Last week I was sitting at home alone with a free evening ahead of me, indecisively pondering how I was going to spend it.  I was surfing the internet mindlessly, when all of a sudden I had an incredibly strong craving for popcorn.  Not just any popcorn, but warm, buttery movie popcorn.  Of course, I grabbed my keys, and headed to AMC.

The movie? Why, Secretariat, of course. Every birthday wish that I can remember was spent on having my own horse. I remember considering wishing for a car on my 16th birthday, but at the last minute I resorted to my default and once again, blew out those candles thinking of a horse.

All that to say, I love horses, and so obviously, I'm going to want to go see this movie. Not only do I love horses, but I love the Triple Crown - the trifecta of horse racing! I can talk about the winners of the past few years, the upsets, and the near misses. I just love it.

Secretariat was an incredible horse, breaking records that people today only dream of their horses breaking. He still holds the track record for the Belmont Stakes, the third race in the Triple Crown. He raced in 1973, and 37 years later he is still the champion. What is even more gripping about his story is the seemingly unfounded belief that his owner, rider and trainer had in him.  All they had as their foundation was that his bloodline showed promise and that he was proving to be a good horse.

While watching the movie, I realized a profound and yet unmistakable truth.  I watched as these people risked everything they had on their belief that Secretariat was a great horse.  He was the underdog, he had a female owner in a world of men, a washed up trainer, and an old jockey.  The estate of the owner's father rested on the success of Secretariat.  I wanted to be nervous for them, but I already knew the ending, so I sat back and enjoyed the suspense all the way up to the climax.  It struck me, though, that they didn't know how it was going to end.  They risked everything they had on their belief, knowing that they could have lost everything. What great faith.  What great courage.  They were fighting hard for a win.

I immediately thought of us believers - risking everything we have in this world on our belief in a Savior who rules another kingdom.  But we're different.  We know the ending.  We aren't fighting hard for a win, we are fighting for belief that we do actually win, and that we have already won.  The stakes change when we realize this great truth.  Our fight is not for the end result, it's for the ability to cling to the truth we know in this present moment.

So sit back and enjoy the suspense all the way up to the climax, but don't quit the fight because we've already won.  Cling to faith because you know the ending, and you know the reward.  I may have known that Secretariat would win, but I didn't know how.  It was awesome.  He won the Belmont by 31 lengths.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, not because I was unsure of his upcoming success, but because I was thrilled to be a witness to such a grand victory.

We have a bloodline that cannot be questioned.  We have a Victor who cannot be defeated.  We have a race that cannot be lost.  But belief is what we're fighting for, and what we must cling to.  The second we stop believing in the power of our kingdom, we miss out on the thrill of the victory.


prime seating & a pen.

The Growth of a Soul, a book about the life of Hudson Taylor. What a great name. What a great life! I wonder what a book about my life would be named...

...I can't even think of clever quips. Nothing symbolizing the (not so) dramatic ups and downs, and of course, the symbolic "climb" to the top of my molehill that somehow felt like a mountain in the process. How naive of me. How little I have truly accomplished!

I wonder if Hudson Taylor felt that way at 23 (nearly 24). All I can think of at the moment is that I have impeccable taste in music and a nasty habit of speaking my mind (even when I don't know what I'm talking about, unfortunately). And those are hardly book titles. More like poorly worded reviews, actually.

The point of this is not to pity myself, or have you pity me, for that matter. It's an overly dramatic attempt to set up for the next part of this entry. I think they call that good writing building a climax. The point of this is to tell you how thankful I am for a God that lavishes His love upon me, even when I'm ungrateful, especially when I'm unworthy, and in spite of my blind eyes.

The point of this is to tell a story - a story I was so appropriately reminded of this evening as I walked into a coffeehouse, fighting back tears, rounding the corner to find my favorite spot vacant, as if waiting for me. I am certain that it was.

Sophomore year of college, during the Fall semester, I drove up to Starbucks on Northgate to study for Organic Chemistry. I was exhausted. I had so much to do. I was headed to get caffeine and close the place down. All I wanted to do was go home. I was frustrated with being in school, being in such a rigorous course as O-Chem, and was struggling to see the point with a degree when all I wanted to do was get married, move overseas, and share Jesus with people around the world (oh how my perspective has changed and yet my dreams grown stronger).

I persisted, pulling up to Starbucks in the dark, bitter and yet resigned, and all the while angry at God. I thought to myself, and to Him, I better get my favorite seat by the window when I get in there. He was, after all, indebted to me since I was doing this "school thing" against my wishes, albeit with a bad attitude. As I collected my things, I realized that I had failed to bring an essential to working out chemical reactions and figuring equations - a pencil. I didn't even have a pen. Maybe someone in there will have a pen I can borrow, I thought. And then I retorted, glancing upwards, you'll just have to do something about that too!

I trudged inside, glancing around for an empty seat. Rounding the corner, to my smug satisfaction, I saw my favorite table open. Smug, because I dismissed this act of God as a fluke, throwing Him an ungrateful and insincere, thanks. I threw my stuff on the table, and just as I was about to address my pencil crisis, something in the windowsill caught my attention.

A pencil, you say? No. See, in my arrogance, I would have dismissed that as readily as I had the vacant table. No. There was no pencil in the window. Instead, there was an unopened package of pens and highlighters. I don't remember my exact response at that moment, but right now I blush and tear up at the thought of my insolence. I remember being shocked. Humbled beyond belief. Mostly, though, I felt undeserving.

The kind words of my sweet Father flooded my mind as I held that package of pens and highlighters. My child. Do you see how I answer even this, the least of your requests? Even tonight, the ones you so carelessly threw in my direction? Do you see how I have responded and provided? And how do you think, if I have answered these paltry requests, how do you think I will respond to greater needs you require, and greater requests on behalf of others? Of your family? Of your friends? Of the lost?

I had no words. I still have no words today. Today, as I walked into the coffeehouse, broken and feeling dejected, with only self-centered thoughts coursing through my mind, I didn't even have the impudence I had 4 years ago to throw up spiteful requests. I said nothing to Him. And as I rounded that corner and saw my table waiting for me, this story hit me like a brick.

Child, He says, I answer even when you do not ask. "How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called Children of God" 1 John 3:1. It truly is great.

I forget to share this story. I forget it because I am a sinner, but also because the devil cringes when I remember it, and when I tell it. It is a crystal clear representation of the goodness and faithfulness of our Father. And a reminder for us to pray, even when we don't feel like it. It's a reminder that He always hears us, and always listens.

Hudson Taylor was a great man because he prayed great prayers that God answered. Great things happened because of the prayers He prayed and the answers He received. That is the legacy I long for.

I still don't know what my book would be called, but I have an idea about what I'd like for a subtitle. She always had the ear of her Father. Because I do. I have His love too, and it is abundant and faithful. I pray that I always remember that. I pray that you are encouraged by my story, because it is just as true for you. He will always meet you where you are, providing exactly what you need, even if that need is prime seating and a pen.


all in.

are you ready?
will you go all in?
because when that gun fired, the first runner shot from the block, committed to going all in.

fingers, gripping the baton.
legs, straining with forward motion.
arms, pumping to keep momentum.
face, grimacing with pain and intensity.

feel the fire.
it's coming for you.
are you ready?
will you go all in?

think hard but not too long.
the baton is nearly ready to be passed.
will you take it?
it must not be dropped.

carried by martyrs and saints before you,
they died to bring it this far.
will you take it farther?

prepare for the burning you will feel in your legs.
nothing compared to the fires that may engulf you like those before you.
stretch out your hand in the flames and grasp the light that they bore - and do not drop it.
they died to bring it to you, will you not do the same?

forget the pain. keep pushing onward. remember the sacrifices they have made and make the same. when it gets too hard, cry out to the Father who knows the pain and suffering you bear. cry out in anguish and He will hear you - He will give you strength. cry out on behalf of the ones that will come after you. pray that they will see the light, and be strong.

do not stop.
do not slow down.
do not rest until your eyes catch sight of the runners ahead, or until the flames tear you down.
only then, release your grip on your dispatch, entrusting it to faithful hands that will continue on the path.

only then, rest in the arms of the Father who sent you.


hello, fall.

We welcome it back every year, with a skip in our step and a grin on our face. How wonderful to feel the cool breeze and the warm sun, and have the earth enriched in tones of red and orange. The world just looks coated in a dusky hugh cast by the warm sun, ironically cooling temperatures in preparation for winter. Fall.

It surprises me every year. The long, hot summer in this part of the world begs me to forget what its cool breeze offers. Memory of spring melts in the heat of summer, and the memory of fall has long since been replaced by the reality of salty sweat dripping down my face. And then, suddenly, as if out of nowhere, the sizzling sidewalks are carpeted in beautiful leaves, and the sun no longer scorches, but beams kindly.

Astonishing and yet predictable, fall follows summer every year. I know this, and have known this since grade school. Somehow still it catches me by surprise. If only, in the dead and still heat of August, I would learn to anticipate and hope for the Fall that is just peeking around the corner. Instead, I dread stepping outside, and am short-sighted enough to only see the heat waves rising on the ground right in front of me.

What a travesty! How blind are my eyes? How faulty is my memory? How typical is my soul?

The goodness of the Lord comes as assuredly as Fall, and yet, once again, I fail to see it for the miry pit I am in. How blind are my eyes? How faulty is my memory? How typical is my soul? His goodness has come to me time and time again, and yet, each new blessing comes as a surprise, and in between blessings I lose hope.

Oh for a soul that waits expectantly for the wonders of Fall! Oh for a soul that waits expectantly for Him! He will come.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13