Sunday, July 26, 2009

We found out about two weeks ago that the boys were planing a big night for us ladies, but we had no idea what was coming. This Friday we found out that we needed to be dressed up and that we needed to get our "hair did" and be ready at 7:00 sharp.
This is me and my roommates out in front of the building we were supposed to meet the guys at. We were so excited and nervous.

These were the first 4 guys to meet us. They checked us all in and brought us drinks. They were very gentlemanly.

This is me and my roommate Kariss! I love her. She has been such a blessing to me this summer. Her love for the Lord is in all that she does and she is uncompromisingly passionate.

As we walked down the hill this is what we saw. Our lovely and handsome men were waiting to escort us to dinner.

There are two girls to every one guy here so this is what the guys saw as we came down the hill.

Mark was my escort into dinner. It's amazing how someones treatment of you can make you feel special and valued. These guys worked hard to accomplish this and they most certainly did.

It is hard to describe how beautiful it was. They catered in our dinner!

This is me and Jessica. We were at the same table. Jessica was a major player in creating a bond among us women! She has been such gentle and strong leader.

It was a beautiful night but I felt like the sky was the smile of god on us. It was radiant. I can only imagine that he was proud of his sons and the way they were blessing his daughters!

These are all the girls that were at our table. From left to right it was Elizabeth, Jessica, me, and Brittany. It was a wonderful table and the food was incredible.

We had roses as the center piece of each table. They did an incredible job with decorations and everything. These are men with impeccable taste!

They were busy serving all of us women and they were so eager to do it.

So this is all of us Alphas. Frequently someone walks into a room and says "Hello Alpha family!" We are family and we have so enjoyed getting to know each other.

These are all of our men! They are wonderful and I am so thankful to have gotten to know all of them!

This is a kinda random group of us. From left to right it's Nate, Jessica, David, me, Micah, Elizabeth, Ben, and Brittany.

And of course along with the elegance there is always a little time for silliness so my roommate Brittany taught me how to fart with a straw. I can't say that I am proud of this picture but it was a fun moment.

This is me with all of the Alpha men. I am honored to have them as my brothers in Christ and I am have been blessed by the way that they have treated us with respect. In many ways they have helped us identify with our identity as beautiful daughters of God. Having said this let me just say a little somethin' about each of them. Starting on the left in the back: Joshua asks questions that continually challenge us to seek out God's character, Hal has the most wonderful sense of humor and can fill a room with joy and laughter, David is joyful and has a gift for putting others at ease, Micah has a contagious excitement for life and people, Gary is continually giving of himself, Brad is always investing in others, (up front) Peter is honest kind, and Ben has a heart of service and tenderness. It has been a joy to be around these men.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

So...What have I learned?

When I think back on the last two months I realize that it is impossible to sum up all that I have learned. There have been a couple of themes that have come up such as holiness and trust, which I have learned are very closely related, but I think that one of the neatest things that has happened for me is God showing me what my story looks like as a whole.

Yesterday we had to share with our group what God has done in us over the time that we have been here. While I was doing my morning devotion God showed me two passages that really amazed me in terms of summing up both my life story and my story while I have been at Focus. The first one is from the end of Job. At this point in the story Job has been broken and he responds to the Lord by saying, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, and i will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42: 2-6. This may seem like an odd passage, but there are a couple of things here that I see in my story. One is that Job has just gotten through a wrestling match of sorts with God. Things have happened that Job does not understand, and though he does not curse God he does loose sight of the fact that God operates in ways that are beyond what we can understand. Because of this when we look at things that "have gone wrong" and immediately wonder where God is or if he has forgotten us we too lose site of this. God orders the operations of the universe and he is ordering our footsteps also. We have nothing to fear. I love this passage because this is where Job comes to a place of humility before the Lord. He comes to the end of his questions and finds that the character of God is greater than them all. Job's humility does not come from this perfect revelation of why things happened the way that they did. His humility comes from God's revelation of his character to Job. His humility comes from knowing God. Job says essentially, "I had heard of you but now I see you." In other words, "before I knew of you, now I know you for myself."

This is both the first part of my life story and the first part of my story at Focus. When I was younger my life felt chaotic and broken; as though nothing could ever make it right again. I remember sensing God's love for me and then telling him that I hated him. My parent's divorce and my grandpa and grandma's deaths happened in quick secession and left me feeling that nothing was stable. In the midst of this struggle God showed himself to me and I found myself instead believing that he was everything. That he was constant and sure, and that he could make things right. Like Job this was a place of brokenness for me. It didn't matter anymore that I didn't understand all that was happening, what mattered was that I was the Lord's and he was bigger than my circumstances. Similarly, when I first got to Focus I found myself humbled in his presence; wrestling with what it meant that he is holy. With God's revelation of what this meant came an understanding of the beauty of his holiness and what it offers me. I have heard about his holiness my whole life but for the first time I was seeing his holiness. I love that at the end of that passage Job says, "I repent in dust and ashes." After wrestling with God, there is always a point where I find myself here, realizing that I am nothing. Asking the question in the psalms of "what is man that you are mindful of him?" Who am I that he is mindful of me? This is such an important place to be, but what amazes me is that God does not leave me there.

The second passage that God showed me is In Isaiah 61. It says, "...To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations." What a beautiful picture of the redemption that God has for us. As Job repents he says that he has been reduced to dust and ashes, but in this passage God takes those ashes and offers us a beautiful headdress declaring that we are his!

This is the other part of my story. One of redemption and beauty where God has taken me and restored me, not to my former self but into a new being completed by him. I stand before him as his beautiful daughter full of wonder and delight in knowing him. There has been a beautiful picture of this restoration in my family as God has rebuilt my parents marriage and our family. He has taken our ashes and replaced them with the legacy of a beautiful marriage that I would be honored to have some day. Only God could do such a thing!

The passage continues by saying that the Lord's work is not finished, but that he will now take what was broken and use it to restore and rebuild. This is the next part of my story. I don't know where God is calling me from here, but I know that he is calling me to restore what is broken. He heals us that we would go and offer healing. He rebuilds us so that we can go and do the same for others. I am eager for his call, and I will go where he asks so that I can do these things!

Thank you to all of you who helped get me to this place. You are absolutely part of this story and there are not words for the blessing that it has allowed in my life. Thank you!

Friday, July 24, 2009


"Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you 'Here we are'?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
or given understanding to the mind?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
when the dust runs into mass and the clods stick fast together?"
This is found in Job 38 and it strikes me that God's answer to Job is both a confrontation in that he asks Job, "Who are you to question me?" and an expresion of mercy in that he proclaims "You have no need to question me." Based on the beginning of the story we know that Job was not being punished, in other words he was not suffering the consequences of his sin. However, Job's attitude towards God in his suffering shows a lack of acknowledgment of God's might and his sovereignty. God answers this powerfully by asking Job all of these questions about what Job is capable of. I think that these questions serve a duel and merciful purpose in that while they confront Job they also comfort him. Facing God's holiness and his might is challenging but profoundly freeing. When we face these attributes of God, acknowledge them, and truly believe them, we have no need to fear anything. Things may not go as we planed, they may even be extremely painful, but when we truly believe that God is the sovereign God of the universe and that he is ordering our steps, then we will be able to move forward with boldness.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pike's Peak!

We began our adventure at 3am! You may think that this means that we went to bed early, on the contrary we went to bed at midnight and got up at 2:30. All this to say that we began our adventure of 14,110 feet on 2 and a half hours of sleep. When we got there the sky was beautiful and though you can't tell in this picture there were stars everywhere!
This is the trail head in the dark! We got lost on the way there so between the hour trip and the detour that we took we got here at about 5am.

This is our hiking group! There were about 15 of us and all of us made it up! (Sorry to give away the ending :()

Off we go! There were a couple of us hanging back so that we could get some good pictures. ;)

The view right from the beginning was amazing. It wasn't bright but it was so cool to watch our environment come alive as the light filtered through the trees.

The group that I was hiking with decided early on that we were going to take more frequent breaks, and we were very glad that we did so. We took our time and had such a beautiful experience. We would stop and be amazed by the beauty that was around us. We sat and read Psalms and the end of Job on the side of the mountain!
The hike was both beautiful and painful. The elevation increase is faster than your body can adjust to and the most discouraging thing is to feel like you can't breath. Having said that you know that turning around is not an option. None of us are really sure if sense or stubbornness won out here.:)

As you move up the mountain the landscape changes drastically. Trees can not grow above 1100 feet and so once above the tree line the terrain becomes very rocky.

These piles of rocks marked the trail all along the way. It is such an interesting concept because the trail is really hard to see at times, because of this you easily get off of the beaten path. Thanks to these stacks of rocks this is not alarming. When you find yourself a little off you stop, and look for one of these, and then move towards it. As I think about it I realize the irony that men often use methods that mirror the grace of God without even knowing it. God knows all that we need and he has prepared the way, in fact he goes before us in order to do so. This alone is enough to reveal that he is good, but in his mercy he goes beyond this so that when we get off course we can stop, look to him, and he will gently and faithfully reroute us.

This spot had the most spectacular view, we just didn't know what to think about the fact that there were about 3 feet keeping us from becoming part of that view.

The clouds were so close at times you could watch wisps of cloud move past your face! What a cool experience.

Though this does not capture the vastness of the view from the top, I love this picture! We decided that the views along the way were more beautiful than the view from the top but they did not come close to the sense of vastness that you got from the top. It was amazing that in the midst of this great accomplishment there was a profound sense of smallness in comparison to all that was around us.

This is me and Laura at the top of all 14,110 feet! We had such a wonderful time getting there. Laura is great fun and she forged ahead of us. Often I found myself going "if I can just make it to Laura..." She was our driving force!

Although we did not all summit together, we reunited at the top for about 2 minutes to take a group picture.

This picture is of the actual group that I hiked the whole trail with. Gary was our guide and though he could have gone much faster stayed back to take care of us.

This is us one more time!

And this is us at the end! We climbed Pike's Peak in 12 hours including coming down. It was awesome!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We went camping over 4th of July weekend and it was amazing. A couple weekends before the boys had gone on a camping trip and had found this place that they came back raving about and wanting to share with us girls. We got there and set up camp and then climbed up the mountain right behind where we were camping. This was the view from the mountain on the first night! The presence of God was tangible in this place. He is so much more present then we are aware of. Too often we are too busy to be still and feel his touch in the rays of the sun or his majesty in the sunset. This was a weekend of stillness for me! It was wonderful.
This is Gary (in the back), then Rachel, Elizabeth, and Brittany (up front). We so enjoyed the top of this mountain! What a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy God's beauty both as it is reflected in nature and the people around me.

Our camp site! It was like a little town!

This is us! We have only been here for just under two months but we love each other. We are sisters. We delight in each others beauty and the light that it shines into our lives. Each of these girls bless my heart and their smiles brighten my day. What a privilege that God would bring us all to this place. I am blessed.

Amy lead us in worship at the mountain top. First of all she is a brave a beautiful person, and not just because she was willing to stand on a rock and play her guitar. Her spirit and voice have blessed us tremendously over the weeks. We met with God on this mountain top and praise flowed out of us. What else is there to do in the presence of a mighty God?

This is my friend Micah and I. God has given him a spirit of energy that is contagious!

So I think that this picture was supposed to be one up but that's ok.:)
We are learning amazing things while we are here, at least in part because we read and study a lot....a whole lot! But this time all of these girls are actually reading for fun.

From left to right this is Emily, Rebecca, Micah, me, and Sarah! I cannot say enough about these people. They have blessed me so many unique ways and I love them dearly.

This is me and Emily! Emily is strong, beautiful, and has a wonderful spirit of adventure! She encourages me and her strong femininity challenges me. She is a treasure.
The view is just stunning whether you are high or low. This is at the base of the mountain that we were on top of most of the camping trip.

This is Rebeka, Sarah, and me, and Michael is the one in the back ground. We were trying to figure out how to get him across the river but the current was really strong and he didn't want to get his shoes wet. So instead we did the best we could to get him in our picture

Flowers along the road.

More flowers!

Another of the view.

And last but not least, the Aspen trees! I thought that these were so beautiful. That is the end of our camping. It was a wonderful time of connecting with God and the beautiful people that he has put in my life for this brief season. God is good!

About Me

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It's funny the things that we learn as we grow. And I don't just mean as we get older, I mean as we learn about ourselves, our world, and our God. I am 25 and I am learning that the circumstances of life are unpredictable. However the presence of God in those curcumstances, in my life and in my heart, is more constatnt even then the rising sun. God is the creator, fullfiller, and motivator of my dreams and desires. His presence is the key to their success and value, and his presence is the joy of my life. This blog is to share as he pursues me and I learn to abide in his presence.