loving provision.

from my daily sanctuary:
i must admit, i am more confident that You love me when i see enough money coming in to pay the bills each month, when the basement does not leak every time it rains, when the doctor's report is good. it's not hard to be convinced of Your love when all the vital signs are stable.
i am of my generation. but i am of Your generation too. i sit on a grassy knoll in the remote plains of the decapolis. i have come to hear You teach, yes, but i am also here to see the signs. signs are important for belief. otherwise, how will i know for sure?
You don't disappoint me. it's been three days since my last meal. my stomach is empty. the breadbaskets are empty, and it's a long way to the nearest bakery. now would be a good time to recieve a sign, Lord. i need bread. i shoot a one-minute prayer arrow straight to heaven: "help needed, Lord, send the bread like You did for moses and the people of israel. manna from heaven. good for the body. good for the soul. good for my faith."
You send the love sign, stroll through the crowd producing bread as though You'd been elbow deep in yeast since two this morning. i fill my plate. stuff my pockets. take some extra just in case. there's plenty for all. Your love is lavish.
i feel hugged by heaven. reaffirmed by the sign. renewed in conference that You do love me and remember me when i am sitting far away from the bakery, without any bread. "what a God of love!" i write in my journal. i am comfortably satisfied and strong in faith.


the thursday thirty, issue eleven.

yeah yeah, i know it's a full week after thanksgiving - and it's almost the end of this thursday as it is. nevertheless, this thursday thirty only feels appropriate if it outlines 30 things for which i'm thankful - part of a much longer list in itself. :)
1. having a relationship with the Father & Son.
2. inheriting one-half of each of my parents' qualities.
3. having siblings to admire & count on.
4. bearing the title of 'peanut' to my four fantastic nieces!
5. having been raised in a small town.
6. having teachers throught elementary/high school who genuinely cared for me, and still being overjoyed to see them when i return to my hometown.
7. the opportunities i have had to travel & experience so many cultures at such a young age.
8. the other opportunities i have had to excel in academics, & for those who believed in me along the way
9. getting accepted to my dream college, receiving scholarships to make that dream a reality, and for having professors here who are committed to our success and growth.
10. the mentors who have carried me through some of my darkest days, & who have been there to rejoice with me in my sweetest ones.
11. never having to go without what i need.
12. having access to loads of information at my fingertips - i mean, can you imagine having to write college term papers withOUT internet databases?!
13. sweet tea. :D
14. a passion for frugality & stewardship.
15. a closet full of clothes.
16. a pantry & fridge full of good food.
17. the blessed assurance that His plan for me is perfect, even when i try and nudge Him to move things along a little more quickly. :)
18. the home i have found at lifechurch.tv, & the multiple ministries i have gotten to serve in there.
19. the switch small group of 8th-grade girls that i get to lead!
20. the beauty of my state.
21. how He has worked through my mom's recent diagnosis. we have so much to be thankful for during this season.
22. the lifelong circle of friends God's given to me, both in high school & at obu.
23. the time i spent in mexico & turkey on mission.
24. red dirt music... if i can say that? :)
25. my esl students in the intensive english program.
26. southern cookin'.
27. the feeling i get when i drive in the country.
28. the friendships twittering has fostered!
29. that everyone in my immediate family lives within two hours or so of campus. this has literally been a lifeline for me while in college.
30. every heartbreak & lesson learned, as much as i try to deny it sometimes. i couldn't very well be me without 'em, right?


the crying game.

so tonight i had a weeping spell. you know, the kind that starts in the shower and eventually ends up under the covers in your bed? i sniffled and pouted for a few minutes over the things i wish i had control over, the things i tell myself that are nowhere close to what He says about me, and the things i fear most. i'm a girl, y'all. it's what we do. sometimes the salty tears before bed make us even more thankful for the joy that comes with morning, i think.
and though i rarely do this, i decided to just flop open my bible to whatever passage it may reveal, and pray that i would find calm in however many verses of reading it took. no set plan, no devotion chapter tonight. just whatever. i sometimes scoff at such a strategy, 'cause the psalms are invariably what opens up. i love those songs o' david, don't get me wrong - i just want a little variety when throwing open the Word (can i say that?).
even so, i didn't have to read too far to appreciate the psalms my bible took me to this evening, as i climbed into the bed of my sister's guest room and hoped for somethin' hearty to meet my eyes. at the top of page 676, two verses were as far as i advanced.
"those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. they weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest." // psalm 126:5-6
i think i can now stash away the kleenex box for another time.


the c-word.

long time, no see. :) my spontaneous absence from this little corner has made me antsy, and with so much going on this semester, i have more to say now than perhaps ever before. but one week ago today, things changed.
i learned my mom has breast cancer.
i swear, it was as if someone had hit me in the chest and taken the breath right out of me.
and then, i came to my senses.
this is no reason to begin doubting His sovereignty. this is no situation over which He is not already in control. and this is certainly no time to forget that He is a God of victory.
the odds are completely in our favor, both literally and figuratively. the cancer is limited to one area, and the fact that my sister is a top-notch mammographer has given us a distinct advantage in understanding which way to go next. :)
this is the beginning of the story: some days, i still get sad. i still want to cry alone in the shower some nights, and i have my moments where i feel alone and helpless. i would love nothing more than to be at all of my mom's appointments and feel as if i'm making myself useful in her fight. i want to go home. i'm angry that her life is being disrupted and that she faces treatment options that are less than enjoyable.
this is the end of the story: next year, our family will run at race for the cure as we do every fall. this time, we'll get to watch our mom walk the survivor's lap.

to keep up with more specific ways you can pray for my sweet mama, go here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=180170654248&ref=mf


with arms high & heart abandoned.

it's been a full week since i've returned from serving as a team leader at super summer, and it's taken that long to fully process everything He fed me while there. wanna know some of the highlights?
during our team leader weekend training, we were asked to wear ankle weights until the students arrived monday in order to better grasp what paul intended in galations, to bear one another's burdens. two and a half pounds on each leg didn't initially strike us as particularly challenging, but a few hours of walking around obu's campus and some blisters later got us to thinkin'. i genuinely wish i had discovered something incredibly spiritual from the process, but the extent was this: carrying those 'burdens' is completely unnatural for us to do. had zane not requested we wear them, we would never have voluntarily picked up a pair of weights and strapped them to ourselves for pure fun. in much the same way, we were never intended to strap unnecessary burdens to ourselves. there are just some things we were never meant to carry. let's travel light alongside Him, shall we? :)
at one point also during the tl weekend, every single one of us 150 or so adults scattered around the auditorium of raley chapel, selected a favorite psalm, and spoke it over the entire body of seats. it was breathtaking. i chose psalm 34, almost immediately and without any actual contemplation. it turned out to be my heart's exact cry that day, though. i love how He works!
my "children" and "husband" for the week were nothing short of spectacular. i'm too too blessed to have been entrusted with thirteen phenomenal high school sophomores who desire nothing less than His absolute glory. i learned so much from their gentle wisdom.
i also think i surrendered to perhaps one of the most difficult dreams He's given me so far. i've always had a heart for the persecuted church, yet i've resisted the vision of working for them and putting my own body into danger in the process. it scares me. it makes me ache. but i must share their story. praise Him for reaffirming that and rearranging my dreams during one of the evening services, in which afshin spoke of two women currently imprisoned in iran for pledging their hearts to Christ. i sobbed while viewing their photograph. i sobbed while He knocked on my heart and said, 'hand yourself over to working for them.' i sobbed while we sang 'the stand' as soon as their story was completed. before the service, i prayed for God to shake me. boy, did He deliver. :)

so i'll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned/in awe of the One who gave it all/i'll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered/all i am is Yours


sweet baby girl.

what a day it's been! first thing's first - niece number four has arrived! little miss ari jade made an early debut this morning at 9:16, weighing in at 5 pounds 12 ounces and measuring 19 inches. after waiting several long hours for the nicu to clear her respitory monitoring, the entire phillips clan gathered to bathe her, hold her, and ooh and ahh at her every breath. what a glorious, glorious day. :)
i completed my sophomore year of college yesterday and set out for my sister's home just in time to hear her say, "i think i'm in labor!" that's right, aunt peanut was the lucky one to chauffer her big sister to mercy. :D tiny job, yes i know, but it was also the one instant i sped and felt pleased with myself for it. be jealous.
after a grueling and extremely brave labor lasting well over 16 hours, my sweet sister gave us another gorgeous baby girl. i'm so so proud of them both. :)


wake up in a new hometown.

my dear friend lindsey is back from her mission trip to india! a little jet-lagged and joyful, lindz shared with me some of her experiences last night over the phone. two weeks of service has melted her heart. she walked through the taj mahal, prayed with people in slums, held babies painted to look like hindu gods, and did any task asked of her to aid the missionaries already there. one of the things she said that has stuck by me most since our conversation was, "i love oklahoma. before, i never thought i could live anywhere else. now, i know i can. God's all i need." how's that for authentic faith?