Sunday, January 31, 2010


I don't always know what is best.

My heart belongs to You. And the closer I draw, the nearer I come, the better I can see.

But I still can't see it all.

I hear better than I used to.

And I am able to recognize Your hand at work.

But there are things You keep me in the dark about.

If only so that my prayer will continue to be, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done."

May we never become so accustomed to Your presence, to Your voice, that we fail to admit we are clueless.

Or stop and stand very still in the darkness and call Your name.

"Your will be done," we pray.

We ought to be willing to surrender.

To ask permission. To seek guidance.

Instead of asking for a blessing on a path we've already begun to walk.

Draw us close, keep Your secrets, bestow Your love.

May we be your faithful children.

Your trusting little ones.

May we always feel the need to reach up and grab Your hand.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tired Heart

My heart is tired.

I realized this today. Was able to verbalize this today.

Emotionally exhausted.

And when you mix emotional exhaustion with physical energy, you get confused.

Very confused.


I have been racing.

Moving at a crazy pace - figuring I'd adapt eventually.

That my emotional muscles would get stronger and I'd be able to handle more.

And more.



It all became reality today when I turned in all my money for my trip to Ethiopia.

An expensive manilla envelope, let me tell you what.

That stress gone, that preoccupation resolved, that prayer answered.

I got back in my car and turned on Shane and Shane and went to meet my dear friend Jenn.

We caught up over Starbucks and then left.


By the time I got home, my emotional fortitude was gone.

All my boldness was melting right there in my hands.

And all I wanted to do was to be wrapped up in someone's arms and just be comforted.

But there was no one.

I was tired of thinking. Of feeling. Of analyzing. Of interpreting.

Of wondering.

Of preparing.

Just for a minute I needed it all to stop.


I got home and got a hold of Jenn again.

"My heart is tired," I explained to her.

After talking through it a little bit, I decided to go for a run.

Because even in my emotional state, my legs had a lot of energy to be spent.

I would spend it.

"This is what I want you to do," said Jenn. "While you're running, ask God to reveal what He wants you to know for today. Not for tomorrow. Not about yesterday."

Present truth.

(She's found her calling, this friend of mine.)


So I went.


"Father God, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit that fills us up. May his presence cause our discernment, insight and perception to heighten. Make me familiar with Your voice. Tell what it is you want me to know, right now. Speak truth to me about today. Just today. I'm listening."

Suddenly my ears were filled with David Crowder.

"Can I lie here in Your arms
Can I lie here in Your arms
My only calm is You
Save me"

And then Mat Kearney.

"Do you ever think about me? Do you ever call my name?
Ask me now I'll give you the reasons
My love will not fade
Through the fire and rain, the fire and rain."

And then,

"Where we don't know, though we can't see
Just walk on down this road with me"

I stopped.

Was that my answer?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest..."


"I will quiet you with my love, rejoice over you with singing."


"Is that what You want me to know?" I asked.

"That's what I want you to do," He answered. "I am stronger than you are. I am better at this. I can do immeasurably more. Everything will work out, I promise. Do not be anxious about it. Come, lie in My arms. Rest with me."


I didn't run very far.


Psalm 62:5 - Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Closer than You Think

Something's going on.

Oh please, may this be reality.

May God always be so close.

So evident.

I know that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.

That the Spirit of God is like the wind.

The whole point is that we know Him well enough that when we cannot see Him... we recognize His presence. We can feel His nearness.


But He's showing His face right now. Bending low, He's reached for my hand.

I see Him everywhere I go.

I've considered tape recording my prayer time in the morning as I drive to work - just so I have proof of the way He's answered my prayers.

In ways far beyond what I could have asked or imagined.

He's getting creative on me.


I feel Him pull away every once in a while, reminding me that I don't know what He's up to all the time.

"Don't even pretend like you understand that, Anna." He'll say to me every once in a while.

And when things get too familiar, He'll shake them up.

He's God.

I am not.

But He has let me familiarize myself with His face.


In Ortberg's book "God is Closer than You Think", John compares God to Waldo.


As in, "Where's Waldo?"

You open the book and on the first page Waldo is big and obvious.

Get to know him.

The way he dresses, his goofy smile.

Hopefully, you'll get to know him by heart.

Because as the pages turn, you have to do a little looking.

Flip the page.

The closer to the end of the book, the harder he is to locate.

But he is always there.

It is a promise.

The whole point of the book.

Waldo is on every single page.


Ortberg tells us that he thinks it is this way with God.

God is everywhere.

On every single page.

But sometimes He is in disguise.

Sometimes, he does not look like we expect Him to.

Sometimes, he is not where we expect to find Him.

Hiding behind things.

Among things.

Our faith, our walk with the Lord, is about learning to recognize His face.

It's about learning to see Him everywhere.

Because He is in all things, which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.


God is closer than you think -

He is moving around you.

Maybe He has gone ahead of you and He's asking you to follow.

Maybe He's behind you, giving you a little shove.

Maybe He's beside you, holding your hand.

Maybe He's lifted you up onto His shoulders.

Maybe He's standing right next to you. And you've turned your back to Him.

Wherever He is.

He's close.

Maybe He's quiet.

Maybe He's being very, very still.

Maybe He's laughing out loud, or crying right along with you.

Maybe He's doing a little dance.


My prayer is that you would see Him.

That you would know the face of your Father.

You would know the way He moves.

And the way He smells.

You would recognize that rumble of His laughter.

And you would fall still and quiet when He rises.

Never forgetting that He is in all kinds of unexpected places.

Because we are terrible, terrible judges of beauty.

Never forgetting that He moves in all kinds of weird and subtle and chaotic and simple ways.

Ways that are higher than our own.


He is in everything.

My prayer for you is that your eyes would be opened.

That your discernment would be heightened so that when you walk into a room, regardless of where "Waldo" is hiding, you might find him.

By the way He moves.

By the way the wind blows as He walks by.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Ever since this particular "climb" began with the Father this summer, He has been whispering to me about His faithfulness.

It was a concept that was not fully fleshed out for me. Everywhere I turned I heard Him whisper a new truth. But it had not come full circle. I could not quite grasp the concept.

There is nothing complicated about this.

Nothing absurdly profound.

But tonight I am overwhelmed.

Tonight, it clicked.

Our Father is faithful and just.

My hands are shaking. My heart is so swollen I can barely breathe.


Tonight, He has answered prayers ten-fold.

I am swimming in truths about His love.

About His concern for my life - my small, finite life.

How He hears my voice when I call His name.


Last night I met my half-way mark for funds for my trip to Ethiopia in two weeks.

Every person that has contributed so far has gone above and beyond - blessing me with their generosity and their thoughtfulness. Bless their hearts, I have been so encouraged.

But as the date grew closer and closer, I began to wonder if I'd raise all $2500.00. Of course I would, I told myself. And I distinctly heard the Father remind me that the closer it gets to February 11th, the more glory He'd get out of providing.

He's dramatic, this God I love.

He likes attention.

So after reaching my half way mark last night I was thoroughly encouraged. This story has been too wonderful, too surreal, for it to be hampered by something as earthly as American dollars.


Tonight, exactly the other half of my support money was provided.

Completely unexpectedly.

I was handed an envelope.

And truth exploded inside of me.

He is good, this Father of ours.

"Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies." (Psalm 37:5)

Because not only was my trip funded in a matter of moments...

but I was reminded of the gift of community I have been given.

I was called a missionary.

I was told I was loved.

And in an instant, had there been any doubt at all, I was sure I had found a place I belonged.


All Glory to Him, the Lord of Lords.


Upon leaving, one of my best friends hugged me and whispered in my ear "faithful, faithful, faithful".

The tears I had tried to suppress all night long just started falling.

In everything, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, He is faithful.

Whether or not we can see - He is ever faithful.

Something clicked.


I believe it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Put Me Back Together

I leave in eighteen days.

It is so surreal I'm afraid it's not actually going to happen.

In just a little over two weeks I will be boarding a plane.

Flying over the ocean for the first time.

Embarking on a journey that started at a red light one early Thursday morning.


When I started praying Philippians 1:9 over my life and asked God to reveal the risks in my life He wanted me to take.

In a quiet moment, He told me to get my passport.


How did I know it was God's voice?

Isn't that what discernment is?

Isn't that what being in love is all about - recognizing the loved one's voice?

But I questioned it.

The randomness. The ambiguity. The vagueness.

I asked what He meant, exactly.

There was some holy laughter as He told me to just do what He said.

He'd explain the rest after that.


Circumstances lined up.

I found letters from Africa on my counter.

And heard African drums playing over loudspeakers in coffee shops.

I ran into Andy and he remembered my name.

My dad made plans to get married in the summertime.


So after trying to trick God into giving me an answer before dropping $140 on a new passport, I gave in.

And one Wednesday afternoon I went a renewed my passport.

Then went to help ice cakes with my dear friend Jenn.

Who knew nothing about God's voice whispering hints about Africa, about spring time.

I had intentionally not told anyone.

So when Jenn mentioned Southland's trip to Ethiopia in February, my heart stopped.


You see?

We listen.

We hear.

But we do not understand.

We sing of His faithfulness.

His goodness.

But do we believe it?

Do we believe that if we surrender to His will that He will continue to get creative with what we've given Him?

I think we forget.

We have an underlying fear that we will hand everything we are over to the Father.

And He'll forget about it.

Let it sit on His shelf and collect dust.

We are afraid He won't have ideas as good as ours, actually.


But look.

Examine the life of a person whose life is actually no longer their own.

Who has relinquished the writing utensil.

Who has given up writing their own story and is allowing the author and perfecter of our faith to write them INTO His story.


I contacted Andy about going to Africa with the church.

"Why didn't you tell me about this trip before?" I asked him, accusing him of withholding vital information from me.

"The deadline was two weeks ago, Anna." He said. "But we have one spot left. One spot we need to fill. And I've watched you go through this... I've watched you search. And I want you to go. I think you're supposed to go."

The question was no longer whether I was supposed to go to Ethiopia in February or not.

The Father had made Himself abundantly clear.


Now, the trip is only eighteen days away.

The first week our small team of 5 will be in Yasow. A village about 16 hours away from the capital city of Addis Ababa. We will be teaching 200 + children how to play sports. Which, in an of itself, is hilarious.

God is just getting a kick out of all of this.

The second week we will be back in Addis. Working in an AIDS orphanage.

Sitting in a coffee shop one day, my friend Liza heard about our plans in Addis.

We joked that the first week, my body is going to break.

And the second week, it's going to be my heart.

And in a moment of despair, I threw my hands up and cried, "I really don't feel like there's anything left in me to break! I feel like all my pieces are already broken!"

Liza, knowing me so well and having walked with me through this past year of my life, got really quiet.

Then she smiled.

"Maybe," she said, " God's going to put you back together then."


I leave in eighteen days.

And I've been praying protection over my dreams.

Over my body.

Cautiously taking Psalm 139:23-24 to the throne room.

Wincing, knowing that I may never take that request to the Father and not get a response.

"If you must continue to break me, I pray, do it gently. If the only way for your Spirit to move is to break me further, rearrange my pieces -

please just don't leave me broken."


But the beauty of our Father comes in verses 2-6 of that same chapter.

You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!


Andy would later tell me that he had been praying that God would fill this open space on the trip with a strong person.

A strong team member.

This terrifies me.

Because I am not strong at all.

But God chose me to fill that spot.

God chose me to whisper to. To test - to see if I would do what He said and ask questions later.

This does not mean I am strong.

No. And this is why I am terrified.

Because this does mean He will make me strong.

And just like patience, loving, and courage - you don't suddenly acquire strength.

You build it.


I am not strong.

But God will make me strong.


I leave in eighteen days.

God, Abba Father, begin now.

Do what You do.

Please, put me back together.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How Great

How great is our God?

That He knows our every need, whether we are able to verbalize it or not.

That He knows our hearts, because He designed them to be this way.

"My heart is broken," I tell Him.

"Come close, I can fix that. Remember? I made it."

He orchestrates and designs.

Finding pleasure in our delight and humor in the small things.

How great is our God?

That He created each one of us.

Each one of us who love Him differently.

Who worship Him differently.

Who talk to Him differently.

Who carry Him differently.

So that when we come together, in what we've come to call fellowship, He is manifested in our differences.

Glorified in the many facets of our faces.

How great is our God?

That He wants to be with us even more than we could imagine wanting to be with Him.

That even though we fail Him, He does not falter.

That He loves us enough to let us argue with Him.

And even more so, He loves us enough not to let us stay the way we are.

That when He breaks us, He does not leave us broken.

How great is our God?

That He gave us a choice.

That He doesn't force obedience on us.

Instead, He romances us.

Lavishing us with love and beauty.

Laughing at us sometimes when we think His simplest creations and miracles are His greatest.

How great is our God?

That although we were created just and only to glorify Him,

to praise Him, to worship Him, to serve Him,

He thinks we are incredible.

And He sits on the edge of His seat, waiting for us to do the next incredible thing.

He sits, waiting, for us to call His name.

Because our God is so great, but He would never force His affections on us.

How great is our God?

That even when we plug our ears, turn our faces, sing silly songs to drown out His voice, and run as far as can in the opposite direction ...

He is everywhere.











He is.

And there is no escaping Him.

How great is our God?

That His heart was filled with joy by His children's jumbled voices.

That when we reach up to Him, His spirit takes hold of ours.

That He did not leave us alone.

That His heart is embodied by a people who call themselves small versions of Him.

So that we can be cradled.

And cared for.

So our scrapes can be kissed and the hair brushed from our eyes.

How great is our God?

That we are the only ones who dare to deny His might.

We are the only ones who dare to suggest He doesn't exist.

Our God is so great,

That He does not need us.

And yet He loves us anyway.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Sometimes I wonder why I am still working at my job.

I really hate it. A lot.

I've been there for four and a half years now. And I'm really good at it.

I keep asking if I can leave.

God keeps saying no.

I thought I knew why. I had a pretty good idea as to why He was keeping my butt sitting at that cubicle.

I was wrong.

Well, mostly wrong.

Today, I lost my temper.

She doesn't know that I lost it. She doesn't know the rage that I was feeling. I did a pretty good job at concealing the fact that I wanted to scream at her.

I feel that way a lot.

In my head, I call her ignorant.

I call them racist.

And judgmental.

I count to ten and pick my battles.

But the thoughts in my head, the reaction manifested in my blood pressure...

indicate an issue in my heart.


So today, when I turned around and picked a fight with her about racial profiling in the airports, God whispered:

"Anna, baby, why do you think I haven't let you leave here yet? Do ya get it now?"

He's teaching me about patience.

About double standards.

About how to interact and respond to people who think differently than I do.

In a safe environment - where no one's life or well being is on the line.

Before He sends me out to do a job I love.

Because I cannot call her ignorant, I cannot call them judgmental, I cannot accuse them of discriminating - without becoming those very things myself.

I am reminded, yet again, that I am forever a work in progress.


My mind has been in deep thought all day long.

Especially since this afternoon.

When my sister called me a Bible-thumper. And I wasn't sure whether to take that as an insult or a compliment.

Because, she's right, I didn't use to be this way.

And now it's kind of ridiculous (maybe even annoying to some) how much my mind lingers on God.

I can't help but think I'm supposed to be this way though. Consumed by Him, obsessed with it, in love with Him.

Part of me is sorry if I wear you out with all of it.

Part of me is not.


I know that less than a year ago, I had lost all my joy.

I believed in a God who loved me and a Savior who died on a cross for me.

I loved people, but didn't know them.

I had dreams and no drive.

I was restless and a coward.

And something happened.

Something broke inside of me.

And if you have known me for a while, you remember the mountain I climbed in 2009.

You remember the despair I felt.

I just got lost.


But then a savage Jesus came and picked me up in His arms and pulled me out of my own mess.

Through my brokenness He entered and changed everything.

The soil of my heart, the crust of my soul, was broken apart and shaken down and torn loose.

There was pain - like muscles tearing and bones splintering.

Because there was a Spirit outside of me that desperately wanted to join the dormant Spirit inside of me.

And sometimes, healing only comes through breaking.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


His children were dying.

His children were being neglected.

It was not a punishment.

It was not a result of His wrath.

It was not them who needed awakening.

It was not their eyes He wanted to open.


It was us.

Our eyes.

Shake us into motion.

We who call ourselves His hands and feet.

We who are filthy rich - prosperous and protected.


Get up

Monday, January 18, 2010


There is a church on Alumni that puts short quotes on their sign every week. Usually I pay no attention to such signs, but after moving to my new apartment I had to drive past it every single morning on the way to work. I began to notice how each new saying strangely related to my life.

I should have known something was about to happen when on Friday morning, St. Luke's changed their sign.

"God Changes Us".

Oh man.


God gave Bonnie a word for me this week.

I had alternate plans for this weekend. But Tuesday rolled around and I got a phone call.

"God wants you in Tennessee this weekend, Anna."

I laughed about this. Because God and I talk all the time. But He hadn't told me that I needed to MAKE a way for myself to get to Gatlinburg.

But He told Bonnie.

Sometimes, the Father uses messengers.


It was affirmed in my heart that I was where I needed to be when I walked into the cabin door and was met with cheers and hugs.

The love I have for those people makes my heart swell.


I fell asleep last night on a mattress on the floor in the living room.

I woke up occasionally to the sound of my friends laughing as they played cards.

Joy set in.


Everyone quietly dispersed to their sleeping spots. Saying goodnight as they passed.

And quietness set in.

But only for a few moments.

Then came the rain.


The cabin had a tin roof. So as the fire died in the hearth and I lay half asleep on the floor, I listened as the intensity of the downpour increased and then waned.

Then Bonnie came and laid down on the couch cushions she had fashioned as a cot. And by the light of her headlamp, she read to me before we fell asleep.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, ]we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3)


But in the middle of the night, I was hit with nightmares.

The first nightmares I've had about my upcoming trip to Ethiopia.

They were dark and quiet and all I remember were severe feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

Only to wake up in the early hours of the morning and find that all the girls who had been sleeping around me on the floor, were gone.

Suddenly those feelings of loneliness and abandonment translated into real life.

However illogical and unfounded... satan had found me in a weak spot. In the vulnerability of my sleeping mind, in the moment when joy had my defenses down, he attacked.


But the God we love is more present than any danger (says Charlie Hall), bigger than any fear, stronger than any hurt.

So I pulled out my journal, and in the quietness of the morning, I talked to God about it.

About the way my heart was hurting.

About the things, other than the nightmares, that were burdening me.


And suddenly I heard something yelling and heard people running.

"It's a rainbow! Do you see the rainbow?!"

Through the dense fog we could clearly see a rainbow arcing over the cabin.

This brought the tears to my eyes that have been hiding out for months.


Because when I saw the rainbow I heard God whisper.

Because I had heard Him talk to me all weekend long and sometimes the words God uses are not easy ones to hear.

But as I looked out the window, He said, "Don't give up hope. I haven't given up on you. This is my blessing on you, my children. I am among you. I condone this fellowship. You are welcome,"


The drive home to Kentucky this morning, as well as the afternoon, and then the evening at church, all proved to be conduits of strong emotions. And I had lost all ability to remain stoic.

And for the first time in months, the tears came.

Lots and lots of tears.


Because sometimes we cannot see.

Sometimes God chooses not to tell us what comes next in the story.

This develops our faith, our trust in Him. Our lack of vision makes us dependent on Him, the Father. The one who loves us.

Because like Don says, "it is not joy that changes people. Conflict changes people. [We] will be put through hell. [We] will go through hell, and we will change."

Friday, January 1, 2010

An End and a Beginning

For last year's words belong to last year's voice. And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. -T.S. Eliot

New Years never quite goes as I plan.

And I find myself a little bit restless today.

Some restlessness is good - keeps you moving, striving, trying.

Some restlessness is bad - it comes from the father of lies, demanding you believe falsities and subtle untruths. Causing you to be unable to sit still; which causes you to be unable to hear. This sort of restlessness causes you to be unable to listen.

I am faced with a new decade.

Today is a fresh start. But not really because it is January 1st 2010.

Because today is a new day. A new opportunity. A chance to do better.

And as I sit alone in my apartment, struggling with that second sort of restlessness coursing through my body, I remember something Beth Moore taught me this fall.

We all know God can change our lives. But He also has the ability to change our day.

How often we let ourselves wallow. Let ourselves stew in our own resentment, our own bitterness, our own discontent, our own insecurity. Sometimes we just WANT to be in a bad mood. We actively choose to be hateful, grumpy, sullen, or angry.

So this year, my challenge for myself and for the rest of you, is to let God change your day.

To let yesterday end.

To leave it all there. Whatever happened. Whatever they said. Whoever didn't see you. Whoever rejected you. Whoever offended you. Whatever broke you. Whatever pushed your buttons. Whatever overwhelmed you.

Leave it there.

At the foot of the cross, where the Father God has offered to take it all from us.

I heard on the radio the other day of a group of people who were offered a chance to get rid of all their junk.

An industrial-sized shredder was brought to the site and people lined up for hours to dump their baggage, their junk, and let it be destroyed.

Everything from pictures to scales to credit cards were brought, dumped in the shredder, and the people walked away with a lighter load.

Let 2010 be a year of listening.

Of surrendering.

Of knowing Him better.

Let Him become your delight.

The source of Your joy.


So may whatever happened in 2009 have changed you.

May it have catalyzed growth and sparked change and ignited desire.

But everything else, leave it there.

Today, take a step forward.


Let Him change your day.