Just this past week, my ladies’ Bible study completed our journey through Lysa Terkeurst’s book What Happens when Women Say Yes to God.  The book explores what it means to be obedient to God’s call on one’s life even through trials and facing unexpected challenges.  In the very first chapter of her book, Terkeurst recounts her experience in being obedient to God’s call.

She was seated next to a businessman on an airplane, and the two got to talking.  Soon, Lysa was sharing her faith in Christ with the man, and she pulled out her Bible to share some verses with him.  It wasn’t long before she felt the Holy Spirit convicting her to give the gentleman her Bible.  At first, Lysa resisted the Spirit’s call; this Bible was well-worn, tear-stained, and had gone with her through most of her life.  She couldn’t bring herself to part from the precious book.

But finally, she reached over and placed the Bible in his hands.  The man thanked her, and the two went their separate ways after the plane landed.  Lysa wondered if she had made the right decision; there was no telling if her Bible would be treasured and valued as it had been or if it was in a trash can somewhere around the corner.  She had risked giving something so valuable away without knowing if her sacrifice would be worth it in the end.

For the past six months, the ladies and I have been discussing what it means to say “yes” to God no matter what the cost.  It seemed fitting that we would study this book on the heels of my 2011 commitment to serve.  In many ways, it mirrored my reading of Frances Chan’s book Crazy Love.  When faced with Christ’s incredible sacrifice, how can we not give His love away?  We should be jumping at the chance to reach out to others and bring His message to the world.

So what holds us back?  I can tell you right now, it stems from fear.  I long to serve Him through reaching out to others, but I find I’m worried about what will come of such opportunities.  It’s more than going outside of my comfort zone; it’s about safety.  Something my father said to me shortly after I started working toward my Masters degree will stick with me forever; he said that with ministry comes a great deal of risk.  Your deed or act of service will not always guarantee a return on your investment. 

I long to display His love to others and to lend a helping hand, but sometimes, I struggle to find the balance between being available to someone and then being too available.  A person has to look out for their own safety and well-being, and sometimes, the risk seems far too great.  This is when fear steps in, and I can’t bring myself to open myself up to the people who truly need me.  I feel inadequate, and sometimes I wonder what God must think of me.  At times when I walk away from an opportunity, I think about my lack of obedience to His call, and I realize that I’ve let Him down again.

Risk and obedience do not come with a how-to manual.  Both are messy and carry great uncertainty.  As I write this morning, I’m willing to admit that I am far from figuring it all out.  But it is my intent to seek out those opportunities where He has called me to serve and do my best to reach out to those in need to the best of my ability.  When the fear becomes too great, I will pray for His protection and a clear sense of His leading.  Obedience comes with risk, and I must be ready to step out in faith when He calls me out in service.   



Hope— it’s a word that I’ve come in contact with quite a bit lately.  I have a close friend who has dedicated her entire blog to the search for hope (http://sunflowersquest.blogspot.com).  Many of my friends and the people I encounter on a daily basis are also seeking this thing called hope— trying to define it and desiring to find it.

Just last week, my pastor posed an interesting question.  “If you could define Christianity in a word, what word would you use?”  Immediately, I had my answer; “hope,” I said.  Another young lady present that evening agreed with me.  We wondered how people who do not have a relationship with Christ can go through their lives separated from Him.  To us, His love, hope, and peace are so real to us that we can’t imagine going through life without Him.

That’s when the pastor took the question a bit further.  “Is this hope a coping mechanism— something you use to get through life, knowing He’s there, or is it a foundation— sustainable and a guiding principle?”  I replied that my faith and hope in Christ mean everything to me; I couldn’t imagine my life without Him walking beside me.  Hope is not my coping mechanism; it’s the confidence I have in facing the future, knowing He’s in control and that He will provide for my needs. 

I think of those who are struggling to find hope for tomorrow, lost in a sea of despair and emptiness.  I can plant the seed of hope— a life in Christ— within them, but I don’t have any control over whether or not they will accept this free gift of grace and hope.  I can lead them to the truth, but then the choice is there’s alone.  But if I can at least plant a small mustard seed of faith and hope, I consider it monumental on so many levels. 

It makes me think of a song I wrote this past summer called “I Believe.”  I have yet to record it professionally, but when given the chance to perform it, I am gripped with the statement of faith contained in its lines.  If you want to know how I would put my faith in Christ into words, this might be a good place to start.  Here is the chorus from “I Believe” as I close:

    It’s a hope; it’s a peace.

It’s a joy that overwhelms me

And love that will not cease.

He sustains all I need.

It’s a faith that moves mountains

With the smallest mustard seed.

So I believe.  I believe.


My Joy

I love Sunday evenings— time to relax after a busy week of music and work with the church.  It’s a time when I often find myself sitting behind the piano, sometimes creating new songs, but most often singing and playing through some praise and worship tunes.  This past Sunday evening was no exception. 

That morning, I had been a part of leading worship at FRC, and in addition to worshipping with Crossroads, we also welcomed the talents of Anna and Julia Johnson.  These two sisters grew up in our area, but they have spent the past two years inNashvillepursuing a musical career.  It was truly an honor to hear their music that morning and even have the chance to sing along. 

I guess I was feeling inspired by the abundance of good music, and that evening, I just couldn’t help but play a few songs; the tunes I chose flowed straight from my heart— songs like “How Great the Father’s Love for us,” “At the Foot of the Cross,” “Waiting here for You,” and finally “You are my King (Amazing Love).”  All the songs stemmed from a focus on Lent, and I have been practicing many of these as the season of Lent continues. 

But I soon found out that this was more than a practice session, for suddenly, a lyric struck me and I couldn’t get through the song without choking up.  I was singing “You are my King,” and I found I couldn’t seem to comprehend the immense weight of the lyric: “Amazing love, how can it be, that You, my King would die for me?”

It’s a question I’ve been pondering recently but through a different lens.  I love the observance of Lent when Christians can gather together and reflect on the sacrifice of our Savior.  The truth is that He died for each one of us, despite the sin, grief, and guilt that exists in each one of us.  That’s why His sacrifice is so remarkable.  As the verse of “You are my King” puts it: “I’m forgiven because You were forsaken.  I’m accepted; You were condemned.”  The contrast in those lines is what brought me to the realization that I am nothing without Him and His sacrifice.  He gave it all for me and never once looked back despite the immense weight of sin and death that He carried on His shoulders.    

In my posts, I’ve often referred to Jesus as my best friend, and that fact hasn’t changed.  But what brought me to tears that day is that He’s not just my best friend; He’s the king of everything in this world and beyond, and He is my King.  To recognize that your best friend is THE KING, well… there are hardly words!  How can I not help but want to worship and serve Him in return!

This is why I do what I do.  This is why I get up early on a Sunday morning to power up a keyboard and sound check at the microphone.  This is why I have participated in groups like Crossroads and built OneVoice from the group up.  This is why I compose songs, write books, mentor teenagers, and minister to friends in the disability community.  It’s all for Him, my best friend, THE KING.  As “You are my King” concludes; “Amazing love, I know it’s true, and it’s my joy to honor You… In all I do, I honor You.”     


An open letter to my church family;

Words cannot express how simply grateful I am to each and every one of you who call First Reformed Church your home!  I have felt your love, prayers, and support at every turn, and I consider it an incredible blessing to be serving as Music and Worship director for our congregation. 

I have so many fond memories of my growing-up years at FRC, and to be able to stay and participate in ministry within the same congregation is beyond amazing!  Now that I have come through grad school and moved into this new phase of my life, I recognize that I couldn’t have reached this level of accomplishment without all of you. 

There are several people that I would like to thank specifically for the unique way in which they shaped my life, particularly in the past three years; these people are simply indispensable to me! 

First, there is Pastor Tim who has mentored and shepherded me through my humble beginnings as a praise and worship leader; I don’t know how you have convinced me to preach not just once, but twice, but your encouragement has meant so much to me.

Colleen, you have been the most incredible sound tech a girl could ever ask for.  I still think of the little dress rehearsal we had before my big concert last April.  You have always been a source of calm and peace on Sunday mornings when I’m flying from one corner of the church to another, freaking out about something that needs to get done.  Thanks for helping me keep things in perspective.

To Amanda, Cindy, and Kim: thanks for spending Wednesday mornings digging deep and studying the Word with me!  I appreciate and value your accountability, love, and friendship more than I can express!

To Patty, Beth, Claire, and Amy: thanks for making OneVoice a reality!  I love singing with all of you, and God has certainly hand-picked an incredible mix of voices to blend together as one!  God has placed us all together to worship Him in this time and place, and we are His instruments!

To the organists, members of Crossroads, and other musicians: thank you for using your gifts and talents to give Him the glory.  It has been an honor to lead music beside you in the past few years!

And to Dori: the closest thing to a mother that the church could provide.  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement when times were tough.  I treasure our random trips to furniture stores, the A&W, and cold afternoons ringing bells outside of the SuperValu.  Thank you for being such an avid supporter of my music and the calling God has placed on my life. 

And to the body of First Reformed Church at large: thank you again from the bottom of my heart!  I am indebted to each one of you for helping to shape me into the person I am today!  God has used you to bring me closer to Him, and it is my ultimate goal to bring you into worship through song as a way of giving back to you for the many ways you have spoken over my life.

Thank you for your indispensable role and the many ways you have brought me joy!

With much love,