Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas Is Coming: Don't Miss It!

Each year, I have a book that I fill with written memories and photos of our Christmas season. I came upon it the other day and wanted to remind 2-year old Sawyer of what our house looks like at Christmas time. I had been explaining to him the concept of the tree, but he just kept looking at me like, "A big, real tree? In this room? You crazy, Mama."

So I was delighted to find the book so I could show him. I opened it up and was initially very confused. The year 2013 was entirely blank. I had not written a single memory. I had not inserted a single photo. It was as though it never existed. I tried flipping around in the book, thinking maybe I had skipped pages and accidentally placed 2013's memories elsewhere.

Nope. Nothing. That's when I sadly remembered that I was a totally different person last Christmas. Busy. Stressed. Anxious. To-do lists for miles. Just plunging ahead as quickly as possible. So much to do, and so little time. Apparently, I had so much to do that I couldn't even fill in some blanks about our best memories...our favorite recipes from the season...favorite gifts and celebration details. I looked over the empty pages, both with a feeling of intense grief, but also with gratitude.

Because that used to be me. But it isn't me anymore. At dinner time a few nights ago, I was taking the time to listen to Cohen, my middle son, talk about his day, and I praised him as he shared something he was proud of from his day. "Mom, why are you so nice to me now?" I was confused- "What do you mean?"I asked, " I'm always nice to you." He replied, "well, after your surgery you have more time. Our family isnt busy anymore. And you're nicer."

I have cried many tears as I think about that interchange. It makes me feel like I wasted a lot of precious years before as I lived a busy, determined, fast-paced life. Yes. Many of the things I did were very important. They were life-changing things for me, and for others. But wow. What was the trade off?

But I can't sit here and be sad. It's Christmas time for goodness sake! But I have definitely heard the whispers of God- even way before cancer struck...telling me I needed to relax. To let things go. To prioritize. To stop trying so hard to be everything to everyone.

This Christmas season, I encourage you to stop. Think about what really matters. And then do that. Not in a selfish way, but in a way that looks at the precious opportunities God has put in front of you and, with gratitude and great discernment, choose what you invest yourself in carefully. Stop glorifying how busy you are. No one wins in that situation or lifestyle. In fact, suffering is a surefire result. God has put you in this time and in this place and with these family members and friends for just a short time. There will obviously be seasons of busy hustling, but if that's the only life you know, then you're not really're surviving.

Don't let the season pass you by without even having time to jot down some memories or take some photos. Or naps. Or long walks around the woods in the snow. Take your time. Sit by the fire with your spouse and drink hot cocoa and play cards late at night. Do a fun act of kindness for a neighbor with your kids (we're doing this weekly and calling ourselves the Christmas Ninjas!) Carve out an hour or two a day to pray or sing to the Savior. This is the stuff life is made of. Jesus doesn't call us to be busy and operate at a breakneck pace. Over and over He says to rest. To wait. To abide in His love. This doesn't mean you're unproductive, it means that you haven't made productivity your god. It means you trust His timing and planning above your own and don't feel the need to constantly "make it happen."

And above all, when you slow down enough to see how awesome life is, give thanks. Chances are, you don't feel very thankful, because you don't even take the time to notice what God has given you. I used to be that person. But I thank Him that I am not that person anymore.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Am I Doing?

So here I am, two weeks and one day out from my double mastectomy. And the big question everyone asks is, "How are you doing?"

I am grateful. Just absolutely grateful.

This experience, though dreadful in some ways, has literally been life-saving. When I say "life"saving, I don't only mean physical. I believe this has and will continue to change me in about every way possible. I thought for sure that there would be this emotional dam-burst moment where I would deeply mourn the loss of my breasts and feel so very cheated. But it hasn't happened. In fact, just the opposite has happened. I look at the big angry scars running across my chest and I smile, knowing that I've won.

When I saw my surgeon for my post-op appointment, he said, "everything turned out looking good on your pathology report...well, thing...when they tested the area of cancer, they DID find 3 small pockets of invasive cancer that were just barely starting to break out- all less than 2 millimeters. It was barely invasive cancer, but you absolutely chose the right surgery in this situation."

I think some people kind of raised their eyebrows when I told them I was having both breasts removed for a cancer that was non-invasive. Call it a "gut feeling" or "luck", I knew it was the right decision when I made it, because I instantly felt the peace that passes all understanding descend into my heart and mind. No one should feel peaceful about deciding to remove body parts...but God steers those who are open to suggestions and willing to believe that He can make all things new. I now know that it was absolutely the best decision. I had peace when I made the choice, and even greater peace now as I move forward, cancer-free.

Now I sit here counting down the hours (50) until I can get these final two drain tubes removed. They are part of the "dreadful" experience I mentioned earlier. I will be glad to not feel like I have tentacled grenades coming out of my body. Oh Thursday, come swiftly.

I feel like I have accelerated, healing-wise, in the last couple of days. I am not taking the heavy duty pain killers anymore, just Tylenol. I am getting loads of rest (thank you, Mother, for tending to my children...and she also makes the best hot tea ever...). And my husband has been way beyond supportive and accepting. We have pushed "in sickness and in health" to it's very limits this month. He's the same Jarrod. I'm the same Carrie. It's the same love we've always had, except, I think, exponentially stronger now.

So that's how I'm doing. I am undergoing reconstructive surgery in a few months. I have tissue expanders behind the pectoral muscles, and oh you had better believe that it is NOT comfortable. At all. I can feel the edges of the devices as my muscles go into spasms and grab on to them. It feels very foreign and at times, painful. I will begin having weekly fill-ups of the expanders and have heard that those fill-ups can cause some discomfort. But it's all part of the process. And so, with gratitude, I will go through a few months of inconvenience in order to be fully restored. God is teaching me so much about patience and waiting well and being intentional in noticing all the good that is coming out of what could have been a very bad situation.

All is grace and thankfulness precedes the miracle.

Thanks to all of you who have cooked, sent cards, prayed prayers, watched kids, raised funds. Our hearts are full.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Just a quick update- I know a lot of you have been asking what is going on and I thought it would be easiest to answer in one giant update.

First of all, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I had hundreds of people praying for me this week. I absolutely know without any doubt that your prayers were heard. I can't express how peaceful I feel. I have moments where panic starts to tighten it's hands around my neck, but all I have to do is pray. To whisper the name of Jesus. And the grip of fear loosens. Your prayers and encouragement have made all the difference. I would thank you all individually for the cards and kind messages, but there are so many of you that I don't have the time as of now with everything else going on to properly thank you. But know that I appreciate you all so very much.

Though I was really hopeful that I would go in and they would say the cancer had vanished, that was not to be. The cancer is early stage. It is small. But it is in an inconvenient spot. Meaning that a simple just-take-out-the-cancer-surgery is not a great option. I have had a lot of thinking and a lot of what-ifs going on in my head. But I feel like today I landed in a peaceful place. I still have some questions. I still have some concerns. I have an appointment today that should answer those. I am looking at a fairly extensive surgery in about three weeks (should know a specific date by week's end). Praying friends, I invite you in to this season of my life. Please continue to pray. Specifically, I want you to pray for the following:

- After the cancer is removed, the surgeon will be able to better assess it's behavior and will be able to tell if it is invasive cancer or not. At this time, they do not believe it is invasive (it is confined to one small area). PLEASE pray that this is reality- that it is confined and not invasive.

- Please pray for my family. My kids still don't know the details. They do know I will be having surgery in a few weeks. I want them insulated from all of this. But I also know there will be some harsh days ahead following the surgery. I won't be able to lift my little one up for several weeks (he constantly says, "mom, take me up" instead of pick me up...which I think is adorable). And I know it will be so so hard to not be able to do my usual mom stuff. Please pray for all of us to adjust and transition well and for all to stay healthy overall so that I have a smooth recovery process.

-Please pray for the surgeon, Dr. Povoski. That he would be guided by the very hands of God as he does his work.

-Please pray that I have opportunities to share my faith and to spread hope as I go through many appointments and such over the next several weeks.

- Please pray for a speedy recovery. I have huge goals and hopes to help others going through what I have gone through. My heart is full of a longing to serve and help others heal and find hope in the Healer.

- Please take some time to worship! Let's all thank God together for the way He is working this to my good.  Despite a cancer diagnosis, I can say, without question that He is a good, good God. He is a loving Father. I could not have made it through this so far without Him and know that His love will carry me through to my new normal. I have never been so devastated and yet simultaneously loved ever before. He is near. He is raising up all of these wonderful helpers and friends and family to pull me through this. Not only will I survive, but I will thrive. I am confident that this next season ahead is going to be incredible. I pray that God will let my life light up- that He will give me new songs to help people heal and see how faithful He is. I want all of this to point to God and for people to reach the conclusion that He not only exists, but that He cares deeply.

If you have a moment, read Psalm 34. It is my testimony.

Thank you all so much for everything and I will keep you posted as time goes on.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Big Miracles So Far

Glory to God, I have been told that I have cancer.

How can a person be crazy enough to say that sentence? I don't know. I almost can't believe I typed it either. The rational part of my brain says, "No!" But my soul says, "Yes. Praise Him in all things. ALL things." I have been a worship leader in various settings my entire adult life. I like to think that it is my calling on this earth, to draw people into knowing and being known by the God of the universe. As I walk through this journey of cancelling cancer, I want to frequently put His miracles and His love on display on this blog and in the songs that I write. I have a few to share already and I only got my diagnosis yesterday...I have a feeling I'm gonna do a whole lot of blogging :)

Miracle 1: Songs of Comfort
As I entered the imaging center two weeks ago for a mammogram, I was feeling jittery. I am 35. I am happily married. I am a busy Mom. My whole life lies ahead of me, waiting. I do not have time for something to be wrong with me health-wise. I eased myself into a seat in the lobby and heard the song coming out of the speakers:

Only me, on my knees, singing Holy! Holy!
Somehow all that matters now is You are Holy! Holy! (Nichole Nordeman, boss song from like 1997 or something...) 

And then one of my favorite Chris Tomlin songs:

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Ahhhh...I could relax now, because I was equipped with some songs to steady me. When I saw the nervous glances of technicians, I started humming, "somehow all that matters now is, You are Holy..." and when they brought me back to see a little spot that showed up on the mammogram, I sang "How great is our God" in my head. God speaks to me and through me in songs of worship. That those songs played in that moment, in that building, to me, was a miracle.

Miracle 2: This is Gross.
I don't even really want to tell the whole world this one, because, well, it's gross. I apologize. It is pre-geriatric oversharing at it's finest (as a good friend labels such discussions). It's nothing I am ashamed about, it's just a little personal. But you know, if you have the guts to read it, it makes for a really awesome part of the story.

So why did I even need a mammogram to begin with? Well, I was finding little tiny brown dots in my bra of some kind of fluid when I got back from California in late July. Concerned, I called my excellent OB/GYN doctor and she got me in right away and got this whole process rolling quickly (thank God for her!) So this brown dot business went on right up to the point of my biopsy on Monday of this past week and then? Disappeared. Not a trace since then. I was thinking the giant needle must have punched it out and cleared it up, whatever it was...but THEN the surgeon, when giving my results yesterday said, "That discharge you were having? We believe that was entirely coincidental and had nothing to do with this cancer. It was actually a blessing in the way that it warned us that something was wrong." And then he smiled and put his hands out and shrugged.

Coincidence??? That's Jesus. 

So those of you who may not believe a thing about this Jesus guy, and maybe some of you who do, may ask, Ok, so if this God of yours was brilliant enough to do a brown dot warning system in your shirt that ended promptly when the needed test was done, to warn you that something was wrong, then why do you even have a breast cancer diagnosis to begin with? How does that even make sense?

It doesn't. I have tried to figure it out. But I can't. So I won't. But I do know that the Bible says that Jesus healed the sick every chance He got. I know it says that by His wounds on the cross, I am healed. I know the Bible says that He has plans for me, for hope, and not for harm, and for a future. I know He said that in this world, we would have trouble, but to take heart! Because He has overcome the world! This all leads me to the next miracle in what will surely be a giant list of them.

Miracle 3: Peace
I am not going to lie, I have these little moments of worry and irrational fear that keep popping up. But for the most part, I feel so much peace in all of this. Last night, I was starting to get a little upset, so I made my way to the piano and I sat down and started to sing. His presence met me there. In the night, I woke up and started to cry. Somehow, I said, "Come, Holy Spirit and calm me down" and there was instant peace and hope was restored. I even had a dream that there was a room full of people wearing scrubs and I still remember their distinct faces exactly, and one of the people in particular, wearing purple scrubs came over and just hugged me and let me cry into her shoulder for the longest time. Let me tell you. I will FREAK OUT if those faces were the faces of the medical team waiting for me at OSU. I kid you not. SO fun! 

Miracle 4: You
Finally, I have had such an outpouring of love and support. I can't ever get over it. I have had so many of you send messages that are absolutely perfectly timed and corroborate with what I have read in scripture just moments before, or heard in a's like a giant web of encouragement, love, and peace is being spun all around me. Thank you. 

I had a fellow student from worship school at Bethel post a picture late last night that he took while there. Before I saw his post in the night, I had gone to sleep singing,  "Still Believe" by Kim Walker Smith. "Your blood, makes the deaf to hear, right now. Your blood takes away the curse, right now. Your blood, heals every disease, right now. Your blood sets the addict free, right now. And I still believe You're the same yesterday, today and forever. And I still believe Your blood is sufficient for me. 

And then I see the word "Cancer" on a canvas, cancelled by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus...truly the greatest miracle of them all.
Here is the prayer that he posted for me on Facebook:
Jesus we command and declare the cancellation of cancer in Carrie's body. We command the nullification of every cancer cell, for it to shrivel up, die and disappear in the name of Jesus. We ask that your blood would wash over Carrie each night as she sleeps and that every part of her physical, mental and spiritual health would be cleansed nightly by you Jesus. Healing and Health in Jesus name!

Amen to that!!! Right??? That's "all" I have for the first 20 hours of a cancer diagnosis, but I am sure this is just the start of a huge testimony to the faithfulness and love of God. Thanks for reading and thank you for your prayers. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pushing Pause


I hope your Summer has been wonderful. Ours has been extremely eventful and life-changing. I was blessed to spend two weeks at Bethel Church for WorshipU and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. I am forever changed by all that happened there and hope to share some of it in bits and pieces along the way.

But first, I want to make you aware that I will be disappearing for a while. Going in to WorshipU and in the weeks following, I have come to the conclusion that life is really loud. There is so much distraction and so much noise. I had some really frustrating writer's block in the month or so leading up to WorshipU and so much of that was due to being really busy and losing touch with my heart. As I was immersed in the presence of God in those two weeks, the songs and ideas began to return at a steady pace.  Now that I am home, I am starting to see some patterns emerging again that are cutting off my creativity and just making me feel distracted. All that great togetherness we had as a family while on our trip has been chipping away as we've returned to our respective screens and devices. 

In order to combat this, I have prayerfully decided to go way under the radar for the next while. I have a time frame in mind, but it may change. No social media. Extreme modification of schedule. In other words, you may not see me, both on Facebook/Twitter, etc. and in person, for several weeks :) Don't be alarmed. I am not turning into a hermit up here in the forest. I just need to carve out some time to process and silence the inner critic within and to open my heart wide to Jesus. He, after all, was an expert of getting away to spend time with His Father.

And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. ( Mark 1:35)
And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away. And after bidding them farewell, he departed to the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:45-46)
And when day came, He departed to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away from them. ( Luke 4:42)
But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. ( Luke 5:16)
And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. ( Luke 6:12)
I'm looking forward to this time of worship and seeking God. A time of re-calibration. I am fully volunteering for greater intimacy with God- to be seen and known. In this culture of Facebook and texting and not seeing people eye to eye, I want to be intentional about being in the presence of God, seeing Him, hearing Him, and letting Him change my perspective and show me what's ahead. 
So, I will see you when I see you. Until then, I pray that you too might enter into a deeper place of seeking God. When He humbles us and shows us our need for more of Him, the best thing we can do is obey!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

California, Here We Come

The countdown is on! Last year, I signed up for the Summer session of Bethel's online school, WorshipU. I went in to it very purposed and determined that I would pick up some skills to help improve and expand upon my songwriting, worship leading, and keyboard playing. While that did in fact happen, a process began in my heart that I didn't even realize I needed. A complete value shift began in my life:

People are more important than a final product
Process is more important than the destination
Heart is more important than talent
Obedience is more important than determination
Rest is more important than striving to achieve
Authenticity is more important than the appearance of perfection
Releasing outcomes is more important than controlling them

To put it a simpler way: more Jesus and His ways and less Carrie and her ways.

Going in to last Summer, I felt like I was at the top of my game. I had it all together. Success was being had. New ground was being exposed. Everything was ripe with possibility.

On the surface anyway.

It wasn't so much that I was willfully living in a skewed mindset. I didn't desire to be an overachieving, overly busy, driven, perfectionist bent on success no matter the cost. It was just sort of who I was at the time.

But God, in His mercy, and through a series of very calculated events, began to strip all that away. A transformation began that is ongoing. So when the opportunity presented itself to attend Bethel's Worship School in July of this year, live and in person, I knew in my heart that I had to be there. It wasn't even really a choice. It was like a command: Go. To. California.

This was back in November-ish. In the months that have transpired, it has become more clear in my mind than ever that God goes before us and prepares the way.

I don't just "want" to go to worship school now.

I NEED to. I HAVE to.

I went back and forth last November about whether or not we should make the long trip to Redding. but it was clear to me that it wasn't even really a choice. Sort of like when I, as a Mom, ask my kids to pick up their toys off the bedroom floor that I just cleaned previously. Yes, there is still an option to back out, but it's in the best interest of all involved to just obey. I couldn't even explain it to my husband Jarrod. I just said, I have to go to this and I don't fully understand why. And he, being awesome, said, ok then. We will.

I am expecting huge, huge, huge things. I feel an emptiness and hunger at this point in my life- more than ever before. And I think there is good reason for that. I am about to be filled.

So here we come, Redding. God has undeniably provided for us to not only allow us to go on the trip, but to go on the trip well. Everything is paid for. We have a sweet Sprinter Van travel machine that we bought that we're currently converting into a camper van of sorts for the trip out and back (it's our modern day Conestoga Wagon). Our kids (ages 2, 5, and 7) are excited for great adventures with their Dad (and Grandparents during week 2) during the day when I am in class. We are all excited. We are all dreaming. We are all preparing our hearts.

I don't even know what to expect. I just know that God told me to go. So we're going. So far, the timing and the provision have been absolutely stunning. I expect nothing less for the weeks that I am there, encountering His presence, receiving healing, and being transformed more and more into who He is calling me to be. And who knows...maybe I'll even pick up some skills for songwriting, worship leading, and keyboards while I'm there :)

What is God calling you to today?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lent Day 16: Do You Want to Be Well

I've been thinking so much lately about gratitude. A thankful heart truly unlocks so much in a life. Let's be real for a minute though- life can really stink. We all go through seasons where we feel an increased pressure or tension- almost like the heavenly realms are waiting with baited breath as we make choice after choice- are we going to be victorious in this season? Or will be be defeated? 

 I have gone through kind of a weird season lately and as some things have been shaken up a bit, I've pressed in to the presence of God like never before. And He has met me, like never before. I would never wish a weird season on anyone, but to be honest, it's been kind of awesome in a strange way. 

Today, was a day when I needed to be reminded again about the way God makes Himself available to us. We have gone through some sleepless weeks here lately with a nasty flu virus wrecking our house. We've all been exhausted. We've been healthy for a couple weeks now, but yesterday, the familiar drip-drip-drip of the nose began. The littlest Crawford started running a fever. Strike One.

This morning, 3 more of us woke up with cold symptoms and are feeling generally lousy. Strike 2. And also, our toaster just loves to incinerate toast indiscriminately as of late. 3 burnt toasts. Strike 2.5

Noticing that my mood was starting to take a dive, I thought, I'm not going to cave. We just have colds and three burnt pieces of bread. This is not a crisis by any means. 

So we pulled out our Easter decorations and had a festive time decorating with bunnies, chicks, eggs, and flowers. In the bottom of one of the totes was a long, cylindrical jar with a cork lid that I have been looking for. I have wanted to make a "Blessings Jar" where we write daily something that has been given to us as a gift from God. I wanted to do this as a family to make my kids (and their parents) more mindful of the many good things that come our way each day- things of which we are not even aware. I had found my jar! I knew it was somewhere in this house. 

It was a little dusty, so I went to the sink to wash it. As I dipped it into the soapy water, I smiled, thinking of all the great experiences we'd have as a family, depositing our slips of paper filled with thanksgivings and blessings into the jar. And then, it slipped. The jar. It fell right into the edge of sink. And it shattered.  Strike 3?

Seriously? I mean...really? We're under the weather, our toast has nearly caught on fire 3 times today, and now this?

What did I do? I started to laugh. It may sound crazy. But it's true. The boys, looking on from the safety of barstools behind me, joined in. We were laughing at shards of glass. In my mind, I thought, Blessing #1 to go into a different jar some other time- Thankful for laughter even on days of snot, burnt toast, and shattered jars. 

I've been reading John 5 over and over the last few days. 

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades.  In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

Of course he wanted to be healed! He'd been an invalid for longer than I have been alive! But Jesus asked. 

He always asks. Because there is always a choice. 

Maybe Jesus was asking a bigger question than what we see on the surface. Maybe what He was saying was

Do you seriously want things to change?
Are you ready to exchange what has been for what could be?
Are you sure you want to move away from this familiar misery?

Because, a whole world awaits beyond the side of that pool where the man had been laying and waiting for his healing. Things will be faster. Things will be more difficult. Life will happen.

Jesus asks us the same thing today. Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be delivered from a life of fear/worry/control/impatience/ingratitude/hurt/conflict/relational tension?

Sometimes it feels easier to stay where we are than to venture into what we don't know. Sometimes it feels good to wallow in our misery rather than accept that God has something greater. Those are the places where the enemy loves to breed selfishness and discontent and inaction.

If you really want to be healed, it takes laughing and choosing praise over defeat when the day goes crazy. It takes minute by minute choices to embrace God, to taste and see that He is good. This girl right here? She's not going to be moved very easily. She's part of the Kingdom that can't be shaken and a daughter of the King who holds those who put their trust in Him. Even through the snotty noses, burnt toast, and shattered glass. We live in hope that He will hold, He will heal, and He will strengthen us through our trials and difficult seasons to step in to the amazing things He has for us to do. Thank you, God, for being our strength and for opportunities to become strong. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lent Day 8: If You Only Knew

My reading today was PACKED full of revelation. Oh, how I love when the Word proves itself to be living and active. It does, indeed, read me as I read it. So today I took a dive into chapter 4 of John- the story of Jesus and Samaritan Woman at the Well. A few verses really kicked me in the butt (in a good way.)

So maybe you have heard the context of the story of the Woman at the Well, maybe you haven't. If you haven't, a brief synopsis is that this Samaritan woman was getting her water in the heat of the noon sun because she did not want to be around other people. She was, in effect, hiding in plain sight. Her shame held her back from going to the well at the cooler time of the day in the morning, when all the other women would venture out to get their water. So here is a woman, full of shame, about to get rocked by the only One able to restore her. Oh, that we would be so willing to sit and chat with the Master at the well for a few minutes today...

In verse 7- Soon a Samaritan came to draw water and Jesus said to her, "Please, give me a drink." 

Verse 9- The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan. Why are you asking me for a drink?"

Verse 10- (My favorite) Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."

What a response! And I believe Jesus says the same thing to you and me today. Like the Samaritan woman, (who, if you read on, can discover that she had been seeking joy, comfort, and identity in the arms of multiple men, rather than in the everlasting arms of a Savior) we seek to have our wants and our needs fulfilled in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. 

And Jesus waits patiently as we cower in our shame and live day-to-day with unfulfilled longings. We expect very little from our relationship with Jesus, so we get very little out of it. 

But what if...

We started believing that our God is who He says He is?

What if we were willing to leave our shame from the past behind and look forward to a future filled with His goodness?

What if we could drink from a well of neverending capacity and purity? 

Questions of identity, worth, and calling can be answered by doing three simple things as outlined in John 4:10:

- Recognize the gift God has for you and see Him for who He is.
- Ask Him for His presence and sustenance in your life.
-Position yourself to receive His living water.

All that we could ever need has already been paid for. We simply need to receive it. 

Come. He is waiting. If you only knew all that He has for you...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lent Day 7: That is All

I realize we're on day 7 of Lent and I haven't shared for a few days- some of my musings in my journal each day either aren't interesting to anyone but myself (ha) or they are intensely personal and I don't wish to fling them out into the world in some creepy reality TV show manner. But today, I do have something to share! I hope that the last week has been full of revelation and intimacy with the Lord. It is so true that when we draw near to Him that He will draw near to us. It's exciting to me in this season of Lent to see that happening!

So today, I have been reading in the third chapter of John. A few verses in particular stood out to me today- (starting with v. 27) "God in heaven appoints each person's work". These are the words of John the Baptist as he addresses his own disciples, who fear (rightly so) that they and their works are overshadowed by Jesus.

This verse is similar to Ephesians 2:10, which I wrote about a couple weeks ago- " For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them." 

John, starting in verses 28-30 expands on this concept more: "You yourselves know how plainly I told you that I am not the Messiah. I am here to prepare the way for Him-that is all. The bride will go where the bridegroom is. A bridegroom's friend rejoices with him. I am the bridegroom's friend, and I am filled with joy at His success. He must become greater and I must become less and less."

Whatever your calling may be in this world, these verses give us some strong guidelines of how to live it out.

1. You have been and are being equipped for the calling which God has decided for you.
2. You need to know your proper place- you are not the Messiah- you are here to prepare the way for Him- that is all.
3. You will finish well if your ultimate goal is that you diminish and His glory increases.

I will leave you with some great insight from Matthew Henry from his commentary on this passage:

Our works are good when the will of God is the rule of them, and the glory of God the end of them; when they are done in His strength and for His sake; to Him, and not to men. Renewed hearts bid His light welcome. A good man acts truly and sincerely in all he does. He desires to know what the will of God is and to do it though against his own worldly interest. A change of his whole character and conduct has taken place. 

My prayer for today: Lord, You know the plans you have for me. More than any plans or completion of them, I just want to love You and know Your love for me. For I know it is out of your great love that my purpose becomes more and more clear. I trust in Your wisdom. I boldly ask for more of Your presence in my life that I can be better equipped for all that you have for me to do in this world. Not only that, but also so that I may become more and more like You. I long for a shift in character and mindset daily that leads me to a more pleasing, holy, and effective life.  I recognize that You are in charge, You rule over my heart and mind and each step I take. I am here to prepare the way for You- and that is all.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lent Day 2: This is the One

At the root of every decision, at the closing of every door of opportunity, there is a nagging question. One that we feel like we should have answered by now:

God, do I trust You?

My reading for Lent today took on a decidedly emotional turn as I was only able to breathe in two verses before bursting into tears and praise. Because I found the answer to that age-old question in the pages and in the recesses of my memory.

John 1:15: John pointed Him out to the people. He shouted to the crowds: 'This is the One I was talking about when I said, 'someone is coming who is far greater than I am', for He existed long before I did."

Observations: THIS is how we know that all things work to the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose: "He existed long before I did."

He has been.
He is.
He will be.

Instead of listing all of the current annoyances and troubles we face, what if we, instead, started listing our victories of the past. To remember is to fall in love with Jesus all over again. In similar fashion, when I go on a date with my husband, we smile as we remember things from our past. And it draws us close together once again. A shared history, a deep connection and abiding faith that things have worked, and will continue to work according to God's will for us.

So here is my list. I'd encourage you to make one too. It won't take long until you are smiling, and eyes shining with tears as you recall the faithfulness of the God who loves you and has always loved you and will always love you. Always.

-I was chosen, from the foundation of time, to love and serve Almighty God who cares for me and loves me as His own daughter.

-I was born in a land of opportunity to parents who love me more than words can say. I was raised to know and love Jesus and to care about people and to be helpful and to work hard. I was privileged to grow up with siblings who have always been my best friends.

-I was practically pushed into the waiting arms of a charming, loving, kind, respectful, gentle (the list goes on for 327 more pages so I will abbreviate here) man who would later be my husband. The pathway to him was about as subtle as a runway lit at night for incoming airplanes. We were truly meant to be together.

-I was healed and given a beautiful son 7 years ago, even when I had been told it would be difficult to become pregnant. 2 additional, gorgeous sons later, I know nothing is too difficult for Him!

-I have been given talents that not only bring me joy, but have the potential to bring people into a closer relationship with the Lord. But beyond the talent and beyond the opportunities, I have been given authority to carry the presence of God and proclaim His greatness on the earth. This is a wonder that is not lost on me. To play a tiny part in the story of God on this earth at this time and in this place is a responsibility I take seriously and with great joy.

I thought I had done enough reading and listing for the day, but one more glance at the Word let me know that there was to be one final thought to cap off my list of blessings:

John 1:16- "We have ALL benefited from the rich blessings He brought to us. One gracious blessing after another." 

One gracious blessing after another indeed. My list was complete. At least for now.

My Prayer for today: I point to YOU Jesus. And only You! You are the One who gives me all I have ever needed. You have given me enough love and enough hope to shatter the mold of whatever I thought I wanted. Because really? All I needed. All I ever wanted. All along. Was You. And because I know I can trust You and that You are all things to me- I, like the writer of this gospel, will tell. I will sing. I will shout to the crowd, echoing the words of John 1:15:

This is the One I was talking about when I said, 'someone is coming who is far greater than I am', for He existed long before I did."

Yes, this is the One. And I trust Him fully

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent Day 1: Stealing Time

This year, I want to be more intentional in the days leading up to Easter. Sometimes it feels like it catches me off guard. I truly want to soak in the beauty and tragedy and glory of it all. So, I have decided to do that by observing the 40 day period known as Lent in the church world.

It's hard for me to narrow down one thing to give up for Lent. I saw a beautiful Tweet by Louie Giglio today that perfectly summarized my intentions for the next 40 days:

"For lent, I'm giving up. Jesus, be more than I could ever be."

I'm giving...up. Just, giving up. During the next forty days, I am going to Mary my way out of a Martha life. When pressure builds and I find my head spinning with chaos, I'm going to stop and retreat. I am going to steal back the time that so easily eludes me. I'm going to take the time and do something worthwhile...find myself at His feet hearing His voice. I hold on to too much and yet don't cling to the only One that matters. So I am letting go, giving up all of me. Each time I realize I am holding on to unnecessary things with too firm a grip, I am going to retreat- even for 5 minutes-into His presence and re-calibrate.

Today, during lunch time madness, I found my chance. I brewed by strong tea (I would have made a perfect English woman) and stole away to my desk for a few powerful minutes in the Word and prayer. Beginning in the book of John, Chapter 1, verses 1-14, I read and I scribbled out some notes. Here are the treasures I found and my reactions:

John 1: Christ, the Eternal Word

Life itself was in Him and this light gives light to everyone.
-----Thank You, God, for including me and making a way for me to see.----

The light shines through the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.
----Today, I thank You, Lord, for being the light that illuminates my life. There is no darkness that can overshadow Your power and peace----

The world did not recognize Him
------Lord, forgive me for not recognizing You at times.-------

But to all who accepted Him, He gave them the right to become children of God. They are reborn!
------I fully embrace and accept You, my Savior. Thank you for making me Your own. Give me a fresh start, a rebirth, allow me to bloom afresh like the crocus buds waiting eagerly under the frozen ground even now!----

He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness
------I know I can trust You, Lord!------

And we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. 
-----Lord I have seen glimpses of You, but I desire to see more. Show me more of who You are and who I am in You.-----

My prayer for today is- Jesus, Light of the World, I repent for my narrow view of who You are and what You can do. Let me see Your light and let no corner of my heart or mind remain in darkness. I give up. You can have it all. Thank You for your love, Your faithfulness, and Your light.

Friday, February 28, 2014

That We Should Walk In Them

I've always been a bit of a daydreamer. My mind is truly a fantastic place to be. I love the imagination that God has given to me and lately, I have been considering: what should I do with it?

You see, I have these huge, gigantic things I want to do in my lifetime. They aren't huge, gigantic things for my own comfort or benefit either. In fact, there may be a degree of discomfort involved in the process of seeing these huge things come to life.

They are so huge, I don't even want to put them into words yet.

But He knows. He, being the One who knit me together. The One who knew my name before I was even a thought in my Mother's mind. The One who put the dreams and ideas and active imagination into my brain in the first place.

How do I know they are dreams from above?

Because they are big dreams. Big dreams that I can't ever possibly pull off on my own. Life-changing dreams, not necessarily for me, but for a world in desperate need. And the enemy tries to stomp them in the dirt under his angry shoes and say things like, "you're nobody from nowhere. How can you possibly think that ____ could ever happen?" Have you ever heard that mocking voice questioning your goals and making you think they're impossible? On our own strength, yes. These goals and dreams and callings we have are impossible. But that's where God comes in. His power is made perfect in our weakness.  His power makes the impossible become possible.

And also, this:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

God already knows what the good works are that you and I are destined to complete. Because He had them in mind before, (and as) He created you to walk on this planet at this time. And He wants you to walk in them. Not sit and look at them. Not toy with the idea of them. But to walk in them. As in, NOW.

If you feel disqualified by sin or stopped by mistakes in the past? Consider that the very moment you are reading this has been ordained. Every moment of your life up until now has been part of a plan. All the ups and downs. Every past moment has led you to NOW. Tonight will lead you to tomorrow, and the next few days will build up (or tear down) your path into later next week, and next month, and ten years from now. Don't let a misguided meander in the past dictate your path today.

Because the big question isn't about the past. The big question is: What can you do today? What can you do right now to begin fulfilling the plans God has for you? And maybe they aren't gigantic. And that's ok. God has the audacity and the authority to call anyone anywhere, to do anything anytime.

In this season of your life, maybe your biggest work of the moment is to be a faithful spouse and joyfully love your husband or wife.

Or maybe it's to simply be at your job on time and earn an honest wage while respecting your boss and colleagues.

Or maybe it's to tenderly care to the needs of your young children all day everyday- to wipe their noses and make their chicken noodle soup and applaud their crayon-scribbled pictures.

There is no ranking of importance here in His Kingdom. In this world, there is an uphill battle to reach the top of the game- to gain the notoriety- the spotlight- the accolades- the platform.

But God, more often than not, can do a whole lot more with the sold-out heart of country folk from the backwoods-middle-of-nowhere who are willing to live a pure, humble, honest life. The kind of person who opens their hands to heaven and whispers, "this life? It's not about me. It's about YOU. What would YOU like me to do?"

So the first step to living out the dream He has for you- no matter the size, is to hold it out in your hands, and give it back to the God who planted it in your heart to begin with. To say, "Here. You know this thing better than I do. You made it. Now let's create the reality of it together."

Then, it becomes a delicate mixture of sit-back-and-watch and get-up-and-go.

In the times where we find ourselves waiting and wondering, we must lean on the love of God. In the times where we feel confident and are moving ahead steadily, we must lean on the love of God. Because that's where our inspiration, our strength, and our focus come from anyway. His love.

Because that's what matters at the end of the day. Nothing (Read it again.) NOTHING can separate us from His love. Nothing we can or cannot do. No dream, no disappointment, no things past, present, or future, can keep us away from His love.

And to me, the ultimate dream-come-true has already come true: A lifelong love relationship with the God who knows me best. Not just in this life, but in the eternal one to follow.

But in the meantime, it's kind of fun to let my imagination run wild. I, for one, am ready to run this path that He has prepared beforehand for me. Who's with me?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Identity Crisis?

Hello friends. What on earth have I been doing all this time NOT blogging on here? You'd think I had dropped off the face of the planet. It's nothing quite that dramatic, I assure you. It's been a busy few months here at the Crawford house. We've had all the usual hustle of the holidays and a layer of general busy stuff on top of that. Plus, I have had the great joy and excitement of stepping in to some incredible songwriting. I have been taking part in songwriting coaching from Gabriel Wilson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA for a few months and my songwriting has shifted in to full gear. I eat, sleep, and breathe lyric and melody. I am totally diving in to this. It is where I belong- breathing in the revelation of God and breathing out lyrics and melody to capture and propel the response. Some unexpectedly incredible things are going on right now in songwriting world, but more on that some other time...suspenseful, I know.

I am reading a great book right now by Lisa Bevere called "Lioness Arising". There's a picture of an angry female lion stalking prey through some kind of tall grass of the African plains on the cover. I like Lisa Bevere's writing very much, but I was a bit leery of the content based on the cover. But it was 8 bucks, so I figured why not? Worst case scenario, I have a book with an angry lion on the front cover sitting on my bookshelf.

This book is ROCKING my world. And I am only on the third chapter. One page in particular is screaming at me. When a page in a book causes me to sit straight up, nearly gasping at the content, and I notice my heart beginning to hammer in my chest while at the same time hearing the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, "This. You need this. Right here." I naturally want to see if it connects with anyone else. So, gentle reader, I'm just going to toss it right here for you to peruse. Maybe it's just a word for me, but I have a suspicion that this is a journey many of us need to start. Today.

With the birth of my son Arden Christopher (his name means 'fiery, determined, anointed one'), something within me shifted. Even though another child meant more of a mother load, I became a focused daughter. You see, like many other mothers, my God-connected self had been strained. I was almost at a point of drowning in my day-to-day life. I was so caught up with my ever-expanding and increasingly demanding to-do list, I'd forgotten who I was. I was full of self-doubt. My life was small, self-centered, isolated, petty, safe, and ineffective. I remembered my name, whom I was married to, and who my kids were, but what I did and who I was responsible for overshadowed my sense of being God's daughter. As I paused, God began to whisper strength to me and to call me by another name. To everyone else, I had a name that was attached to a job description. I was mother to my children, wife to my husband, pastor's wife to the congregation, but to God Most High, I was simply daughter. As I focused on just being His and what all that meant, life and strength flowed into my days, and rest entered my soul. My heart enlarged. (Bevere, Lioness Arising, P.10)

As I read this, it echoed some thoughts I shared with a dear friend of mine earlier in the day,

"What does God say about me? I think He sees a woman segmenting herself in all directions- His daughter who struggles to have a mind clear enough to hear from HIM. a Mom who just wants to raise 3 babies to know and love God, to be a good wife to a man who often proves he is a way better human being than I am. I want to do ministry well. I have huge dreams for my songs! I want to grow a garden. I want to keep a tidy house. Save money. Get in shape. Keep everyone fed and healthy. My plate is FULL! My mind is RACING! But God sees the heart behind it all- a daughter desperate to truly see Him and know Him."

We all have a variety of roles that we fulfill. That's not a bad thing. The bad thing is when we calculate our value through the lens of what we can do or how well we can do it. Because guess what happens when those things we can do are shaken in some way? Or what about when we fail in an area? When we can't decipher what our identity even IS anymore?

We feel of little to no worth or value to ourselves or anyone else.

This is not the way God intended.

It is time that we find our strength. Renew our passions. Dare to dream God-sized dreams. Step in to our destiny.

But the approach is not as active as you'd think. Yes, there is a time for the "doing", but the "being" is much more critical to begin with. You can't muscle your way through this life. This isn't a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of thing we're talking about here. You can't just fire off of the starting line without first having realized your only worth comes from belonging to the only One who is Worthy.

Your salvation requires you to turn back to Me
and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
in complete dependence on Me. -Isaiah 30:15

Settling down. Complete dependence. Being a child of the Most High God.

No striving. Just resting in His strength.

When you're tempted to look at all the ways you're sinking, arms flailing in the heaving depths of the ocean of not-good-enough, look to the One who calls out to the storm, "Peace! Be still!" and hear Him yelling those words not only to the storm surrounding, but also to your heart as you're holding on for dear life.

Yes, Lord. I am listening. I am captivated by Your grace and Your love. I am resting in Your powerful embrace. You are awakening me again to the powerful truth that I am Yours. Let hope arise.