Saturday, October 4, 2014

friday in the mountains

Yesterday, we had an adventure. Well, several. But all in one.

Josh and Courtney, troopers that they are, agreed to head up to Estes Park with me to meet one of my blogging friends - Susannah - and her husband Peter. 

Note: I'd never met them before, and we've been "friends" for almost five years. Josh is still trying to process how he feels about this, whether blogging friends are real people are not. Working on that...



Anyway.

The weather was PERFECT, and the drive was lovely, and Estes was, well, Estes. 


We had lunch with Susannah and Peter at Bob and Tony's pizza, then they had to head back to Denver. But since we never really get up to Estes Park, Josh, Court and I figured we'd make a day of it and find something to do.

The three of us started walking around Estes Park, enjoying the weather and just looking around. Pretty shortly, we found a candy shop. And stopped. For a while.



understandably.


Courtney bought 1/2 pound of assorted candy for her little candy horde. *grin* Josh and I bought 1/2 pound of chocolate in various forms - like giant malt balls that looked like Miracle Pills, and dark chocolate espresso beans, and chocolate covered peanuts - all of which we consumed in less than fifteen minutes. As Josh said, "Why not?"

We found an Indian teepee, and a Statue of Enos A. Mills with a Dog, a schnauzer with a funny haircut, lots of random older folks with dogs actually, a cage where wolves are going to be this weekend for some kind of festival, the street where Cafe Collage used to be *sniffle*, a Statue of Children Picking or Throwing Some Kind of Green Apple, license plates from all over the country, and a place called "Lonigan's" which made me think of The Sting.

Then we drove a little ways, and went exploring.





Once we got behind the lake, a whole new world opened up. And with no sound but the wind and a few birds, we just sat on the cliff and looked out over the valley towards the mountains. 






Oh, Courtney. I love her bouncy, rock-climbing self *hugs*


Majesty. Some day in heaven, we'll see Jesus, and see so clearly how the mountains reflect Him. His creation truly cries holy!



Josh wanted to go down into the valley, so we half-hiked, half-slid down the sandy, rocky slope into a stand of aspen trees. The view of the leaves and the mountains, and the complete stillness of the valley was an incredible combination. Pictures cannot, will not, do it justice. We'll just have to hold that beauty in our hearts - never to be accurately depicted on film.








We took a different way back, ended up on the exact opposite side of the lake, and just took the "normal" trail back to the parking lot.





I love spending time with these two. Fact.



We got home after dark, heated up leftovers and warmed up our cold selves with coffee in our "living room." It was such a lovely day - wonderful to just slow down a little and get away and see the glory of creation in a very real, all-encompassing way.
"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light."
- Psalm 36:5-9

Monday, September 29, 2014

the power of the RESTORED.


My Abba is a God of Restoration. That's His specialty. He *loves* to do it. He delights to take broken people and make them whole. In fact, that's why He came to earth in the first place. He created us to be intimate with Him, and we messed that up, but He loved us so much (because, get this: HE. IS. LOVE.) that He gave up His own precious Son so that He could bring us back to Him.

That's beautiful, beautiful restoration.

I went from being a miserable sinner, caught in a pattern of defeat and hopelessness, to being a precious and beloved Daughter of my Daddy, with a new identity, a new life, a new heart, and a new mind. He gave me a clean slate, wiped it all, and sealed my adoption papers with the blood of my Beloved Jesus.

That's beautiful, beautiful restoration.

BUT.

He doesn't stop there. The life of Jesus becomes my life, because His Life comes to live inside me - and that's the Holy Spirit. He's pretty awesome, because He's everything. I'm just a vessel for Him to fill and use. And with this new Life bubbling up inside of me, that Restoring Nature that is such a beautiful attribute of my Abba becomes mine.

Which means relationships on earth get restored too.

Yup.

Wow.

And that's a beautiful, beautiful thing. Over the past few months, as this particular aspect of walking by the Spirit has taken root in my soul, I've wept tears of joy over how precious it is to see the unity of heaven come down to earth by the Spirit in the lives of the saints. Grudges, misunderstandings, pain, hurts, and grief melt away when I see exactly who I am in Jesus - and even though others might not fully understand, I'm free to love them, serve them, pour out my life for them without reluctance or bitterness. I may never get an apology, never get that kind of expected or "typical" reconciliation, but the peace in my soul is above and beyond the natural. It doesn't really matter anymore, 'cause it isn't about me, and I'm free to love like Jesus did - unconditionally.

The Restoration I received at the Cross gets to be translated into my daily life here on earth. 

Wow.

That's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

{of Abba and buses and subway and love}


Everyday I'm in awe of what Jesus is doing. I've never felt more alive than I have the past few months, knowing the absolute solidity of my adoption as a daughter of the King and the love that my Abba Daddy has for me, and His grace in letting me help Him in His kingdom work - bringing heaven down. He's done so much for me...refreshing my spirit, empowering me to live this life, and revealing Himself in everything. Right now, just like pretty much every day since I arrived out here a month ago (has it been that long already!?), I'm just so thankful and beyond blessed by these four amazing teammates I've been given. Lord willing, I'll always feel this way about these wonderful brothers and sisters of mine *grin*


This past Saturday, we spent about five hours washing, waxing, and detailing the bus. I LOVE washing cars, but I'd never waxed before, so that was fun. We were in a huge empty semi-truck bay with some real-deal power washers and all kinds of fun ladders and brushes around. The wax smelled really good too...kind of like a pool deck...but not. I don't know. I liked it. My arms were a little sore after we buffed it, though...definitely not my usual set of muscles. *wry grin*

It was real team work, and a group effort to get the Barnabus and trailer ready for another tour. We worked straight through lunch, then went out to Subway before driving the bus home. I don't know about you and your circle of friends, but going out to fast food with these four honestly is a hilarious adventure *every single time*....and we've done it a few times in the past four weeks. *chuckle*



It's crazy...this love Jesus has given me. It's not from me, it flows *through* me. Compared to the way I loved people even just this past spring, I feel like the Grinch - you know, when his heart grows three sizes and pops the little gauge-thingy? That's how I feel. My heart is swelling, expanding, and my capacity to love is growing in leaps and bounds. There's room now to love those who are hard to love, and a strength to love the people and children who come into my life for short periods of time then have to leave, and an ability to truly, unselfishly love those who I already loved in the deep places of my soul, and the burning burden of carrying Abba's heart and love for the world. 

Truly, the Gospel is love. And I'm seeing that more clearly everyday - revealed in the words of Scripture, beautifully reflected in the eyes of the precious folks around me, and experienced as the Spirit walks me through each day.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:35

Monday, September 15, 2014

{pizza night}

The four of us on-campus staff cook/throw together all of our own meals every day. We're actually saving quite a bit of money, and having fun with it as we go. But it is nice to get and do something different than salad and sandwiches every now and again. *grin* 

Our dear teammate Katie, who happens to live right here with her parents and siblings, invited us over one night last week to make pizza and finish up some videos we needed to watch for training, and of course we couldn't say no! So we spent a fun evening over at her house making supper and fellowshipping. A taste of home!









When you're away from home, even little things, like making pizza together, mean so much more. So thankful that I'm making such fun new memories with my Second Family! God is so good to give us little gifts like that, just to make us smile, because He loves us!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

claiming righteousness


Wretched Sinner.

We hear that a lot. We hear it preached from the pulpit, we read it in books, we even speak it over our own lives.

Miserable Sinner.

And in light of holiness, we do feel dirty. Unworthy of His love, unworthy of salvation, unworthy to receive the gift of the Spirit. Seeing our sin in light of Him makes us miserable.

"We'll be struggling with sin until heaven."

Spoken like a cold, self-fulfilling prophecy over the lives of believers.

Do you realize how much of your life is ordered around this reality? You read Scripture, you see this call to live in the Spirit, those stiff verses in 1 John about not sinning (and you skip those) and you just hold on and pray for Jesus to come soon so you can get out of this cyclical pattern of defeat, leave temptation behind and dance free on the streets of gold.

Which is all fine and dandy, but in the meantime, you'll be living hell on earth.

Can I challenge you with something?

My question to you is this: 

Did Jesus save us *from* our defeated state, or to continue in it?

Chew that.

Before Christ, yes, we were miserable. Wallowing in sin, trapped in a cyclical pattern of defeat, unable to break free on our own strength. We were stained, blackened by sin, completely unworthy of love or grace or anything good. 

BUT JESUS.

Items on this earth are often measured by their value. Their price. You're not going let me buy a car from you worth $1500 for $200. That's stupid.

Heaven gave up everything. The God of the universe gave His Son for ME. Jesus DIED so I could live. He placed value on my life that sin had stripped away.

He gave me a new identity:

Righteous. Daughter. Redeemed. Valued. Restored.

He literally changes us - restores us to our original state of communion and intimacy with Him. He created us for Him, He *wants* us back, He *wants* us to be with Him. In fact, He gave us His very own Spirit to indwell us. To literally become our life.
"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." - Titus 3:4-7
When Jesus becomes our life, His Spirit moves in. In fact, literally speaking, the Spirit clothes Himself with us. That's crazy!!! We can live the very life of Jesus here on earth. We are empowered by the Spirit to walk out the impossible call. We don't have to sin anymore - no more waking up in the morning expecting to sin! To quote Dan Mohler, "You're not sin waiting to happen!" We're free!
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you FREE in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." - Romans 8
That doesn't sound like defeat to me.

Sure, we still walk out our lives in gratitude to our Savior for plucking us up from the mire and gunk and giving us new life. I still marvel in the awe that Jesus could use someone like me to advanced His kingdom. But that's not because I feel dirty inside and almost embarrassed that I'm a child of God, it's because I'm humbled by His love.

Get this:

I'm not labeled "sinner" anymore.

My King said I was worthy to die for - and that knowledge gives me a confidence and a strength in my back bone to walk out the rest of my life in the power of the Spirit.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come...." - 2 Corinthians 5
To accept the life of sin is to deny the power of the Spirit.

Claim your position! You might not feel it, but take it by FAITH. That's the key.

Know who you are - know the power of the blood that now flows through your veins! Yes, we may be the foolish, lowly things of the earth, but look what God can do with us! Don't quench the Spirit by putting Him in a box and saying, "Oh, but I'm such a miserable sinner - I'll never be truly free until heaven." 

That's stupid. 

Jesus didn't die to buy you a miserable earthly life. That's not the Gospel of the kingdom.

Think of Isaiah. He starts out in Isaiah 6 with "Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips!" but then God touches him and burns away his iniquity and then Isaiah cries out, "SEND ME!" 

That's freedom. 

That's transformation.

That's walking in FAITH, with no doubting. {see James}

It's my reality. And that can be yours too.
"...All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5
My dear friends.

Jesus died to give you righteousness. 

He calls you righteous. 

Claim it in faith. Let Jesus flow through your life. Walk it out in the Spirit.
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith..." - Philippians 3

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

{labor day in colorado}

Yes, this has been a long time in coming. Most of y'all are wondering where I am and what I'm doing. I'm hoping to give a real update in the next week or so when I can share details, for but now, here are a few answers to FAQs:

1. Yes, I am in Colorado.
2. No, I do not know how long I will be here.
3. No, I am not a student....
4. ...but Yes, I am living at Ellerslie.
5. If you think you know what I'm doing, you're probably right.

How's that? *wink*

Today I spent all day with five people who, over the past ten days, I have come to love and respect more than I ever thought I would or could. Of course, we actually pretty much already spend all day together every day, but today was different, since it was a holiday. *grin*

Ohhhh.....this crew. We have challenged each other, laughed with (and at) each other, encouraged each other, stretched each other, and pressed each other forward toward the high calling to which we have been called. We're united in the Spirit, one in Christ, with a common focus and attitude. Honestly, I tear up and my heart swells when I think of them....they've already rocked my world in a million ways and we're *just* getting started!

Okay, enough of that. *wipes eyes and sniffles* Back to the story.

This morning, we hiked Horsetooth Falls, which wasn't very long or strenuous, but had lots of spots to explore. A new favorite for sure. We didn't actually take a picture with the Falls, since we got distracted, but that's okay.










my Courtney! Roommate, friend, co-worker, teammate, sister, you name it, she's it. Love her!

the three musketeers. David, Rachel, and Katie....they keep us on our toes.

This is Katie. She scares me sometimes. But I love her too, of course :)

see that little yellow spot on top of the rock? That's Josh. It's a long story how he got there. The long and short of it is, it took him 9 minutes and 45 seconds.





The four of us (David, Josh, Court and I) had lunch at Ellerslie, then jaunted out to DQ for blizzards and milkshakes. Sometimes its the little things, folks, those small gestures of generosity and kindness that touch us the most. Blessed to be part of a team that sees and knows that.


We decided to grill out for supper at Katie's, which required a store run. I have to say, shopping with this Second Family of mine is probably some of the most fun - in a quiet, hilarious kind of way - that I've ever had. Discussing everything from preservatives to nutrition facts to Sweet Baby Ray barbecue sauce to tomatoes to what kind of ice cream we should buy to whether we get something 'cause it's the cheaper option or the healthier one - let's just say we learned a lot about each other.

Funny story behind this two liter coke bottle....there's been an ongoing discussion between us about Coke and Pepsi, with three for and one against. (but none of us actually drink soft drinks regularly anyway) David and I were put in charge of grabbing drinks right before we checked out, so we scooted down the aisle and David (Mr. Pepsi Forever) asked, "What kind do you want? *pause* You want Coke, don't you?" I just grinned at him. He picked one off the shelf, handed it to me and grabbed a ginger ale too. I turned the Coke over, and "Would you look at that?! It says, 'Share a Coke with the TEAM." It was meant to be! :)

So the guys grilled the burgers, us girls chopped tomatoes and onions and set everything out, and we all played with the kids that were over. We hung out for several hours, just enjoying fellowship and laughter and the break from work and training.


Honestly, though, it's been incredible. Watching the Spirit move and work in each of us, and the way He's going above and beyond all we could ask or think, is powerful. It gives you that feeling of smallness...realizing our lives are so not about us, and that we're part of a much bigger story of redemption and salvation. Our lives aren't just about Jesus, we're supposed to BE Jesus. And it's a beautiful thing to see that unfolding in the lives of those I love so much.

(missing David, 'cause he took the photo. But you'll see more of him later, I promise.)

Happy Labor Day from Colorado! *grin*
 

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fishies

Please take a moment and feed my dear little fishies :) Just click on the water to feed 'em! Names:
The yellow fish is Buttercup, the green one is Rush, the pink one is Elizabeth, and the purple one is Zachary Moon

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