Monday, December 27, 2010

December, you were epic.

December is always one of those months that i love. who doesn't love Christmas trees? and parties? and singing "happy birthday Jesus?" and getting cards in the mail everyday? and the semester coming to an end? and hot chocolate? and tacky sweaters? it gets no better than that!
it's always a hustle and bustle full of smiles and a little stress before finals week. this year was no different in these areas. but it was just the best month of my life. some of the best moments of my year and the most influential conversations with people and my Heavenly Daddy happened this month. it was intense. and crazy. and i have never seen His faithfulness like i did thisDecember.

it all began with Deeper Still. i heard exactly what He wanted me to. even when it was hard and i didn't want to listen; He found a way to get it through to me during those 2 days. a caravan of 24 women joining 14,000 other women in worship and seeking Him and only Him. it made for a beautiful beginning to the month. the online became offline. He showed off His power. and glory. i got asked to repeat words. and i met a few women who are incredible and seem to know a lot about me. and there was snow. our God is crazy cool. in the tops for favorite weekends.

i finished finals the next week. Praise Jesus. Praise Jesus.

actually, the day i finished off my semester ended with a fast drive back to Albany. and a dash up the stairs at Phoebe only to wait a little while longer for the little lion man, Judah, to be born. we were all beside ourselves. on the way there i could do nothing but pray for that sweet little life about to be born. he is a world changer and a revolutionary. i know these things. with the parents he has there is no way that he won't rock this world for Jesus. he is a lucky boy. and is surrounded by a big ole community that loves him to pieces. he's the first baby in our "group" so imagine how spoiled this little man will be?
sometimes i pray things and i really don't think that He is listening. and then days like December 8 happen. and i know He is listening so very closely. and He doesn't have to prove Himself to us but He chooses to let us know that we are His and He cares about the silly stuff we care about.
there was an unseasonable snow in Albany December 8. it hardly ever snows in Albany. not even flurries happen often. so everyone was a little taken off guard of this said snow that happened. it was a little dose of happiness. and a big showing of His power. and faithfulness to those who love Him.
conversations seasoned this month. full of stories of seeing His hand in the everyday. God never forsaking those who follow Him. the callings-great and small-of a God that doesn't need us but chooses to let us work for Him. talks of the next few years. our Jesus works in mysterious ways. so mysterious. but its so exciting.

Landy Kate asked me about the "hungers." she seems to be amazed that they are my friends and i know them. she has a big heart that God is going to use in a mighty way in His kingdom and i am so thankful i will be here or there to watch it all unfold. she asks some hard questions at the sweet age of 5 and some that are almost silly but to have that faith that she does. goodness. she is a little missionary. full of compassion. and a bulletin board full of pictures of children in Peru and Haiti that she prays for. Christmas Eve i got to watch her little life be sparked. sparked in such an incredible way. holding her. standing in a room full of the homeless and lonely of our city. her eyes were wide open and i know her heart was being molded. "IB, do you know him too?" talks with Cakes this month probably rank in top ten moments of my life. its not often you find a child with love like that.

Hilary also graduated this month. my baby sister cousin graduated from UGA. and she moves to Senegal March 9. this is another post for another day. just know that i am one proud cousin.

oh, and Harber my next to last cousin turned 13. not right. doesn't seem possible. he is our little man-thats growing up!

i got together with some of the girls i graduated highschool with. it's never awkward or lame. we always pick up right where we left off. and i am blessed. its not often that you are still friends with people you graduated with years ago. its not often you have a group of women sold out to God to call friends. they encourage me like no other. and are some of the few who saw the dreams take hold in my life. it was a process and they were there to experience it every step of the way. they are amazing. and beautiful. and the perfect dose of laughter in my life!

i also got to spend enormous amounts of time with my "we do life together" friends. and people like Mandy K. and JayeJaye who pour into my life. and seeing my Jill become a mom has been such a cool thing. these are people who stand up for me. even when i sound crazy. and pray for my professors every single day. they tell me when i am wrong. college kinda puts a damper on the social life of a senior so seeing them everyday has been awesomeeeeee.

December was just good. full of friends. new and old. full of Jesus. full of family. and full of faith.

and i am at a loss. and at the end. God is too good to me. Christmas deserves a post by itself. and it will come soon:)

shine for Him. have a childlike faith. and NEVER ever doubt the faithfulness of our God. He is so worthy. of our everything.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

it's about a love made public.

the last Sunday of Advent is behind us and tomorrow starts the two days where the worlds sits still and remembers. remembers a Priest who came to us in a shack. remembers a King who would lay His life down humbly for His people. remembers that moment when the angels in heaven held their breath and at His first breath let out a great big "hallelujah!" we remember the things that we often overlook. we remember that young couple whose world was completely shaken up by the birth of a newborn baby.

this past year, Luke 1:38 has been my life verse and probably always will be. and yes, it's part of the Scripture that we read at Christmas but i think its more than okay to live by it every day of the year.

"I am the Lord's servant," she said. "May it be done to me according to Your word."

imagine being Mary. a young, terrified teenage girl who had just seen an angel. probably something that most of us will never visibly see until we get to heaven. she saw an ANGEL that spoke directly to her, telling her she would carry the son of God, the healer of the nations, our redeemer, our rescuer. Mary was going to raise Him and feed Him and bathe Him and buy Him clothes and talk to him about growing up. of course she was terrified but she prayed that whatever He wanted, let it be done. and she knew God's word was pure and just and holy and there was nothing in His character that wanted to harm her so she trusted Him every step of the way.

i want to be like Mary. be willing to lay it all down. to trust Him when i am scared to death. to hold Him close and to know that He is completely mine.

i have come to the conclusion that God is also wanting this to be my goal since i have received emails and women that i love dearly praying this verse over me without even knowing. isn't our God cool?

let's talk about how cool He is. December 7 a little perfect boy was born to some of my greatest friends, Johnny and Jill. Johnny is my college pastor and Jilligan is my small group leader. to say they are family is a sore understatement. Judah Andrew came into the world and was surrounded first thing by a community that will love, sacrifice, and watch him grow up. seeing that little Christmas miracle makes me feel like all of us(especially women) can understand that night that Jesus came into this crazy world.

holding "hey jude" and watching him as he sleeps, there is nothing quite like it. and i am sure Mary felt the same way, watching our Savior breathe in and out. brushing her hand against his little rosey cheeks and praying over Him. she watched as her dearest friends and even strangers would stop by their house to love on Jesus, to give Him gifts, and to simply just stare at the miracle that is the birth of any child. Mary held that small baby knowing that one day He was going to change the world for good and for the glory of His Heavenly Daddy. she knew His small, tender hands would go on to do incredible things for His Father's Kingdom. Mary held Him tight and probably tried not to think about the coming years of Him going away.

so this Christmas, i feel like i have a new set of eyes. i am feeling Christmas in my heart a little bit different. He is peace and love and mercy. and i hope you feel every single one of those as you enjoy these next few days with your family.

be like Mary. hold Him close and love Him completely.

and be on the look out in the coming years for the world changer that is Judah Andrew.

our Heavenly Daddy made His love public for us. He didn't try to hide the coming King. He didn't keep it in the secret. but instead, He let the whole world know of the great redeemer that had come to set us free. so, this Christmas, don't keep it all in. make His love in you public. feed the hungry. clothe the poor. love on the helpless. its the way He would want His birthday celebrated.

Monday, December 20, 2010

reason 2. the ordinary starting turning into Disney moments.

2010 was one of those years for me. one of those that you can't really see the end of. one that stretched and pulled me in ways i never thought possible. i feel like i grew more in 2010 than any other year. and yeah yeah yeah, i know. everyone says that every year. but i'm serious. biggest year of growth thus far. and i think this is just the beginning.

a pretty normal statement i hear from time to time is that i am "deviant" in college culture. is this statement true? in many ways, yes. does this put a big standard to hold inn my day to day life? definately yes. its intimidating. so intimidating. and honestly, i depend on Him completely to let me shine because if it was up to me i would probably screw up every single step of the way.

my life isn't ordinary. and i really don't think He ever wants it to be. every Christian's life should look completely different, a 360 from that of the world. and this isn't easy. because we are living in such a messed up world. the commercials scream for us to pay money we don't have for stuff we don't need. and kids are getting cell phones when they are 5. and we volunteer at soup kitchens but won't dare stop to pray for the homeless man on the street because "he has been drinking." it's messed up. we sit on padded pews and eat $15 meals after the sermon about serving the "least of these." we will give money to any school in town but when the church asks for it, we claim that the preacher just wants a bigger salary or nicer car. we live in a world of materialism. we live in a world that hates Christians and if you aren't are doing something wrong. sorry to burst your bubble.

i am definately not saying i have it all together. because that is the farthest thing from the truth. i am a recovering sinner and i mess up a lot. all i am saying is, we should aim to have not so ordinary lives. who wants to be average, anyways?

i was taking a gander at my life. being nostalgic. my life has been so different and almost weird.
i grew up in ministry. i have never known anything different. i guess that is why i am drawn to other people in ministry and people older than me. i am an old soul and i am okay with that. i grew up sitting on the piano bench with my daddy practicing for Sunday mornings. i used to watch Dino play the piano instead of cartoons at the ripe age of 3 with popcorn in hand..that is not exactly normal. and then my perfect baby sister flipped our world upside down. a sister who can't walk or talk make the family dynamics far different than any other family. i sorta had to grow up fast. when you see your sister scream and cry as she has seizures back to can' help but act like a grown up. i have parents who spent countless nights on their knees praying for the seizures to stop, for Jamie to walk, for Jamie to talk, for me to be able to have a normal life..funnny thing is...God didn't want us to have a normal life. a different kind of maturity came from being in my family. i always felt like no one really got me. now, some people pretended really well. but they still thought my dreams. and heart. and life was so weird. i was the one in elementary school during prayer requests asking about the people in the jungle who hadn't heard the name of Jesus. that should have been a clue, huh? and then fast forward. i dropped nursing like it was hot against what everyone said because i would meet a nice young man in school and make good money. this i did not care about at all. i was aimlessly taking classes waiting to hear His voice on what to do. and it came. and it was for something so liberal. and intimidating. and i went for it. and i had to learn to speak up. and not be the quiet student. and i had to learn fast how to share my testimony with a class full of Atheists. He taught me boldness. this large big dose of it came my way. it hit me hard. and i don't think i would recognize the quiet student i was in highschool. my old teachers seem to be shocked.

all of that to say my life isn't normal. and it won't be. and i am not sure what it will look like in 2011 but i know that it's gonna take some faith and jumping this year.

it will look like more prayers with the homeless under the bridge. and more blankets and Bibles to give out. it will probably look like more hard questions from my professors. and God proving how faithful He is by giving them the desire to seek out blogs of His servants. it will look like confirmation from God that no one can deny. it will be just another chapter in this huge, beautiful story that is His.

2010 had a few moments that in the world's eyes were ordinary. when i look back....walt disney could not make those moments more perfect. and those moments will forever be in my heart and the back of my mind. i will cherish them forever. and probably not even one person could guess what they were but that's okay because they are like little love notes from God just for me. and only me.

see God in the everyday. He is there. and He wants you to live this life that the world thinks is crazy. and weird. and sometimes lame.

live it for Him. and look for Him.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

why did i like 2010?! reason 1.

Ivy Laing | Peru from Chris Fenner on Vimeo.

peru is my heart. and this one of the reasons why.

a little girl named Zaida.

and 2010 held the moment of seeing her once again.

she is a gift from God. and her life and the life of her family shows me just how big His story is.

bringing together a random meeting of a little girl in Lima. and a girl from Georgia. two families who pray for each other. and love the Lord so much. it's just a line in my story that no one else could make up.

searching door to door, she was found. and i hope i never forget that. a random chance meeting that turned into a passion so big i just don't know how to contain it.

the video captures it all so well. mad props to Chris Fenner. (@fenner403)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

going deeper still.

i have tried to write about Deeper Still five times now. this time i will just post it no matter what comes out.

Deeper Still was this beautiful, perfect time of God literally whispering in my ear each and every session, every worship time, and every time in between..."see, what I told you is true."

do i think that God would tell me a lie? no. do i sometimes act like it's almost too good to be true? yes. does He ALWAYS prove Himself faithful? every single time.

it's almost creepy. okay, not creepy but completely a God thing that every single piece of Scripture that Kay Arthur spent the most time on out of Matthew (she talked about the entire book of Matthew) was written in my journal from the week before. He was knitting things together long before i got to that arena with 14, 000 other women.

"don't worry about us, we are already dead!" oh, if we lived our everyday lives this way. sacrificial. because what we have does not matter. our lives are not our own. and true worship is realizing that while giving every single glory we may receive back to our Heavenly Daddy.

as i sat there surrounded by women in every direction possible but most importantly 2 rows of women who would fight Satan himself and protect me from whatever came my lucky am i? and it was exactly what Priscilla Shirer talked about. having someone in your life that will believe with you. not look at you crazy. not be a doubting thomas. but instead get on their knees and pray that His story is played out in your life. pray that your heart is guarded and your dreams are secured in Him. women that push you to go do something you feel ill-equipped to do because we know He will show up and use us. those people who push you to reach for the promises He has made and stand on His word no matter what this world might say.

and...i have such an incredible set of women who do that. a couple are my best friends. a couple are women who i trust with everything and they pour into my life: truth (even when i don't want to hear it) and tons of love. and my family is the greatest out there; although my dreams freak them out and i am positive each and everyday all of them wish i had just become a nurse...i know that they want what God wants and He doesn't want that for my life :)

i am blessed.
and being blessed is realizing that we do have treasures. that's what precious Beth Moore talked about. TREASURES. they are out there but they have to make it past our defenses. they get lost in the same trash as our time. i have so many treasures. and i don't deserve a single one of them. i have people who support me. i have a family that loves Jesus more than anything in this world. i have a family that believes what He says even when people seriously look at us crazy on a daily basis. i have friends that might not like what i will do after college, but they pray for me and support me anyways. i have this group of people who get my heart. and we don't necessarily have to live in the same place but to know that God has knitted a group of people together and they get my dreams. and fears. and my heart. is the most beautiful treasure out there.
let's just say that He showed off that weekend. and then He showed off again when something i prayed for as a safety net actually happened. and then it flurried in Albany. He likes to show His children He is more than able. He is faithful and true.
He is not lying to you. i promise.