{Seminary Journal} One-Month Expectations

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Photo by Rv Sun. A hike I took with our Bible study this week.

This is the 100th post here on Anchored! We’ve been here for a month as of yesterday. Last night at a small fellowship group with fellow sem wives, my friend Tia asked everyone a few questions related to what we’d expected to encounter down here, and how those expectations have been fulfilled or turned out differently. It was a good question. I thought about it a lot more when I got home and decided to blog some of those expectations.

  1. I expected our apartment to be tiny and cramped, but it’s not. There’s far more space than I’d even hoped for and pretty much everything we brought fits, with a little wiggle room.
  2. I expected church to feel big and overwhelming, and it does. But joining a fellowship group makes a big church get small really fast. I’m surprised that we run into people we know every Sunday, in a church of thousands.
  3. I did not expect to feel lonely, but I do. It’s not the homesickness I’d anticipated, it’s different. There are moments, after my work and responsibilities are done and Andrew is still doing homework, when not having my best friend or a family member to call for coffee or a game night hits me really hard and I feel very alone.
  4. I expected there to be many young married couples without kids in seminary, but there aren’t. There are tons of young families and a lot of single guys.
  5. I expected Andrew to be swamped with homework, and he is. God prepared me to be fully ready for evenings and Saturdays to be for homework. I’m encouraging Andrew to study and not making him feel bad about being busy. This week he got 105% on his first Hebrew vocab quiz! When I texted that I was proud of him, Andrew replied, “It’s a victory for both of us ’cause the time I spent studying was time I didn’t spend with you…but it paid off!”
  6. I expected it to be hot, and it is. It’s been around 100 or more all week. As I write this, it’s 101 and supposed to reach 103 this afternoon. The apartment is stuffy and cooking is a drag. But that’s no surprise and I’m learning to get used to it.
  7. I expected it to take awhile to make close friends, and it does. But we’ve already been so blessed to meet a number of amazing people who love Jesus and have a heart for people and ministry. I know there are very special friendships in store, likely with some of the people we’ve already met but haven’t spent much time with yet.
  8. I expected to be hard to find gluten free food, and it is. Until yesterday. I discovered Sprouts on the recommendation of friends. It is like our co-op back home, maybe better! It’s in Burbank but so worth the extra jaunt! Thank You, Lord!

Yes, there are a lot of good and hard things about this new season of life. It’s stretching, and Jesus’ presence and love are becoming more dear to my heart. Despite the tearful moments and the ache in my heart that sometimes doesn’t want to fade, I am very content and completely confident that today I am exactly where God wants me to be. No second thoughts, regrets, or misgivings. God’s work in my life is an encouragement to me, and I know He has so much more in store for my spiritual growth as the weeks roll on. Thank you for your prayers…there is no doubt He is answering them!

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{Seminary Journal} All I Have Is Christ

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At Grace Community Church (GCC), there are two (identical) 90-minute worship services at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. During each one, there are various Fellowhship Groups happening elsewhere on campus. These groups are also 90 minutes long and are basically full-blown worship services, with a singing time and a sermon. Add the 90-minute evening service, and you’ve got a packed but oh-so-rewarding Sunday. Since moving to LA, we’ve spent each Sunday visiting different Fellowship Groups in the mornings to figure out which one to join. It’s been hard to attend a group or two and then have to wait an entire week to go to another, when we both want so much to jump in and start connecting with people and getting involved. We appreciated things about each of the four groups we’ve visited, but were excited this week to decide where we will land, for many reasons–Doulos (the Greek word for “slave”).

During the worship portion (which we absolutely loved) of Doulos we sang All I Have is Christ. To me, that song embodies our church family back in Bellingham, since it has become a favorite staple there in recent years. I couldn’t help but cry as we sang the chorus together in Doulos and I pictured our church at home, worshiping God at the same time. As I pondered the profound lyrics, I was reminded again of what a precious thing it is that no matter where I go, I have my Savior there with me. “Hallelujiah, all I have is Christ.” I had Him back in Bellingham, surrounded by familiar faces, and I have Him here in LA, where everyone and everything is new and different. I am still His, and He is still mine…and no matter what the future holds, that truth will never change. Amazing!

Andrew and I are both 100% excited about joining Doulos and growing under the solid teaching of Pastor Travis, who we know through mutual friends. It’s great to finally feel like we “belong” somewhere, instead of floundering. I can’t wait to share more of how we learn to love this group as it becomes home for us.

Stay tuned for a guest post from a very special individual!

Heaven’s Rays

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“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Things will get better.

One thought that often helps me get through trials is knowing that things will eventually get better or even go away completely. Recently I’ve experienced some difficulties that will likely carry with them permanent ramifications. I desperately wanted the comfort that they’d eventually disappear.

And then it hit me: life will never, ever be ideal, perfect, or painless because this life is not the end. I’ve always known that in my head. But receiving a few indelible scars is driving it home in a new and very real way in my heart. It hurts, in a beautiful way.

Life is fleeting, like a mist.

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14b) God tells me to set my mind on heaven (Col. 3:1) and view this world as temporary. But that kind of perspective is hard to grasp when life seems nearly perfect.

Sometimes pain is necessary.

It may require pain that will never completely disappear to really show us the treasure we possess in Christ and the beauty of the promise of eternity with Him. The greater this world’s hardships, the more attractive heaven becomes. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18) It’s not how any of us would choose to value that truth, but sometimes it is necessary.

I’m beginning to understand in a very small way how amazing forever in paradise really will be. The tears here on earth are painful, but they are for only a moment.

It’s like somehow, heaven’s rays are warming my face through the clouds while I’m caught in the middle of a rainstorm.

My Comforter: A Poem

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He knows my deepest yearnings
He sees the hidden tears
He hears my silent cries for aid
He understands my fears.

He pulls me close and comforts
He holds me as I weep
He needs no explanation
My secrets He will keep.

I fully trust His constancy
I cannot doubt his care
His everlasting arms are mine
Vast solace I find there.

In Him alone is refuge
In Him alone, great peace
Beneath His wings of mercy
My joy and hope increase.

Found in so safe a harbor
My heart must rise and sing.
How can I mourn, when this I boast:
A Comforter and King?

Yes, He will draw me through the night,
I will see dawn’s first glow.
Oh Lord, please calm the storm within—
Let me be still and know.

~ Abigail Joy ~
September 22, 2009

He Makes the Woeful Heart to Sing

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today was my last day working in the church office

I’ve been pondering the way difficulties both move us to cling more tightly to Jesus and also make heaven sound so much sweeter. They help to strip the superfluous distractions of life away and leave us seeing only the beauty of our Savior. Through some of life’s recent challenges and trials, God has been teaching me this first hand and it has been a bittersweet road to walk with Him. Throughout the years, as I have encountered burdens (as we all do), He has always faithfully used both His Word and solid musical lyrics to speak peace to my heart and bring perspective.

I’d like to encourage you, in whatever you may be going through today, to pull your eyes off your circumstances and gaze at Jesus, the only One who can fulfill your every need. Remind yourself of His perfect love and all that He has done for you in making you His child. His tender plans are so much better for you than what you would choose for yourself. Here are just are a few snippets of truth that I have found especially comforting lately.

“From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
(Psalm 61:2)

“What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?”
(Blessings by Laura Story)

“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise.”
(Come Thou Fount by Robert Robinson)

“When You lead me to the valley of vision I can see You in the heights.
And though my humbling wouldn’t be my decision, it’s here Your glory shines so bright.”
(In the Valley by Sovereign Grace Music)

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”
(Psalm 56:8)

“Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, Who makes the woeful heart to sing”
(Fairest Lord Jesus by Ger­man Je­su­its)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
(Psalm 46:1-3)