Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Start Afresh

As I sit at my desk and look over my mind's shoulder, I see a long train of events strewn out behind me. Some are bright with tears, others dimmed from remembrance. Some glow with warmth and love, and a few are chilly with an icy heartbreak.

But all of them share two things in common.

One is that they all happened to me.

The other is that they're all behind. Past. Done. Gone.

My eyes steal a glance forward.

Who knows where 2014 will take me?

When this new year comes to a close and I look back again, what kind of memories will I see littering the path behind me? What kind of new horizons will I be looking at?

Only time... And my Father... will tell.

The Year in Review

In January, February, half of March I was in Thailand, teaching English to Karen children, learning a strange language, eating hot chilis and riding on top of the Steck's station wagon. So much to miss...

In March, I flew my first international solo flight from Bangkok to Seattle, where I was reunited with family after almost 7 months. 

In April, I turned 20 years old on the same day that I gave my mission report. A friend surprised me by showing up that day as well. 

I got to see this sunset at Haystack Rock in April, too. 

 In May, I took a road trip with my brother and dad down to Redmond/Bend, Oregon area, helping a client to drive a plane to his new hangar. This was the first snow I'd seen since two Christmas's before.

We also welcomed Haley back from the Mission Experience in May. We were all just as excited as the little guy in the background.

May was also the Pathfinder Fair. 

In June, Haley and I made a trip to Walla Walla and spent some time with Emily Heagy before she left for Cambodia... 

...and right after that, we went to Young Disciple Ministries and volunteered for a week. 

We left straight from YD on a mission trip to Tok, Alaska, with Fountains of Life Ministries... 

...and got back in July, just in time for a rousing Inchelium reservation firework show. 

In July, I volunteered at Young Disciple Camp... 

...for week one... 

...And week two. 

Right as YD finished, the staff asked me to stay on to help finish some of their projects and God opened the doors for me to return as a graphic design intern. 

In August, I went on a hike with Jessica and Jenny and Brian, all the way to the top of Sherman Peak: my highest climb to date, I think. 

In August, Haley, Sabrina and I (with the help of many friends) put on a benefit concert to raise funds to go to Thailand... 

...and waded through a cold river in our spare time. 

A short time later, we also  gave an Alaska Mission report at the Castle Rock SDA church.

We also made some new friends in August: the Rittenour family stayed with us for almost a week, since Caleb was planning on coming to Thailand with us and he helped with the benefit concert we did at Castle Rock...

...I also drowned my phone in the ocean in August. Yes, that's what my dad is holding. 

In September, I moved back to YD. 

In October, Jessica, Kezzia and I went on a spur-of-the-moment backpacking trip and had an amazing time. 

In October Grandma Jo passed away, and I went home for her memorial, took Cortney with me, and had a beautiful 5 days home--even though we were missing Grandma. 

October also held a massive blessing from a friend back home. 

In November, I made the trip home for Thanksgiving and got a picture-perfect shot at 6 in the morning. 

In November, I went to the Zoolights with my family... 

...and paused mid-week to snap pictures of the ever-changing driveway... 

...and went to hear Handel's Messiah in an old Presbyterian church... 

...and celebrated getting another round of magazines off to press with a purple feast. 

In December, I went home for Christmas, had a beautiful time with family and dear friends, and yesterday I drove home, over icy-slick roads and arrived just in time to hold down the fort while everyone goes to GYC.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

All except one

One touch away, and it popped onto my little phone screen.

I read.
I sat back.
And I thought. For a very, very, long time.

"As soldiers show their scars and talk of battles when they come at last to spend their old age in the country at home, so shall we in the dear land to which we are hastening, speak of the goodness and faithfulness of God who brought us through all the trails of the way. I would not like to stand in the white-robed host and hear it said, "These are they that came out of great tribulation: all except one." --C.H. Spurgeon

I don't like pain. I don't like struggles. Or hardships. Or heartbreaks.

To date, I've experienced all...and then some.

I've shrunk from pain all my life--and then, two years ago, a close friend told me to embrace my pain. I couldn't fathom it at the time, nor could I understand. But it's never left me. And when I read Spurgeon's comment on gaining Heaven as the only one who hadn't felt pain before, it suddenly clicked.

Just like exercise and discipline are what fit you for running the race, and ultimately receiving the prize, so hardships, heartbreaks, pain and trials are what fit you to live as a Christian in this world and gain Heaven at the last.

An embrace is an expression of endearment, acceptance, love, friendship.

Can you make friends with your hardships?
Love your pain?
Accept--with all its ugliness--your heartbreak?
Call your trials dear?

This is what Christianity is about, after all.

It's not so much the throne as it is the thorn.

There's always something new to learn, isn't there?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I will trust

"It is God's plan to give, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not otherwise bestow."
"Because if it be not worth the asking, it is held in little esteem by those who receive it."
"But are we not in danger of out-asking Him?"
"Nay. The fact that you receive a rich gift today is only the promise of a still richer gift tomorrow."
"Well, henceforth we shall be much more free in our askings."
"And in so doing, you will allow Him to be much more free in His givings."


Head in hands, heart lifted to Heaven. I surrender, I surrender...

Then that little dialogue from John Bunyan's immortal pilgrims comes to mind. And the heart wrenches a little more. Let go: I must, but how can I ask for it if I release...?

How indeed?

I don't understand. I just don't. 

But I will trust.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


The carpet plushes up around my bare feet as I run its rich length to the throne. In childlike fashion, I run to the open arms of the King, sitting alone in the throne room. His embrace seems to put all my broken pieces back together in a moment and I sit on His knee, unwilling to lose contact with Him.

I ask a few questions, but keep on talking. He listens, nods His head, and smiles. I keep looking away, out into the throne room, but always my gaze is drawn back to that face, that smile.

"Are you happy, Child?" His question penetrates deep into my heart.

I smile. "Oh yes. I'm happy--You've blessed me so much and put me in a place to grow and learn and be that I love."

His eyes cut deeper than His question. "Are you really happy?"

My smile fades. "Yes," I say again, though quieter now. "I am happy. But there are some things down inside that keep me from being completely happy."

"Tell Me. I want to know what those things are."

I name a few things, pausing longer on some than on others. Sometimes I smile while telling Him: and sometimes He comments or answers my questions.

"...and as much as I want Your will, I really would like to know," I finish, almost frowning, but still smiling.

He laughs. "I thought you liked surprises."

"I do, I do! But..."

He shakes His head now, still smiling. "No 'buts.' You'll like My surprise, when the time comes. Be patient..."

As the talking and occasional laughter dies down, I sense His eyes on me still. He knows. I haven't mentioned one thing--and that's because I'm not sure how to say it out loud. I fumble with my fingers, trying to pretend like I've exhausted my list of things, even though I know better.

"Did you forget something?" I can hear the smile in His voice, even though I also sense He's hurting with me.

I shake my head at first, but the feeling of that penetrating glance changes the direction of my nod halfway. "I don't want to talk about that, though..."

He puts His arms around me again. Tears escape and run down my cheeks, and then down the gentle, scarred hands that hold my face. A tear that isn't mine rolls down my face, too.

After a little while, He sighs. "You need to talk about it, Child. I'm listening."

I shake my head. "I don't even know how..." More tears.


One word, and it unleashes a floodgate of words that I didn't even know were there. At long last, the problem is in open air, in all its painful ugliness. What will He say?

Tears still bright in His eyes, He now smiles. "I know. I understand. But I've asked you to move on."

I nod, swallowing down a few tears. "I'm going to. I am moving on."

Now He shakes His head. "No... I don't think you really have yet. If you'd already moved on, you wouldn't still be angry. You must forgive."

Forgive. That word slices deep and in a moment, I know He's right. But I can't... It isn't deserved... It's not even Christian...

"Yes, you can." His voice breaks the silence again. "And no, it's not deserved, but that's the essence of forgiveness. And yes..." --He turns my face up to His-- "it's the most Christian thing in the world."

"Even like this? Even when...?" My eyes darken, I know.

"Even when those you love and have tried to save nail you to a cross and mock at you," He replies, quiet.

My eyes travel up to the tell-tale scars in His forehead. For the first time, I feel a breath--fresh air. I want it.

"I want to forgive, but I'm not sure how." I sigh. "This is too big to just say a simple 'I forgive you' and walk away."

He doesn't say anything for a long time, His eyes fixed on some place far distant, almost reliving something that happened long ago. When He does speak, I can feel His very blood dripping through my fingers. "I suffered, bled, and died, My Child. I gave everything I had, and more, so that the world could have a chance at life. In My death, I pardoned: and the essence of pardon is to release the offender from the consequences of their mistakes."

Like a blow in the face, I consider it. Release the offender from the consequences of their mistakes? 

He continues. "I can only forgive those who ask it of Me. And yet, in heart I've forgiven all that men have done to Me. Even so, someday, those who have not asked forgiveness and obtained it will face the consequences."

Forgive, release from consequences... But then, if unrepentant, someday consequences? But still forgiven? How...?

He smiles. "You don't have to understand. Only trust."

I smile. "I trust You."

"Then forgive. Forgive as I've told you to: then, and only then, will you be able to move forward as I've planned."

A long, painful silence. He's waiting for my reply.

Crumbling resolve, shattering glass, crashing walls. "Help me..."

And so He does.

Once all the dust settles, He points my gaze out the window. "Now... move forward."

Who would've thought that forgiveness could hold so much?