of us would have to act out our sacrificial love, but now I wonder at that mindset. What great joy may be found in laying down that which we had thought so wonderful! I do not know now, but I pray that I would know this joy.

St. Augustine writes a similar sentiment in his Confessions:

How sweet did it suddenly become to me to be without the sweetness of trifles! And it was now a joy to put away what I formerly feared to lose. For thou didst cast them away from me, O true and highest Sweetness. Thou didst cast them away, and in their place thou didst enter in thyself--sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood; brighter than all light, but more veiled than all mystery; more exalted than all honor, though not to them that are exalted in their own eyes. Now was my soul free from the gnawing cares of seeking and getting, of wallowing in the mire and scratching the itch of lust. And I prattled like a child to thee, O Lord my God--my light, my riches, and my salvation.

Whatever it takes, I want to know this sweet joy. To know the joy that Christopher Love's wife experienced as she applauded his martyrdom. I want my life to be nothing, to have nothing, and to mean nothing without the sweet joy of my Savior and my abandonment to Him.


discovering dallas: day #4

Crooked Tree Coffeehouse.
A delight. Snuggled in an old residential area, founded by two Aggies, this is truly a find in Urban Dallas. It feels more like Austin. Or maybe your grandma's house. It's in an old home, so you really are just sitting in someone else's living room. I loved it. I ordered the French press coffee and drank the whole thing black. ("The whole thing" ended up being about four cups of coffee. Bring on the jitters!) The kind lady that served me said, "Here is your dessert," and boy was she right. No sugar and cream necessary.

Her name is Donna Renee and she is just lovely - looking to start her PhD at UT Dallas, so we chatted a bit. I imagine I will become a regular at Crooked Tree. If you'd like to join me, just let me know.

there is a design.

No, there is not a formula to life, but there is a design. There is not a list of simple steps to follow that will add up, creating an equation that gives the answer to life, and love, and why (Switchfoot reference). But praise God there is a design. There is an end picture that life adds up to, and we all paint different lines and shades, and use different brushes and mediums, but we have direction. We have guidance. We have a design that we are all creating, and we are not in the dark. We know the design. We may have to paint over our mistakes, but the end is crystal clear in light of our Maker - our Designer.

I have been listening to the band Mumford and Sons, recommended by several of my friends, and I just love them. One of their songs, Sigh No More, depicts this idea beautifully. You can listen to it below. My favorite portion goes like this:

Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be

The beauty of love as it was made to be. It was made to set you free. I had lunch with my dear friend Abby today, and she is the epitome of this. She has overcome many challenges and hardships this year, and has trusted so sweetly in the freeing love of Jesus. Her life and love is an encouragement to me, and an example of the freedom that comes from knowing that Jesus has the design, and it's beautiful, and it's meant to set you free.