Monthly Archives: July 2017

Bittersweet Change 2

At the beginning of 2017, I created a reading list consisting of 18 books I wanted to read throughout the year. So far I have added 4 books to that list making it 22 total. I’ve read about 9 of them.

One of the books I added is called Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty. I came across this book in one of the Devotionals Daily I receive in my inbox. The minute I read this book, I fell in love with it. This book has brought about change in my perspective on how I view circumstances past, present and I hope how I will view them in the future.

The book is based on the verse found in Proverbs 27:7, “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” I have read this verse before but goodness I have never read it like that. To a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Every bitter thing is sweet. Wow.

Throughout the book she highlights with complete transparency how every thing she encounters in life that is bitter to her offers her a chance to grow closer to God. If we are in constant hunger for the things of God; If we are constantly hungering for his presence, his touch than every bitter thing we encounter is a chance for us to experience God in a new way. Whether that bitterness comes from the loss of a family member, a job, a bad review, loss of possession, etc. Every bitter thing is sweet.

One of the devotionals I read this summer highlighted the story of Paul & Silas found in Acts 16: 16-40. The Spirit of God had led them to Philippi to preach the gospel, where after just two interactions with the locals, they were accused of damaging property then were mobbed, beaten, and thrown into jail. As they were filled with pain and confusion, they began to sing in the jail cell:

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

What stuck out to me in this passage is how Paul and Silas were in PRISON but they were still singing and praising God. Paul knew and understood what I am just learning: everything we go through is a chance for us to grow closer to God.

For the past 8 summers, I have had the privilege of walking and serving alongside God’s children in Belize. I’ve walked into places I never imagined my feet would go. I’ve seen things I never in my life thought I would witness. Souls have been saved, wounds have been healed, eyes have literally been opened. It has been the sweetest time in my life and an unbelievably humbling experience.

Now, God is calling me out. He is calling me into a time of Bittersweet. Although I will still be working alongside my brothers and sisters in Praying Pelican, I won’t be in my second home. I may still visit on occasion but my time in Belize is coming to an end. This change comes with many tears shed (I can’t believe my eyes haven’t run out yet!) and many questions currently unanswered. This change feels bitter to me. But I am excited for the sweetness to come. God has something for me and for Nate. I don’t know what it is and I don’t know when I will find out. But as it says in Psalm 27: 13-14,

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” 

God is good. He is faithful.

As my family and friends, right now I am asking for your prayers. Pray for a smooth transition for me. Pray for my heart that is currently breaking and may be broken for awhile. Pray for Nate and I as we seek God’s heart not knowing fully what’s ahead. We are hungry for God and anticipating his sweetness.

With Love,

An Epitaph for a Guitar   Recently updated !

Praise the LORD, O my soul!

Some musicians say an instrument without a name is like a body without a soul.

I personally think that is the silliest thing I have ever heard.

But I do think a guitar that has a story and a history is a great instrument, one that makes me feel good just playing it. That is how I feel about my Takamine G-Series guitar I purchased back in 2011. I loved the way it felt in my hands when I first picked it up off the stand: low action, bold sound, beautiful design. I have used this guitar to lead God’s people in worship for nearly seven years. This guitar is special to me mainly because it was something God used to teach me what songs of praise can do for His people. I rarely if ever play with larger worship bands (exception would be with Antioch Community Church in Raleigh) so for the most part, it has just been God, me and my guitar. This guitar has profoundly changed my life through what God made possible through it.

That is why it devastated me on Saturday evening to open up my case and see this:

For those of you unfamiliar with guitars, the one in this picture is… well, it’s broken. Failing to loosen the strings before traveling back from Belize caused too much strain on the neck, and you can see the result.

I had no idea what to do when I saw this. It was like an emotional blow to the stomach. I really wanted to be mad at someone. I wanted it to be TSA’s fault, or maybe the manufacturer. But it isn’t. Something happened I didn’t foresee and the natural result was what happened above. Though I have traveled with this guitar for five years back and forth to Belize, nothing like this has ever happened. Maybe some of you reading this are trying connect but you feel you cannot since you are not a musician. But it is a big deal to lose an instrument. The guitar is irreplaceable and probably irreparable as well.

I have no idea why this happened. I know what caused it, but I do not know why this happened. I am talking about the “what for?” of this whole situation. “What is God trying to show me through this?” I asked myself. I had done nothing except praise him with it and it wound up broken. I may be overly emotional about a few pieces of wood and copper strings, but I am not overstating the spiritual significance of even the smallest incidents of life: God never does anything without a reason, and he always works everything for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes.

So, what is he trying to teach me?

When I saw the guitar, it was Saturday night. Leah and I were preparing for a Sabbath day of rest, and this realization now was going to hang over the whole thing. I said to God, “You know I can’t rest with this hanging over my head!” Unlike a car getting stolen, I couldn’t call insurance. It was just broken, and there was nothing I could do about it. Then I felt God say to me, “I will provide.” To understand the significance of this, especially for the skeptically minded, let me give you a little back story of how I got this guitar. I was about 22 years old, I had a minimum wage job and my faith. I felt God telling me in 2011 to go guitar shopping. So I went out to look at guitars at a store. I never found an acoustic guitar I really loved (I was always an electric guitar fan), so I didn’t really know what to look for – or what I would use it for. I just felt God was blessing me for some reason to give me this encouragement to go out and look. And then I found this guitar, played it, and the rest was history. I got it for a bargain, but even then it was pretty expensive for me. I still felt God telling me to go for it. I don’t know if that was a financially wise decision from a purely rational perspective; but from an eternal perspective, that tool got itself paid in full. God was definitely glorified through the songs it produced.

So back to the phrase God told me, “I will provide.How will he provide? To be honest I don’t know. Maybe it can get fixed, though I don’t have great hope. Abraham did not know how God would keep his covenant promise when he told him to sacrifice his son, but the friend of God didn’t flinch. He only said with confidence “The LORD will provide.” I believe it is wholly within God’s power and character to make and keep such promises. And I have decided that not knowing HOW or WHEN will not stop me from believing.

Every word I write is difficult at this point because I have never gone to this length publicly to believe in God, but I am putting out an ask. I am asking God to provide for me by fully covering the cost for a new guitar and, if it can be done, for a repair on this guitar. I put it out to people who know and love and pray for us, to pray over this ask, to consider it, and ask God if you have a part in this promise. He knows who he has called for the task, and he will make it known to them. Whoever it is that will do this, or whomever are called to be the Lord’s grace, you will certainly be advancing his purposes. I have no right to ask for a single dime of anyone’s money, but if the Lord calls you to send help to this laborer, it will be gladly and gratefully received.

An Epitaph for a Guitar

I never did come up with a name for my guitar – nothing really seemed appropriate for an instrument. However, nearly since the time I played it, I always felt the following verse was the most dear to the Lord’s heart when I played, and I feel it is fit to ascribe to it the following words:

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!  Psalm 34:3

And if I do end up with another guitar as a result of this prayer being answered, I already have a verse picked out for it…