October 10, 2014

I’ll be praying. Really? Are you actually?

In so many Christian’s lives and certainly in my own, “I’ll be praying” has become a more spiritual sounding, “I’m thinking about you”. We don’t say, “I’m thinking about you" because we know we have something much more powerful than our own lackluster thoughts. We have the God of the universe we can come to and plead with. And honestly that kinda trumps any lameo world offer you can offer. Here try this candle- it relieves stress. No thanks. But also I think we say, “I’ll be praying” because it’s a habit, it’s Christian culture and it sounds good. It’s sometimes the only thing you can say. 

But here’s the problem....we say “I’ll be praying” in substitution for “I’m thinking of you” and we don’t actually do anything but think about that person. Maybe a shot gun prayer a time or two though out the day. But we’re certainly not pleading. Not wrestling. Not calling out. Not lifting up. Why? 

Time. We’re living in a season of hyper-speed all the time. We only have time for shotgun prayers. We know Jesus knows the desires of our hearts, then surely he knows we want ____ to be healed. Or ____ to find a job. If all we have time for is little shout outs for strength or healing we can actually limit ourselves from experiencing the real power of prayer. 

I love looking at the Psalmist who looks like he had nothing but time as he writes and writes and writes prayers of petitions to his Father. He prayed them because he believed in who he was praying to. Are we afraid to pray because we’re afraid of what will or worse what won’t happen? Praying is a humbling act of recognizing the complete sovereignty of God in your life and the lives you’re praying for. 

But here is the kicker.... that shouldn’t make us uncomfortable. If it does we’re not spending enough time with Jesus. There it is again, time. We don’t have time to spend with God, so we don’t really know who we’re praying too. The more time you spend with your Saviour the more natural prayer becomes. It almost flows out of you. You see him as living, powerful, sustaining, loving, sovereign and perfect. That’s a God you want to pray to. 

[Father forgive the way I selfishly choose to use my time. Forgive me for not believing in the power of prayer and abusing the comfort of it without pursuing a deeper understanding of it. Father make me praying person, convict my heart and give me a burden to pray for the people you’ve placed in my life. Lord make my sometimes daunting daily prayer cards feel like Christmas morning. Because this time isn’t about me asking for things but rather unique communion time with you. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see you moving. It’s because of your son that I can come boldly before you and ask anything. You’re committed to teaching me to pray, and because of that promise I have confidence to come fumbling before you this morning.]

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

(Lord, I need you. Matt Maher)

September 16, 2014

When all of you wants to be all out.

I know Jesus is enough for me. I know his word is true. I know his grace is sufficient and his character is faithful. I know he created me and knows every small detail of my life. I know he sent his one and only son to die a criminals death so that I might spend eternity with him. I know he's called me to live in the good of that. I know he's leading my every step and that the sea doesn't come an inch higher than he allows it. 

"He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed" (Psalms 107:29). 

I know his word is alive and it meets me in my need and is comfort for my weary soul. 

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

 I know He tells me come, confused, broken and tired to his table and feast. I know that one day I'll be in heaven remembering this moment, thanking him that he was pulling me in closer to himself. But how can I know and not feel? 

I think this is a problem for a lot of christians. Life in the trenches gets hard to live. We know we're fighting a battle and we know sometimes you loose the battle to win the war. We know Jesus never promised an easy, trouble free life, but we're tired, broken and feeling empty. The thing I'm realizing the more I know but don't feel is that my lack of feeling is only a symptom of a lack of time spent with him. 

"They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them" (Ephesians 4:18).

When you love something you invest in it, you spend time with it, you love it. You don't dread time in proximity to it, and you constantly want to learn more about it. Often this doesn't describe my relationship with Christ. He's not the dearest thing to me, I'm not spending time with him, then I wonder why he feels like a distant, unfeeling Father? But he hasn't changed, only how I feel about him changes. This is beautiful news for someone like me because I know how much my feelings change about everything else. I have what people like to call a "all or nothing" personality. I'm all in or I'm all out.

Being "all in" when you feeling like being all out is something that will forever be a struggle for me. My comfort and hope is that Christ lovingly tells me the only remedy against this wavering and wandering. 

 "With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!" Psalm 119:10. 

 "And those who know your name put their trust in youfor you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you." (Psalm 9:10)

You tell me to seek you. Not just be with you, but be intentional. How I feel in the moment doesn't matter. Take ownership of my sanctification.

 "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". (Philippians 2:12) 

Believing these promises can only happen when I'm loving Jesus. Looking into his lovely face, and not basing my love for him on what I'm feeling.

Lord help me to be a faithful daughter of you. Help me to rejoice in and you and celebrate my adoption into your kingdom. I pray that it would define me. That your scripture would be life-giving.  I pray in the midst of trials and moments of wanting to be "all out" you would be my anchor. I pray that when "all around my soul gives away" You would be my hope and saviour. Help me to continue to fix my eyes on you. 

July 4, 2014

Just call me legalistic….sans the Beck concert.

 Sometimes the Lord smacks you upside the head. A solid backhand slap. I've heard super-christians call it a "gentle whisper" or a "stirring" from the spirit. I'll call it exactly how it felt. 
     I'm driving down the freeway and a put in a worship album I had just stolen from my dads office (thanks dad). After about three songs of singing loudly in the car I suddenly can't keep my crap together. Not because musically it's the best, or it's my favourite artist with the butter smooth vocals, or the lyrics new or clever. I'm weeping in my car on the way to school because my soul has been dry, crying out for some truth. With one push of a button I had people singing scripture to me telling about His amazing promises and pouring out truth on me. 

Oh God of power, living Word 
The One who made the stars 
Who with Your glory filled the earth 
From dust made beating hearts 
You loved us when we fell away 
Poured mercy on our souls 
And promised grace would come to save 
To loose death’s iron hold

Oh God of promises fulfilled 
The God who took on flesh 
Who did all that the Father willed 
Was humbled unto death 
You bore our cross of sin and shame 
Endured our agony 
With gladness we now bear Your name 
And worship at Your feet 

Oh God, who surely guides our steps 
Through tempests and through trials 
Our Shepherd King, Your way is best 
Though tears now veil our eyes 
Your steadfast love, our perfect hope 
Our eyes are fixed on grace 
We have no doubt You’ll lead us home 
To finally see Your face 

So after this backhand slap I started thinking, and here is what I came to... 
    I love music, I love catchy melodies, and clever lyrics, and moody arrangements. Every morning the National wakes me up, and most nights Beck puts me to sleep. Friday's are special days full of T-Swift and Katy Perry. My car has become a radio station hub that plays the latest and the greatest.
    But here is the crazy thing- if you've ever been exposed to "that kind of christian" you've been warned. You know the older man that is warning you against the "dangers" of "worldly" music? Turns out he might be crazy legalist in many ways, but he just so happened to stumble on a extreme version of a valid problem, but came to the horribly wrong solution.
    My car ride to school wasn't me just "being emotional" or "having a hard day" yesterday was actually a great day. Yesterday, in my car was the Lord breaking through something as silly and non-important as music and saying, "Hey, I have something for you in this." 
     I haven't gone full legalist on you I promise. But I've decided for the rest of Summer I'm only listening to Christian music (sans the Beck concert I already have tickets for). I never thought I would say those words. I figure on the days I get so tired of it (and I will) I can pray or memorize scripture. I think the time spent in my car which is a good portion of my day, is a time that the Lord is claiming as His. If worship music can prep and prime my heart to see and look for what Christ is doing around me then it's well worth the listen. 

Something to think about?

May 26, 2014

a vague but honest answer

“Busy!” Has been my somewhat vague but honest answer to how I’ve been lately. Sometimes I feel like it is a bit of a cop out, or a conversation dodger. But really, I’m just saving people from the details of what my latest project due is or how difficult juggling my full work schedule has been. It’s a polite question people ask, but I assume they don’t really want to hear the answer. So it’s “Busy. I’m busy.”

But really, who isn’t? Who monitors that title of 'busy'? I know lots of parents with small kids at home that are rushing from work to hockey, ballet, and birthday parties. I know other university students that have a way heavier course load then I do. Then there is emotional busyness and stress that eats up your day. There are those who’s jobs are so intense that sleeping and eating need to be scheduled or they don’t happen. I know people who are walking through a trial or suffering. Literally getting through the storms in their heads and hearts are the only things on the to do list that day- but don’t say they aren’t busy. 

Busyness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Certain seasons, certain people, that’s where you are. Busy. It’s not wrong to be exhausted at the end of the day, looking at your crossed off to do list, deleting emails, or kissing your babies goodnight. Falling into bed tired can be a great feeling. Falling into bed discouraged is another. 

One thing I’ve found in my life is busyness fuels discouragement. A couple weeks of crazy means I’m far more likely to fiercely protective of “My time” or things done “My way”. I start to dread waking up in the morning. Mutter unkind things at my to-do list, or the person that doesn’t hold the door open for me at Starbucks. I become agitated and annoyed easily. Why? I’m busy. This semester, and if i’m being honest, the foreseeable future is probably going to be a sea of busyness for me. I only have so much control of classes, and programs, sessions and family. And that is okay. I’m in a season of busy, like so many other people. 

But I’m learning that for every season of busy, there needs to be a fresh dose of Jesus. A renewing of my assurance of pardon, a fresh look at his promises to be faithful, a realty check of his command to run with endurance. Not just to run because I'm stressed, or wait on the sidelines because I’m too tired. I'm called to run through that busyness towards the finish line he’s set out for me. 

Busyness isn’t the problem, discouragement is. Keep running, he has good for you. 
[Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.] Hebrews 12:1-2

May 18, 2014


It is my first social work class. I’m excited, a dead give away I’m fresh into my degree. Third and fourth year students look like they might fall asleep before the class has even begun. The teacher walks in and moment by moment, statement by statement I can feel myself sinking. She’s taking about politics, social justice, right wing, left wing political parties, we talked welfare and workfare. 

I left the class feeling for lack of a better word, overwhelmed. Overwhelmed not because I hadn’t heard of any of this before. Overwhelmed because usually, I tune this stuff out. I hate politics, I know politics are necessary, but I just choose to look the other way. Suddenly I’m paying for a class where I can’t look the other way. It’s in my face and it was drowning me. We looked at war, racism, abortion, welfare, poverty, globalization, morals, ethics, ideology. I was being flooded. I stumbled out of class convicted and confused. I found myself asking, do I have to have an opinion about all social topics? Does my uneducated opinion even matter? 

This morning I sat down and read part of Martin Luther Kings, Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Jon Bloom writes about Dr. Kings speech...

“It’s disturbing to think that people of general good will but a shallow understanding of the plight of the oppressed, who have a lukewarm sympathy but no real vested interest in change, just might be a worse enemy of justice than aggressors. Because they do not advocate for the oppressed nor fight against the oppressor. They smile supportively to the former and practically do nothing to stop the latter. Such good will is indifference in its worst form. It has an appearance of doing justice and loving kindness but denying its power. And I have been guilty of it. I still am guilty of it, not only concerning race but many other things that come to mind. And when it comes to love, truth, and justice, Jesus does not like lukewarmness (Revelation 3:16).”
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Father forgive my apathetic, pathetic excuses for staying away from hot topic social issues. You certainly didn't shy away from intense conversations or awkward interactions. Father give me humility to listen and patience to understand what others are saying and where they might be coming from. Thank you that I don't have to run this Country, oh Lord I am thankful for that. Give me courage to go where you're calling me and be ready to speak when words need to be said. Thank you that you are an all knowing, all powerful God. Thank you for your patience, please make me anything but lukewarm. 

May 11, 2014

a prayer for moms.

Many people would agree that Cherry Sczebel is pretty much a legend. 

She’s Mom and Nana to what seems to be an always expanding troop of trouble makers. When my brothers and I got to those fateful teenage years, mom and dad decided to restart with the younger generation of Sczebel’s. They adopted Sam, then Kayla, then JJ and now there is Kitty. Many call them crazy, but it’s okay, we do too. 

A typical day in my moms world starts way too early, and always with a coffee. Rule number 1, really the only rule you need to know... No talking to mom until she’s had her coffee. Then there is packing lunches, making breakfast, trying to feed a very feisty 1.5 yr. old. There is refereeing who is sitting beside who, did you finish your homework?  Then there is school drop offs, doctors appointments, social worker visits and meetings. Then she advocates, oh how this woman can advocate for her children! There always seems to be a problem to fix, or a situation that needs advise. She reminds us older kids on a regular basis that we’re more work then the four younger ones. Though none of us live at home currently- we often stop in for coffee or to eat their food. There is dinner prep, homework, bath, and then finally bed. 

Now except for the rule regarding her morning coffee my mom is always ‘on’, she doesn’t put the mom hat on for a couple hours everyday, it’s who she is, its what she’s devoted her life to. Everyday she wakes up, and chooses to love us, all of us. She loves like I cannot even being to imagine. 

My moms love for us, this ragtag group of people, has always been an amazing reflection of Christ’s love for us. A selfless love, a patient, forgiving love, a love that understands and never threatens. No matter how many times she’s been puked on, or yelled at, no many how many times we wander, mess up, lie, or are just plain stupid she’s there, waiting with that same forgiving love. This is a love I cannot begin understand apart from the gospel. 

Mom, I am so grateful for your humble, patient example of what it means to faithfully serve Christ and glorify him with your life. Thanks for putting up with us- and that doesn’t even begin to cover it. Thank you for loving us like Christ loves us. And faithfully pointing us to that love.

Father, I just want to thank you for days like today. Little Hallmark holidays where we can pause and draw attention to the earthly gifts you’ve given us. Today I want to thank you for all the mom’s. I’m thankful that you know each and every little detail of their lives. I know that today can bring stir up a lot of emotions and pain for some, and I pray that you would come and fill in the gaps of this prayer, meet these ladies where they are. I pray that the Holy Spirit would come and comfort the broken, and bring strength to the weak. There might be strained relationships that are going to make today really difficult. Or maybe death has robbed this day from some, leaving their it empty and painful. For some this day is filled with sticky fingers of the tiny chefs that ate their breakfast in bed. Some might be fighting for joy to see that You have a unique role for them, maybe they can’t see how perfect the plan you have for them is. 

I don’t know where everyone is at, and I can’t begin to imagine all the unique situations, but Father I’m so grateful that you know all the details, all the highs and lows of motherhood. I’m grateful that the cross speaks into every situation, with no exceptions. That through Jesus sacrifice we can come to you, nothing is too big or unknown to you. You are all the hope, all the joy, all the patience we need. 

So Father, I pray for all the moms that are in the trenches right now, dealing with miscarriages, sleepless nights, the terrible twos, the kindergarten questions, preteen angst, and newly empty nests. I pray that you would be the loudest voice in their lives, and that your scripture would be life giving to them. I pray that you would enable them to love, everyday, like how you love them. I pray that whatever change this next year will bring that their hope would be anchored in you, that they would be unshaken by what the enemy might throw at them. I pray that you would bless and encourage them and that this would be a year of them growing more like you. In your name, amen.

May 8, 2014


I'm not much of a dreamer, I don't like Disneyland and cringe at the their magical promise to make dreams come true. I live in a world where my feet are very much on the ground. To my own detriment I have a hard time even letting my mind wander. If something gets too big or too far out there the practical side of my brain gives up and goes back to the drawing board.

This has a huge effect on how I think about heaven. I've always wrestled with the idea of heaven. I know I can't even begin to understand, but I still want to know the boundaries or limitations of heaven. When I try to dream and think about heaven I end up confused and guilty, honestly not being able to feel excited about it.

That all changed a couple weeks ago, something clicked, it wasn't overnight but a gradual, creeping, longing for heaven. A deep pang, a weight that hung on my shoulders. A very clear reminder that nowhere on this amazing earth is my home. A discontentment and eager anticipation for something greater. Suffering makes you a lot of things, and uncomfortable is one of those things. A friend told me last week that grief is clumsy, and I've never heard it summed up better. It's confusing and up and down. It catches you at the worst times, it is committed to robbing you of your joy. In the midst of the past month, my heart has found rest when I find my mind wandering about heaven.

Today was another day of longing for heaven. Today death was close and it's sting was very present. But today more than ever I found my mind in heaven. Getting lost in the hope of Gods promise to restore and renew. I chuckled at how simple some of my ideas of heaven have been in the passed.

[oh that day when free from sinning, I shall see thy lovely face, clothed then in blood washed linen, how I'll sing thy sovereign grace.]

Heaven is a day that I will be made new. Where all the weight and sin that fights to have my heart will be put to death forever. Heaven is the first day I'll experience a day without sin. My first day without emotional or physical pain. I won't wander anymore because I will finally know rest.

I think about meeting little Bobby, he will be whole, with a new body. I picture him with chubby little cheeks and sparkly big eyes. I love to imagine him grinning and playing with his two big sisters. Running to hug his mom.

I think about seeing my grandma, I like to imagine she is young, younger than me. Wearing a beautiful blue dress. I'll get to worship Jesus beside her. Her body won't be slumped with age and her mind will be clear and crisp.

I think about other young lives you called home sooner than I had planned. I think about seeing Charlotte again, reuniting with my childhood friend.

Heaven is everything good I've know on this earth, made whole and new, completely restored. Heaven is greater than I can ever imagine. Heaven is a place my heart was made for and a place I now long for. Heaven is my home.

February 19, 2014

We see in a mirror dimly.

Everyday I go to work and only partially understand what I do, I understand procedures and best practices. I know techniques and strategies. I can take data and read programs and try to be flexible and think outside the box. I celebrate small victories and sometimes have a party about the simplest developmental milestones. I'm not scared of temper tantrums or having scissors thrown at me. I've been spit at, scratched, hit, head butted, and peed on. I've squeezed feet, massaged heads, given backwards hugs, played the same game over and over again, talked in pictures, done yoga, spent way too long coaxing one bite of food. I live in a world of rules and routine, I speak in one sided conversations for most of the day. 

Autism is one of the dearest things in the world to me. Nothing brings so much joy and so much pain into my life. Autism is something that no matter how much schooling I complete, how many different kids I work with, I will never understand, but autism is a puzzle I want to spend my life trying to understand. Life through their little eyes is something I would give the world to see, and something no matter how much I know, will never experience. 

I will never know the panic and fears that are so debilitating you can't function, the overflow and outpouring of sensory chaos. The inability to use language the way your brain understands it, the frustration of being misunderstood or constantly misunderstanding. Being written off because you're too 'low functioning' or not supported enough because you're so 'high functioning'. Autism isn't a switch you can turn on and off, it's not a choice you make in the morning, it's not just being stubborn or hardheaded. Autism can mean you don't eat your breakfast because your mom bought the wrong cereal, you can't get dressed because your sweater is scratchy. You scream because the water is too cold, you hurt yourself because your sibling is too loud, the work is too hard, the light is too bright, these things aren't a choice, they are all consuming. 

Everyday I see families who look at their kids with a desperate desire to understand. I show up for 2 or 3 hrs a couple times a week with that same desperate desire. A desire so strong that some days you want to just put your head through a wall. On those days, on the days when I look into a weary mom's eyes and have no words to comfort her with, I know this...

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." 

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit."

"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;"

This is good news. This is the best news…

I know that, my ability to understand is small, my perspective is easily skewed, I have very limited vision.   The love of my Saviour however is not, we do not worship a limited God. He is not surprised or puzzled by anything, He does not experiment or have trials fail. He created these kids and He's bigger than autism. This brings hope to my soul because I know I have a loving Father. He's met our deepest needs and loves us despite our fears, failures and discouragement. He gives us desires and passions and promises to work all things together for our good and His glory.

So on the days when I see a little person being swallowed up by autism I don't have to understand why, or even how to make it better, I need to know that He loves them more than I can, He knows their needs and their struggles and He has promised good for them, a good that surpasses our limited vision of good. I can't understand that, but I believe it, and I love it. 

January 17, 2014

It's a love I can't understand.

I know I can get people to like me, for the most part my track record is pretty good. The list of people that probably hate me is pretty short. If I try, I can be witty, thoughtful, and a pretty fun person. I'm good with kids, I can cook a decent meal, I can throw a successful party. (and no this isn't a eHarmony account profile.) 

But what scares me to the point of loosing sleep at night is that none of that stuff matters in light of eternity. God doesn't care if I can make a room full of people laugh. Or if I can get through all the churchy Sunday morning lingo with ease and grace. He certainly doesn't care how many 'likes' my Instagram got or how many friends I have. 

And when you peel away all the stuff that the world says makes you "you". You realize you stand before God pretty empty handed and helpless. This is where I find myself struggling so frequently to fully believe that God loves me, that he could possibly love this tornado of disorder and failure. This is where things get really beautiful and really messy. 

When I'm told Jesus died for all my sin, all my failure I'm left with a choice. I can come empty handed and unimpressive, to the Father, and receive his love, just as I am. Or I can reject it. 

So even though I can't understand why all the time, I take a step of faith and come, empty handed. Even when I can't believe it, or my heart doesn't want to believe it. All I need to do is look at the testimony of God's faithful love for me through his birth, life, death and resurrection. That is love.

It's a love that says 'come'. 
It's a unprejudiced love.
It's the love of a Father to orphan kids.
It's the sweetest love that never leaves you wanting. 
It's a love that restores and heals
Its a love that spills out from you and effects people around you. 
It's selfless love. 
It's a love that frees
It's a love that redefines my tiny little version of love. 
It's a love that enables me to love.
It's a perfect love.
It's a love for me. 

That blows my mind. That's a love I can't understand. But it's a love worth trying and failing to understand for the rest of my life.