God-Sighting Saturday

Big God, Small Me {God Sighting Saturday}

Wednesday was a weird day. It was also kind of hard in all different ways… physically, emotionally, professionally, relationally. By the time we got to 5:00, I was D.O.N.E. But as I kind of mentioned last Saturday, it seems like these are the moments God steps in and shows up in the biggest of ways. Wednesday evening was no exception.

God had prearranged that a friend and colleague of some of us would be in town that night. And since he had never seen Niagara Falls, it made the itinerary. After a quick tour of the church three of us made our way to the Falls. Along the way we each shared about life and ministry and sports and family and whatever came to mind. That alone was fun and refreshing, a reminder of the fact that there is so much good (so much God) in life right now, smack-dab in the middle of the hard.

And then we got to the Falls… right around the time the sun was going down. Being near water and watching sunsets are two of my very favorite things in the whole world, so Niagara Falls at sunset brought some joy on a whole new level. The rain had cleared from earlier in the day, the temperature was perfect, the park was surprisingly not busy at all with other tourists. It was so peaceful.

As I think about it, it feels a little weird to call it peaceful when there are over 75,000 gallons of water going over the American and Bridal veil falls plus over 680,000 gallons over the Horseshoe Falls… every second!

That is a lot of water. That is a lot of power.

We walked along the rapids a bit leading up to the Falls and chatted about “the point of no return”. There comes a point when even on a fast boat, the power of the river is just too much.

Sometimes life feels a bit like that, but on this Wednesday what came to mind was the powerful love of God. I pictured God’s love like that water just pouring over the edge of those rocks. It just doesn’t stop, it keeps coming and coming and coming and no matter how hard I might try or what Satan may do to make me think God doesn’t love me, He’s just pouring it into my life at a rate I can’t even comprehend, drenching me in it.

Standing before this gorgeous wonder, sunsetting, with some awesome company, I was reminded how big our God, and how small I am. Sometimes feeling small is a bad thing, but in this context it was what brought peace. He is in control. He is enough. He’s the Creator of the universe AND He knows, loves, and delights in me. He’s big enough to have created this huge awesome world, and yet still wants to walk with me each day. He’s powerful, yet humble. Just and kind. Righteous and gracious.

Big God, Small Me. Yep, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

God-Sighting Saturday

In weakness… {God Sighting Saturday}

img_0656-e1537648957444.jpgSome weeks lately I’ve hesitated posting a God Sighting Saturday list because it often focuses on all the good things in life, the noteworthy and exciting things. Even the hard things mentioned often get framed in a good light, and like often happens with social media, it gives off a false impression that life is 100% awesome all of the time. It’s not true. That one person you know on Facebook that always seems to “have their life all together” … totally does not. You know that, right?!?

I’ve wrestled a lot lately with what to post on social media or what to write on the blog, especially when it comes to gratitude and the “good” things of life. This is hard because I’ve also been hyper-aware of the not-so-good things in my friends’ lives and mine as well. I’m challenged to present the whole picture, and yet, posting the good moments… the God-moments, for me at least, are not necessarily trying to hide the hard that we all have in life. Rather, it’s about focusing my mind and heart on what matters most in the middle of the hard. It’s a “holy defiance” of sorts.

Even this morning I was accused by a friend of throwing on a happy face when she knew I wasn’t so happy. While there might be some truth to that (friends always know!), the bigger reality was that I was actively trying to be defiant against letting a hard morning ruin a whole day. “Fake-it-til-you-make-it” can be deception and if we’re not careful about being honest about what’s hard we can isolate ourselves and become bitter and lonely. At the same time, I think there is some space for willing ourselves into gratitude.. for staring down the hard and simply saying, “Not today Satan”.

He is a thief. Oh man, he loves to do anything to steal and kill and destroy in our lives (John 10:10). He delights in seeing the littlest thing ruin a day or distract us from the life God has for us. He fights so hard.

And we must fight back.

Sometimes that fight looks like choosing to post the one good thing that happened in a day.

Sometimes it looks like a long gratitude list of the good things because our brains have been listing the not-so-good on repeat and something has to break that cycle.

Sometimes it looks like getting out of bed, putting on a favorite shirt (even if you’re not 100% sure whether it’s clean or not), digging out a smile, and going on with your day whether you feel like it or not.

All that to say this: the place I saw God at work this week most was in my weakness. Every single time I saw God show up came wrapped in something hard or painful or exhausting. The moments when physically, emotionally, or spiritually I was tempted to ‘throw in the towel’ so to speak were the moments that left me with so much joy at what God accomplished despite my failure or lack.

“… I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. … when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Verse nine talks about God’s power showing up in contrast to our weakness. However, in verse ten, it’s not just God who’s strong… WE become strong when we depend on His power in our weakness.  I don’t always understand this upside-down and backwards way of God’s Kingdom, but I’m thankful for this truth: when I am weak, I am also my strongest. While Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians have often been favorites of mine, I don’t think I’ve every seen them as true as I did this week. Yes, I saw God in awesome encouraging friends and incredible conversations and the ministry I got to be part of and cute babies, but more than anything, I saw Him in my weakness. He showed up… big time and for that I can’t thank Him enough!

God-Sighting Saturday

Let me count the ways You love me {God Sighting Saturday}

In productive work and deep rest

In time alone and time with others

In timely sermons and songs of hope

In trees lining a rushing creek on a rainy day and a chance to sit and stare and listen

In an “Ode to Joy” on repeat all week long in rehearsal after rehearsal

In walks with friends and time on the floor with babies

In great hugs (and bananas) given generously from your favorite four year old

In clarity about next steps about a big decision even when it comes with disappointment

In dozens of students continuing to show up on campus desperately seeking connection and love and ultimately Jesus

In conversations that just can’t be ‘coincidence’

In friends and mentors and colleagues who stop and listen and really hear and help point the right direction

In unexplainable peace

In a team that KEEPS working together week after hard, awesome week

In safety of friends and family through medical procedures

In good food for my body and good encouragement for my soul

In the chance to sit still and listen to professional musicians rehearse for two hours paying attention to every little detail

In relief and hope

In cancelled meetings that provided the gift of unexpected time

In having a clean kitchen

In a few nights of really good sleep

In the sound of rain

In a fuzzy blanket and warm homemade chai latte’s with “Kansas Sunset Chai” tea

In all this and more, I know You are near, God.

You make it undeniable, whether my eyes are open or not.

Again and again You show up.

Again and again You find new ways to remind me.

Again and again you promise and prove:

I AM HERE.

I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

I am Immanuel–which means God with us. (Matthews 1:23)

I am among you, a mighty one who will save. I will rejoice over you with gladness, quiet you by My love and exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17)

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)

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4)

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

God-Sighting Saturday

9-8-18 {God Sighting Saturday}

    • A congregation gathered to pound the door of heaven seeking wisdom which our faithful Father promises to pour out
    • Two hours on a couch with a dear friend, sharing life, sharing tears, sharing hope, sharing laughter,
    • Dinner and a walk watching the sunset over the river with one of the most beautiful women I know
    • Looking back and remembering a time when what I’m seeing around me now seemed absolutely impossible; hope for a time when what seems impossible now might become reality
    • Two of the cutest babies around giggling and climbing all over me while catching up with a dear friend
    • Energy to actually do the dishes despite so many things working against me on that specific day
    • Abundant provision via the farmer’s market
    • A car trunk and office full of snacks to share with our college friends at UB over the next few weeks
    • Our incredible volunteers at UB
    • People offering help out-of-the-blue for things I was too busy to even try to find help to accomplish
    • Friends who encourage me and give me chance to encourage them
    • Reminders of why I do what I do
    • A friend and colleague praying with me after a meeting on campus
    • Cute note cards and colored pens
    • Being able to serve and get to know my new neighbor when his water stopped working for over 24 hours and the landlord wasn’t showing up
    • Getting to spend time in my role as “Godmother” with at least one of my godchildren every day this week… who doesn’t see God in baby snuggles or preschooler hugs?!?
    • A gorgeous sunset on the way home on a cool evening at the end of a long hot day
    • Teammates I can trust
    • Catching up with my sister on the phone on her way home from work one evening
    • Homemade cookies served with ice cream

    God-Sighting Saturday

    9-1-18 {God Sighting Saturday}

    2018-08-18-14-32-21.pngAs I mentioned last week, this is a space to reflect on the last week and remember where God showed up. Feel free to share your God Sightings in the comments below!

    Here we go!

    • Friends to share life with
    • A true 24-hour space for Sabbath rest for the second week in a row after a season without much of that.
    • In the ministry I get to do at the University at Buffalo we averaged 20-30 students each week last year with 35 being the highest we’ve ever had in two years since launching. Typically the first week of the semester is our lowest number. Last year we had 9 on the first day. This Wednesday, our first gathering for the year, we had over 70 students show up. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it. What a gift of grace in the middle of a slightly overwhelming week. This was the ministry I prayed for and followed God into for YEARS before it finally came to fruition. To see it not only survive but thrive into it’s third year is such a beautiful testament to God’s faithfulness
    • Flowers on my desk from a teammate one morning… just because.
    • 4 a.m. moments of prayer
    • Naps
    • Books about freedom and courage (You are Free by Rebekah Lyons and Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger)
    • God’s Word in new ways. I recently downloaded the Dwell App on my phone. Whereas there are a lot of great Bible reading apps out there, Dwell is a new app that’s working to create a great Bible listening experience. I’m sold. In addition to having all of the New Testament and a growing number of the Old Testament books on the app in four different voices with music behind it, there are also plans and playlists. I’ve listened to the 15 minute “He Loves Us” playlist multiple times over this week and every time new things stand out to me from this same set of Scriptures played over and over.
    • Four hours with a friend on a Friday night catching up after a crazy summer for both of us… sharing dreams, sharing struggles, sharing books and things we’re learning, sharing travel adventures, sharing doubts, sharing life.

    Where did you see God working this week? Share in the comments below!

    God-Sighting Saturday

    God Sighting Saturday {8-25-18}

    2018-08-18-14-32-21.pngEach summer around our church we talk a lot about “God Sightings.” In our Vacation Bible School, High School Ministry trips, Mission trips and more we share daily where we saw God at work that day. It’s always a great reminder for me to be on the lookout for what He is up to. With that in mind, I’m reinstating a series I did for a while a few years ago in which each Saturday I simply blog about some of the ways I witnessed God doing His thing in the last week.

    Here we go!

    • Time on Sunday evening to sit still for a while and journal for a couple hours. God really helped me sort through some things I was wrestling with.
    • My teammates are incredible! In addition to cool conversations and hard work together in the office, I got to enjoy lunch out with two teammates to start the week. One of my coworkers started his training at the seminary to become a pastor this week. Before he went off to St. Louis for orientation, we had one last lunch as “Three DCEs” (Directors of Christian Education). It has been a blessing to serve together so many years and I’m excited to continue to serve with these awesome people! The week ended with a spontaneous trip to the ballpark to watch a baseball game. I loved that I enjoy spending time with my teammates outside of work. God is truly at work in that team.
    • Our ministry at the university is starting back up next week. On Tuesday all the ministry leaders on campus gathered for our annual BBQ to reconnect after the summer. I saw God in conversations with two other leaders that both encouraged my soul heading into the year, and I pray encouraged theirs as well.
    • Sunflowers and gorgeous weather. While the week had some rainy moments, the week ended with a few gorgeous Buffalo summer nights. I also got to go have a picnic at a giant sunflower field with my little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters. Being outside makes me feel close to God.
    • I’ve been working with some other campus ministry leaders to declutter and revitalize the set of rooms we all use for ministry on campus, including a room that is primarily designed to be a prayer room. That space specifically has become so filled with clutter it was overwhelming. Yesterday, we put some final touches on that room before the semester starts Monday. When I saw it complete and found myself dreaming of how God would use it in the year ahead, I couldn’t wait to see what He does!

    Where did you see God working this week? Share in the comments below!

    God-Sighting Saturday

    God-Sighting Saturday

    Just a few glimpses into God at work around me this week:

    • The Haiti team arriving home with amazing stories of God’s presence and power from their trip. 
    • Productivity and Grace-filled passion in some things at work, especially having those things in some areas that aren’t always the parts of my job that come easy to me. 
    • Time to gather in prayer with teammates
    • A chance to hang out and laugh a lot with my “little” from Big Brothers Big Sisters.
    • Dinner and a walk with a dear friend … Doing life together
    • $0 deductible for glass to get my windshield replaced
    • Joy in a surprise for a friend
    • Awesome teenagers and an amazing woman being brave enough to share her story with them.  Lots of laughter playing telephone pictionary 
    • Safe travel for my parents and good news from mom’s oncologist in Dallas… 18-months post radiation surgery… Still cancer free!
    • God’s grace and comfort in the midst of death and tragedy
    • Friday dinner, laughter, and more with family 

    All is grace.