Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Small" Christmas

It's that time of year! Can't you see all the ribbons, glitter and colorful packages that poor from under the tree...but not so much at my home as a child.

I was thinking today I don't remember making big wish lists for Christmas as a child, nor even in recent years. I grew up happy and with plenty. Never in need or deprived. However, in some people's eyes they may say I had a small Christmas, due to the lack of multiple and large gifts. We weren't the Johnsons, we lived on the common pay check to pay check family budget. One decent car and when fortunate enough to have a second car, it usually required a laying on of hands each morning before hitting the road. We shopped for only what we needed that week, it was completely enough. And until my sister and I were older, my mom stayed home with us rather than bringing in a second income.

My mom's goal was to give us one realistic main gift that our little hearts had been hoping for that year and then a few little things. I say realistic to emphasize that she'd get us a gift that was useful or we'd actually play with for longer than a week and of course one that we could it may not have been name brand or the hottest color but it accomplished its purpose no doubt! And happy we were!

And guess what hungry America? I'm now 29 years old and have never felt deprived or sad because of what some would say I lacked materially. I may have lacked in the mountainous amounts of gifts that others received. But I never lacked in joy, I have happy memories of the holidays!


A group of girls and I are reading through Colossians together and today we were in chapter three. The message reads like this: "...killing off everything connected with the way of death...doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy!"

My 'little fancy' may never have fully been satisfied as an endless dreaming little girl. But more importantly I have memories of contentedness. I believe that foundation of "small is plenty" has grown me into a woman who finds herself content with little. Content with simple. Yes, I still have my needs and favorite things like Starbucks and scarves....but I feel confident that there's not much I can't live without or that I can't wait for.

Then built upon the foundation I received from home is my awareness and knowledge of those who severely lack, those in poverty. I've seen it with my eyes. Smelt it with my nose. Touched it with my hands. And heard of much, much more with my ears from those who have gone into streets and countries where I have yet to step.

So many may say I lack...but if we would really, really open our eyes then we'd see that I overflowed in abundance as a child. Gosh the American eye...stomach...desires...and more. It's just ridiculous...and even more ridiculous is how we get caught up in it. Yes, I said we...I have my moments, honest.

So are you caught up in the shopping frenzy? Did I get enough? Did you just swipe your 5th credit card so you could get your child their 17th gift on the list of 34 this year? Did you get up with the moon on black Friday to fight in line for the big deal...that maybe you really didn't need?

I pray I continue to seek and never lose sight of contentedness in the small and simple. my loved ones and friends will continue to challenge and encourage me so.

A small Christmas I'll hold in my hands but more important is the large Christmas I hold in my heart! Thank you Jesus for the largest and greatest gift I'll ever receive...Your LOVE!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

He Can!

Gosh I remember struggling for was Old Testament 101 with Dr. Lee, my first semester in college. We were in the book of Exodus. Of course if you are familiar with Exodus you think of Moses and Pharaoh. Moses' story is always one that encourages and tells you to go and fight...nothing is too big with God on your side.

However, what I struggled with was Pharaoh. Why did God harden Pharaoh's heart? I was just stumped with it...for weeks. I could hardly get anything else out of the class for the next few weeks. I remember asking and discussing the issue with friends. Why would God intentionally harden someone's heart? No one gave me an answer that satisfied me at the time. I basically agreed with myself and spirit to drop it after a few weeks, to let it go. Trust in our God...I mean obviously now thousands of years later I see it all worked out. He had a plan and purpose...and it was accomplished and He received the glory and His people were saved!

I thought of this struggle just the other day and God spoke to me a whole new lesson...
If He can harden such a powerful man's heart and it affect thousands of people...then where is my faith that He can do just the opposite? That He can soften the heart of the lost people in my life. Their hearts may have been harden for years along with being shattered and broken...but He can soften them. Doubt in its more like an honest doubt that little me can do nothing to soften their heart. I'm not the Creator, All powerful, All knowing, Love, Master, Ultimate sacrifice...I'm just His daughter. He can soften!

Lord, I give these precious hearts to you. I want so much more for them! I want to see them captivated and overwhelmed with You! You alone can rescue! You alone can soften the nastiest callous heart!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sneek Peek...

What a fun senior photo shoot with the beautiful Megan!!! We had a blast from climbing a bridge, rolling in the dirt, sneaking around caution tape and more! Here is a sneek peek at the hundreds of amazing shots she took! Which one is your favorite and why?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Burning Ache

April 2012...

I will board a plane to the country of Guatemala to love, serve, and learn from the beautiful people of Buena Vista. I simply cannot explain my excitement to go. Our church, particularly our student ministry, has been involved with serving a community in Guatemala for over two years now. Much to my disappointment, this will be my first trip over there. However, God has a route for all of us and this is my time to go.

The ministry there consist of a few branches: 1) building homes for the poor, 2) loving on the people through physical means such as a simple hug, a basket of food, or purchasing a horse for a family's business and 3) a brand new boys sports academy where the purpose is to teach boys what it is to be a godly and educated man, so that the long battle of poverty both physically and spiritually may be defeated in this upcoming generation! Praise God!

I want more. More in the depths of my spirit. I'm stuck in a rut. A rut of American routine. More specifically beyond the typical do good American Christian routine. I feel like a hamster.... peddling my way through the boring 8-5 weekly routine begging for just one more extra hour to both find time away to be still and undistracted with Him and also to go, go serve and love.

Frustrated. I'm frustrated with wanting to get out and find, do, go and be more. Its like the routine is a monster that gobbles you down and you cannot seem to find your grip to climb out of his rotten, slimy gut.

Oh how I eagerly await April 2012. Yet, I have this awkward patience...(I say awkward because I'm not very patient and also I have such a deep desire to go)....awkward patience at the moment as 5 months span between now and then. Because not only am I eagerly aware and expecting that God is and will do great things there...I feel and know He will and has to do some things in me before. What that may be I don't know. Simply growing my heart for this people and spending time with Him about these people may be it, or it may be much more. Only He knows.

I'm reading a book entitled "Kisses from Katie". Its a beautiful story told of a young lady all of 22 years of age who left home at the age of 18 for Uganda. She now calls Uganda home where she is raising her 14 adopted children and running a large full time nonprofit ministry that reaches hundreds of children!

A running theme in her book is an ache. An ache to love and serve those less fortunate. And ache to love her 14 girls. And ache for the people and their well being. An ache to humbly do as her God has called her. She has such a discontent with her former American life and ways of abundance. She has such a bold and eager faith, its truly encouraging and only intensifies the ache in my own heart for more.

I do know that this ache of more, is more of God and His plan. Details. Oh yes, those who know me all know that I like details. However, I don't know what the details of this more includes or where obtaining this more may lead me....but its not here in my little room or even at my favorite little table at Starbucks....hence my current daily patterns.

And why do I mention Guatemala amidst me wanting more, no I'm not saying I'm going to go on a mission trip and never come home...well unless that's where He leads me. (Calm down Mom, just saying I'll go where He leads :)). First, its been a burning desire to go there and serve for two years now...I can't wait to meet so many people I already know by name from stories, pictures and videos shared by friends who have already gone! Second, I am fully aware of the joy and blessings one receives when serving our God outside of our daily routines and I'm busting at the seams to get out! Third, its my only clear detail/vision of escaping this daily routine I'm in and I can't get it off my mind or heart! So lets go!

So this blog may seem a bit jumbled and incomplete...that's just where I am now amidst my burdens, heart and burning ache.

And very soon I will blog more about my upcoming trip to Guatemala as I desire your prayers greatly and if you feel led your support financially as I seek to raise the funds require to go.

to be continued...

I cannot wait to meet the famlies and children of Buena Vista, Guatemala!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Love is...

This is something I wrote over a year ago...

Love is not a fairy tale, for fairy tales are far to simple and pretty. Oh yes I want the fairy tale, its a desire of my small beating heart. But as I grow and stumble my way through life I'm learning with every step...and fall, that love is much more complicated than a simple little fairy tale.

Love is deep. Love is messy. Love is blinding. Love is beautiful. Love is hurt. Love is grace. Love is tears. Love is easy. Love is difficult. Love is not one, two or even three dimensional, its much more than that.

Love is love. There isn't a single word to define love.

Have I loved? Oh yes, I've loved. I've felt, given, seen, received, and been stripped of love. I've experienced love. How? The list could go on forever and I know there will be more love to come on my journey. But a peak into the window of my heart and the love I've experienced...

A mother's love. This love is a multi dimensional love. Its patient, unconditional, sacrificial, supportive, and more. All of this I've received from the heart, hands, and words of my mother. Most recently I've seen this love reflected in my sister and the love for her children. To have watched her grow, learn, fight, laugh and fall through the years and now shine like a start as a mother. I've experienced love by watching her with her precious children.

A friend's love. This love stretches time and distance for those few special people that are given to us for more than a season, but for a lifetime. This love is felt over the phone, even after not speaking or seeing one another for months at a time, yet it feels just like yesterday. A supportive and encouraging love through both laughter and tears.

An intimate love. I walked in those doors for a time. It was adventurous, uplifting, butterflies in my tummy and moments that were literally breath taking. A feeling where all you want to do is give and serve that person with all you have. However, sometimes those feelings aren't matched and as the songwriter puts it "your heart feels like paper, a Valentine that's been torn in to pieces." I've heard it said you can fall in love with the wrong person, so I made that mistake. However, I walked away knowing I loved deep and wholly, beyond what I imagined could exist. Now I find myself healing, learning and growing so I can be all I am now and more for the day I can love again.

An unmatchable love. There is a love that has never, ever failed me. The love of my Abba, my God. I can't even begin to grasp His furious love. The deep and powerful love of a mother, friend and lover are just fractions of glimmers of His unimaginable love. His love is what keeps you breathing, what gives you the strength and soul to love...He is love. Love doesn't exist without Him. Feeling, which is only part of love, doesn't exist without Him. How? How can one live this life without opening their heart up to His love. I couldn't.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Worthless Fighting

Fighting on our own is


We can only look to Him in our battle! I hate fighting on my own, but all to often from big to small battles we think we can just step up to the ring all alone...of the relief, peace, joy, comfort and more when we Look to Him instead of worthlessly fighting on our own.

Here is an awesome line in the bridge of this song:

Defeat is calling

I need you to set me free

Take me far away from the battle

I need you to shine on me!!!!

I've never heard this song sung better nor with such heart! And her testimony is beautiful. Listen to Selah's version of this song below:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Altar


I've had this song on repeat for over a week now. It's simply pure and beautiful. It's inviting and healing. And as I sing it over and over I can't help but sing this with some people in mind that I beg would release their pain and frustration and come rest and cry at the altar.

"The Altar" lyrics...

There is a place, a place I've found
Not made of earth, not made of stone
This place is sacred, this place is secret
Here in the presence of a Holy God
Here in the presense of a Holy God

Come to this place, come seek His face
Find the hands of forgiveness
Look in the eyes of grace
Run to redemption with tears of joy and pain
Let fire fall and purify our hearts
Come to the altar, come to His arms

There's a place, a place of healing
There is no shame within your scars
This place is sacred, this place is secret
Here in the presence of a Holy God
Here in the presence of a Holy God

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is God

Come to this place, Come seek His face
Find the hands of forgiveness
Look in the eyes of grace
Run to redemption with tears of joy and pain
Let fire fall and purify our hearts
Come to the altar, come to His arms


Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Give Me Faith"

This song was performed this past week at camp at the Student Showcase! Its beautiful and expressions brokeness and our need for Him in our weak flesh!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Faith Like a Child...Like a Little Asian Child

I noticed her sweet little Asian face as soon as she walked in. She's down visiting her grandmother for the summer. I immediately said hello and shared a big smile while her.

And if you know me at know I want to adopt a little girl from China so that makes this story so much sweeter.

I spoke with her grandmother for a few minutes and as I assumed she was adopted from China! Her grandmother said she was aware and completely cool with the fact and knowledge she was adopted. After small talk and me getting all excited I excused myself to go sit with little Asia (we'll use that name to guard her real name).

Asia was beautiful. She content working in her language arts workbook as I approached her...which she later told me she hated that book, haha. Within one to two minutes of our conversation her query of who I was and my purpose in chatting was gone. Little Asia became an open book. A little Chatty Cathy of sorts! We talked about school, celebrating the Chinese new year, the wintery weather up north, who we were going to marry (haha, she was a hoot!), her favorite uncle....and so much more. This little girl popped from one page to the next, sharing her story. Before I knew it we were onto pages of hurt, fear, and struggles. She started bringing up dark things she's experienced with her family (all of which I don't feel comfortable sharing so publicly on this blog). She mentioned rough memories on and off that broke my heart. (And when I state her family and memories its all of her American family, she was adopted very, very young). She asked if my parents were divorced and so maturely stated "Yeah, I knew my parents would divorce. I don't know how to tell the future or anything but you know how you just know things?". Did I mention this little girl was only about 10 years old? So, then we were on to making forts with sheets, pillows and kitchen table chairs with grandpa......However, grandpa had died just a over a year ago she blurted out. She turned and looked across the room to where her grandmother was and stated, "Yeah, my grandma still has a hard time with it and I mean I wish he was here too, but he's dead."

I sat in awe of the openness of this little girl's heart and thoughts. She first captured my attention because she was a little adopted asian girl...but then she captured my heart for more reasons and retaught me a lesson I can never get enough of....To have faith like a child.

Just as that little girl so easily, quickly...and most astonding, so unasmadly...expressed the joys and the broken pieces of her precious Jesus wants us to open up to Him, sharing all our brokeness, laughs, frustrations, desires and more! He already know them, but the beautiful peace and relationship that comes with opening up to Him is beyond words.

Thank you little Asia for your lesson, your reminder to fall to my knees as my Father's little faithful daughter.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Joy! Joy! Joy!

I remember about a year ago after hearing a sermon on joy, my friend and I repeatedly ran about saying "Joy! Joy! Joy!" all week long! It was our attitude to every little bother or hinderance....just smash it down with Joy!

Joy...what is it? I have a friend named Joy who's creative, sweet, seeks Jesus and is beautiful. But what is joy?

I've heard it said before that joy is not mere happiness. Happiness is much simplier than joy. Happines merely comes from a feeling of excitment that is dependant upon positive and ideal circumstances...therefore it can evaporate in just seconds.

Joy can be and is felt, but it is more than a feeling. For feelings come and go just as the wind....changing directions, light, absent, strong, comforting and more. So joy is not a feeling.

Joy is a state of the heart, more specific state of the soul.

Over the past month or so I've found myself mulling over joy in my the midst of pretty much every area of my, singleness, family, struggles, stalled dreams and more. Looking through the eyes of my flesh and its emotions, its easy to miss the joy that exist in it all. I found when you really sit down and make yourself ask "Where is the joy in this situation?" even the tought situations...then you always see it, I mean its not been hiding! It's always there.

Joy can be overlooked, smoothered, and choked out....but it always remains. He always remains. He is the consistent in the inconsistent. He is the strength admist weakness. He is the hope of tomorrow in today. He is the piercing ray in the smog. He is tender in the brutal battle.

Thank you Jesus for giving us continous, unending joy. For being our joy even admist the struggles, dryness, and hardships.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

HE vs. he

This is something I wrote awhile back. I've shared a copied with a few sweet ladies and now I am sharing with you all, as to hopefully encourage as many people as possible with the words given to me as my sweet Jesus has comforted me. Then below is a few pictures along with Ps. 37...a Psalm I hold near and dear.

"HE vs. he"

He wont answer if you call;
HE is always waiting on your call.

You hurt for him because you care;
HE loves and cares for him more than you and HE's there for him to the fullest.

You never thought he'd leave you;
HE will never leave depth of sin, strain, pain or disappointment will break HIS unconditional love for you.

So many things remind you of him during the day;
HE thinks about you and yearns for you every moment of the day.

His last words sting and linger;
HE has a fresh, loving new word for you every morning.

His promises are dry and dead;
HE will never break a promise.

His rejection beats you up, leaving your heart black and blue;
HE will never leave you nor forsake you...HE says you are so beautiful, always!

He's left you with tear stained pillows;
The only thing HE has stained is your heart, with HIS precious blood.

Sometimes the pain stings so deep as if life can't go on;
The pain HE took for you resulted in the death of HIS flesh but it gave your spirit a beautiful eternity with HIM.

You miss his touch, his arms around you;
HE holds you everyday...even if you leap from HIS hands, HIS arms are reaching and straining for you to return to HIS embrace.

You miss how he smells;
You can smell HIM in the rain as it falls on your beautiful face and in the sweet salty air at the ocean's edge.

He's no longer your prince in shinning armor;
HE is your KING and you are HIS beautiful daughter, HIS amazing princess!

He overlooked your heart, he broke it;
HE understands the desires of your heart fully.

This time of healing seems long, like a thousand days still yet to come;
A thousand days is but a mere moment to HIM and HE already has your victory won!

"Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong....

Trust in the Lord....

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart...

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this...

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice of your cause like the noonday sun...

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret...."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"In A Whisper""

In A Whisper" is my song for the week! The attached link is an article from the artist explaining how the lyrics were inspired, its a beautiful picture! And on that link you can listen to the song. Its entitled "Revolutionary Thought" by Charmaine.

"Open my senses in the chaos I'm lost in....In a whisper...God is all we hoped He'd be, closer than the air we breathe." (some of the lyrics)

Oh the chaos of life beats on us, distracts us, demands our attention, confuses us, and on and on...but how graceful is the sweet whisper of God ALWAYS there, no matter where there is! The frustration I feel of not always listening and cuddling that comforting whisper...but rather being swept up in the chaos. Forgive me Lord for this giving in of the chaos and finding myself overwhelmed, stressed, lost, not enough, wanting more and so forth. Want I want more of is to leave aside the chaos and be captivated in Your whisper. Confident and strong despite the chaos. I know the easiest way to get there is to go!!! Go to Your Word! Go to my knees! Go alone and worship! Forgive me for not going as I should Lord...the chaos of life pulls me and I follow...but I want to go with You! I want to go and be swept away in Your whisper.

Praying for balance and a beautiful collision I know you can give me of living everyday life amidst this busy chaos called the routine of life and at the same time be content and captivated in You.

Thank You Jesus! Love your daughter

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Your Great Name"

If you know me a know I love music. There's never a quiet moment around me...constant...I listen to music while driving, working out, reading, sleeping (or at least when falling asleep), cleaning, getting ready in the mornings, studying and on and on! So why not share at least a song a week with you here! Not me! This girl only holds the mic on Sunday mornings because 3-5 others join in with me! Solos are not my cup of tea. :)

So on with it...a new song I'm enjoying this week is "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant. And for me the name is not Lord or God...for many call their god 'lord' and/or 'god'...but the great name of JESUS! There is power and comfort in the name of Jesus!

Check out the lyrics and also take a listen to the YouTube video I'm attaching:

Lost are saved, find their way;
At the sound of Your great name.
All condemned' feel no shame;
At the sound of Your great name.
Every fear has no place;
At the sound of Your great name.
The enemy, he has to leave;
At the sound of Your great name.

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us,
Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up;
And all the world will praise Your great name!

All the weak find their strength
At the sound of Your great name.
Hungry souls receive grace
At the sound of Your great name.
The fatherless, they find their rest;
At the sound of Your great name.
Sick are healed and the dead are raised;
At the sound of Your great name.

Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us,
Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up;
And all the world will praise Your great name.

Redeemer, My Healer, Lord Almighty!
My Savior, Defender, You are my King!

Jesus, Worthy is the Lam that was slain for us,
Son of God and Man
You are high and lifted up;
And all the world will praise Your great name!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Below are photos from a drama entitled "Breate" I just played in. Prior to the live portion of the drama the couple is introduced by a video blog that they sent home celebrating what God had done thus far in their first year serving as missionaries....their working in the schools & orphanages, the 3 lives led to Christ, the fans in a local school & their apartment (thanks to donations from their stateside church family), they have started the adoption process for a little girl, and asked for continued support and prayers for their safety and the going forth of the Gospel as they teach the English language. The video ends by them saying they plan to return home for a visit in the winter.....and then the screen fades out and states "7 Weeks Later...." and thus the live drama unfolds as so.....

"SHUT UP! Do you wanted to be the hero? Then fine its your turn!!!"

"To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!"

"Renounce Christ and I will let you live!"

"I am not ashamed! I am NOT ASHAMED!"

I saw this drama live about 2 years ago and have been eager to share its message since. I remember that night I first saw it. I had to leave the room at the end from the emotion! I was struck with faces of people I spent time with on a mission trip to Malaysia....those that we loved on and shared the Gospel with. We worked with many people but there was a group of about 8 students from the college that we spent everyday with....sharing meals, playing softball, visiting markets, rooming with and touring! None of these 8 knew Jesus. The only Christians we met (besides the missionary and his family) was members of an underground church we visited once. All of the faces came rushing back...and the thoughts that the Malay people who chose to believe and follow Christ run the risk of abandonment and death!....Just as the characters in the drama loose their lives for their faith in Jesus!

In rehearsing for this drama some many lessons and thoughts came!

In this drama a couple gives their life for the Gospel in a dramatic, brutal death. It wasn't merely a simple single bullet and you're out. They were tortured and given opportunities to deny Christ and 'live'.

If faced with a gun to our head and told to deny Christ or take a bullet...then I'd say Christians would yes, they'd take the bullet. But in our small group this week a friend stated that yes, we say we'd take the bullet....but how many times do we deny Him in our everyday lives in even the smallest and simplest things. We ignore the poor guy at the door at McDonalds, we carelessly buy that new dress or gadget instead of giving to the special offering on Sunday, we sneak out of the break room at work to avoid being humiliated in a conversation where we'd have to stand up for Him. Ugh, crushing to really examine and see all the ways we act as if we are ashamed of Him.

Its much easier to say we'd take a bullet. But if tortured and beaten with thoughts of the loved ones we'd leave behind and the severity of the pain....over days....would you, would I still proclaim? Jesus' death wasn't short and fast. He was tortured, chained up and left alone to suffer, beaten to a bloody mess, mocked, pierced by thorns on His brow, forced to carry His own heavy cross and finally nailed to that dirty cross. He took on a long, drawn out miserable death for me, for you.

The drama is performed with the song "Breathe'. I never thought much about the song and its meaning/purpose along with the drama until we started rehearsing. The lyrics are: "This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence in me. This is my daily bread, Your very word spoken to me. I'm desperate for You. I'm lost without You. This is the air I breathe."

Breathe is defined as 'reprise'...and reprise is defined as 'to inhale and exhale air for the purpose of maintaining life'! That is exactly what Jesus was to the characters of this drama....He was their life! I image there wasn't a breathe they took that didn't collide with thoughts, actions, prayers, and love for their Savior! In their very last desperate and gasping breathes they spoke of their Savior, Jesus Christ!

....................speechless, yes. Performing this role leaves a speechless reaction that leaves your soul challenged and desperate for a heart and soul that craves Him with every breathe that you have. That's what I want to be, but I am not. This drama has left me in anguish for such a beautiful relationship. Jealous of the depth of beauty and strength my character had.

Praying that my breathes become deeper and more beautiful.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Prom...As Seen Behind the Lense

I had the honor of taking some prom photos for some awesome students in my youth group! Gosh, we took dozens of photos but I wanted to share at least a hand full! It was a little like prom all over that day as I sat with my sister as she did one of the girl's hair and then I followed up the evening by chaperoning prom! I love my students and want them to know I'm not just there on Wednesday nights...but all the time in life!

Master of disguise....or maybe its just Trey and Jessie! :)

Dad makes sure his baby girl's date has nothing but pure intentions! :)

She was a little sad that the pitch fork was taller than her...but I thought it made the picture great! :)