Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I've written about rain before. I'll write about rain again. Today, I write about grace.

You see, I'm thankful for rain because storm clouds make for cozy days, full of flannel and grilled cheeses and favorite movies.  I'm thankful for rain because my childhood memories are flooded with summer showers on a porch swing or evenings chasing puddles in my drive way.  I'm thankful for rain because it makes the whole world slow down a little bit.  And because I have a really cute umbrella.

But more than that, I am blessed by the rain.  Because rain reminds me of a God of grace.  A God who knows what His earth and His people need.  A God who knows how I love the rain and uses that to display His constant pursuit of my heart.

Amidst a long string of days that have felt dark, cold, ugly, and dry, I greet this rain like a child whose parents have come home from a long trip - with arms reaching only up…clinging to the familiarity, yet resounding mystery,  of unconditional love.

And I sing the words of that hymn that speak so clearly to my soul:
"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be.
Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it!  Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, O, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above."

This rain. It is good. And it feels like it was sent just for me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

fallin' for f a l l

There are few things I love in the world more than fall.  And there are few places where fall is more stuffing than the mountains of East Tennessee.  On mornings like this, when the air is crisp and chilly, I look forward to the season to come (Christmas is 37 days away. When did that happen??) and I look back at autumn and smile.  Because the colors and the football and the pumpkins and the scarves and the sunsets and the rainstorms are wonderful.  And I'm exceptionally grateful for living in this place - where my mountains take my breath away and there is nothing quite like looking at the stars on a clear, cool night.

I know I'm rambling and might not be making much sense, but fall can do that to a person.  I get so caught up in how splendid things can be that I'm not even certain that my thoughts are coherent.  But, I don't mind being joyfully jumbled - because this life is certainly a beautiful thing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Oh Jesus

If you haven't had the chance to listen to Jon McLaughlin's new album "Holding My Breath" I highly encourage you to change that.  Some of his best work yet.  You can listen to it all on Spotify - check it out.

One song that has spoken to me is called "Oh Jesus." It is hauntingly honest and it's simplicity makes it one of the most beautiful songs I've heard on a pop album in a long time.  It is human - it reflects some of my own insecurities and doubts and fears and questions.  But, the true beauty of this song is found in it's chorus "Oh, come what may...I will thank God for you."  Oh, that I might have that type of faith - to thank God for Jesus, no matter what my life might hold.

Oh Jesus, can you hear me know?
Oh Jesus, I'm just wondering how I'm doing...
Am I proving worth all the time you spent?

Oh Jesus, I know you're there.
Oh Jesus, have you decided where I'm going?
You know, I was hoping to be with you in the end.

And oh, come what may, through the black and blue
I will thank God for you.

Jesus, I am so confused
Oh Jesus, have you seen the news?
Tell me please, help me see the way it all really works.

Oh Jesus, we yell so loud.
Oh Jesus, and your name rolls out our mouths like fools,
Tell me, do you we help or do we hurt?

And oh, come what may, through the black and blue
I will thank God for you.

Jesus, have your scars healed?
Oh Jesus, can you still feel that cross? And the friends you lost?
And do you ever want to take it back?

Oh Jesus, yeah I know,
Oh Jesus, that I owe you so much more than I can give,
but this life I live you can have.

And oh, come what may, through the black and blue
I will thank God for you.
Cause I am because of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I read this blog today (a friend had posted it on Facebook) about parenting teenagers and it got me thinking.  I am certainly not a mother, although I hope to be one day.  But I do have the distinct privilege of working with teenagers on a regular basis.  And here is the deal folks - teenagers are remarkable.

My mom has always said that children are influenced by the power of suggestion - if you tell them they will change upon midnight of their thirteenth year, they just might prove you right.  But I can tell you with sincere confidence, there is much more good in our high school students than bad.  They face different obstacles than any generation before them, are constantly bombarded by various forms of media, and experience tremendous pressure on a daily basis.  But what I see is not the "monster-like" stereotype that seems to be broadcast among the adults of our culture.  The youth I spend time with love one another, encourage one another, and lift each other up.

Allow me to give you an example.  In the youth band at Church Street UMC, we have started a tradition at the end of each rehearsal called "Peaks and Pits."  Each individual shares their high and low point of the week.  The students have become increasingly invested in each others lives - asking from week to week about the things they have shared.  One student had a rough start to her year - new school, moved houses, lots of change.  One week she said, "Well, I don't think I have a pit...it's actually been a really good week!"  The joy that the other kids had for her took my breath away. They were genuinely thrilled that she had turned the corner in her school year, and it brought tears to my eyes.

Why am I sharing this, you ask?  Because I am on their side.  They are not perfect.  They mess up.  They can be unreasonable and impulsive and unfocused and emotional and stubborn.  But they are also kind and generous and wise and strong and funny and determined and beautiful and good.  We shower them with recitations of 2 Timothy 4:12 - "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young..." but do we forget that this passage might be meant for us too?  A reminder that they are more than capable, that they are a force to be reckoned with, and we shouldn't discount who they are.

The youth I know show me the love of Christ all the time, and most of the time, they don't even know it.  So, here's to our teenagers - the ones with braces and learner's permits and growth spurts and questions and big dreams.  Let us love them well, because they deserve it, and so much more.