Friday, April 29, 2016

You only see what I want you to see

You see this:
A perfect sunset, next to this classic landmark, with my best friend.
The root of all evil is pride. Man's heart desires nothing short of the inexhaustible pleasure of himself and to give all glory to himself. Selfishly robbing himself of the inexhaustible richness of Gods grace by holding tightly to himself like a child holds on to a candy bar in a store. He couldn't possibly see that the sweet he is holding on to is keeping him from the grand dessert his mother has planned for the family to enjoy together. He can only see the candy bar and it's waste less vain attempt at lasting satisfaction. "If I could only get it" he says, "then I would be the happiest person in the world." And so fear of not being happy draws him to the prideful thought that he must have that candy bar, because he "deserves it" after all.

So, behind that celebrity walking down that red carpet with that perfect dress on, is a celebrity afraid of what is to come ready to overdose on drugs once again.

Behind that man in the business suit walking down Wall Street, is a man filled with the fear that is family might not have enough stuff, and the willingness to lie cheat and steal to get more.

And behind that college graduate who looks to be having the time of her life traveling the world, is a young woman fearful people my see her broken heart, so she makes her life look splendid on Facebook.

And behind the shadow filled walls of my heart, there is a fear, a fear that no matter how good I may look, no matter how good I may act, no matter how exhaustingly I fear God, I may be found guilty of pride. The pride of my life is the root of my sin, if my pride is not found in the grace and goodness of God. 

It is a tiresome practice to maintain the image of prideful perfection, it wears the soul down until all that's left is a scarred bitter face, overcome by selfishness and self-pity. Perfectionism ceases to end when we continue to portray only the most beautiful, perfect moments of our lives on social media. We are so fearful of man, and so unafraid of our God, and it drives us to do things we never would imagine doing with our lives. 

With that being said, an open confession:
My life is not perfect.
I wake up with crazy hair.
I wear mismatched outfits.
I forget to shave my legs.
I love photography, but am constantly frustrated about wanting to find the 'perfect' angle.
I don't post the twenty other pictures I took until I got the one "good enough" to post.
I have seen a lot of the world, but traveling is not my god and it is not worth being a god
I fail to love God well every day of my life.
I put myself before others often.

The pictures don't tell the story of 6 sick students asking you a million questions in a day, expecting you to feed them often. The pictures don't show you how impatient I am, how I get easily frustrated with having the same question asked of me 5 times in 5 minutes, how I don't love my students well, how I want to quit, and how tired I am all the time here. And the pictures don't show you the brokenness I feel when I see people in this country without Jesus.

What you don't see is this:
The 1000's of other people trying to fight their way to the front to take a good photo, pushing people over the edge just to get the perfect angle (okay not really-but that's what it felt like).
You only see a part of me. My life is imperfect. I fail often. I do what I don't want to do, and I don't do what I wish I did. I long for those who meet me to know I fall short of the glory of God every day, and that by my weaknesses God shows His strength.

So incredibly thankful for the grace of God,

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The most romantic compliment I have ever been given.

About seven months ago a friend and I were talking at a wedding. I was telling him of a recent medical discovery some doctors had found out about me. The discovery was scary, unknown, and real. It could be many things the Doctors told me, but most things it could be were life-altering.

2 and a half years ago I was sitting on my bed after having been rejected and denied by the human I loved most in this world. My brother sat across from me and said, “why you Lauren? Why do these bad things keep happening to you?”

4 years ago I was sitting on a bed holding a precious 16 and a half month old baby girl who had just entered into eternity. I walked outside the hospital, fell down on the hottest pavement I have ever touched, looked up to the bright Haitian sky and said, “why her God? Why would this happen to her, and why would you want me to feel this?”

5 years ago I was sitting on a beach at 5:30 am watching the sun rise over the ocean. I realized I had never experienced suffering. I had never hurt in a way that death would feel like freedom. I wasn’t a masochist, but I knew there was something about Christ I had not known. I had not known him in his suffering. 

“Lord would you let me know you in your suffering, let me become like you in your suffering? Could you let me experience suffering so I could know the depth, and the richness of your grace through suffering?”

“Would you lay down your life for me Lauren? Would you become a coheir with Christ in his suffering? Do you truly know what you are asking for?”

5 years later my brother and friend with fear in his eyes at the news I had just told him about the recent medical discovery, looks at me and says, 

“You know what Lauren, I have never met somebody who suffers as well as you do.”

For the past 7 months I have processed and talked and processed and talked this over with the Lord. There were moments in my suffering I have yelled at the Lord. There were moments in my suffering I have toyed with the idea of walking away. There were moments in my suffering that “if I had known where I might find him, I would go even to his seat. I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me” (Job 23). There were moments in my suffering friends have walked away from me, not known what to do with me. There were moments in my suffering I questioned the goodness of God. There were moments in my suffering I asked the question, “why has thou forsaken me?” There were moments in my suffering I thought, “so this is what He is really like.” There were moments in my suffering when walking off the edge seemed easier than facing the darkness surrounding me.

Suffering well, right?

But suffering is an action, a verb, a noun, an idea, and a feeling. It is a circumstantial awareness of pain, but it is a spiritual and mental awareness of the root of our joy. I could not know what my joy was tied to until the truth I held on to was tested by a matter of life and death. I had to see God was worth my life while I couldn’t hold on to my life, or anyone in my life. I had to learn to trust him with everything my hands couldn’t hold. I had to lose what I could not keep to gain what I can not lose (Jim Elliot).

At every calamity, every moment of pain and suffering, unimaginable, I have asked myself “is this the moment I could say, enough is enough and be done with God? I can’t possibly make it through anymore.” And at every calamity, my song has ever been, and will ever be, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the Name of the Lord.” This is the romantic realization of the deep-seated joy of knowing God, suffering well. He says, "your mine," and I say, "I am yours, take everything else away, all I want is you."

So if I suffer well (as I pray I do), I suffer knowing the True root of my joy is tied to the contentment of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, the power of his resurrection, sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11). I suffer knowing, we will be coheirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him (Romans 8).

Learning daily,


Saturday, December 19, 2015

She is not forsaken

One touch of her scarred hand. I recognize the touch, I've felt this before, in Haiti, in Uganda, now in Nepal. Her nails dented from her biting her fingers. 15 years old but far from looking 15.

Neglected, scorned, forgotten: words this child knows from experience. Words no child should ever know. Her quiet secluded manner around the other lively children tells me another story. She rocks herself back and forth, the way I've read children comfort themselves when they don't receive enough outside affection. She streaks back when another child accidentally touches her. She hates unintentional touch. So I touch her hand, at first she pushes it away. Then I gently put her hand in mine. Now she recognizes I meant to touch her, but she feels untouchable. 

I can't change the years of neglect she has experienced, but I can change this moment for her. She can know there is at least one person in this world who is not afraid to touch her. There is one person in this world who knows she is worth loving. There is one person in this world who knows her life should not be lived in an orphanage in a room by herself, terrified of the ones she is surrounded by. She can't see me, but she knows me. She can't see me, but she can feel me. She can feel my hand touch her back. She can feel my body sitting next to hers. She can feel my hand holding hers, and that is all that matters for now.

For now it doesn't matter she is blind. For now it doesn't matter she is mentally ill. For now it doesn't matter she was found alone in the jungle. For now it doesn't matter she was neglected, scorned, and forgotten. For now, all that matters is there is One who believes in her, knows her, and has not forgotten her. For now all that matters is this life is not all she has left to live. She has an eternal hope we were honored to tell her about. A hope that someday all of her fears and terrors will vanish in the Light of a perfect Father who has always loved her, never left her, and has seen her fully.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

Kalpana, you are wonderfully and beautifully created. The glory of God radiates from your being who you are. I pray your soul comes to acknowledge and see His glorious face, and know He is good. 

Kalpana, you are not forsaken.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Why the world is watching Paris, not Beruit

Why the World is Watching Paris, not Beruit

Paris, all over the media. Tragedy, hopelessness, evil - words used to describe the attack on Paris Friday night. Saturday, the day after, Facebook lights up with profile pictures being covered by the Parisian flag. “Let’s show the Parisian people we support them.” 129.

Beruit, no where on the media. Common, normal, forgettable - words associated with the attack on Beruit Lebanon Thursday. Friday, the day after, Facebook lights up with nothing. No Lebanese flags, no “let’s show the Lebanese people we support them.” 43.

So we are clear - not all Muslims are terrorists

But it isn’t because the Parisian people are white, and it isn’t because more people died in Paris. It’s because we don’t see Lebanon. It has become void in our eyes of compassion, concern, and care. We have disassociated them from their right to life. It is because we have gathered as a nation to become compassionate about the things the world tells us to be compassionate about. Meanwhile halfway across the world there are 10 countries TEN countries in which occurrences like the one in Paris are a DAILY fear - Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

So, what? Is it wrong to cover your Facebook photo with the Parisian flag? No. Is it wrong to be unaware of the 10 other countries facing these realities daily? Yes. Is it wrong to not have the same compassion towards Middle Eastern people as we do towards white people? Yes.

Wael Hamzeh/European Pressphoto Agency

We as human beings are demanding equality across the world, but the greatest fight for equality is in our minds, because while people are dying all over the world we are habitually checking our phones, not reflecting on the images we see. If we see a situation being raised up on the tv, while we know something else in the world is going on just like it but isn’t being covered, what could your discernment suggest?

  1. It isn’t as important
  2. The media wants us to believe it isn’t as important
  3. We don’t believe it is as important

We don't believe it is as important, but it is not because of the media. The media is driven by our response to it. In the same way Facebook posts and Instagram posts are driven by our response to them. If a post gets a certain amount of likes it gets ‘promoted’ so-to-speak. So it is with our response to the News Media. It feeds our longing to be in the know. When we find interest in something it keeps getting repeated over and over again. It massages our appetite to know what’s going on in the world, by not really telling us what’s going on in the world. But it isn’t the media’s fault. It is our own fault.

We feed ourselves with images all day long of laughable things, horrible things, and anguishing things. They fail to fill our minds with compassion for the world. They numb us to reality, and sink us deep into the pit of their standard of justice.

Because it isn’t right people are dying. Period. 

Bilal Hussein/Associated Press

Marshall McLuhan said it best, “we have allowed the media to “massage” us into an unreflective and undiscriminating cultural consumption.” But let us not be so assuming, it is not the media’s fault. We have ALLOWED the media. 

We must turn off our media. We must love our neighbors (Mark 12:31). We must pray continually (1 Thess. 5:17). We must discern (Romans 12:2). We must turn to our international brothers and sisters and invite them into our homes. What has happened in Paris and Beruit should wake us up to the reality that we are all humans, and none of us are exempt from death. This, death, is the great equalizer. We all meet at the same fork in the road. And the world will mourn the loss of those in Paris, and those in Beruit, and let it be done. We should mourn the wrongness of death, and we should pray for the right-ness of life. We should participate in this rightness by not feeding ourselves images made by man. We should reach out to refugees, dine with them and listen to the stories of things going on in their countries. We should educate ourselves by having personal conversations with those who lost loved ones in Paris and Beruit. And we should hope (2 Cor. 4:16).

We should long for the return of our King, the redemption of this world, and wrong made right.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Why I said no

Why I said no, when all I wanted to say was yes.

A few months ago I sat in a car next to an incredible man of God I had just had breakfast with. We had endless conversation of how good the Lord had been to the two of us in the past 11 months.

“How can I pray for you?” he said. 

I didn’t expect it to hit me right then. I didn’t expect to have to explain why I said no, to myself. Tears filling my eyes, and a lump in my throat. Whoop, there it was. A raw, real emotion. The tug between satisfaction in singleness and some great guys asking me out. A real awareness of the unworthiness I felt to be in the place I was.

4 guys in 2 months. What was the Lord doing? Why now? Why at a time when I find myself so satisfied in the goodness and glory of God? Why at a time I just gave one of the hardest no’s I’ve ever had to give? Why at a time I had just been given one of the hardest no's I've ever been given? What was He teaching me? What was He showing me?

What was my answer going to be? 

“Stop being so picky, Lauren. Just go out with them, that’s the nice thing to do” I told myself.

I spend too much time trying to imagine myself married to good men. When I don’t trust the Lord with my no’s. It’s a fear of missing out. A fear the Lord doesn’t know what is best. A fear I should settle. And a fear I may end up settling. A fear the Lord will make me marry somebody who doesn’t know the meaning of dispensationalism, and/or hates climbing mountains. All of them, amazing men of God, but none of them enjoy studying and reading Timothy Keller, and enjoy waking up at 4 am to climb mountains. He could be tall, short, lean, or muscular. He could be older, younger, the life of the party, or the introvert, but what I want him to be is keenly aware of the lostness of the world, the mystery of Scripture, and the glory of Creation. Is that too much to ask? (laughs*)

No, but it leads to a lot of no’s. No to a guy who loved me well, no from a guy I wanted to love well, and no to two guys who wanted to learn to love me well.  And all I could ask myself is why? Why did I say no? Why couldn’t I say yes? Why couldn't it be a yes?!

"Your 25, your biological clock is running out, you should probably get married and start having kids," somebody told me.

If I wasn't already rudely aware of my biological clock, this made me wildly aware. 25, surrounded by friends dating, engaged, married, and having children. I didn't choose the journey I am on, it was chosen for me, by the grace of God. And yet every year I get older, the harder it is to trust God with these "no's." 

"Well, Lord, did you know I am 25? Did you know my biological clock is running out? Did you know I am going to be 26 in 6 months? Did you know it's HARD for me to be single surrounded by friends getting engaged and married all the time? DID YOU KNOW these guys are great guys, why can't I say yes?"

Trusting God in these no’s is harder then trusting God with the yes. Because it is tempting to say yes to the good guys, out of a fear 'that guy' won't ever come along. So yes, guys have asked me out, and I have had to say no. My pickiness about 'that guy' is a deep seated trust the Lord has what is best on His mind. Maybe it isn’t what is easiest, but I never said, “Lord give me an easy life.”

I said, “let me trust you in the unknowns, believing I am your daughter, a co-heir with Christ, provided I suffer with you, that I may also be glorified with you.” And in this season, I will love the unique opportunities I have to share the Gospel with nonbelievers, disciple young believers, and love God with all my heart.

And when I say “yes” when He has told me “no,” I will move forward in forgiveness painfully aware of my need for the grace of God - because this happens, often.

I said, "no" because I am believing God for the "yes" that will bring Him the most glory.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

defining wild.


A silence you've never heard before. The movement of the wind in the trees. The soft sweet reminder, you’ll be okay. An early morning call, slow motions preparing for the day, yet darkness is all you can still see. A moment of fear, gripped by confidence from Him. 

If we are people of Light why are we so afraid of the dark?

Sometimes, when you are short on time and silence, you have to leave the world for a while and enter into His presence. There you can find yourself terrified of the silence, and darkness, but not as terrified as you are of the sight of your soul, the lies you have believed of yourself and of the satisfaction of the world. Recognition.

Life is a mist. A vapor. An ice-cream cone, enjoyed for a moment then forgotten moments later. So it is with the comforts of life, and the affections of the world. Kisses that sting a midnight flame of pride. Careful it says. Careful to watch the flock, that the kisses from the Evil One might not drown you in their shameless pageantry. It feels warm at first, easing your sore muscles, but if you soak in it too long you will see your skin withering away. So it is when the flattering taunts of the Enemy give way to your flesh, and you start to believe the world is right. That attention and love from the world are the satisfying lusts of our hearts. Temptation brings forth sin, and sin when it is fully grown inevitably births death (James 1:14-15). And yet we daily believe the lies spoken over us. And then we see them. Confession.

If we are people of Light why do we trust and believe the dark?

A standing ovation is minimum honorarium for the Guy who told the mountains where to stand. The true honorarium comes from silence in the woods, alone, beholding the Creator in His creation. It is merely a reflection of the radiant beauty of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And still moments of agony exist when one stands before the Creator in His creation, and realize how unsatisfying attention and love from the world is. And the world is passing away along with its desires (1 John 2:17). When those seconds turn to minutes which turn to hours, movement in the soul must occur. Questions must be asked and answered, and silence must be fostered. You make room for Him to speak, to tell you the lies which dwell in your heart. But His kisses hurt as well. His grace-filled lips light on fire the lies you are believing and they no longer have a place in your heart. 

“I was wretched. And every soul is wretched that is fettered in the friendship of mortal things-it is torn to pieces when it loses them, and then realizes the misery which it had even before it lost them.” Saint Augustine, Confessions


Only silence makes the calm wind in the trees sound like a tornado. And only silence helps us to see the tower of babel-that is our love for self-will come crashing down if left to build its own idol. You see, we want to be our own Sovereign god, so we determine to take control of our circumstances. We disbelieve the good plans He has for us, and begin to manufacture our own. 

If we are people of Light, we do we keep walking in the dark?

So our version of wild becomes carefully articulated plans of action. And His version of wild is stepping into the unknown, not knowing where one will end up. We must move forward believing and trusting in grace. Forgiveness.

“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

4 am, a headlamp, a 20 lb. pack, a dog, and a dark damp cool morning. Wild. Seeking Wild, chasing Wild, loving Wild. All that He is is insanely Wild. A moment with Him, in His creation is the start of believing His wild plan is good.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Having a Rebekah Heart in a Bachelor World

Having the heart of Rebekah in the world of the Bachelor

I had a conversation with my friend the other day about how the church is not much different then the Bachelor. Many women (believing women), in search of their one true love (equally-yoked love), go to California (church) because they can’t seem to find any good guys in the bar (bar). We place ourselves at a church hoping one of the Godly men there will notice us. We pray every time we go in to church, “Lord, please let my husband be here. I am so tired of being single.”

But then the Bachelor world and the Jesus-loving world part ways, or they should. Trusting God in a season of unknowns, heartache, and disappointment is the greatest challenge in front of us, as women of God, at times. Friends get engaged, married, and start to have kids all while you are hoping to be asked out on a date by one of 50 guys at church when there are 300 girls around you. Comparison creeps in. In the church, on the Bachelor, in a bar, on Facebook, everywhere comparison comes to steal kill and destroy you.

“I must not be beautiful enough. I am not smart enough. I don’t know enough about the word of God. I have blonde hair and guys are more attracted to brunettes. I wish I had her body. Gosh look at my love handles, my nose, my cellulite.” We pick ourselves apart imagining we could try to be all of the best things about those girls at once. Instead of recognizing and seeing our different personalities, bodies, and ideas as gifts to the many-parts body of Christ.

My mom and I were talking the other day about this guy I have a crush on. I told her about his character, how he loves and obeys the Lord, how he has interacted with my friends, and how he interacts with me. She was (I think) glad to hear me talking about somebody in that way, until I said, “Yea but I don’t know why he would ever like me. It’s not even worth liking him because he is way out of my league. There are a million other girls more beautiful and Godly then I am who like him too.” COMPARISON. It isn’t even about that guy, it’s about believing and trusting the Lord is in control. It’s about offering our affections and attractions towards other guys to the Lord. It’s about being ourselves and not trying to be someone else just to be liked by a certain guy. It’s about turning our hearts in the opposite manner from what the world tells us. It’s about praying for yourself, and the other ‘million’ girls that like him that your heart’s wouldn’t trade the affection they have for Christ for affections towards a human being. It’s about letting go of expectations and trusting the Lord is leading that guy towards who he is supposed to be with. It’s about letting him pursue the woman he feels he is called to pursue, not jumping to the punch line and asking him out because you aren’t patient enough to wait on the Lord.

If we have been raised with Christ, we seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. We set our mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

When we set our minds on things that are above we naturally think about ourselves less. We begin to think more about the number of young women around us who don’t know Jesus who are waiting to hear the Gospel from our lips. We think about the many women in the church who need to be discipled by a woman with a content heart. We think about the life of Christ and the worthiness of loving him well.

I have been so enthralled by the story of Isaac and Rebekah lately. I have dreamed about their story, and woken up in the middle of the night with the Lord asking me, “read Genesis 24 again.” I am fascinated by the sort of naivety Rebekah carried when the servant approached her and asked for water from her jar. She gave him drink, then drew more water to water his camels. In the back of her mind she wasn’t thinking, “oh I bet this servant has come to make me the wife of an amazing man, so I better put on my best behavior and serve him better then I ever have served anyone in the past.” No, she was who she is. Her character was one of a servant. In fact she didn’t even know what she had ‘won’ until Abraham’s servant began to speak at dinner about Abraham and all he has, and the young man to whom all of it would be given. There was a reward to her faithfulness (not that there always will be), but the reward was more satisfying because she didn’t know it would be given to her as a response to her servanthood. 

In this same manner I pray my single sisters in Christ and I will go about our lives serving the Lord with our whole hearts, offering sacrifices of praise to God, and sacrificially giving and serving those around us. I pray we choose to walk in our identities knowing who the Lord has created us to be. I pray we will walk in a humble manner, rejoicing when the guy we had a major crush on decides to pursue another girl, having confidence he was hearing from the Lord in pursuing her and not you. I pray we won't be afraid of having crushes (it is okay to desire marriage, and to want to marry a Godly husband), but we will hold it loosely and pray for him with no selfish motives. I pray we fight the temptation to compare ourselves to those around us in the church and in the world, and that we as the church will build each other up and encourage one another in each person’s strengths.

Our Father is right now raising up men who will put their hand to the plow and not look back. As He calls these men, it is our role as women-sisters in Christ-to support, encourage, and love without pressure and excessive standards. We are to build our brothers up and believe our perfect Father will call them where He pleases. Thanks be to God, we can trust Him with our hearts, minds, souls and bodies.

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