November 19, 2013

what i learned in a year.

[For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.]

[Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.]

[Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.]

What I’ve learned in a year is that Jesus is faithful no matter what. What I’ve learned in a year is that his plan is good and straight, it’s better than I can ever imagine. What I’ve learned in a year is that despite all those things life is hard. It’s a mess. 

Only one short year ago I said goodbye with tears in my eyes to what I thought was going to be my forever. I carried my two suitcases into the airport, cried in the bathroom, and got on the plane. I landed, emotionally exhausted, and really unsure how to pick up life again. Before I knew it I was being surrounded by my mom’s arms. The woman whom I’ve only seen cry a handful of times in my life, was weeping. My dad towered over both of us and just kept saying “You’re home.”

I’ll never forget that moment. I wasn’t fearful of coming home, but I was a bit hesitant, it would be too gentle to say I ‘strained’ these relationships. Truthfully, I had burnt many of them. I was the prodigal, returning home empty handed and humbled. Picking up life where you suddenly dropped it is hard. Rebuilding relationships you neglected takes time, it is painful. I remember being terrified I was depressed, scared to even say the word for fear that it would some how take hold of me. But the reality was the energy I once had to pull everything together was dwindling. I thought I needed to be louder than my emotions but what I learned this year is that I really just needed to bring everything before my Father. 

I thought that day was hard, I had no idea what the next year would be like and that was probably the mercy and kindness of the Lord. I was jobless for a couple months, I had no car, moved back with my parents. My mom went a through intensive treatment for her MS, my parents took in two foster kids, the church where my dad is on staff was still recovering from a messy church split, there were hospital visits, medical diagnosis that as a family, brought us to our knees. I remember sitting one night with my mom on the couch saying, “This year sucks.” Everything about it made me want to crawl in a hole. But thankfully I had people around me that didn’t let me. There were FaceTime’s that lasted hours, endless conversations on my siblings couch, or floor, or kitchen counters (a Sczebel thing), or sitting at my parents table with a glass of wine. There were simple one line emails, and scripture verse texts. There were faithful people committed to my good, no matter what or how long that took.

I don’t even think they knew, but they were so clearly demonstrating Christ’s love for me. At a time when nothing was making sense, there were no more words to say or things do, I just needed time. They showed me how to love Jesus while I was waiting. How to understand that Jesus loves this version of me, not a future me. They showed me that the Gospel applies to every single area of my life. They showed me that whatever happened he was my solid rock. They made me laugh and listened when I complained. I didn’t deserve these people, but they loved me selflessly, and fiercely. 

What I learned in year is that my life will probably never make sense. What I’ve learned in a year is that Jesus triumphed over heartache, failure, wandering, suffering, pain, confusion, anxiety. I've learned that God loves me very much, and I'm trying to celebrate and live in light of that. What I learned in a year is that I’m a mess, life is a mess, and its all for his glory. What I’ve learned in a year is that because of the great love I’ve experienced, I’m called to give that love. I’m called to take on other peoples mess and faithfully point them the Jesus. 

Mom, Dad, Seth, Janners, Kars, Britt, Lisa, Josh, Joe, Tins, Becks, Becca, Lydia, Kwendra and so many more. I love you very, very much. So incredibly thankful for your care, love and support this past year. 

October 9, 2013

Even when

[Even when it seems the answer's no

The promises of God all find their Yes
In Christ who worked the Father's will below
That all who run to him would find their rest

And even when it seems he hides his face
And darkness seems to be our only friend
We look to Christ who suffered in our place
That one day all our suffering would end

And even when it seems he pays no mind
We have a guarantee of his great love
In Christ who came and left his crown behind
That one day we would reign with him above

Lord, we believe
But help our unbelief
Lord, we believe
But help our hearts to sing

That you are good, all of the time
All of the time, you are good
You are good all, of the time
Your are good
Lord, you are good]

God is Good- Dustin Kensue

Father this morning my hearts breaking for the heart break that's surrounding friends and family near and far. Those who are struggling to fight the grip of depression or the empty, numb, feeling of death. Those waiting on phone calls with scan results or good news. Those who have lost jobs, need jobs, or are battling mental health. For the ones that can't get out of bed today, because they are so riddled with pain.

You are near to the broken hearted, closer then I could ever be. I want to help and hand out bandaids but these people don't need a quick fix. They need you, they need grace for today. They need strength to lift their eyes to you.

[By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.]

You commanded the ocean and it was still. You spoke and the heavens were created. I can't even understand the stars, you created them. You are holding everything perfectly in place, your hands never shaking, never wavering. You give strength to the weak and courage to broken. You restore and you heal. I pray for patience and understanding while you redeem in your perfect timing. I pray for boldness to cling to your promises and proclaim your goodness. Father with confidence I look forward to the day I'm standing in heaven, looking at how you worked all these circumstances out for your glory. I can't wait for the day we're united and made whole again. Your restoration process is so much more complex and beautiful than I could ever imagine. Until that day, I pray for grace and thank you for today, knowing that you are good.

Even when you can't force a smile. Even when your baby is laying in a hospital bed. Even when your church is collapsing. Even when your job falls out from underneath you. Even when you peel yourself off a loved one and say goodbye. Even when you don't have the words to say anything. Even when your heart gets broken. Even when you watch your family dissolve. Even when you don't know why. Even when the phone doesn't ring. God is good. 

October 7, 2013

[it's not enough]

Father forgive me for holding onto my stuff too tightly. For clinging to conversations, empty words and or hurtful actions. Forgive me for constantly trying to redefine my life by my accomplishments, my job title, or how I'm "doing". Forgive me for repeatedly going to empty wells expecting to be filled. For wandering and making lame excuses for why I lack joy or why I'm too busy for people. Forgive me for where I've cancelled you out of the equation, where I’ve been living dangerously deceived that my works are enough.

Though all the wealth of men was mine to squander
And towers of ivory rose beneath my feet
Were palaces of pleasure mine to wander
The sum of it would leave me incomplete

Though every soul would hold my name in honor
And truest love was always by my side
My praises sung by grateful sons and daughters
My soul would never still be satisfied

Though I could live for all to lift them higher
Or spend the centuries seeking light within
Though I indulged my every dark desire
Exhausting every avenue of sin

It’s not enough, it’s not enough
I could walk the world forever
Till my shoes were filled with blood
It’s not enough, it’s not enough
I could right all wrongs, or ravage
Everything beneath the sun
It’s not enough, it’s not enough
Though all would bow to me
Till I could drink my fill of fear and love
It’s not enough, it’s not enough

[It’s not enough – Dustin Kensrue]

Father I'm so thankful you tell us to come lay aside any weight. Just to come and be clean, be restored. It's because you sent your son for me I can come boldly to the table as the overachiever, control freak that I am and all you see is your daughter, your prodigal. I pray for eyes to see my sin more clearly and to be broken by it. It's only then that I can really experience your grace, grace to change and grow. I pray that the more I push into you the more I can push into loving others. So father thank you for the limbo. Thank you for your Holy Spirit and for revealing more and more. For reminding me that all my mess was paid for at the cross. All my works are filthy rags none are enough to save my soul. 

September 23, 2013

Tell him you have a Saviour.

There is a fountain filled with blood
For those who stand condemned
The enemies accusing words
Say God will not defend
Tell him you have a Saviour
That Jesus paid it all
For sin there is a fountain filled with blood

Come, Come to the fountain
Stained by the fall Come and be clean
Come, His blood spilled for many
He will revive you, wash and redeem

And by that fountain's saving flow
We are renewed each day
The wellspring of our joy and hope
The current of His grace
It floods our hearts with wonder!
What kindness, oh what love!
Such mercy in that fountain filled with blood.

The blood of Jesus
Precious blood of Jesus
No other fount I know
It washed white as snow

Father it’s not new news that this world is broken, and we know the church is no exception from this. The church is a hospital for sick people, a shelter in the storm. At the point of conversion we do not stop sinning.  We are rather made painfully aware of our sin and beautifully aware of our Saviour. We begin the long process towards sanctification. So the church isn’t filled with perfect people, its filled with striving sinners. He’s committed to making us new, when he looks at us, he see’s sons and daughters, he doesn’t see sinners. But we are sinners, until that day when we are finally with him we will wrestle, we will hurt, we will fall. The invitation stands for you and for me, for the most wretched sinner, the outcast, the bitter, the wandering, the broken, the depressed, the lonely, the lost. Tell the enemy who’s calling you, taunting you, that you have a Saviour, that Jesus paid it all. Sinner, come to the fountain, come and be clean. 

[Copyright 2013 Words by Pat Sczebel and Nate Stiff, music by Pat Sczebel

August 13, 2013

Fact: the orange M&M's taste just as good as the brown ones.

I've started the daunting task of researching universities. Can't even say I'm really researching, more talking about researching. I never thought I'd be starring 4-5 years of post secondary in the face. That was never my plan.

I'm learning quite quickly, I can plan till the cows come home, and it means nothing. Another thing I'm learning, is that Jesus is enough. For today, tomorrow and whatever the future holds.

I was like most little girls, I watched Jennifer Lopez in "The Wedding Planner" I wanted to wear my mothers wedding dress and only eat the brown M&M's in hopes that my Matthew McConaughey would ride up on his scooter. But let's get real, my mom is 4ft 11in and I outgrew her wedding dress when I was 12. Lets also get real, the orange M&M's taste just as good as the brown ones. Life isn't a movie. It doesn't just fall into place it's messy and its unpredictable.

Jesus is sweeter then all my plans combined. He's more than enough. Jobs will end, relationships will never get easier, I'll fail exams or my program will be cancelled. But here's what I'm learning. Christ isn't waiting for you at a different version of you. He's not waiting for the 5 year plan to pan out. He's not holding out to see if you land that job or marry that guy. He's here, now, calling you to rejoice where you are.

[Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).]

[“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)]

Fact: Every significant plan I've made in the past year has turned out completely opposite of what I planned.
Fact: There was sustaining grace to lead and guide me through all of it.
Fact: I'm called to rejoice where I am. I can only love Christ when this is happening.
Fact: Worrying, stressing and trying to force plans only clutter and distract your heart from its one call, it's one mission. To glory God and enjoy him forever.

[When Martha was frazzled with tasks, Jesus said that her “many things” were making her “anxious and troubled.” Only “one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:41-42).] Jon Bloom

I'm not saying don't prepare, I'm not saying don't plan. The scriptures praise the man who plans ahead. But how are you holding those plans? How dependent are you on them? What would happen if they don't turn out exactly how you want. Spoiler alert: They probably won't, and Jesus will still be enough.

So to the lonely single, Jesus is enough. To the jobless, Jesus is enough. To the overwhelmed mom, Jesus is enough. For the employee who hates their job, Jesus is enough. For the wanderer who doesn't know the next step, Jesus is enough.

July 29, 2013

You need only be still.

This week marks a year from when I sold pretty much everything I owned, bought a one way plane ticket and headed to the East Coast.

I was arriving with a plan, I had a place to live, a network of friends, a possible job opportunity and quite simply put, a future. Skipping ahead a bit in the story...I'm not typing this from my cozy basement in Maryland. I'm writing this from my home, my original home, the one I was so eager to leave just 12 months ago.

I'll never understand why God pursues us? Why he so patiently watches as we sloppily live out the narrative he's so carefully written. Why he meets us in our needs, and stoops to draw us back to himself. After a year of mistakes, hard conversations, and many tears the Father broke in and redeemed it. Not just parts of it, all of it. He's turned hopelessness into faith and bitterness into thankfulness. Where there is still sometimes a wrestle with doubt and anxiousness he faithfully whispers peace. I know that we will walk through dark seasons, and valley's, but I know I can look to this year and say, 'He was faithful, he will be again.'

A couple months ago I would have told you I wanted to just forget about it all. If there was a magic delete button I would have pushed it. But I'm learning, ever so slowly, that this whole crazy story wasn't about me all along. It was for my good, and for His Glory. I didn't need a delete button, I needed a Saviour. 

I guess I just want to shout at every hurting soul, every faithless wanderer, every tired overachiever and most loudly to my own heart that Jesus is enough for you today, tomorrow and everyday after that. He forgives you, he loves you, he pursues you, he will lead and guide you. You need only be still.

May 23, 2013

Learning to ask.


[What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! Luke 11:11-13]

You are indeed a loving Father, the giver of good gifts, willing ears to listen, faithful hands to uphold. You know how to give, but we don't know how to ask.

I woke up this morning, got up and had crawled back in bed 3 minutes later. Feeling so heavy, so burdened by the day I had a choice to make, ask you for help or my bed. Guess what I chose? Getting to my heart is hard work. Humbling myself to admit I need your help can be painful. I think I can do it. I think I can do everything. Turning to you brings joy and I know that. So why does my flesh fight?! Why do I battle against your promises? 

Forgive me for where I think I don't need you because my heart knows I do. Humble me, draw me close to you. Give me a heart that wants to ask you for things. A brain that doesn't fight for independence, and your holy spirit as my shield against the whispers and lies of the enemy. 

In the tiny battles and the full out wars I pray for strength to trust you for today.  Teach me to sing thy praise no matter what swirls around me.