Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mmmm... Bliss.

"Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,

The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:
The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,
The wide creek, the mist-blurred grass.
The moss is slippery, though there's been no rain
The pine sings, but there's no wind.
Who can leap the world's ties
And sit with me among the white clouds?"
Han-shan






:)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Artful.

 I like taking an idea - a single, small idea - and stretching and testing it until its wings spread far enough to soar on its own.  I think our Lord loves the same thing.  I have been thinking lately about how very artful He is.  We praise painters for their landscapes.  We honor artists for their work, but what kind of art is anything more than a cheap imitation of the Lord's handiwork?  As Logan and I drove home to a Nashville sunset over the rolling hills the other night, we considered the fact that no one looks at a Monet or a Picasso and says, "I bet they spilled the paint and came up with this."  Of course, if I said this to an art buff or a kindergardener, they would look at me like I was missing a head.  Why, then, isn't it crazy to think that this Earth - the inspiration for our creativity - was an accident, sheer coincidence, the mere spilling of paint?  I'm not one for apologetics... but the idea of considering God's masterpiece a mistake makes me squirm.
I believe that the Lord has some very difficult jobs: watching His loved ones reject Him and hurt themselves, giving Love even when no one wants it, mending the wounds that evil inflicts, etc.  But He also gets to handcraft the snowflakes.  He paints the sunsets.  He walks on waves and runs with clouds, and He looks at His Beloved with pride and joy as Jesus places His righteousness on our brokenness.

Merry, Merry Christmas to you all.  I pray that you are more aware than ever of His Love and Holiness this year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good friends & good coffee.

I'm currently sitting at Cuppies and Joe with my best friend, Kara.
People, trust me on this, everyone needs a friend like her.
Recently one of my good friends returned from a semester abroad on our PacRim program which travels to China, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. (I am planning and hoping to take this trip next fall (: ). He asked me what my favorite part about my semester has been. I could honestly answer, for the first time in my life, that my favorite part has been my friends. They are too wonderful. I am filled with so much JOY when I'm around them!  For me, it is very uncommon that someone comes along who I never get tired of.  Kara, though, is one such uncommon friend. She is one of the most gentle, loving, selfless spirits I've ever met, and I thank God for her on a regular basis.
Here's one of my favorite pictures of she and I:
Just kidding here's one for real....
Of course we have coffee. We always do. Here's an equally (ok... maybe a bit more) cute picture of her and her wonderful boyfriend, Jacob. 
To you, this may be creepy. It may even be creepy to Kara. I just love her and I'm proud to be her friend! Here's to good friends and good coffee. I leave you with a little poetry by none other than Han-shan (yes, Logan, he's Chinese). 
62
High, high from the summit of the peak,
Whatever way I look, no limit in sight!
No one knows I am sitting here alone.
A solitary moon shines in the cold spring.
Here in the spring--this is not the moon.
The moon is where it always is--in the sky above.
And though I sing this one little song,
In the song there is no Zen.

Ok, just for the heck of it, some Rumi, too.
What I most want 
is to spring out of this personality,
then to sit apart from that leaping.
I've lived too long where I can be reached. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmastime.

Mmmm.. who doesn't love Christmas?
I want to share with you a story about a woman I met at a vintage store in OKC. Props to AliRae for introducing me to the store and its awesomeness. If you know Ali (or if you don't), you should check out her blog here. She's great.
So, last week Ali told me about a wonderful little vintage boutique called
Bohemian Spirit Vintage - clothing, costuming & homewares in Oklahoma City, OK, photo #1Bohemian Spirit Vintage. Bohemian Spirit Vintage - clothing, costuming & homewares in Oklahoma City, OK, photo #3
It is ADORABLE and affordable. She has stuff from every time period and practically every region of the world! I got a precious red hat for $12. :)
Anyways. So, while I was shopping around, I overheard her explaining her Jesus statue to a little girl who came in with her mom. The little girl asked, "Is that Jesus or God?" The shop owner explained that we can't see or know what God looks like, and she gave the example of Moses coming down from the mountain. She asked the girl's mother if she was a Christian, and the mother replied that she was agnostic. The shop owner, feeling no right to tell the little girl that she was right and her mother was wrong, explained to the girl that some people worship Jesus, some worship Buddha, some Mohammed, and some no one at all. She told her that she loved Jesus very much, and He was her way. (I'm not looking for any discussions about pluralism.. it's just a part of the story).
When we were checking out, I told the owner that I also loved Jesus very much, and that I thought her explanation of Him was wonderful. Well, we ended up talking for just short of 30 minutes about her store and why the Lord called her to own a vintage shop. She said that her shop would be a lighthouse for people. Somehow, we started talking about Christmas, and she said one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. I don't think I'll ever forget it. She said, "We have ruined Christmas, you guys. What is Christmas? It is a celebration of Jesus' birth. It's His birthday. Shouldn't we give to Jesus on His birthday? How do we give to Jesus? He said that whatever we have done for the least of these, we have done for Him. THAT is Christmas, girls. We've made it something horrible."
As tears welled in my eyes, I thanked her. And while I didn't tell her this, I knew that Jesus was using her to be a lighthouse for the people in Oklahoma City. She even said herself that something as little as owning a vintage shop seems insignificant to most. But she blessed me, and centered me, and showed me the Love of our Saviour.
I pray that the true Christmas Spirit will be with you, this season.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pride and Prejudice III - Loving until it hurts.

I have been reading a lot of Mother Teresa lately... If you are looking for someone to challenge your way of life and show you how to live out the Love of Jesus step by step, she is your woman.
Here are a few excerpts from a book based on her teachings, Where There is Love, There is God:


"All the suffering and humiliations and the pain is but the kiss of Jesus--a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the cross that He can kiss you. So my child, do not be afraid. His Love to be true has to hurt and therefore you being in love with Jesus--His Love in you must hurt."

"Because the greater the love we have for Christ, the more we have to pay for it. The payment is sometimes big humiliations. When that humiliation comes, accept it and offer it, never hold on to it. Accept it and offer it."

"Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go."

"To offer Him our free will, our reason, our whole life in pure faith, so that He may think His thoughts in our minds, do His work through our hands, and love with our hearts."

I'm sure I'll be back with more from her. What a pure vessel of Christ.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pride and Prejudice II

"And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. 
And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die." -Rev. 12

I'm taking a class right now called "Quest for Meaning: Christ and the Good Life." 
Christ and the Good Life. What does that even mean? 
In class, we were critiquing the all too popular view of Jesus as sweet, innocent, pitiful man holding a sheep and playing with puppies (alright... so I haven't seen too many portrayals of Jesus with puppies, but you get the picture). Our teacher then brought up the title of the class... do we really believe that a life with Jesus is "the good life"? One of my fellow classmates said, "How do we define good?" 
I have been considering this for a while. The Lord, while He works all things together for His good, does not call us to have the "good life." 
I realize this is a little scattered, so stick with me. 
I have found myself clinging to the world lately. I love my life, I love my friends, I love my family (I love my hair, I LOVE MY WHOLE HOUSE!), and I just simply love this world. For a while, I felt pretty guilty about that. I kept telling myself "Self... don't get too attached to this world. Your spirit is not of this world, and it's not your home!" I get particularly attached to the world around Christmastime. It really is the most wonderful time of the year and I have found myself becoming so in love with it. At one point in time, I was asking myself why I could love something that is so commercial, materialistic, and quite often, very selfish. This is what the Lord told me: "The message of Christmas is Mine. All good and perfect gifts come from Me, so when you love things about this life, if your heart is after my heart, they are often small indicators of My ever-present Love and my infusion in this world." At the same time, I know that I cannot love my life so much that I am unwilling to give it up. 
I don't believe that everyone is called to die for the cause of Christ. I do believe that we are all called to be willing to. And sometimes, that means that we are called to be willing to give up the materialism of our life. We are called to surrender our "right" to "the good life."
I'm still processing the concept of suffering in Christ and His followers, past and present. So there is likely more to come on that subject. But what greater pride is there? That we would be so wrapped up in our own lives that we are unwilling to surrender, to sacrifice. 

Merry Christmas. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Home :)

I'm going home this weekend after being away from Nashville longer than I ever have been.
Nothing like home sweet home.










Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pride and Prejudice.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

I wish to see a change in the Church... and I've been struggling with it/ thinking about it for a long time. God showed me this weekend that in order to see that change, I need to embody that change. And I think most of the things that bother me in the Church are only frustrating to me because they reflect the dying, decaying parts of myself.
Pride. As Christians, we are called to be everything but proud, unless we are proud of Christ's death and resurrection (Gal 6:14). Why, then, do so many of us continue to "brag" about our spirituality, our closeness to Christ, our achievements, our behaviors? The possibilities are endless of the things we can (and do) boast about. I'm sick of it! I am sick of feeling like I need to prove myself. You may be thinking, "Hallie, that's your problem. You don't have anything to prove, and it's entirely your doing/ your fault if you feel like you need to prove something to people." I would agree--I'm at fault. But, I think this issue with pride is a group effort from the Church. I was raised in a church where people cared more about their spiritual appearance than the glorification of God. In effect, I have inherited the practice of bragging, competing, etc. in my spiritual life and relations with others. Maybe, I wouldn't be as proud and competitive and proud if I had never felt "challenged" by my spiritual peers. How do we defeat pride? It's destroying our Church. It's destroying our ability to draw close to God.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Side note. The number 13 has been EVERYWHERE for me lately. Let me give you a few examples. I was born on the 13th in room 213, my boyfriend was born on the 13th, I look at the clock every day at 10:13, I see the number 13 everywhere I look... so there must be some significance, right? God revealed to me a while ago that my life would be similar to the life of Jeremiah... or at least that the book of Jeremiah would be helpful for me for my entire life. Sunday, I read Jeremiah 13. Here's the jist (although I recommend you go read the whole thing for yourself!)
Basically, the Lord asks Jeremiah to buy a loincloth and bury it under a rock by the river. After a long time, the Lord asks Jeremiah to go and take it out. When he does, the loincloth is rotting and decaying. Here's what the Lord says: "This shows how I will rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem. These wicked people refuse to listen to me. They stubbornly follow their own desires and worship other gods. Therefore, they will become like this loincloth--good for nothing! As a loincloth clings to a man's waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory--an honor to my Name. But they would not listen to me." -Jer. 13:8-11
We are not to be proud. We are to be God's pride. I don't know how to get there, or even how to start the journey. But I'm ready to go.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Take a look at my beautiful friend Ali and I. I'm pretty proud of these:





She's pretty great. I like to quote our friend Ryan: "I can't see the world existing without you and Ali being friends." We had a fabulous weekend in Tulsa for Halloween! It's becoming a tradition now; this was year two of a Halloween in Tulsa for me. We went to a Hmong festival, played with a flame thrower, watched Polar Express and Fight Club (the classic combo), and even.... get ready... learned the dance to THRILLER. The only thing that could have made it better would be our dear friend Jenna's presence. Here's a little peek at our MJ debut:

It was a blast. Yes, that is Ali's dad on the right. 
I know, you may be impressed/shocked/surprised by all of the pictures on here! I figure I gotta spice it up sometimes. However, interestingly enough, this blog post was actually inspired by my lost phone last week and my lost keys yesterday. Last week, my phone mysteriously disappeared. There were, so I thought, only two places where my phone could be... and it was in neither of those places. So, I gave up on it and am now using my old, ghetto, orange phone (Sounds fabulous, right??).  If you've ever lost a phone, you understand the stress that comes with that. I've felt that stress multiplied, because I have lost enough phones that my parents just laugh when I tell them I've lost something else valuable and expensive... and I'm tired of disappointing them. Anyways, come Tuesday, I had received my new/old phone and could breathe a heavy sigh of relief. Ahhhh.
Sounds like a happy ending, right? Just wait! There's more
Yesterday, I remembered that I hadn't seen my keys since lunchtime on Tuesday. Never fear, I continued  to search for my keys at Qdoba, Starbucks, my dorm room, All About Cha, the OC Admissions Office, Logan's car, my dorm room again, and they were nowhere to be found. I read my Jesus Calling for that day, and in it, Jesus challenged me to see small adversities as opportunities. "Great," I'm thinking. "Really, Jesus?! I just found my phone. And you want me to look at my lost keys as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience and possible waste of money. Yeah right. See you tomorrow." When things like this happen to me, I typically let the stress overwhelm me. But this time, things were different... and it wasn't my doing. Hang with me, I promise I'm getting to the point of this saga. As I drove all around Edmond in search of my keys, I found that rather than feeling heightened disappointment at each stop where the successive barista/server/workers said, "No... we haven't found any keys," I found myself feeling lighter and lighter. Joyful and more joyful. I heard Jesus saying, "Hallie, they are just keys. If you can't find them, I will take care of you." How comforting. This earthly life is not about keys, praise the Lord! And so I found peace. My first taste of true peace in the face of adversity. (I'm terribly sorry if this offends you because you are dealing with much greater adversity than lost keys... I know it seems trivial). 

End of story, I found my keys. Once my phone was up and working, I got a text saying the lovely Kayleigh Mayhall had my keys--I had left them in the cafeteria and she picked them up for me. :)




Friday, October 29, 2010

a Magnificent God.

Friends, we serve a Magnificent God.
I don't take enough time to recognize His Power.
We never have reason to boast -- unless we boast about Him!  How humbling.
This is what He has been saying lately:
"Be aware of my constant, unchanging Presence with you. I am inescapable!  And I am in all things. Worship me all day long- by loving people, by admiring me, by refusing to worry, and by turning your eyes to Me."


j0406900.32173033_std.jpg     

Spend some time in His Powerful Presence today. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lord, I am coming.

"My heart has heard You say, 'Come and talk with Me.' 
And my heart responds,
'Lord, I am coming.'' 
-ps. 27:8

I love journaling. It the best kind of fulfillment and release valve for me... which is probably why I enjoy blogging so much! It is just such a therapy. So, as you can imagine, it was a momentous occasion when I ended my current journal and just started the cutest new one from my mom! I went through this previous journal unusually fast... I only started it this summer. Apparently I have just been super talkative in my inner self...
Well, I typically like to start a new phase of my life when I start a new journal.  For example, I started a new one when I got rebaptized, started a new one in college, started a new one before I went to Ghana. So this new journal is going to be a little different, and hopefully it will mark the start of a new phase. When I was looking back at my journal from this summer, I felt like I was consistent in talking to God, but I didn't often experience His manifest Presence in a major, unforgettable way. I didn't have many defining events or life-changing moments. In my new journal, instead of writing my thoughts and problems and prayer requests, I am going to take the advice of Sarah Young (author of Jesus Calling and Dear Jesus) and just listen. I am just going to sit in His Presence and listen. And then, I will write down what I hear. Obviously, I will still bring Him my problems like I always have. But I just want to have conversation with the Lord. I want to talk with Him, not at Him. Notice, in the verse above, the Lord does not say "Come and talk to me." He asks us to talk with Him. Back and forth. 

I started this morning and it went pretty well for the first day. I'm sure there will be days when I feel like He's saying nothing. But hopefully, I will be posting some responses on here. I would love it if you would join me in this quest to know and hear God, as opposed to dumping our problems on Him and taking off. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thy Will Be Done.

"Nevertheless, the time will come when I will heal Jerusalem's wounds and give it 
prosperity and true peace." -Jeremiah 33:6

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, I was thinking today in my Quest for Meaning class (No worries, it sounds deeper than it actually is).
We were talking about Jesus' encounter with the dead and with the sick throughout the Gospels.. and the thoughts just started coming:
 If you notice, He never says, "Sorry. It is not my will that I heal your daughter/husband/brother etc." He heals 27 people in his 3 years of ministry. In some cases, He raises people from the DEAD. And nowhere do we find an account where Jesus says "I don't want to, or "I can't," or "I won't," or "It's not my will." Can you imagine if He did? Just picture a Jesus who refused to heal people. He equally offers His healing - both spiritually AND physically. I once heard a preacher say that the cross is Jesus' screaming to the world, "THIS WORLD MATTERS." He is shouting, "Salvation is not all I bring you, world! I come to bring you life, health and peace. In abundance." (2 Peter 1:2, Jude 1:2)

Jesus does not merely offer us salvation from sins! He bore every disease on the cross (Isaiah 53:4).
It irks me when I hear believers say "If it is Your Will, heal this person." Of course it is His Will. He never desires for anyone to suffer. Thy Kingdom come, thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." In heaven, we are told that there is no suffering or pain. If we are asking for things to be on earth as heaven, why aren't we asking more boldly that suffering end and diseases be healed? Obviously, I believe that there are times when the Lord chooses not to heal for reasons I do not understand, but I trust. But, I believe that if more followers would stand up and boldly proclaim Jesus' cross as the removal of all suffering, spiritual and physical, perhaps the Lord would hear us and heal us.

" I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. 
Others were given in exchange for you.
 I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. 
You are honored, and I love you." - Isaiah 43

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Focus.

"In the silence of the heart, God speaks." -Mother Teresa

My quest for purpose and focus have been somewhat successful, although I won't say I haven't had a few bumps along the way. It is just so easy for me, a materialistic, selfish American, to lose focus. 
I'm not even sure that I have anything productive to say in this post. 
I'm realizing how important each moment is... how precious time is. It truly is the rarest commodity. And as I discussed this idea with Logan last night, we realized that time is the most precious gift that the Father gives us. And when we spend our time selfishly, lazily, or angrily, we are throwing away an irreplaceable, one time gift. (Luckily we get a few more moments to redeem ourselves.. hopefully). We were made with the intention that we would use each moment to spread love, joy, peace, etc. 

I challenge you to use each moment to expand and enrich the Kingdom. 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Solitude.

Before coming back to OC this year, I prayed a lot about what God wanted from me during the course of the year. He kept placing a few ideas in my mind - purpose, intentionality, and community.  So, as you can imagine, I've been working through those ideas since I got back in the OKC. I am still somewhat at a loss as to how I should live those out, but last night I may have discovered something.
I am going to focus my life, week by week, on one spiritual practice.
I'm primarily basing these off of a book that I bought for a study last year (but never opened), and just a shameless plug, it is FABULOUS. It's called Celebration of Discipline. Props to Brianna for suggesting it to us.
Anywho, this week is solitude.
Solitude, based on this book, does not exactly mean what you may imagine. It does not mean loneliness or isolation, but rather it is a practice of intentional inner focus and the constant process of listening for the voice of Jesus. Today was my first day, and it was swell.  Just swell. 
Among other practices, I am focusing on awareness in the moment and a quietness of spirit. It's amazing how well it has gone today, and it's become really clear to me how much I depend on noise, busyness, and chatter. Sometimes, (scratch that.. ALL the time), it is better to actually listen rather than waiting to talk. It's also been so encouraging to know that I don't have to verbally defend myself or justify my actions. Jesus will do that for me.
I would absolutely love it if you would join me in this process. It has already blessed me so much, and I have no doubt that it will bless you, too.

solitude3.jpg

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

And a side of CRAZY, please.

Well. The year has definitely begun. No doubt about that one.
School work, class work, work-outs, toomanyevents, club nights, sleepless nights, lazy days, crazy days, whirlwind, whiplash, SLOW DOWN!!
Whew. Thank you, blogworld, for letting me get that one out. I've needed to cyber-yell about the hecticness (yeah, it's a word) of the past two-ish weeks.

Sounds crazy, right? Well it is. And I am absolutely loving every last second of it.
Last year, I really struggled to be content at OC. I wanted to be anywhere else, doing anything else, helping people in the way that I thought was meaningful. Since this year has started though, I have been able to fall in LOVE with OC and the people here, and God is still working on instilling His passion in my heart for the people on this campus. This is my mission field this year! And now God is looking into my eyes asking, "Hallie, what are you going to do with what I've given you?"
Because He has given me a LOT. I feel so so so SO blessed. That kind of blessed where you can't help but cynically wonder, "What horrible thing must be coming? This is too good to be true."
Thank You, Jesus.

I have been meditating on this verse lately... it's pretty rockin'. I hope it sticks in your mind and heart like it has mine. It's from Song of Songs but I have no idea what chapter or verse.

"He brought me to His banqueting table, and His banner over me is LOVE." 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reunited, and it feels so good. Story of my life.

"The one who loves the least controls the most."
Just food for thought. It has nothing to do with the following post. But it's been making me think.

I was planning on writing about healing... which the Lord has been doing a lot of in my life lately... but I am actually going to write about community. But first, one thing on healing. If you, the assumed reader of my blog, are in need of healing from abuse, sexual history, addiction, or any part of your past, I highly recommend the book Invisible Bond by Barbara Wilson. Seriously changed my life. It will change yours... even if you are not dealing with some painful and debilitating parts of your past. It helped me realize the gravity of sex before marriage, and helped foster compassion in me towards people who act selfishly or unkindly because of their past. Read it. (Thank you, Brianna Gaither).

So... on to community.
My friends are some of the most beautiful people to ever walk the face of the earth. I tell you no lies. You can commence the jealousy now, because I'm going to talk about them like a proud mama talks about her first grader. They are ridiculous. I finally feel free to be myself around these girls, and I know that I can come to them with anything. But that's just the mushy stuff. They are there for the tough stuff, too. When I'm in a crappy mood, they shower me with grace and forgiveness. When I'm irresponsible or un-Christ-like, they put me in my place. They don't fluff their words for me, or give me false hope or confidence. They are genuine about themselves, and they are genuine towards me. THAT is love, people. In it's truest form. Oh, did I mention they are hilarious?! So full of joy and full of life. Love, peace, grace, joy, and freedom flow from their hearts, their lips, and their hands.  Thank you, Jesus! Yes, Natalie, Suzanna, Kara, Katie, Kaci, Ali, Brianna, Shelby T., I am talking about YOU and more! 
God's Love manifests itself through ^these girls^. What a blessing. I'm not deserving.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Jesus, Your love is strong.
You are greater, You are stronger, God, You are higher than any other.
God, You are healer, awesome in Power.
And if You, oh God are for us, then who can ever stop us?
If Our God is with us, what can stand against?
Your Spirit is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
Your perfect love expels all fear.
Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Not even the powers of hell can separate us from Your Love.
You have broken chains, defeated death, and overcome the grave.
You light up the darkness; darkness and light are the same to You.
You surround us with unfailing Love.
Help us to never forget.

Monday, July 26, 2010

3rd Base.

It's been a while.
I haven't had too many thought-provoking ideas, I guess... Or I've just been too busy. Probably a little of both.
This time last year, I was at a stronger point spiritually and relationally with God than I have ever been in... either before or after.  For the past year or so since that high season, I have felt frustrated and devastated because I couldn't maintain that super-spiritual life. As of the past few months, I have felt as if I am at my lowest point spiritually in a while. I have been struggling and struggling to find what I'm missing, but the harder I try the further I seem to be from intimate relation with the Lord. In addition, I have been surrounded by spiritual superheroes who challenge me to grow, but they also make me question if I am doing anything right. I wonder sometimes, how can God love that person who is so spiritually in-tune, and still love me? Why am I not like that? I realize now that I have only been growing and the Lord has been teaching me, but it has been hard.  Stinkin' hard.  As I have been attempting to regain the ground that I "lost" in this period of spiritual hunger and frustration, God has taught me a few really significant things that I think are worth sharing:
First of all, He showed me that I am learning. My progress is miniscule, almost invisible to my eyes, but He has been watching me take leaps and bounds for the Kingdom as I mature in my faith.
Second, He taught me that you can't go to 3rd base on the first date (I mean... I guess you can, but this is God speaking here, and I don't think that's how He rolls). I am still spiritually young. And my relationship with God is still on the first-date level. He's still new to me, I'm still trying to figure Him out, and I'm still questioning if God is really worth my complete surrender (that probably sounds harsh, but it's the truth).  The other day, I was praying about this. I was telling God that I wanted to be back at the place I was a year ago, and I was asking Him to bring me back there NOW! What He told me was, "Hallie, you can't go to 3rd base on the first date. We are getting there, but our relationship is not intimate or personal enough yet for you to be at that place. Just spend time with me and get to know me. We'll get there... but it starts with baby steps."

So we're getting there. I hope you can relate to this or take something from it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Who's with me?

Radical.
Sold out.
On fire.
Consumed.
Spirit-led.
Dangerous.
Holy.
Bold.
Courageous.


These are words that I would use to describe people in the Bible -
David, Moses, Noah, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Paul, Peter, John, Jesus.
My question is - Why don't they describe me? Not to be falsely humble, but to be genuinely humbled, not one of these words describes the person that I am right now.
Why?
Lately I have felt like I am standing on a 100-foot-high diving board above the ocean, staring down, down, down, as I grip the edge with my toes. I know exactly what God is calling me to do. Dive in. Headfirst. No regrets. No turning back. Total freefall. I understand what it takes, and I understand that I am insufficient to survive on my own power. I have all the knowledge I need, I just won't jump. I know that behind me is a life of darkness and anxiety. And I know that below me is a life of fulfillment, sacrifice, and inexpressible joy. Why won't I jump in?
I think it might be because I'm afraid of jumping alone. We have been talking a lot at work about the lack of true community in the modern church and the desperate need for it. God never intended for His children to take on discipleship single-handedly. He gave each of us different gifts for a reason... so we would NEED each other. And we do. We do even today. But we don't recognize the need, and we are continuing to ignore it as it grows and grows.
So, my question is... who's with me? Will you take my hand and jump in with me? Because clearly I am too afraid to jump on my own.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Follow the Leader.

Little disclaimer: Most of these thoughts come from a video by Frances Chan.

God and His Son give a clear example of how disciples of Christ are to live.
Jesus says, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me." -Matthew 8:34
When you were a kid, and you played follow the leader, you DID what the leader did. If the leader flapped his arms, you flapped your arms. You certainly did not say, "I will just sit here and flap my arms in my heart. Really, I promise, I'm flapping my arms on the inside." 
Imagine if your father asked you to clean your room. How impressed would he be if you came back to say, "Dad, I memorized what you said. I thought about cleaning my room, and I memorized exactly what you told me. Later today, me and some friends are going to have a study about what cleaning my room might look like." 
Of course he would NOT be impressed! 
We do the same thing with Jesus. He tells us to walk as He walks, and we simply sit and memorize, or we study, or we think. Jesus did not command us to think about what He said, He calls us to DO IT!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"I can never escape from Your Spirit!
I can never get away from Your presence!
If I go up to heaven, You are there. 
If I go down to the grave, You are there. 
If I ride the wings of the morning, 
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there Your hand will guide me,
and Your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night - 
but even in darkness I cannot hide form You.
To You, the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to You."
-Ps. 139:7-12

This is probably the most comforting thing I know of.. that even if I try, I can't escape God.
I seem to be prone to taking on too much.  I try to please everyone, take care of everyone, and I try to convince myself that failure, on my part, is unacceptable. 
But God's Spirit is with me... always.  I don't have to be everywhere.  I don't have to do everything.  God's Spirit is taking care of me.  And when I am afraid, when I'm overwhelmed, when I'm alone, when I'm anxious, God is here.  And He is not frightened by my dark.  In fact, my dark, deep brokenness shine  bright... because, like I said, God is there.  In my brokenness, in my weakness, in my attempts and failures to fix the world, God is there. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Growing Pains.

NEWSFLASH: You are older now than you were when you first clicked on this page, and time is slipping away all the time. I don't mean to be negative, but lately I've been experiencing some serious growing pains.
I don't think I'm mentally or emotionally ready to be a responsible grown-up. But I don't really have a choice, do I?  Things are constantly changing, people are hurting, and life demands responsibility at some times.  So whether I would like to or not, I am growing up.  And it's painful.
I have lived in this naive bubble for my whole life - one that tells me that everyone is kind.  No one wants to hurt me, and the people in my life are angels who never mess up.  Don't get me wrong, people have told me constantly that humans are flawed and that the world can be dangerous, but I never chose to believe it.
The more I experience of the world, however, the more I discover how much we humans have screwed up God's plan.
PLUS, the more life I live, the more I discover how short it is.  I have one life, and it's already almost 1/4 of the way over.  Woah, when did that happen? I'm just now starting to understand what my life is about.
If you are like me, the knowledge of how short life is and how corrupt the world is only instills in me one emotion - urgency. There are so many pointless tasks that so easily occupy our minds, hearts, strengths, and energies. 

This is why I was placed on the earth:
"God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us."
- 2 Cor. 5:18-20
I believe that this "message of reconciliation" is also why God placed You here. Will you accept the challenge? Although God may wait for your reply, time will not.

Monday, May 31, 2010



From top to bottom:
Caren from Prestoncrest Girls House making a card for Tommy
Emmanuel flying a kite
My class for Spiritual Emphasis week with their banner
Me and Emmanuel
Some kids on the way to the beach
Linary girls outside their house
Margaret and Monica, some sweet boarder girls from my class
The kids at Spiritual Emphasis!

I'm not sure I can write about everything from Ghana yet. 
I'll be back. :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ghana 2010.

I am about to be extremely open and vulnerable with you.  Christianity has become largely about appearing "good" or "holy" rather than true community or vulnerability, and I am about to share with you some not-so-good or holy inner thoughts.  I ask that you not take that vulnerability for granted.

Tomorrow, I will be leaving for the Village of Hope in Ghana for the duration of three weeks.
I'm traveling with a team of college students from Oklahoma Christian and the campus minister from Memorial Road Church of Christ, and we will basically be getting to know the kids, helping with construction, putting on a week-long VBS, and doing anything the Village of Hope needs us to.

Last year I traveled to Malawi, which is located on the other side of the continent from Ghana, and I can safely say that I was fearless even as I boarded the 3-day-long series of flights (minus one minor breakdown). This year, however, I am having flashbacks of Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush. "I don't speak well, God. Please, send someone else."
That is how I feel. "God, please, send someone else. I'm not right for this job." I don't feel ready, I don't feel prepared, I don't feel called. But, at the same time, I know that God has called me to Ghana. I know that God has called me into relationship with people all over the world, because I simply love people. When I think about it, really think about it, I know in my heart that Africa is where I want to be. But I'm entering the trip with a lot of expectations carried over from Malawi that I need to lay down. Plus, I'm downright humbled at the thought of a 3-week period without communication to the people I talk to every day. Most ashamedly, I am lazy. I just got home from my first year at college, I had to drive 11 hours by myself, we were displaced from our house because of flooding and I didn't even get to stay in my own bed, and all I want to do in this moment is settle down in my living room and rest.
I know... poor me, right? WRONG. Not poor me. My life is not about me or my comfort level. It is about God and the fact that He has called me. It is about the fact that God is teaching me to lean on Him in every situation. It is about the feeling that I will have once I'm in Ghana - the peace and the assurance that I am right where I need to be. My life, plain and simply, is about learning to lay down me.
Jesus, please help me.
I ask for your bold and faithful prayers on behalf of our team, on behalf of the children of VOH, and on behalf of my stubborn attitude. God has a lot of work to do on this trip. Good thing He's God.

Much love. Stay safe and stay at peace.

"Though an army besiege me, 
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek,
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to see Him in His temple."
-Psalm 27:3-4

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Main Event.




"Blessed are those who trust in the Lord 
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit."
-Jeremiah 17:7-8

Yesterday, I took a bike ride around Edmond.
I was so so excited just to be outside - to feel the wind and see the birds and feel attached to nature. After a while though, I saw an awesome looking tree, and I decided to go and sit by it (of course, it helped that my legs needed a break, too... I'm a little out of shape). I wish I could accurately explain to you this tree... The sun winked at me through the leaves, and the leaves danced with the wind as it surged through the air. Just laying under that tree, watching the leaves and the clouds pirouette, I could not bring myself to leave.
For me, the most natural response to moments like that is praise. So I prayed and I praised, and God's presence was there. Who knows how long I spent there. All I know is that I was content without rush, without worry, without time, and with God.
As I was riding back, it struck me that this was not just a bike ride. I left my dorm, excited about a form of exercise, but God had planned for us to sit under a tree together. I still hadn't caught on when I decided to take a break, because I had only planned to rest for five or ten minutes.
But that's just it. Even when we aren't looking for Him, God pursues us. And He is a God who refuses to stand on the sidelines. He will not take second place to a bike ride, or a shopping spree, or a house, or a boyfriend.
Our God is the Main Event.
And rightfully so.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sweet Surrender.

Being a disciple of Christ is hard
Just look at the shoes we have to fill! It can be so overwhelming sometimes, that it's tempting to throw up our hands and say, "Jesus, I will never look like you, so why should I try?" Jesus raised the dead, after all. People. There was a dead man... rotting, stinky, decomposed... dead man. And after Jesus was through with him, he was as good as new (maybe even better). How are we supposed to model a life like that? I can't even make it through a day without physically hurting myself or someone else... much less healing someone - multiple people.


I have been thinking about this a lot lately - how incredibly overwhelming it is to look at the life of Jesus Christ and have any motivation to model it, knowing how weak and simple I am.
Some of us are quick to say that we are not called to be just like Jesus, because after all, Jesus was perfect, and we are human. But let me point you to a couple verses that don't leave any room for that kind of thinking.
Matt. 5:48 "But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." These are the words of Jesus.
John 14:12 "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." These are also the words of Jesus. 
Jesus is calling us to be perfect. How do we handle that?


There is some incredible joy that comes with this. That joy goes by the name of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit takes over for us, when we surrender to Him/Her, and our task does not have to be difficult, burdensome, or stressful. Jesus says, "For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." - Matt. 11:30.  Seems a little contradictory, eh? How is being perfect an easy burden to bear? Because of the Spirit. When we empty ourselves, surrendering to the Spirit's Power, He/She does the work for us. There is so much freedom in that!! I hope you hear this truth the way I heard it the other day. We do not have to fit a mold, succumb to the pressure of society, or strain or struggle. All we have to do is empty ourselves, and the work is done! After surrendering, all we must do is live presently in each moment, listening and doing. That is so easy... and SO freeing. Of course we will mess up. The point is that we stand back up, let the Father dust us off and point us a new direction, and surrender again. And again. And again and again and again. 




(A lot of these ideas came from a sermon I heard at Traders Point Community Church in Zionsville, IN).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Come and Listen.

Come to the water's edge all you who know and fear the Lord.
Come and Listen.
Come to the water's edge all you who are thirsty, 
Come.

Maybe you are like me, and you are searching, thirsty for God's presence and guidance in your life. That's where I am today and every day. I get so excited to go and do for the glory of His Kingdom, but God is first calling us to come and be. 
If you are like me, and you are waiting for God's plan for your life to drop in your lap so you can yell, "THANKS, GOD!" only to run off into the sunset, forgetting about the Giver of your life and your plan, hold your horses just a moment.
First, God wants you and me to know (I believe) that He has amazing plan, and it is coming. No need to fret. 
BUT, God has placed us right where we are, and He is waiting to use us here
Now.
Being a Christian is not always about moving across the world (although many of the strongest Christians I know have been called to do so). Being a Christian involves listening to God's voice and following it moment by moment. 
Before we go and do, God is urging us to come and be. 
Only then can we truly recognize his voice when He does call, and only then can we find our purpose in each moment of our day.

I urge you to spend time with God today. 

Come and Listen.
Come to the water's edge all you who know and fear the Lord.
Come and Listen.
Come to the water's edge all you who are thirsty,
Come.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Beloved, 
How are you today?
I am ready to hear from you whenever you want to talk.
I understand that maybe this week has been hard, 
and this upcoming week may be hard, too.
So I have a few things I want to tell you.
I see you. 
I know what makes you happy, what makes you laugh, what makes you anxious, what makes you angry, and what makes you cry - I created each of these things within you.
Not only do I see you... I am active in your life today.
When you see something, anything that makes you smile, remember the one who created that longing inside of you.
When you become anxious because of your circumstances, remember that I am right beside you, ready to pour peace and calmness over you.
I wish that you would not concern yourself with your future... I am taking care of it.
And for now, all I need you to do is listen to me in this moment.
I have incredible things in store for you, but the first thing you must do is step onto my feet and allow me to lead you, one step at a time, into my plan for your life. 
Most importantly, above everything else, please remember that I am your Lover, your Savior, your Healer, your Comforter, and your Friend, and I long for your whole heart. 

Always here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How did we get here?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you just, for one reason or another,
see everything differently?
For only a moment, it seems like the fog has been lifted from your brain.
And then the fog's back. And you can't even remember what you were thinking about. 
I believe in science, they call this a paradigm shift, or a gestalt switch - when all of a sudden, your perspective changes.

I had one of those on Sunday.
I was sitting in church, and the preacher was talking about some specific and minute matter concerning the "Christian Faith," as some would call it.
I pictured what this church would have looked like if we were the first church.
I imagined us in a tiny shack with a thatched roof, eating a meal together and discussing
"Christianity" in excited voices while passing the bread.
I imagined laughter, community, passion, freedom.
Whoever was preaching/talking was probably speaking words of encouragement, 
or talking about their personal struggles, or telling the rest of us how we could take action to 
further the Kingdom. 

Back to present time: at that moment, sitting in church, I could not comprehend how we got here
Church was intended for the crazy, the broken, the needy, the lost, the passionate.
I see far too many in church who are normal.
We are not called to be "normal." We are called to be different.
And I cannot understand why our church today consists of people
who look exactly like every other non-Christian.
Do we, the church, really want to look different than the rest of the world?
Because right now, the only thing setting us apart is some religious jewelry.

I know plenty of good people who aren't Christians. 
I know plenty of great people who aren't Christians.
And I know plenty of Christians who can vomit up verses all day but live complacently.
What, then, is the point of being a Christian, if anyone can be kind, and those of us who are Christians aren't even kind most of the time?

Jesus said that the pathway is narrow and few will find it. 
I believe we've bushwhacked that narrow pathway to allow any sort of behavior.
After all, if you say you love Jesus and you get baptized, you're set for eternity, right?

I think Jesus is calling us to more


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chain Reaction.

So.
(I feel like I start a lot of my entries like that. Maybe that's how my brain thinks).
Let's talk about stress, shall we?

Here's how it's affecting me this week/semester:
The muscle in my shoulder is twitching about every two minutes.
My skin is more broken out than any 13 year old I know.
My family just flew in from 12 hours away, and I treated them like they were dirt because I was stressed.
I make rude comments to people I don't know and to my best friends.
EVERYTHING makes me mad.
I cry because I take the wrong interstate exit.
I do not care about anyone else's problems.
I get chest pains.
And how much have I accomplished by stressing out this much, you ask?
Nothing.
If anything, I've worked backwards, because I've been miserable trying to accomplish the things I need to do, when I could have done them with joy.
Seems pointless, doesn't it?

If you were with me right now, you would see and hear me taking a big ole' sigh.
I'm guessing that someone who is reading this is stressed about something - big or small. It doesn't really matter how big the issue is.. stress is the same for everyone and everything.
Just take a minute and take a big ole' sigh. I promise you will feel better.

Our lives do not have to be this miserable.
We do not have to live with 2 cents worth of energy when we have to give $300 worth.
We can live full.

-HallieMarie
(Props to Allison, http://a-borrowedtime.blogspot.com/, for making me realize how stupid I was being).

Monday, March 1, 2010

COBURN, SAY YES!


"If there is no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." - Mother Teresa

Here's the low-down: After impassioned lobbying from tens of thousands of activists, historic legislation aimed at ending Africa’s longest-running war is on the verge of passing the Senate unanimously. In fact, the bill has more bipartisan support in Congress than any bill focused on sub-Saharan Africa in  American history. But Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, nicknamed “Dr. No”, is single-handedly blocking this landmark legislation because the bill authorizes new funds to assist victims of the violence (you can read more about why in the Campaign FAQ).
As Senator Coburn prevents this bill from passing, the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is terrorizing communities across three countries in central Africa. In the past two months alone, Joseph Kony's rebel army has massacred hundreds of people and abducted hundreds more, including children who are forced to become soldiers.
That's why we are holding the Oklahoma Hold Out, and we're not going home until Senator Coburn agrees to a compromise.  The most committed activists - who know that Senator Coburn's obstructionism is preventing the action needed to end this senseless violence - are "holding out" outside Senator Coburn's office in downtown Oklahoma City until the Senator allows the bill to pass. 
People are driving and flying from all corners of the country to join in person. We invite you to join as well, or if you can't join them in person, we need your support from right where you are.
Visit the Oklahoma Hold Out information page if you want to join the effort in person. If you can't make it to Oklahoma, click here to support the effort from wherever you are.

Ok guys!! If you are reading this, www.coburnsayyes.com right now and sign the petition!
Even if you don't live here, you can still make a huge impact! The children of Northern Uganda need your help.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Caution: Controversy.

1 Corinthians 1:17 "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross be emptied of its power."

Don't say I didn't warn you.

I have to wonder - why does the modern church place so much emphasis on the unimportant things?
Not that baptism is unimportant... please don't misunderstand me. But this verse has started the gears a turning, and there's no turning back now.

We are so caught up in who is preaching, whether or not we like the songs, whether or not we prefer the worship style, whether or not church makes us "feel good."
Where in the Bible does anyone say: "Here is the purpose of the Church. Each of you will decide on a specific and impossible set of requirements and preferences, and you will not be satisfied with a church until you find one that meets each one of your ridiculously high standards."
I speak this as someone who has lived/ is living a life of selfish church life.. I get so caught up in how I think things should be, that I totally miss the presence of God in a church sometimes. And I can tell you, from experience, you are never going to find a group of people who have all of the exact same standards/ideas for church that you do.
As it should be.
CHURCH. IS. NOT. ABOUT. US.
It never has been.

This brings me to baptism.
First of all... baptism is great. Jesus did it, why wouldn't I?
But are we preaching a rule so that we don't have to actually preach the gospel?
Baptism certainly is easier to explain. And it requires significantly less vulnerability than explaining the ways that God's Word has directly impacted our lives.
Has God's word impacted our lives? Is that why we have to preach a rule instead of a way of life?
Why are we, the church, so comfortable?

GOD HAS NOT CALLED US TO BE COMFORTABLE!
He has called us to preach the gospel. In words, in action, in grace, in truth.

Friday, February 12, 2010

new day.

"I look into the sky and say 'You're beautiful.'" - Phil Wickham, You're Beautiful

I have had a really really REALLY frustrating night.
I am supposed to be at home in Nashville right now, but I got delayed in the Dallas airport overnight, and I've been in this airport since 8 o'clock last night.  That's almost 12 hours in the same airport.
Plus I've had one of the most challenging academic weeks of my life...
I had four really challenging exams in one week, two in one day. And my motivation was, "Just get through the week! You'll be in Nashville soon."
Not soon enough.
I pretty much broke down in front of every one in the gate, and in front of the Southwest Airlines Agent. Poor thing.. she kept saying, "Are you going to be alright?"

I had to go into the bathroom multiple times just to cry, because I JUST WANT TO BE HOME.
And I kept yelling at God "JUST DO SOMETHING!"
Well... I don't know what He's doing. And I'm a little (...ok... a LOT) frustrated with Him, but I am going to get home. Even if I don't, He is watching out for me, because He loves me.
And, today is a new day. 
Yesterday was a day of frustration and chaos, today is a day of gratefulness and redemption.

Lamentations 3:22-23 
"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! 
His mercies never cease. 
Great is His faithfulness; 
His mercies begin afresh every morning."

I need a new day! I hope that you have fabulous days every day, but if you happen to be normal and you have off days, I hope you find comfort in the fact that God starts fresh with you every. single. morning. of. your. entire. life. 


Monday, February 8, 2010

held.

"Chains be broken
Lives be healed
Eyes be opened
Christ is revealed." 
-Hillsong United

It's so cool that my last post said "Search for peace and work to maintain it," because over this weekend, I was driving along, and an old clunker car drove up beside me and stuck a peace sign out his window. 
So I stuck a peace sign out my sun roof. 
He gave me the thumbs up. 

Earlier last week, I was feeling spiritually dead.
I guess everyone gets that way, but it's especially discouraging when you think your invincible... and then it happens to you. 

Anyways, I've realized... or more like God has told me... that he pursues us, even when we are running away from Him. He is always waiting, always loving us. He never stops. How awesome is that. 
That thought holds so much meaning to me. When I start to get to a low place in my relationship with God, I get discouraged, and then just continue to walk away from Him, rather than turning around right where I am. 

A good friend gave me a good analogy the other day: "If you and God used to be right beside each other, and you have walked away, you don't have to walk back exactly the way that you came. Just walk towards Him, whatever way you can, and you will eventually reach Him." 
I don't know if that holds any meaning to you, but it definitely does to me.
It means a lot to me to know that, even when I don't want to be, and even when I'm unaware of it, I am under the care and protection of an infinitely loving and powerful Dad. 

We are held, praise the Lord. 


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Challenge.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, 
for the Lord anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that 
captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that
the time of the Lord's favor has come...
I am overwhelmed with JOY in the Lord my God!
For He has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe of righteousness." - Isaiah 61

I challenge you to fulfill this verse this week.
In the way you speak, the way you think, the way you act

"Turn away from evil and do good
Search for peace, and work to maintain it." - 1 Peter 3:11