and every breath is a hallelujah.

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I like to understand things. I want to understand why these things happen, to know the reason, have some kind of explanation, and put it in its Sunday best, smooth out the wrinkles and straighten the starched collar, and fit it inside a box, make sense of it all.

But I suppose there are some things that go well beyond my meager comprehension.

Honestly, it’s so much easier to hear about shootings in other states, in the papers, on facebook, or on the news. It’s distant. It’s very saddening for sure, but it’s not here, it’s not personal. I’m safe here. We’re safe here.

The only thing I can compare it to is like being inside your house, where you’re comfortable and warm, and staring out the window at the lightening storm outside. It’s happening for sure, but we’re inside, we’re safe. We have nothing to worry about. And then, suddenly, all of that is ripped away — and now you’re standing outside, in the storm, now exposed to the wind and the rain, afraid, with nowhere to hide, nowhere to be safe. And at times you cry out to God and all you can hear is your voice echoing in these empty walls?

This is my hometown. I knew some of the students, some of those who were in the rooms next door, the buildings nearby. The familiarity, peace, and security of my small community has been breached.

I just hardly know what to think anymore.

It’s easy enough to stifle the questions threatening to slip from the corners of my eyes and roll down my cheeks, but the pain … the pain is something that demands to be felt. I may not have been directly impacted, but my body is numb and my mind feels everything. It’s like I’m walking in a trance, like I’m just moving my arms and legs here and there, completing every-day tasks that need to be done, but I’m not here. I’m not sure exactly where I am — caught somewhere in-between reality and emotion.

I know I am just rambling, but I hardly know how to put it in words. My thoughts are as unstructured and messy as my writing. I suppose there really are no words for this.

It’s important that we remember that we are all part of the Story. We are in that Story, and everything, big or small, finds its meaning and significance in the grand scheme of things. The basic story line is this: God created the world, man sinned, God redeemed man through Jesus Christ, and there will be a final consummation when God judges, conquers, and restores all things. You see, as humans, we can’t see the forest for the trees. We are living within the moment, and our knowledge is limited by our perspective, but God sees (and is in control of) the bigger picture. He knows what will happen because He is in control of what will happen.

I have heard people say that Christianity is just some crutch we use, an illusion, a fictitious hope that there is a reason for everything — a fairy tale for grown-ups. Why would God, so Omnipotent and perfectly Good, allow all this to happen anyway? Why did He create Evil if He hates it so much? Where is justice or mercy in that? Because – after all – if He could have stopped it, He would, right?

This did not take God by surprise, nor was He wringing His hands or pulling at His collar trying to come up with Plan B. We know that God is not the author of evil (James 1:13).  But if He is indeed in charge of everything, why does He allow the wicked to flourish (Ps. 92:5-7)? This shouldn’t discourage us, it should give us hope (Rom. 8:19-25). We can take comfort — evildoers will not last forever (Prov. 16:4; Ps. 37:1-2 7, 9-10, 12-15, 28; Job 14:2), and there is nothing God does not rule over (Dan. 4:35). The wicked — though they will to do wrong or harm — are merely instruments that God uses to demonstrate the fullness of His glory (Ps. 76:10, Rom. 9:22-23, Is. 10).

“Are you a Christian?” — are words echoing in my mind, in a steady rhythm, like a pendulum, sometimes loud, sometimes soft. I cannot tell you how much it floors me, the bravery these fellow believers had to stand up and say, “Yes”. In the heat of the moment, when adrenaline is pounding in your veins, and you are shaking, staring into the end of a gun’s barrel and the hateful eyes of a calloused heart, would your first response be to stand in the name of Christ?

Although we see this as a tragedy (which it certainly is), really, and truly, what more honorable way to die, than for our Lord and Savior? For the One who poured out His life for us? To live out the words: “to live is Christ; to die is gain”? Everything we suffer here on earth will not even be able to compare to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). They are now Home, celebrating and being rewarded for their bravery and their devotion to Christ.

So despite my fears and waves of emotion, I know the One who is in control of it all. I look to the heavens and remember, gratefully, even in rain, there is Someone greater than ourselves, Someone beyond the unfathomable.

“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You yourself are the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”

— C.S. Lewis

Be still, my heart. Selah.

living in a world with wickams & willoughbys: watch the signs


Men can be deceiving. They can say all the right lines, and a girl is swept off her feet. He is good at his games, and knows how to act and how to treat you in order to gain your affections.

Now, NOT all men are like this. But, unfortunately, we live in an age where this seems to be happening more and more frequently. Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Girl is flattered. Boy pursues, wins, and uses Girl (physically or emotionally). Then leaves.

Now, I’m no psychologist, but the occasions I’ve witnessed, I could see what was happening. But that’s because my dad has taught me what signs to watch out for, and has warned me time and time again of the dangers lurking, even in our Christian circles. There are so many young men out there who are just … SO convincing, and seem very trustworthy and noble, and equally too many young women ready to trust and fall in love at the drop of a hat with any guy who shows her attention.

Another thing: I think God has gifted us women with intuition. If we tap into that, we can usually make good judgements about people. For example, if there’s someone that you just have a BAD feeling about, even though you have little “proof” for it, chances are … you might be right.

Here are the signs to watch out for.

#1  The “Christian” Guy

There are a multitude of young men who will play church long enough to win the girl — and have no real foundation or authentic devotion for the Word of God. He may be able to quote John 3:16, but is made of rocky and thorny ground and will only “believe” while it is convenient. He’s probably even a nice guy. To him, Jesus is just the Nice Guy Upstairs who is not judgmental of anyone, and is even worth wearing a cool “Jesus Freak” shirt for.

Also, just because he can play with kids does not mean he will make a good dad. And just because he wears a purity ring does not guarantee he will be a good, faithful husband. Character goes beyond good deeds. A guy who simply professes Christ is not the same as one who lives out Christ.

#2  Mr. Wandering-Eye

Sometimes you can just tell what kind of man a guy is just by watching him. Now don’t stalk him, or stare at him, but just kind of … *notice* how Mr. Guy treats women in general. And, yes, men — even good, solid, Christian men — struggle with lust. However, I’m talking about those guys who “discreetly” look women up-and-down, and very frequently, and pretty much gawk at any woman that passes by. The ones who don’t look at your face when you’re talking to them. (You know the kind of guys I’m talking about.)

They’re pretty easy to spot. Stay away from them. No — stay clear away from them, like, as far as the east is from the west. They’re bad apples.

#3  Sir Flirt

Now I must be careful how I word this, so I don’t step on anyone’s toes. There are a lot of young men  I see who display a lot of unnecessary or inappropriate physical contact with young women. Not just the occasional side-hug, but constant, every-day touching, playing with hair, flirtatious contact, or full-on-pushing-the-limits-frontal hugs. To me, I can’t help but interpret this as the young man (possibly) having less-than-honorable intentions. This may not always be the case, but there are some impostors out to push the boundaries as far as they can get away with. Titus 2 says that young men should treat young women “with all purity, as sisters”.

(That isn’t to say that hugs with the opposite gender are inherently wrong, but they can be abused, and I am just recommending caution. I know a lot of wonderful, affectionate people who clearly have no intentions of harm, and that’s fine. In fact, I often receive hugs from people I know have no ill motives, and they are sincere and gentlemanly, but it just takes discernment and discretion as situation calls for.)

And consider these questions: Is his “secret life” no secret? Does his life really demonstrate the kind of Christ-like behavior that can only be gained from a strong relationship with the Lord? Does he come across as a guy who is desperate to find a girl? Does he notice and take care of the least? Or is he always gravitating to where all the cute girls are? Does he give of himself to others, for the glory of God, and not for reputation or admiration?

Remember — no man is perfect! We are all in desperate need of the grace of God (Rom. 3:23). This shouldn’t be a way that we hold men to impossible or idealistic expectations. But his fruit should show out of not only an outward display of his faith, but also a private one.

Young women, be not deceived.

(** Just to clarify, I have never had a romantic encounter (?) with an impostor. But I have personally seen this happen to people I know, and have heard countless stories of young women having to go through this. It makes me so sad to see and hear about these things happening, and so I was inspired to write a post about it.)

(Sequel-Post Coming!)