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When Satan tempts me to dispair…

A few months ago I was at the Imago Dei Eastside Gathering. It was a hot Sunday evening in the little chapel that has no air conditioning, just windows opened and fans going. The lights were off to keep it cool. We sang the song “Before the Throne of God Above,” and as I stood there reading the lyrics, unable to sing, tears fell out of my eyes.

before the throne of God above //


Before the throne of God above //

Let me be real. There are sins in my life that I struggle with so consistently and so deeply that my life feels like it’s one giant spiral of repeating the same sin, hearing the same deceptions, believing the same lies, and praying the same words out of guilt. I am full of bitterness and cynicism, judgment and eye rolls. and some days that is made so much more aware to me than others.

and on those days, Satan camps out in my guilt.

A month or so ago, I had one of those mornings. and I was driving to work, and as I turned onto the street by my church I thought “I’m so full of sin and yet I’m someone’s YOUTH PASTOR!? I should quit my job and let them find someone who screws up less.” and I really started to beat myself up over it. But then I remembered the words of a Mercy Me song that say “There’ll be days I lose the battle, grace says that it doesn’t matter, cuz the cross already won the war.” (Greater – MercyMe)

and I started crying my eyes out because that was the truth I needed to be reminded of. Deep in my spirit I heard the Holy Spirit say “Stephanie. Repent and move on.

But repent. Not just “ask for forgiveness.” Repent; the whole turning away from sin and walking the other way.

There are nights when I lay in bed and I cry and thank God for protecting me from the certain sins that really wage war on my heart. I am so grateful to have survived a day without any battles.

and then other nights.

Before the throne of God above //

Other nights I lay in bed and cry and apologize for all of my careless words and my bitter heart. I hang the head of my heart in shame that my actions often terribly misrepresent how I feel about the Lord in my heart.

But Jesus stood in the gap. For me. For my sins.

He took the receipt straight up to the counter and he paid for the meal he never tasted. It’s covered. Taken care of. Put the wallet away, because your money is no good here.

Pastor Matt once said that God is just as if he has no mercy and he is merciful as if he has no justice because you cannot have one without the other. It took me a very long time to understand that, but once I did… it changed so much.

and because of that, “for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me,” is one of the most powerful phrases I have in my arsenal to combat the lies of Satan, the enemy, who loves to kick me when I am down.


MY sinless Savior.

MY pardon.

Do not let your burdened, exhausted, weary heart forget the redemptive power of Christ’s life sacrificed on the cross. Soak up that liberation, and live like you have been saved. You’ll struggle, you’ll fall, you’ll be disappointed in yourself, you may even disappoint others.. but don’t EVER forget that you. are. free.

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good in His eyes.

A few weeks ago I stood in the chapel at camp with the camp staff as we sang the words of a popular worship song:

You give
and take away.

and I started thinking about how we often think of God’s giving as “good” and his taking away as “bad.”

I recently read the part in 1 Samuel where Samuel gives Eli a pretty brutal word from God, and Eli’s response is mind-blowing. Eli responds, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.

Susannah and I have a problem with people who use Scriptures out of context and to meet their own needs. I recently sent her this meme:

Jeremiah 29:11 meme //

Also happens with Romans 8:28. I think the problem is that we want something to get us through the bad, so we cling to wherever the Bible says “God is going to make something good come of this bad thing.”

I have this new theory.

My new theory is this:

God doesn’t do bad things.

Crazy idea, I know. but Romans 8:28… God works all things together for good? Yeah, because God’s works ARE good. Do we agree with “good”? Probably not. PEOPLE do “bad” things, and then God is CONSTANTLY redeeming those things. He’s always saying “sorry that your brother over there is a jerk; I can use this if you let me.”

Everything God does is good.


Every redemptive, destructive, just and merciful act of God is good because God is good.

The problem isn’t in if God is or isn’t doing something – if he is giving or taking away – the problem is that we think we know what “good” means, and then we get all grumbly if God doesn’t do that thing.

God’s done this great thing of rebuilding my broken pieces into an even more whole person than I was before I was shattered, and in that I’ve felt this weird surge of people championing for me. I’ve had people notice me or be more quick to say “you are absolutely awesome” or “I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO MEET SOMEONE AS PASSIONATE ABOUT LIFE AS YOU!!!” (like my friend Sarah Jane declared when we were driving back from our hike) and for the first time in my whole entire I life I have this weird certainty that regardless of what it might look like, God’s doing a good thing.

A few of my friends have lamented recently that they might not ever be married, and they’re sad. and I kind of insensitively declared “WHO CARES!? GOD WILL STILL USE YOU IF YOU LET HIM!!!” because I’m realizing that God’s good – even the confusing good – is so much more valuable and precious than my good.

So yes. We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him. Because that’s what a good God does. If we are wise, we’d learn to respond like Eli (who said this after hearing that his two sons would die on the same day because of their disobedience, and that Eli’s family line would be removed from the priests) when he said “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in His eyes.”

because that’s what a good God does. 
A good God does what is good in his eyes. 

He is the Lord; Let him do what is good in His eyes. -1 Samuel 3:18 //

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it is well with me.

Nearly three months ago, there was a big upset in my life. I’ve spent a LOT of time processing it, and I’ve been growing a lot through it. At the advice of Amber, I prayed that God would keep me soft.. that through this whole thing, I wouldn’t start to push people away or develop trust issues or become bitter, but that I’d stay vulnerable and raw, filled with a quiet joy and a constant hope.

Two weeks ago I went up to camp for two days. At breakfast, a stream of teenagers waited to talk to me… teenagers I’d known as campers, but who were now staff members. Then Mitchell gave me a name tag:

Summer 2015 //

Over the course of my two days, I did dishes, helped treat campers for lice, was able to say goodnight to the first campers to sleep in the new cabins, played dodgeball, was a counselor, and cleaned up a pukey bathroom. I poured my heart out on my two days off at camp, and as I drove out of the driveway on my way home I started sobbing.

Because I realized…. I am okay.

Not just in some sort of self-affirming “you are strong and fierce and brave” kind of way, but in a… holy crap, I’m completely surviving this situation that has broken my heart. I’m okay. I can still pour out love and serve to the point of exhaustion; I can listen and respond and be brave and make friends and step away to be alone and laugh with people.

I needed to be at camp to see that.

it is well //

Driving away, I lost it. I kept saying “thank you, thank you, thank you,” to the Lord… over and over and over. I didn’t need any more words. Just gratitude, because the storm has passed.

Then I listened to this:


and I felt my whole entire being sigh, because God’s got me. He masterfully brought me to the place where I hear him the clearest because I need him the deepest, and then he drenched me – straight up DRENCHED ME – in his peace. The journey of the past few months has been an emotional, wild ride. I’m learning to hold expectations loosely and be pleasantly surprised with what God does with the things that make up my life.

God is far more creative than I am and has unimaginable resources at his disposal, so trusting him seems a bit like a no-brainer at this point.

it is well //



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The Ascension

Airplanes will always amaze me. I think it was last year at this time that I was flying to Nashville and it hit me that I was in this amazing transport vehicle that could fly in the air and take me from Portland to Nashville super quickly. I cried, because it was just SO AMAZING.

Last week I flew to San Francisco (okay TECHNICALLY Oakland) and I was feeling a LOT of feels.. the last time I went to the airport was with.. and the last airplane I was on was with.. and the time before that when I left Portland was the day I called.. AND it was kind of grey in the sky.. and I was kind of exhausted.. ugh. It was a lot.

We took off, and I sat there crying out the window. Like a grown up, because that’s how I roll.

and suddenly I realized… we are going through the clouds.

The Ascension //

Like… we are flying UP… UP.. UP…. and the clouds can only last for so long.

and in those few minutes I started feeling excited because I knew what was coming. and sure enough..

The Ascension //

We made it out of the clouds. They were below us. and we were in the sun. It was a beautiful day above the clouds. So clear, in fact, that if you look closely.. you can see Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.

The Ascension //


I started thinking about the clouds in my life, the things that make everything overcast and grey.  Fears, insecurities, shame from the past.. but then I started thinking about how the clouds don’t actually affect the brightness of the Sun. The Sun doesn’t dim itself because of clouds and “then the cloud of doubt may hide the light of day,” but it just hides the light. It doesn’t diminish or wipe out the light. The clouds are temporary, the Son is eternal. Changed the vowes to make it truth. The Son is eternal light. Eternal, even in the face of our temporary clouds.

and you know what? From way up high, clouds don’t seem like such a big deal. You can see the breaks in the shadows and the limits of their reach.  They’re not so doom and gloom from the other side.

The Ascension //

To get to the other side of the clouds we have to get our feet off the ground.

Through hope.

Hoping in God.

I once heard someone say that hope is your spirit’s sigh at the end of the night that says “it’s all true,” about God’s promises.

Isaiah 40:31 says that hope is how we soar on wings like eagles.

Hope, not like “I hope this will happen,” but hope like “God’s promises are sure.

Promises like the one I read while on the plane:

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Rest in that. Place the certainty of your spirit in those words – God is with you. He won’t leave you. His perfect love for you casts out all of your fear.

Hope in God’s promises and then start the ascension up up up over the clouds.

The Ascension lyrics // Phil Wickham //

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Future | Past

I used to think it was weird that God speaks to me in visions. They’re not future-telling or anything, but every so often I get hit with this very clear visual of what the truth of a moment is like. Deeper insight into what is going on around me, if you will. But God’s got a history of speaking in dreams and visions, so I needn’t feel like a weirdo.

This whole vision was deeply inspired by two things.

First, by this quote from Love Does by Bob Goff:

Bob Goff quote // Love Does //

Second, this song by John Mark McMillan:

I was at church and it was offering song time, which means we were all seated. We sang the song I shared, Future/Past by John Mark McMillan. I pulled my knees up to my chest and rested my head on my knees, letting my knees collect the tears dripping out of my eyes. Because that song is beautiful and my spirit is sensitive.


I got this image of a hospital room. My mom was preparing to give birth to me, and I saw angels leaning over excitedly saying to each other “there she is! there she is!” because since the beginning of creation, God has BEAMED with love over me. and he had prepared Heaven for May 30th, 1985. The day he would debut his masterpiece for the world to see. The long-awaited day when SHE would enter the world. and the excitement was contagious.

I was completely overwhelmed. and then immediately..

another hospital room.

I wasn’t an age, I wasn’t an affliction… I was just alone in a hospital room, dying. Alone. Dying alone. One of my biggest fears. But I saw angels leaning over excitedly saying to each other “here she comes! here she comes!” because for the entirety of my life, God has BEAMED with love over me. and he had prepared Heaven for whatever day that will be. The day he will retire his masterpiece from public display to private, cherished collection. The long-awaited day when SHE would enter the Kingdom.  and the excitement, despite my fears, was contagious.

You are my future and my past // John Mark McMillan //


All of this stuff in the middle.. it seems so big, so heavy, so trying. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important. It’s eternal stuff, and it’s important. But from the beginning, God has been there with a giant smile on his face, singing over me. and he’s doing it right now, and he’ll keep doing it, and he will sing me right into Heaven. and I need to remember that every moment of every day, and so do you. That truth could mean the difference between coward and courage, between fear or faith, between life that is good and life that is overflowing. It changes things, because it’s a big truth and it overshadows a lot of the dumb, heavy stuff we deal with.

Don’t forget who has been in your corner from Day 1.

And You.
You are my first, you are my last.
You are my future and my past.


Linking up with Good Morning Mondays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Monday’s Musings, Modest Monday, Small Wonder,

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No longer a slave.

A few days ago I took a drive up north. It was a lot of time in the car. And I’m still kind of sore in my heart, so endless hours in the car isn’t necessarily the best for me, especially when the lies of the enemy are buzzing around in my car like a stray bug.

Finally, I’d had enough. I needed to GET OUT OF MY HEAD. I decided to listen to a sermon from New Heights that I hadn’t yet heard. You can listen to the words I heard here; scroll down to All Because of God: You Must Make A Decision. The whole idea of what Pastor Matt shared – the whole point of it is the question that Jesus is constantly asking us, though it’s disguised in various responses. At the heart of it, Jesus is constantly asking us:

Will you trust Me? //

It was pretty quick to be like “yeah, duh.” and then I started thinking about this post I’d written the day I moved to California almost 5 years ago, where I realized that trusting kind of requires some kind of action. Like Peter in the boat. He could have trusted WHOLE HEARTEDLY that if Jesus called him onto the water, Jesus would take care of him from there. But there’s something about the whole trusting Jesus thing that required Peter to actually step out of the boat and into the water. There’s trusting and then there’s TRUSTING, all caps.

I am quick to lowercase trust, to be like “yes, Jesus… I trust that you love me and care for me and never seek to harm me.”

and then Jesus is like “yeah but do you TRUST me? Step out of the boat.” and usually I’m like “no, I’m good.. you know my heart, you know I trust, so come on in the boat and let’s talk about it.”

and I think Jesus just stands there on the water inviting – urging – me to step out of lowercase trusting and into full-on uppercase TRUSTING. To put my feet outside of the boat and down onto the fluid water and trust that HE is the solid source for my footing.

That’s some scary stuff, to look out of the boat into the water and instead of seeing through the water, to see the hands of Christ right below the surface, holding us up. But you know what? Perfect love – love that Christ offers us – casts out all fear and scary stuff. I don’t have to be held back by it.

I work with kids, and sometimes they do weird things like run and jump on me without me knowing they’re going to do it. and I have a pretty high rate of success in catching them. Mostly because I don’t want them to fall or get hurt. In that moment of wild abandon, those kids TRUST me. They don’t think to say “STEPHANIE!!! I NEED YOU TO CATCH ME!!!” they just run and jump and somewhere in their little hearts they know that I’m going to keep them from falling.

I have a high rate of success.

Jesus has a perfect success rate.

He’s at 100%.

If you run at him..
If you leap towards him..
If you uppercase TRUST HIM..

Jesus will catch you.


I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God // Bethel Music //


Linking up with Word Filled Wednesdays, A Little R&R, So Much At Home, Coffee and Conversation, Thought Provoking Thursday, Shine Blog Hop , Grace at Home, Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth

Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop

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