Monday, February 28


I know I already wrote a post today, but I think I'll post another today anyway. The first one was just to get something off my chest. This post promises to be much more coherent and more applicable to people besides myself.

This last weekend Pastor Steven started a series about honor. Honestly, I've never thought much about honor specifically until I got involved at Elevation. In fact, with the exception of people literally reading from the Bible, I don't think I've ever even heard honor spoken of in a church I've attended... until Elevation. In retrospect, after hearing what Pastor Steven had to say about honor, and seeing the way most Christians I've encountered in the past behave, it makes a LOT of sense that nobody was talking about it.

The reason I bring up this particular sermon (I usually don't explicitly share commentary on sermons... I mean you can just go watch them online... and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do that!) is that I got to apply it in a pretty interesting way.

One point that REALLY stuck out to me when Pastor was speaking was that "honor is about what I decide, not what they deserve." What's that mean? Well, sometimes we have to choose to honor someone (treat them as someone of value and worth) when they aren't behaving as such. Pastor provided a powerful example of this idea from his own life, and then made an observation that I've been thinking about since. When we decide to honor someone who doesn't honor us back, God will honor us for our faithfulness to Him and His purposes. God honored us by giving us Jesus when we didn't deserve it... so why can't I honor someone who I don't feel is deserving of my respect or patience? That idea has been in my head constantly. Its really changing the way I think about interacting with others.

For example...

I heard this sermon Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning I went to work. From the start that day the kids weren't stable. For no particular reason they were agitated, upset, and just down right non compliant. Before lunch I'd been called every profane word you can think of, I'd gotten a chair thrown at me, and had my hair pulled a good bit. I SO wanted to get annoyed, angry, frustrated, but the word honor kept floating around in my head. So, I put a smile on my face. I used my best therapeutic voice. I prayed that God would give me the words to provide comfort and clarity to the kids on my floor who were struggling that day.

Well, for the most part, the kids that were struggling kept on struggling throughout the day. I didn't think anyone had noticed my approach, but I trusted that, as Pastor Steven had said, God would honor me because I honored these kids... even when they didn't act so honorable. I didn't want to limit God's blessing in my life or anyone else's, so I did the best I could to keep a happy face on, even when the profanity (and sometimes the furniture) was flying.

Well, when I finally took a break I sat down in the hallway on my floor to enjoy a diet coke... One of the most well behaved kids I have the pleasure to work with came out to go to the bathroom. She asked if she could talk to me. Despite being on break, I figured I might as well see what she wanted. She told me that she didn't understand how I stayed so calm all day. She said she wanted me to know that all the things her peer had said about me earlier in the day weren't true, and that she appreciated that I sacrificed my time to come to work and make sure she and her peers were taken care of. Rarely do I get such a comment from one of my patients. Even now, Im getting a little teary eyed thinking about her kind words. God really demonstrated to me that Pastor Steven's point was true. When you honor someone who doesn't honor you, God will find a way to bless you.

Inevitably, we'll come across someone who doesn't really deserve our honor. I can tell you though, that giving it anyway will bring a blessing. I'm working on making this an all the time practice. I hope you will too.

How Long?

This post is going to be a short one... mainly because I don't know how to express whats going on in my head. If you know me, then you know that this is basically unprecedented.

I'm just struggling with the balance between being supportive of someone else and doing what is best for me. How long can you support someone when doing so hurts you... physically, emotionally, or spiritually?

I got involved with a seemingly great guy not too long ago. Now he's going through some family issues. I want to be supportive, but I want to be able to find a happy relationship too. I really don't think that he has the time and energy to even be friends with me at this point in his life. It would be really easy for me to just totally remove myself from the situation, but I don't know if thats what he needs. When I;m hurting I know I need a friend... but then again, everyone else doesn't cope the same way I do. I don't really know what I should do. Its just plain complicated.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that you couldn't win? How'd you handle it?

Your comments would be greatly appreciated... as would your prayers.

Friday, February 25


Well, I posted something on John Lennon's birthday, so I figured I'd post something today in honor of George Harrison's birthday. Everyone knows that I LOVE Lennon, but a lesser known fact... Harrison is actually my favorite once the Beatles broke up. His solo stuff is just phenomenal. Today, though, I'm posting lyrics from my favorite song by Harrison during the Beatles era. Coincidentally, Harrison is the only Beatle on the original track for "Within You Without You." It appeared on the Sgt. Pepper album (aka the BEST album ever made). The song was also included on the 2006 remix album Love. For this album, George Harrison's lyrics and melody were mixed over McCartney's bass and Ringo's drum parts from "Tomorrow Never Knows," although the opening lyric, "Turn off your mind... Relax... And float downstream........ It is not dying.......... It is not dying." came from "Tomorrow Never Knows." Its a CRAZY good mashup. Check it out.

Yes, I know you all were wondering about that. It seems that this post doesn't fit in with my normal range of topics. I've got to say though, I never am more aware of how beautiful and creative my God is than when I listen to music. Of course, The Beatles are a big part of my musical selection... so I kind of feel like this post DOES fit. =)

Within You Without You Lyrics
Artist:The Beatles

We were talking-about the space between us all
And the people-who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth-then it's far too late-when they pass away.
We were talking-about the love we all could share-when we find it
To try our best to hold it there-with our love
With our love-we could save the world-if they only knew.
Try to realize it's all within yourself
No-one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small,
And life flows ON within you and without you.
We were talking-about the love that's gone so cold and the people,
Who gain the world and lose their soul-
They don't know-they can't see-are you one of them?
When you've seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there-
And the time will come when you see
we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you.

Happy birthday George!

Wednesday, February 23

Show Me How To Live.

I was on the way home from work a few minutes ago and I was listening to my usual radio station 106.5 (local modern rock station) and I heard a song that I'd not heard in some time. It was "Show Me How To Live" by AudioSlave. Its been one of my favorite songs in the past. Anyway, I was thinking over the lyrics today. Some of them are pretty religious. Some of them I totally relate to. I'm posting them below. I'd LOVE your thoughts....

In with the early dawn
Moving right along
Couldn’t buy an eye full of sleep
And in the aching night
Under satelites
I was not received
built with stolen parts
A telephone in my heart
Someone get me a priest
To put my mind to bed
This ringing in my head
Is this a cure or is this a disease

Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life now
Show me how to live
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life now
Show me how to live

And in the afterbirth
On the quiet earth
Let the stains remind you
You thought you made a man
You better think again
Before my role defines you

Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me a life
Now show me how to live
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life now
Show me how to live

And in your waiting hands
I will land
And roll out of my skin
And in your final hours I will stand
Ready to begin
Ready to begin
Ready to begin
Ready to begin

Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life now
Show me how to live
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life now
Show me how to live
Show me how to live
Show me how to live
Show me how to live
Show me how to live

Thursday, February 17


Tomorrow is a BIG, BIG day for me. I am interviewing for a spot in graduate school at Winthrop next semester. (side note: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE say a prayer for me!) For a while I've been hesitant to even talk about the application process. Inevitably if I tell people about it, they'll ask for a follow up... and if I don't get in, well, that won't be a fun conversation. Even so, here I am writing about it. Why? Only because it relates to something that I think will make a good blog post. =)

One of the questions in the essay process, and for that matter, a question most people ask me when they hear that I work in mental health, is why I got involved in such a stressful field. What really makes anyone go into a specific career? I've been chewing on these ideas lately. The one word that's been floating around since the graduate school application process began... CALLING. Being that Winthrop is a secular school, I didn't discuss this concept at length in my essay, but I think its definitely something worth sharing with my small, but faithful blog audience.

Of course to a certain extent every follower of Christ has the same calling. Mark 12:28-31 makes that calling clear:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

But what about the career God wants you to have? This part isn't QUITE so clear in the Bible... I had to do a lot of reading and asking questions and praying about this. I did end up finding some interesting stuff though. And now, I'll share.

Our secondary calling is usually related to our job or career. Each secondary calling is different. How does God call us to a vocation? Here are some examples from the Bible:

God calls us directly: Abraham and Paul... he literally TOLD them what they were supposed to do.
God places a desire in your heart: Isaiah... He asked God to send him based on his own desire to serve others.
God takes some people along a path they would not have chosen: Daniel... he didn't know where he was going until he got there.
God offers an attractive option: Stephen... he was called as one of the seven in Acts 6.

One thing that I found interesting was that there were almost always other people involved in someone figuring out their calling. Often times God speaks through people, so why not about my calling in life?

For example, I can pinpoint two specific professors in my undergraduate education who REALLY inspired me. Both were intelligent, Godly men who practiced psychology in addition to teaching counseling and psychology classes.Their passion, dedication to helping others, and command of their field of study brought about a desire in me to study counseling. At the time I didn't recognize that this might be God's way of pointing me toward his purpose for my professional life, but in retrospect it makes a lot of sense. Interestingly enough though, those men didn't provide me with anything that I didn't already possess. They merely used the gifts and talents God gave them... and showed me ways that I could use mine.

As I was beginning the grad school process I was reading Pastor Steven's book "Sun Stand Still." Two sentences REALLY spoke to me:

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills [his purpose] for me. - Psalm 57:2

Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath. - Deuteronomy 8:18

It was encouraging to know that I could do whatever God called me to do. But more than that I was encouraged by the thought that my personality, interests, talents are a way to know WHAT God has called me to do. God has provided me with certain resources that nobody else has. It follows that he gives me (and you) the talents necessary to fulfill the calling that he has for us. Obviously, I'm not athletic... God isn't calling me to the NBA. I am good at relating to people. God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called. What am I getting at exactly?

Yes, look to others to help you discover God's calling on your life... because they will help you understand yourself. Things I've been thinking about in this area...

Passion: What motivates you?
For me its all about relationships. Most things I enjoy have to do with other people. Whether its spending time with my family/friends/boyfriend, my work, or just social media I really like connecting.

Talent: Understand your gifts, and then seek work that matches them well.
I'm told I'm good with words. I pretty much never meet a stranger. I am good at building a rapport or finding a common bond with others.

Life experience: What has happened to you?
I want to work with teenage girls, helping them develop a positive self-image. Why? Because I know what it feels like to be a girl with a terrible opinion of herself. I know being a teenage girl is HARD.

Opportunity: Is there an open door?
My job at New Hope (working with teen girls) fell into my lap. I prayed and it showed up.

Community: Listen to the voice of others.
That professor I mentioned... He was the one who suggested that I apply to New Hope, and that ultimately counseling might be the field for me.

Joy—not happiness; joy.
As Dallas Williard puts it in Divine Conspiracy, “The deepest longings of our heart confirm me in my original calling.”

I must add a warning though. Calling, because it is so vital, presents us with moral challenges: First, our work should not drive us: Vocation is not about doing, but being. Second, our work should not trump family. A healthy sense of calling ought to lead to wise choices and good boundaries. Vocations, careers, jobs, and work flow from the primary calling: serving and loving God. Although secular minded people may not want to admit it, there is no calling without a Caller. Because there is a Caller, I have a calling... and so do YOU. If you're still looking, then I pray that you find it.

And if I don't get into Winthrop? Do I doubt my calling? Absolutely not. His ways are not my ways, so if Winthrop is not the pathway He has for me, then I look forward to seeing where he will take me, and I pray that I will have the wisdom to know the right opportunity when it comes around... and I pray the same for you.

Tuesday, February 15


So, as I noted in my last post, Elevation's 5th birthday was last week. To celebrate they made a documentary about the history of the church. When I heard about the documentary I thought it was SUPER cool, but to be honest I didn't quite know why that was the chosen method to celebrate. Well, in true Elevation style, there was an awesome story behind it. Pastor Steven called the documentary "This is How We Change The World" our ebenezer for the first five years.

I LOVE this concept. It really is (and has been for a while) one of my favorite concepts in the old testament. I first heard it in good old number 400 of the Baptist Hymnal "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing..." (The lyrics are SO lovely that I included them all. The part thats pertinent to my post tonight is verse 2.)

1. Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

So, what's an ebenezer anyway? Obviously, being that its a biblical concept, scripture is the first place to look for that answer.

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites." - 1 Samuel 7:12-14

After a long period of problem and discord (a consequence of Israel's disobedience) the Israelites repented under the leadership of Samuel. God restored their security and the people committed their hearts and minds to their Lord again.

Samuel put a large stone at the place where this restoration began. He publicly dedicated it as a monument to God's help, God's faithfulness, God's eternal covenant. As the people got on with their lives, the stone stood there, visible to all who passed that way, a reminder that God judged them. A reminder that God loved them. A reminder that God forgave them. A reminder that God restored them. The Ebenezer stone represented a fresh beginning, a reversal of course for God's people. It also said something important about God: his mercies are everlasting; his covenant is forever.

This concept is SO beautiful to me. I can't express it enough. We even preach this idea to the children I counsel at work. To know where you're going, its SO important to know where you've been. One good example of that idea:

Members of AA can tell you how long they have been sober. They keep alive the memory of the last drink they took, and with each new day they move farther down the road of sobriety. AA is on to something important. Do they ask their members to count the number of years spent in drunken waste? No. They count the days spent walking in a new direction.

I to beat myself up about mistakes I made way back. I don't forgive myself, even though I accept the fact of God's forgiveness. Perhaps you can identify with me. But that's not what God wants from me... or from you.

"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:13-14

This is a lot of the reason why I've come to enjoy keeping this blog. This is also a lot of the reason that my blog has moved from just writing about life to chronicling my walk with Christ and the things I learn about faith. On a day that I'm feeling down or lost or just not good enough, I can look back at my ebenezer and see that I serve a wonderfully faithful blog. This is the same idea Elevation employed with the documentary, and if you ask me its a GREAT one.

Some of the things that God has blessed me with lately follow. I know that at some point I'll be down again, and I want to remember how faithful he is.

- I have a grad school interview in a few days! I am beyond excited at the opportunity to get into a Master's program and ultimately be one step close to being a licensed counselor.

- I got cards in the mail today from my baby sister and from my niece and nephew. I really have the most wonderful family in the entire world.

- This weekend I have a dinner date with three friends from my early days at North Greenville. I am already so excited about spending time with these girls. God has continued to provide me with some of the best friends I could ask for. I can't wait to catch up and fellowship with them.

- Several people I love (most notably, my mom!) have birthdays this week. I'm so thankful that all these wonderful people were able to see another year, and that I'm able to enjoy them in my life.

- I always thought that Elevation was the best church in the world (and it is) but joining an E Group has provided a whole new world of blessings in recent weeks. The women in my group are caring, Godly women who never fail to challenge and encourage me. I LOVE being a part of their group.

- Love Week 2011 is coming up at Elevation. I'm going to get to serve like CRAZY, love on all kinds of people and spend time with my E Group girls... it doesn't get much better than that!!

- Yesterday was Valentine's day. I spent the evening with the most caring, selfless guy I know. He spent the entire day at the hospital encouraging his sick Grandpa (who could use your prayers, if you don't mind), and then spent his evening doting on me and making sure that I felt special on Valentine's day. I went through SO much pain and heartache in past relationships, and all that is making me even more aware that God has REALLY blessed me with Harrison.

I will stop for now, but truly I could keep going and going... God really is faithful. He loves us.

We should all set up an ebenezer, if you ask me, to serve as a continual reminder that we are forgiven, that we have chosen a new life, that God has made a permanent covenant with all who put their faith in him.

Samuel was a smart guy and he had a good idea. He, and Pastor Steven (and the documentary makers) for that matter are in touch with one of the short comings of human nature --- we're forgetful. At Ebenezer, Israel could stand next to that big old rock and remind themselves, "Yes, we serve a living and faithful God, whose mercies are everlasting." When I get down, I can read back over this and say MY GOD IS SO FAITHFUL!

Get some stones! Build your ebenezer.

Friday, February 11

This is How We Change The World!

This weekend is Elevation's birthday! We are watching a feature length documentary called This is How We Change The World, and its all about how Elevation started and what God's done in the last 5 years. I just wanted to post a link to the trailer and let everyone know that you NEEEEED to come to Elevation this weekend. I'll be at the Blakeney campus Saturday at 5pm. There are tons of opportunities, so come out and celebrate with us!!

Check out the trailer for the documentary here:

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 9

I'm alive.

Good morning friends! As you're possibly noticed I've been MIA for a little bit. That extends beyond my blog. I've been a little disconnected from everyone the past week or two. Anyway, I'm back. And now I'll catch you up on whats been going on in my world...

As I've written on several blog posts I've been going through a period of changes and transitions in my life. Some more of that's been going on.

First of all, I got asked to attend an interview at Winthrop. Basically, that means they read my essays, talked to my references, and want to hear some more about me as a student and a future therapist. This, in, in case you didn't know, is HUGE for me. I'm so excited. The big day is February 18th. Pray about that if you don't mind. =)

Second development. Went to lunch after church with my mom and Jon a few weeks ago. Our waiter was an adorable guy that I'd gone to church with as a kid, and then ran into from time to time in my young adult life. Long story short, we hung out. We really clicked. Now, Im lucky enough to call him my boyfriend. We talk all the time about how crazy this all is, and how things just fell into place at the perfect time. All I can say about is that God has really blessed me.

So yeah, that's what's going on. I'm going to get back to blogging this week after my little vacation last week. hope this post finds you all well!

<3 Steph

Tuesday, February 1

more lyrics.

I know I just posted lyrics recently... but I keep hearing this song, and its just SOO good. Normally, I'm not a fan of contemporary christian music at all. The message is great, but its just not my style musically. This song keeps touching me though, so I had to share. These lyrics talk about being faithful through hard times. That's something I have been trying to do over the last six months or so... and something that I'd never really done before. And I have to say, even though I'm not completely sure about everything yet, all this has been SO worth it. Every day I realize more and more that God puts me where he wants me for a reason, and that all things work out for the good of those of use who love him (Romans 2:8). Yeah, some situations in my life have been so hard. Yeah, sometimes I have no idea why God puts me where he does.... but I know that I am so blessed. God is good. Last Sunday Pastor Steven said "When you want what God wants for the reason God wants it, you're UNSTOPPABLE." So, I'm praying that I'll be in one accord with God, even if that means I have to endure a little rain...

Mercy Me - Bring The Rain

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days

When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty