Friday, October 26, 2012

Taking a moment.

It's almost November of my Junior year in college.  A little bit crazy and hard to believe.  This semester has been flying by, and has been much more challenging work load wise than either of my semesters at Master's last year.  Each week has been filled with projects, papers, presentations along with the usual array of reading and other homework.  The Lord has been continually faithful though, even in the times where I've worked as hard as I could but still haven't gotten things done on time, He has been faithful to bless me with teachers who have been gracious.  With the semester being a little more than half way over I'm taking a step back to praise the Lord for His faithfulness and to sit for a moment in my dorm room (which is quiet at the moment), and to think on His glory. 

I'm taking a moment to laugh and praise the Lord that I'm in a place where there is this paradox that when it's 70 degrees outside in October it's exciting because it's "cold" enough to be classified as fall weather.  I can wear a scarf, tights with a skirt and my wonderfully wornout dusty pink cowgirl boots. Yes, it's Fall.

I'm taking a moment to thank the Lord for the imagination, because with it I can imagine it is actually cold outside.  The air is crisp and I'm in a cozy little cottage surrounded by Aspen trees vividly changing colors.  I can look out the front window and watch as I sip chai tea curled up in a blanket with my favorite book on my lap.  It's Fall. 

I'm taking a moment to think about home and remember all the Fall memories with my brother and friends growing up.  It always, always, always, would snow on Halloween.  And I would insist on planning all my brothers birthday parties.  Fall meant it was time to start dance classes again, and knit scarves with my mom. 

I'm taking a moment to praise the Lord for my room mate this semester, and how He knew in His wisdom and sovereignty that we would be room mates this semester, and walk through things together.  What a display of His love and grace.  I'll miss her next semester when she's in Israel, but I'm so excited for her!

In the midst of this semester where it's so busy it seems like each week just flies by I don't want to miss all the displays of God's goodness, greatness and glory all around me.  He's working even when I don't see it.  I'm often so blind and need to take a step back, to look, to taste and see that the Lord is good.  So even though this next week is crazy for me with midterms, projects, presents, oh and normal homework all due there is always a moment to stop, to see the Lord's glory, and to praise

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Be still and wait.

Wait, He says, wait on Me, trust Me.
Though there seems to be no end to the gray skies,
remember My promises,
rest in My love.
Soon enough, My daughter,
I will lead you out of this valley and through this storm,
then you will be stronger still.
Until then wait through the storm;
the thunder and the downpour of rain.
Remember Me, keep your heart stayed on Me,
I am holding you, find peace in My embrace.
Rays of sunshine will soon break through the dreary clouds.
The trees will blossom and the flowers bloom after the downpour of rain.
Beauty will come from this storm.
In the meantime, My daughter,
Be still, wait, take heart, do not be afraid.
I am with thee.
"You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock"
- Isaiah 26:3-4
"fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
- Isaiah 41:10

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grace with every step.

The first note plays as the song begins. She steps onto the stage.
Her arms in second position looking a l'epaule; an excitement and a joy fills her soul.
He has just redeemed her soul, washed her in His blood; she is new, she is whole.
Now her dance belongs to Him.
She steps out in faith with her first grande jette knowing He is with her every step. 
The music is bliss and she leaps as if she is on a cloud. 
She lands with grace as the music changes. 
She tiptoes to center stage. 
Her heart skips a beat because it's time for her most challenging step. 
Her fouettes are about to begin.
Her whip and spin are pefect until number sixteen. 
She slips and falls, but He is there to pick her up again.  She dances on.
The music changes again.  The drama and the crescendos in the music begins. 
She struggles to keep up with her music. 
The grande jette's and pirouettes move at a franatic pace. 
She dances with precision to the sound of violins rushing fiercely. 
Fear and anxiety start to fill the music and movement.
Every step seems to move faster and faster. 
Her weary heart can scarce take it in.
Just then the music slows and changes again.
The violins have slowed to a heart aching melancoly sound.
She begins to bourree across the stage and moves with emotion.
She feels her brokenness and has again come to her end;
utterly broken, the pain overwhelms, and fear engulfs her as the melody plays on.
Yet she knows there is hope. Though she sits in the ashes there is hope.
The song has not come to an end yet, there is still beauty in the dance because He holds her hand.
Her broken, weary, fearful, doubting heart she gives over to Him.
To her King the great I AM.
The only One who can make her whole and new again. 
The only One who can make her dance full of beauty, peace and joy again.
He is faithful; the Creator and source of beauty.
The One who has ordained her every step;
her every develope, pirouette, and grande jette.
He has held and kept her every step.
He has picked her up after every mistake, every bruise, and every blistered toe.
He has made her stronger and perfected her technique through those things.
Soon the sounds of crescendos and melancoly violins will cease. 
Hope will burst forth in the quiet joy of the pianos beautiful melody.
She will glide across the stage in a moment of pure beauty of extension, lines and grace.
As the sound of the last note plays she will end her dance in His embrace.
He will wipe every tear away and her heart will be forever satisfied in His presence.
Yet, until that moment while she is in the midst of her dance,
she mustn't forget the one who holds her,
every step in His love,
and who will carry her until the end.
He is faithful.
Her hope will not put her to shame. 
"Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:2-5
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    His mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in Him.” 
 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord."
- Lamentations 3:22-26

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'd give it away, a million times over for His sake and for the sake of their little hearts...

 There is such a bittersweet flavor in the air of my life right now.  I'm getting ready to go back to Master's in a week and half, and I'm so excited! I'm looking forward to all my classes this semester, to seeing friends whom I have missed over the summer, to learn, to grow, to be humbled in so many ways again, and to see all the people I dearly love from my Bible study at PBC again.  That is the sweet part.  I'm honest to goodness looking forward to and excited about going back.  I'm even looking forward to the homework believe it or not. 

Yet at the same time there is this aching feeling about leaving "home" again, and saying goodbye to everyone from my home church, and my family.  Funny as it may seem to some people in so many ways the hardest most heart wrenching, tear jerking goodbye is to all the 3-6 year olds that I've had the privilege of teaching God's Word to for my churches Children's ministry this summer.  I cannot explain or fathom the love I have or the place in my heart these children and their families have.  All I can say is that it is a gift from God Himself, because I certainly don't have the capacity for it in my mere humanness.  I spent so much of my summer, and even much of my time last year at school praying for and thinking about these dear little souls (I had the joy and privilege of teaching the same group before I left for school a year ago.)  I pray so often for their little souls, and for their families, their parents.  I'm humbled over and over again at the privilege I have to have some part in their little lives. 

My heart nearly melts all the way to the floor at when they call me "Miss Willa," or even "Teacher."  I'm so humbled and tremble at the fact that God has entrusted me with this class of little ones to teach His Word to.  I'm humbled because I know that I am so inadequate for the job in so many ways, and I'm humbled because I'm teaching His holy Word.  I rightly should tremble at that fact.  Preparing to teach them is a means of God's grace because its a reminder how utterly dependent on Him I am for all things, because I know I have to beg for His Holy Spirit to guide me to rightly teach and divide His Word, and I'm accountable to God and His Word for how I teach them.  It's incredibly humbling.  But with all my heart I love these kids.  I love when I see them sharing, caring for each other, and telling to me with much enthusiasm just how big Jesus is.  I love when I ask who wants to pray at snack time and 3 of them excitedly volunteer.  His glory and beauty is displayed so many times in their little lives. I love their joy, their love, and their curiuosity.  I love and it is the pure joy of my heart to teach them.  They have so much of my heart.  I have happily given much of it away to them.  I have poured it out and I'd do it again in an instant and a thousand times over! So even though it hurts so much to have to leave and say goodbye to them, especially because I seriously fear that they might forget me before I come back,  I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  The truth is that God loves each and every one of them more than I ever could.  The love He's given me for them is unexplainable to me, and it's truly the joy of my heart to serve Him in that way, but He loves them infinitely more than I ever could. 

This past Sunday was my last Sunday of teaching them before I go back to school, and afterwards I couldn't help but cry, and I've cried again since them because I don't want to say goodbye.  I know it hurts more because I'm leaving part of me with them, but I keep thinking about this verse "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it." (Mark 8:35).  The utmost desire in my heart has always been for God's name to be made great among these little ones and for them to come to true saving faith in Him.  So I think in many ways part of "losing my life" for Him is being willing to pour into the lives of these little ones with all my heart, and then trusting Him when I have to say goodbye, even if it's just for a season.  Loving on, teaching and pouring into these children has been such a lesson that God brings people and opportunities in and out of my life depending on each season.  He is always good and His plan is always beautiful and good.  My heart has to be one that is willing to pour into others for His sake and the sake of the gospel, and to trust Him when I have to say goodbye.  It's so hard, and I literally feel like I'm leaving behind most of my heart with a group of precious 3-6 year olds, but it's absolutely worth it for His name's sake and the gospels sake.  I'd do it again, in a heart beat. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sunbeams, snapshots to tuck away for a rainy day...

There are some moments, some memories that I just want to take a snap shot of and put it in a special place to save it for a rainy day.  They are the ones that I will probably never really forget, and the ones that I hide away in my heart for a rainy day.  All these moments, all these memories are displays of God's love and grace, and I'm overwhelmed by the number of them that I have from the last few weeks.  They may not mean hardly anything to you, but I'm going to write them down anyway.

Here's just a few.  Playing hide and seek after service in the church sanctuary with a group of kids who have so much of my heart.  Who knew that would be so much fun! God has given me such a love for these precious little souls that I cannot really explain or fathom, but I pray for them continually and it makes my heart hurt to think of leaving them when I go back to school in a few weeks.  A church camp out where one family in particular took me in, shared their campsite and food with me, and I got to share in the joy of watching them spend time together as a family.  It brought joy to my heart to watch them slide down a "rock slide" into a picturesque swimming place in a river.  Climbing rocks up a river with someone who is seriously my little brother in so many ways.  Playing Lord of the Rings risk, sleeping on absolutely hard ground, star gazing, and singing worship songs by a campfire. 

Laughing with my family and debating between olive or gray Tom's for a ridiculous amount of time, much of it taking place in a grocery store in Forks Washington.  Finding my pet rock Elizabeth with my family, running on the beach with my brother, and being able to go on a family vacation again.  Having the blessing of being able to surprise someone incredibly dear to my heart with flowers and dark chocolate.  Watching Tangled with my precious little cousin from Thailand, and praying about the Land of Smiles. Being part of more than one family.  Making a certain special pie for someone equally as special. Being called Willa Vanilla Bean or Miss Willa. Reading Ephesians in the sunshine on the bridge of a river.  Being captivated by a book about a girl who gave up everything for the sake of Christ and others. Making tacos for my family the night they returned home from their trip. Laughing so hard my abs literally hurt, courtesy of my "little brother".

 Spending the summer with my family, and my church family.  I could go on, but I think that's enough for now.  Words can't rightly express my love for my family, my church family, and the children I'm privileged to teach Sunday school to.  The love of the body of Christ has been so clearly displayed so many ways to me in the last couple weeks, and that's a work of God.  Amazing. And words cannot nearly come close to express the immense way God has displayed His love and glory through all these things.  I love this quote by Jonathan Edwards:

“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of Him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.” 

All these things that I have just listed are merely scattered beams.  They point to something greater, and the only way I can rightly enjoy them is to know that God is the source.  The enjoyment of Him as Edwards has so eloquently said, is so very much sweeter than any of these things, however dear they are to my heart, God is still dearer.  I praise Him for all these sunbeams because they are a displayed of His rich love, grace and glory.  It is true that He lavishes us with His grace, and it is also true that is for the praise of His glory! So to Him be the glory and praise for all these things.  What wondrous love He's given.

Overwhelmed with thankfulness,

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Great are His works.

Dear friendly world of blogging,
I can scarcely believe I have only about a month left of summer before I go back to start my Junior year at Master's.  I can honestly say that so far this summer has been far from what I expected, but I guess again I learn to heed the phrase "expect the unexpected".  ;)

You know those times when you feel like you're soaring, in awe, and feel such tight nearness with the Lord and things are going well? That's where I was at when I first got home this summer.  God had blessed me with a truly incredible semester where I learned so much, and I just felt like I was soaring, and I was so excited to see what He would do this summer.  Literally the day after I got home from school I got on my knees and I begged God to humble and refine me.  My wisdom and experience in the Christian life may not be much, but I certainly know enough, and know myself well enough to know that in the times of coming out of a season where God has worked mightily, and I've felt closer to Him than I ever have before that pride can rear it's ugly head, and quickly too.  So I prayed God would humble me, refine me, and make me a weak thing so that His glory could be more greatly displayed. 

Well, you know what God was VERY faithful to answer that prayer, and quickly too.  Very timely He provided at job for me at a little general store and deli place less than five minutes from my house.  And if you knew where I lived you would know that the fact that it was so close to my house was almost a miracle in itself (I basically live at the foot of a mountain).  I had been praying for that specific job, because I thought it would be so much fun.  I was picturing myself working in a cheerful little store and deli, and meeting all kinds of happy vacationing people who want to enjoy the beauty of the northern California mountains.  Needless to say it didn't quite turn out that way at all.  I did not realize that part of my job would be selling lottery tickets, nor did I realize that the majority of the people who would come in would be either very sad looking eldery people who would spend a ridiculous amount of money on the lottery, or unhappy eldery people who would want to know my whole life story and complain about all the "local gossip." Then on top of that were the creepy and inappropriate comments I would get because I'm a young woman.  Now, if that wasn't enough to be far from what I expected it turned out that all my coworkers were older woman, two of whom did not get along at all, and one of whom did not like me at all either even though I'd honestly done nothing to earn her dislike.  She was a very unhappy person, and I never heard a positive word come out of her mouth.  It was so sad.

 So, as you can imagine my job was very difficult and challenging.  I was also working the opening shift, which threw my whole sleep schedule off so it made for me feeling tired almost all the time.  As all this began to unfold, and I saw my summer turning in a direction far from what I had wanted or expected it was much harder to trust and praise the Lord, then it had been when I had first gotten home from school and all things were going well.  And in the midst of it I had forgotten what I had prayed just the day after I got home from school, so I did not see how God was working to answer exactly what I had prayed.  I began to really struggle with having joy, and I was often frustrated thinking "why Lord, why this job? This isn't how my summer was supposed to turn out." I was struggling to trust His goodness, and I complained sometimes verbally, but more so in my heart.  And it did not please God, thankfully He was gracious to convict me quickly and turn my heart continually back to Him.  In His goodness, grace and immense love He reminded me of what I had prayed at the beginning of the summer, and showed me just how He was being so faithful to answer it.  Even though my job really was pretty awful God sustained me through it, He sustained me through the tiredness, He showed me the true sadness and emptiness of a life lived without knowing Him, He convicted my heart even more for a compassion and love for the lost, He showed His love and grace in ways that I would not have seen or known if I hadn't had that job, as crummy as the job itself might have been, and I know He will continue to show His love and grace by renewing and restoring my mind from all the yuck I heard while working there. 

He has been faithful, even when I did not trust in Him, because it is who He is and He does not change, praise Him for that.  He has displayed His love, grace and goodness to me even more intimately by sustaining me, protecting me, and letting me see just how faithfully He answers prayer.  If that isn't enough in His goodness and sovereignty He has provided a way for me to go on a trip with my family this summer.  I didn't think I was going to get to go on any trips this summer, and since June my heart has been aching to be able to go on a family vacation, because those are some of the sweetest times I have had with my family.  God in His love has made that possible, and in His perfect timing He's given it to me now, when I'm finished working for the summer, and truly look forward to a week with my family and time to spend away, to rest, and to refresh at His feet away from the usual routine.  It is His perfect timing, and such a display of His love and grace! I look forward to this next week in one of the most beautiful regions, that I love dearly (the Oregon and Washington coast) with my family.

 Hmmm, He is so good! Just thought I'd give you an update on my summer.  I love this quote by John MacArthur, "How magnificent of a revelation does it take for you to be “awestruck” at God’s splendor and glory? What simple, basic, everyday things are ready examples of His greatness, though disguised as something ordinary and insignificant?" I don't want to miss His greatness and glory displayed, I want to be in awe, because He daily displays His greatness and glory.  Oh for grace for eyes to see it, and for a heart that continually seeks it!

"Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them."
-Psalm 111:2

Joyfully, Willa

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Praising God for the first year at Master's & being back home for the summer.

Well evidently I haven't written anything since Christmas break, and God has done SO much since then so I'll try to kinda summarize a little.  Praising God for it all.

This semester I took Intro to Biblical Counseling.  Oh. My. Goodness. I wish everyone could take that class! I would seriously leave and just be in awe of God, the gospel, His Word, the Holy Spirit, everything! I couldn't even really put into words everything I was learning, and I still can't.  What's so amazing is that even though He has taught me so much through that class He is STILL GREATER, because He is infinite.  I could have moments like that every second for the rest of life, and for eternity and I still wouldn't come anywhere close to comprehending Him, because He is infinite.  SO amazing! Anyway, a huge thing God taught me through that class was about idolatry.  We read through Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick and I seriously recommend that book to anyway.  It'll blow your mind in the best way possible.  One thing that was a huge theme that God was teaching me this month in particular is that He is worthy of worship, and I'm worshipping all the time.  Whether I'm worshipping Him or an idol of my own making.  It's sobering.  It's all about worship of Him.  One verse that I really thought about during February was Romans 11:36, "For from Him, through Him, and to Him are all things to Him be glory forever. Amen."

Wow.  How do I even begin to summarize? The Lord revealed to me a truth that I had heard but hadn't really understand in a personal way, which seems funny because it's such an essential part of the gospel.  All the sudden for the first time I ever I began to think about the fact that because of the gospel, and Christ's atoning work I have been set free from sin! He said "it is finished" He conquered sin and death! I read through Romans 6 a lot, and was amazed.  I felt like all the sudden my thinking about how sin and sanctifcation and struggling in general was all the sudden revolutionized! I began to really think about the reality that Christ has freed me from sin.  I am not a slave to it anymore.  I'm free from sin, and now a slave to Him.  When I sin I'm choosing it, and I'm choosing to place myself under the bondage of sin, when Christ has set me free from it.  My mind is still whirring thinking about this truth.  All of Romans 6 amazed me, but in particular Romans 6:20-23 struck me,

 "For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I was so blessed this month.  I got to spend Easter weekend in Carpenteria with my friends Jessy and Rachel from school.  It was SUCH a blessing.  I felt like the Lord really grabbed my heart that weekend, and showed me areas that I really needed to deal with, and to worship Him more wholly.  For my Old Testament class I was working on summarizing the book of Isaiah which was AWESOME.  It went perfectly along with everything I was learning about idolatry in my Intro to Counseling class.  It's all about worship.  God created us to worship Him, He is worthy, and there is nothing sweeter than delighting in and knowing Him intimately.  That's what He wanted from Israel but because of their idolatry He punished Him, but then He promised them comfort and peace.  I'm not even doing it justice in my explanation but just read Isaiah and God's Word will speak for itself.  A few verses in particular that God really used this month to teach me were Philippians 4:11-13,

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

There were a lot of circumstances and things going on, and honestly I was struggling with being content.  It was hard, but the Lord kept bringing that verse to mind. 

Another verse that I thought was incredible and encouraged me to trust the Lord was Isaiah 26:3-4,

"You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock"

The semester was winding down, and the Lord did something AMAZING. For the whole year I had been wanting to do research on ministries that reach out to human trafficking and prostitution, whether in the US or not, and through a few school projects I started researching a little bit.  Along with that I really started to think about Thailand, and the world in general.  The Lord's plan of redemption is universal! It's big! All the sudden I had this strong desire in my heart to learn more about Human trafficking, and Thailand, and to go there.  I have no idea what the Lord will do with all this, but all I know is I have been praying so much and have already started researching more.  Regardless I know He will use it in an amazing way, because that is how God works.  Regardless of whether I go to Thailand or not.  Right now I'm just praying that He will make my will and my desires His own, and that He would direct and guide me. I'm excited though because He is so good! It's been heart breaking to read about Human trafficking statistics in Thailand, but what's incredible is that the gospel is the power to save, and so I just keep praying God will make His Word known in that nation and specifically to the women and children who are trafficked with literally no hope. Revelation 5:9 has been on my heart,

"And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,"

Love.  He will save out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation. And we will one day all be praising Him before the throne. 

I'm just so excited to see what the Lord will do.  I'm praying He continues to humble, prune, and refine me, because I know I desperately need it! I started to read "Through the Gates of Splendor" by Elisabeth Elliot and that has been great so far, and I'm SUPER excited because I also got the biography she wrote on Amy Carmichael and I can hardly wait to read it.  Well dear blogging friends, if you think of it pray for me.  Pray the Lord continues to humble me, make me a weak thing, and breaks me down so that His power and glory can be displayed through me.  And pray for Thailand, pray His name would be made great among the nations, and that the gospel would be proclaimed.  Praise Him for the hope we have in Him. 

"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds." <3 Psalm 36:5