Sunday, December 6, 2009

wake up

tonight, a homeless man asked me why there wasn't a place for them to stay every day and night...

i didn't have an answer.

then he will say to those on his left, 'depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. for i was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, i was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, i was a stranger and you did not invite me in, i needed clothes and you did not clothe me, i was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
he will reply, 'i tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Lord, that i may see the world through your eyes...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

beautiful thinking

εύνοια... "beautiful thinking."

i randomly found this word a few days ago, and it immediately intrigued me. what in the world does beautiful thinking really mean? but it has struck me in a powerful way, and i think i'm just now beginning to get a glimpse of what beautiful thinking truly is.

forgiveness. another intriguing and powerful word. the very heart of the gospel. i've been on both ends recently, and it never fails to absolutely floor me. just think about the premise for forgiveness. God sees us in our sin, all day, everyday, and yet somehow looks at us new every morning. and keep in mind that this 1) in no way has to do with any redeeming qualities of ours, and 2) is a choice made by God. God didn't just look at the world one day and say, 'Oh, poop, the humans screwed up today. well forget that then...' no, no, no. he knew. he thought. he planned. he decided to forgive. beautiful thinking.

...and yes, God does say 'poop.'

which leads me to another recent revelation God has shown me--i am a middle school girl. yikes.

i've spent a lot of time with some middle school girls from the neighborhood in our dance program this past week. lemme give you a brief picture of one day's events. on the ride over from school, one of the girls was getting a little sassy at me when another girl quips up and says, "you can talk to her like that, but we don't; she's our friend now." don't ask me where that came from. your guess is as good as mine. but don't get your hopes up just yet--the day has just begun. then comes the blatant disobeying of any rules ever established by us. oh but then you get a hug and a "yes ma'am." oh but then the effect gets negated when 1 minute later the same girls start screaming at you and out the van window. oh the joy of it all!

by the third day of being with the girls this week, i was exhausted and at my wits end. as i arrived with the girls from school, however, downtrodden and disheartened, God spoke to me in ways only he can. He stared back at me from the faces of 8 middle school girls and said, "you do this to me everyday, too." every. single. day. my BFF, my BFFL, my BFFAETE(best friend forever and ever til eternity, for those of you unaware of the lingo). think of how you feel when you have to forgive or be forgiven by a close friend. now multiply that by like, a trillion EVERY DAY. it's absolutely insane to the membrane...or is it beautiful thinking?

we all just want to be loved. there is a song by don henley(amazingly redone by the one and only India.Arie) called heart of the matter that speaks this idea of love and forgiveness to me. one line goes, "how can love survive in such a graceless age?" i'm convinced that showing and practicing grace and forgiveness are the very means by which we learn to love. the people in my life who have shown me the most love, who have shown me what it truly means to love someone, are the very people i have hurt the most. shoot, i wouldn't have any friends if it weren't for God's plan of grace and forgiveness. but the most stunning part about this is that i wouldn't have love either. because amidst any hurt, anger, or confusion i cause or have thrust upon me, there is a place of joy, of love, of redemption. to use another song, God's plan presents to us a perfect place where joy and sorrow meet. is God showing me that the practice, the application, the very acts of love are really the art of grace and forgiveness?

i guess God lives for those moments when we get it right. or for when we realize how far we fall short with every breath and turn ourselves back to him. cause as crazy as it sounds, i feel the love of God, of my sisters and brothers most powerfully in the form of forgiveness. and that goes for giving and receiving. it's down right beautiful. oh, it's hard all right. when i looked at the girls on that fourth day this week, i had to make a choice to forget their past wrongs, to draw to the forefront of my mind that God's grace and mercy is new for me every morning; shouldn't the grace i give be the same? what beautiful thinking.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

bag o chips

i have come to the realization that the fact that i have a blog is absurd...and hilarious.

this month is now officially going down in history as "the month of God's will." i tried to think of something catchier, but alas, ya can't win 'em all. the reason for the title is that i've been especially seeking and searching for the past few months what it means for me to follow God's will. perhaps this has been because i find myself at a crossroads of life, yearning for a purpose, a direction, a hint of what is to come.

i used to not open myself to people at all, even my closest friends. shocking, i know. i was discussing this with an awesome friend of mine, who happened to not know me during my closed-off stage, and i realized how crazy it was that this change has only occurred in me over the past 2-ish years. wow. how cray cray and awesome is God?!?

this realization about myself has turned my whole mind around on what it means to know and follow in God's will. what this stage of my life has really been about is not me trying to know and be in every single detail of God's will for my life, but me finally being willing to fully open myself up to God. not gonna lie, it's TERRIFYING. but hey, i'm sure it's nothing compared to the terror and fear that Abraham must have felt when he was about to sacrifice his son. or the confusion and despair that Joseph surely felt about God's promises to him while he was in prison.

speaking of Joseph, check this passage out:
But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. so the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. the warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
~Genesis 39:20-23

Joseph chucked his will out the window and hopped on to God's, walking with Him through wherever and whatever God wanted to take him through, be it prison, trusting His crazy plan to fulfill His promises, or in my case, driving sassy middle school girls in a giant purple van. God didn't care what Joseph or anyone else thought; His plan was good and awesome and right. it almost feels like stickin it to "the man." the (not so)inner hippie in me is STOKED.

i have no idea what i'm doing. and i think that's the point. God's will for my life is to learn not to depend on myself but on Him, to walk with Him and not pretend like i'm all that and a bag o chips and i got this thing called life under wraps. cause let's be real. i'm a hot mess. and it's only when i acknowledge that that i truly make myself vulnerable to God's will and the awesomeness i can't even begin to fathom that He has in store for me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Martha, Martha

inhale...exhale. it feels like i'm breathing for the first time.

i'm coming out of a haze, if you will. it's like i'm seeing and breathing again, and i'm floored that somehow i hadn't realized i had even stopped in the first place.

i've been bogged down lately by trying to do God's will. of course, it's good to want to do what God desires of us and to follow his will, but not the way i was going about it. in my desire to know everything, to understand every detail of his will for my life, i became trapped by the fear of not fulfilling it. i was so blindsided and distracted with the minute that it left no room for me to see his grand, ultimate purpose for me. i lost what it meant to know that God is sovereign and that he loves me in truly unfathomable ways.

let me just say, His Word is so incredibly powerful.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'

'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

~Luke 10:38-42

you might as well have called me Martha for the past few weeks. i've been doing the same thing she did--losing sight of God and his ultimate desire for me even while i'm staring him in the face and talking with him. wowzers. in the end, all that matters is that i'm at the Lord's feet listening, fully captured and caught up in who He is.

inhale...exhale. that image...i can feel it filling up my soul...

Monday, November 9, 2009

You are still God

"answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. do not hide your face from me..."

i am impatient with God.

It seems to me that the writers of the Psalms were also quite impatient as well. what first led me to the Psalms about a week ago was the notion that God can move mountains. my initial conversation with God after thinking about this went something along these lines: 'hey! get a move on! (directed at myself...and God.) 'i mean, you're the Author of Salvation. if you literally can think of, and deliver, a way to cover all the sins that ever have been and ever will be, surely moving some tiny mountain is no huge stretch. Waiting?!? no thanks, i don't wat to read those old magazines in an oddly wallpapered room. i'll just skip to the part where you listen to my problems and then tell me how to fix them."

needless to say, i'm still waiting.

after the hectic month of October, i've found myself in a lull. instead of busy, busy, busy, i'm pondering what in the world to do with my time. it's brought me back into this battle i periodically have with myself about feeling like i'm not doing enough for God. his work never ceases, but clearly i can't do that, so how then should i invest my time? what is valuable and pleasing to the Lord? after praying about it for a while, a new thought came to me--'he's investing time in me...perhaps i should be investing time in Him and what he's working on in me..."

i happened to be hanging out with a friend when that revelation arrived. we had been talking about our struggles to trust God when she said something very simple and wise--you can't trust someone you don't know. so trusting requires not just my faith, but an action, an effort to know more about God and who He really is. that is where my time is to be spent. waiting, then, becomes me not twiddling my thumbs and being complacent but seeking Him, expectant and open to what he has in store. and that's when it hit me--God is definitely moving mountains now, but not the mountains i am consumed with. He's moving mountains in my heart.

"let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for i have put my trust in you. show me the way i should go, for to you i lift up my soul."

i've always equated a waiting period with a desert, a dry and barren place until one day, suddenly understanding comes in an earth-shaking downpour of rain. oddly, my experience thus far has not been like that. i honestly feel as though i've learned more during this process of waiting than when i'm "high on the Holy Spirit." it's as if i've finally learned that age-old concept that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. instead of asking God for numerous things, i'm seeking to hear his voice. i'm doing my best to pour into his word, and he is blessing me with verses and songs that resound in my heart. i'm learning to actively trust that he is who he said he is and that he does indeed have something in store for me greater than i could ever imagine. i guess i would re-label this season "walking" instead of "waiting"--nothing fancy or flashy, just a girl trying to tag along with her maker.

in every season, even in the waiting, He's sovereign and worthy of praise. it's like that old gospel classic: He may not come when you want Him to, but He's always right on time. He is, after all, still God.

~Psalm 143

Sunday, October 18, 2009

You know me

You know me.

You move me, mold me,
comfort me, carry me,
scold me, show me.

You know me.

the calluses, the stains,
shame, weakness, yet
a glimmer of beauty remains.

You know me.

a sheep gone astray,
my eyes turn from Your face,
still You are for me.

flesh and heart fail,
but my joy, my success,
purest moments of happiness,

You know me.

i seek the world.
you seek me.
i weep for me.
you weep for the world.

from beginning to end,
the form is yours.

You know me.

inside, outside, upside down,
deserts to mountains to seas,
words, thoughts, visions, dreams

You know me.

i deny you, i doubt you,
i hide, i flee, i turn away
i cause you pain
yet still you say
I am fearfully and wonderfully made

because You know me.

to know--to see all, feel all, hear all,
be in all.

You know me.

and yet, You love me.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

no longer

i'm not really a fan of bugs. i'd like to pretend that they don't bother me as much as they do, but i still have some fear of them. a stink bug has recently taken refuge in my room on my curtain, and i just can't bring myself to get rid of him(yes, it's a him, duh), mostly because i have this unjustified fear that he'll fly up my nose just when i try to grab(that's a nice way to say wack) him. for now, i've decided to name him Amos and let him roam free--if i make him my pet, he's less scary, right?

fears. oh, how i have many. i've been thinking lately about my religious fears, and i've discovered that they all stem from a similar branch. the fear of the calling God may place on my life. fear of the potential burdens, fear of responsibility. fear of not being worthy of or equipped for the call. fear of the expectations and fear of failure. fear that i won't even hear it or recognize it.

thinking about all of this at once was completely overwhelming. at first i tried to figure out the root of why i fear these things. but then i realized there was a more important question--how do i overcome them?

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again." ~2 Corinth. 5:14-15

i've been fixating and focusing so much on myself, on my fears, that i've missed the more important conclusion--i don't live for myself. what would it look like if i truly lived only for Christ, if i was no longer self-aware and only God & neighbor-aware? i imagine that my concerns and fears would quickly disappear.

a few weeks ago, i discovered that my student ID still allows me to check out library books--woot woot! i'll probably check out more books this year than i did during my entire UVA education, but that's beside the point. i picked up The Screwtape Letters by none other than C.S. Lewis. the premise of the book is the main character, Screwtape, works for Satan and is advising another 'employee', Wormwood, on how exactly to go about winning souls for them. a particular chapter has intrigued me, and while i haven't yet finished the book, i find myself frequently returning to this short, 4-page section. here's a snippet, spoken from Screwtape's perspective:

"our Enemy[God] wants to turn the man's attention away from self to Him, and to the man's neighbors. you must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of low opinion of his own talents and character...
the Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor's talents--or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures(even himself) as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible.
His whole effort, therefore, will be to get the man's mind off the subject of his own value altogether. He would rather the man thought himself a great architect or poet and then forgot about it, than that he should spend much time and pains trying to think himself a bad one."

here's to working on dying to self, on living solely for and trusting solely in Christ. He's the only reason i'm on this earth anyways.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Snuggle Night

today was one of those dreary, rainy days, which can only mean one thing-norah jones. ideally while curling up in a ball and snuggling on my bed. =)

tragically, i missed out on both of those today. but, the need for snuggle-age got me thinking, thinking about the power of touch. my tutoring kids LOVE to snuggle. even the kid who gave me the stink face for two solid weeks surprised me just the other day with a hug! the type of snuggling varies, from daily hugs to playing with my hair(you should see the "prom hair" some of the girls gave me one day) to the most recent development, playing with my hands. luckily for me, i love snuggling with them just as much, and giving hugs is in fact one of my all-time favorite things to do.

so i got to thinking, we must be programmed to desire human touch. duh, jeannie. but what's really intriguing me is the healing that comes from it. there is a restorative power in physical touch, a power and joy that i feel everytime i give or receive a hug from a friend or snuggle with a kid.

then it dawned on me--this is exactly what Jesus did. He healed people with a physical touch. Acts 19:11-12. Luke 8:44; 13:13. Mark 6:56. just a sampling of examples of Jesus laying healing hands on the sick and wounded. it's like the quote by St. Francis of Assisi--"preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words." before the Gospel was even in print, healing could be found in a simple touch.

Luke 8:40-48 is my favorite. Here we have Jesus making his way through a swarming crowd, on his way to heal a dying young girl. along the way, however, another woman with an incurable sickness touches the mere edge of Jesus' cloak and is instantly healed. i think what makes this passage especially beautiful to me is that it's the woman reaching out. it shows our desperation for healing, our longing for a chance to just touch and experience the source of such a power. but it also shows our fear from the ways in which we have made this awesome power into something destructive. immediately after the woman is healed, Jesus asks 'Who touched me?' and the woman, after initially denying it, comes forth trembling, falling at Jesus' feet. our brokenness has twisted the power of touch into something often to be feared, has caused us to build up walls to protect ourselves from the dangers that now are associated with it.

but Jesus doesn't stop there. he listens to the woman and her story and tells her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you." a powerful touch + a few powerful words = restoration in a moment of beauty. i imagine the joy she felt feels much like the joy i have when receiving a hug or getting a prom-do. =)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

you've made everything beautiful

...even me.

beauty has been on my heart this past week. i don't know what initially sparked it, but as i started journaling last Sunday, the word beauty just kept coming into the forefront of my mind. i had been realizing more and more the need to tell people that they are beautiful and loved, how we are all desperate to feel valued. i just kept thinking how blessed i am that i have people who show me i'm loved, who encourage me and how that has literally changed my life. at the end of my journal that night, i prayed that God would reveal to me His beauty and love, not just by the world's standards, but "the kind of beauty that makes you glow from within." Boy, did he show me.

after tutoring on Monday, i was talking with the 2 ladies who run the tutoring program at the elementary school. we were discussing how one of the kids had just shut down during tutoring, and one of the ladies brought up what their particular home situation was like. in that moment, i felt so stupid--i had forgotten all too easily the circumstances many of these kids come from, the difficulties they face at home, school, in society. now, as many of you will know, i am a huge fan of discipline. but suddenly i found myself questioning my interactions with the kids. how could i balance love and encouragement, what they so desperately needed, and discipline?

throughout the week, i was on a mission to find Bible verses that would connect all this to beauty. interestingly, a theme quickly began developing. here are some of the verses i wrote down:

"the heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out."
"the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."
~Proverbs 18:15, 21

lesson #1: adjust my listening:talking ratio...i think we know which one of those i need to work on. :P

"for everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort" ~1 Corinth. 14:3
"if anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God." ~1 Peter 4:11

lesson #2: WOW. only speak the very words of God. only speak out of His love and grace. how powerful are our words!

God gave me an opportunity to put these lessons into practice that very week. an argument broke out between some of the Abundant Life girls over playing with chalk. when the need arose to discipline, my thoughts jumped to Proverbs--the way to show God's love was first through my ears, not my mouth. as i listened to each of the girls tell me their side of the story, i thought 'this is what God does for me everyday.' think of all the times we come to God with a mouthful--does He ever stop listening? not once. and then how does He respond to us? with love, with encouragement, with grace.

you might be wondering how exactly beauty fits into all this. so i need listen more and speak words of encouragement--awesome. but there is a beauty that needs to be found in the very core of all our relationships as well, and here i must be a lil more transparent.

i have quite a few close guy friends. all throughout college, i was "one of the dudes," and never really thought too much about it. but, i've been realizing over the past year just how much i value that attention, even if i don't always see it as such. basically, relationships can be tricky business, and even though i genuinely love getting to know people, guys included, i don't want to unguard my heart too much. how do i still value the friendship and attention of guys while also being respectful of their hearts' and mine?

Again, God presented himself to me in a way that only He can. friday evening, i was busy being my social butterfly self. my friends, both guys and gals, were being especially complimentary that night it seemed--a few of my guy friends even went so far as to tell me i looked beautiful! it was somewhat odd to me, but of course also very flattering. but the best part, however, was the way i felt every time i was complimented. i just kept thinking, "they think God is beautiful!" for the first time i can remember, i felt this deep beauty in my very core. not gonna lie, it was such a new and bizarre feeling, but so refreshingly wonderful! i wasn't worried about what they might be thinking, or why they were complimenting me, or why i was beautiful that day--they weren't compliments to me, but to my Creator. remember how i prayed that He would reveal to me the kind of beauty that makes you glow from within?

i was floored the rest of the night. in a weird way, it was like i was proud of God, as if i wanted to say to Him, "rock on! you've created so much beauty, even in me! *high five!"

Beauty. the way i listen, the words i say, the encouragement i give, the love i receive. all of this is His beauty in me. when i show someone His love, when i affirm their God-given value and beauty, i'm really thanking God for His creations, for His beauty, for His love. and He's made everything beautiful.
~Ecclesiastes 3:11

Sunday, September 6, 2009


~i went out this afternoon to buy a bookcase...i returned with a bible. and it was on sale!~

"After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household, Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means."
~Luke 8:1-3

finally... some women i can look up to! =)

i was trying to think of the last time a woman was even mentioned in a sermon, much less really discussed in depth. besides the woman at the well and the Virgin Mary, not too many instances come to mind. this is the image women are given to look at and live up to-don't have 5 husbands, be humbled by the fact that a man is talking to you, and oh yea, give birth to the Messiah. curiously, no one ever talks about Jael driving a tent peg through the temple of Sisera, a powerful oppressor of God's people. now that's what i'm talking about!

okay, so maybe i'm taking it a lil far, but still. i feel like on the rare occasions women from the Bible are mentioned, we tend to skirt around the most crucial aspect--they loved Jesus. sure, most Christians have likely been exposed to the story of the woman at the well, but what is focused on? her sinfulness, the fact that she is an outcast and has multiple husbands. i'm not saying these are necessarily bad things to talk about in regards to the passage, for they can be used to paint a beautiful picture of Jesus' love and redemption. but we also miss a crucial point. the woman at the well immediately went back and gathered an entire town to come see Jesus and hear him. why? because she believed He was the Savior and loved Him, because she was in awe and filled with a joy that could not be contained. the result of this sharing of love and joy was that "many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony!" (John 4:39)

the more i talk to my fellow women, the more i am convicted that we need to hear about these women of the Bible, and not necessarily in the light that they are often depicted in. i had no idea until i randomly flipped(or Jesus guided me there i should say) to that passage in Luke of any of the following: women followed Christ, like the 12 disciples, throughout His ministry, women financed and supported said ministry, these women did it not because they were asked or because their husband was there, but because they felt the joy and love of Christ first-hand. basically, these were women who loved Jesus and were committed to following Him regardless of the social or cultural norms and pressures of the time.

I, too, like Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and the countless other women want to follow Christ and proclaim His good news in whatever way that may look like. more than that, i'm convinced that there are Christian women out there who want to do the same, but like me, have been scared and intimidated by other Christians of doing so fully. the fact that i felt so overjoyed yet shocked to hear about these women and the part they played in Jesus' ministry, their love for Him and His people, shows just how necessary it is for us to begin talking about women in this powerful and encouraging light. so women, be encouraged! men, start encouraging! =)

perhaps, for once, we should stop talking about what women "shouldn't" do in ministry and look at all they already have done.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

thirst for righteousness

there are no black people in the game of "Guess Who."

yesterday, some of my tutoring kids were playing this game when i came upon this realization--on the board there were white people, latino people, old people, young people, men, women. all my tutoring kids that day were black.

i've been thinking more about joy and how it differs from happiness. my brief searching has brought me to this: happiness is fleeting. joy is the constant presence of God.
apparently, the root of "happy" is "hap", which means "luck." "joy" was a lil harder to find, but the root i found was "i rejoice" and "noble." i think this fact alone explains mountains.

speaking of mountains, i also came across an interesting sermon about Jesus teaching the Beatitudes in Matthew. apparently, the word "blessed" or "happy" found in most translations of the text comes from the Greek word "makarios," which can similarly be described as "joy." after all, to be blessed is to believe in God, and to believe in Him is to be filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, right? =)

anywho, back to Guess Who. i was reading the Beatitudes and came to the 4th one, which got me thinking. "Blessed(or Joyful) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." well then i had to look up the word "righteousness." shoot, i don't think i've ever used a dictionary this many times in my whole life. but what i found was really intriguing. to be righteous is to be just; so righteousness is also justice.

joyful are those who hunger and thirst for justice. perhaps that's why i feel so much joy when tutoring each afternoon, when i even just think about the kids in my neighborhood. perhaps that's why i'm loving working for Abundant Life. perhaps that's why i feel so much passion and frustration over a Guess Who game. God is just, and He is constantly present in those who seek justice.

Joy is a much more diverse creature than i thought.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"inexpressible and glorious..."


have you ever tried to explain what joy is? a few days ago, i found myself caught up in this dilemma. how could i describe this feeling welling up within me? as lame as it was, i'll admit my first stop was
"the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation"

but that just wasn't doing it for me. perhaps someone intelligent and well-known had something important to say, such as C.S. Lewis: "the very nature of joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between wanting and having."

well that's all well and good, but still not quite there. the joy i felt wasn't just an emotion or response, it was a...a way of being. like i said, how do you explain that?!?

so then i looked where i should have started in the first place--my Bible. and that's when i stumbled upon this passage in 1 Peter 1:8:
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious JOY, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

finally, an answer to my question! joy, the gift from God given to those who believe, the inexpressible and glorious feeling of knowing that He loves us and has saved us. wow.

i can't begin to describe all the ways i've felt joy lately. today, Joy was found in discovering my new kitchen has awesome acoustics while singing songs of worship too loudly and making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for an amazing a cappella group(CHoosE shout-out!). last week, it included hanging out with a 3rd grade girl who has the most AMAZING and joyful laugh that seriously makes my soul smile; seeing old friends and realizing how blessed i am by them, especially by the fact that they work everyday to see past my faults; the presence of LIFE--the buzz of my neighborhood, of Uva, of mosquitoes. God is so alive and so abundant--how could i not sing for joy!

this blog is for that reason, an outlet for me to express the joy in my soul. joy is to be shared in, wept in, sung in, rejoiced in; i invite you in along with me for this journey in exploring the Joy of God.