Thin Spaces

Garden-SmallThrough my life thus far, I have encountered numerous thin spaces. You know the kind. Those physical places where God just seems so much tangibly closer.

Ten years ago, Aaron and I lived in the glorious Rocky Mountains of Colorado. And oh how those mountains are a thin space for me. Maybe it’s the thin air, but I can hear God so much more clearly when I’m in the mountains surrounded by his creation. There was one park in particular in Colorado Springs where Aaron and I would go to spend the afternoon thinking, reading, and praying laying on a blanket staring up at the towering Rockies. God called us to start Camp Machaceh during our time living in the mountains and many a conversation about camp happened in that very park. Thin spaces.

Another thin space for me came a few years later. Aaron and I were on a trip with other students from Truett Seminary in Greece. We were following in Paul’s footsteps across the country, and one of our first stops was in Philippi. There walking among the ruins of this ancient city through the very agora where Paul was arrested, I experienced God’s presence so tangibly. It was as if his spirit lingered in this ancient place, and I could almost breathe his spirit deeply into my lungs. A thin space.

And now here I sit in yet another thin space. By the bedside of my mother in law as she transitions from life here on earth to life eternal with Jesus our Savior. And this is perhaps the thinnest of spaces. This space where heaven breaks into our world, our reality and takes a saint home.

God is here. He is very tangibly present with us. He is with Nancy with each breath she takes. He is with each person who squeezes her hand and says “I love you.” He is with each family member and friend as we grieve and say goodbye. He is with us as we read Scripture together and pray. I especially noticed his presence as we sang hymns around her bed tonight. God is with us. His spirit is tangible here. The air oozes with his presence. A very thin space.

One of the names for Jesus is Emmanuel or God with Us. And I can say that I have truly experienced Jesus as God with us over the last few weeks. He is a God who steps into our trials and our sufferings. He doesn’t just watch it from afar and say “There, there. You’ll be ok.” No. Instead he wades right in and sits with us and walks with us through the dark valleys. And tonight as Aaron and I sit and wait with Nancy for her final transition, we know that God is truly with us in this thinnest of spaces and holiest of moments.

 “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty- the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.” -Revelation 4:8


Hope-CardsmallFor the last few months, God has been inundating me with hope. It’s Aaron’s fault. Late last spring, he informed me that God had laid a vision on his heart for our fall teaching emphasis at church- Hope. And over the course of the summer, that direction was confirmed over and over again, through conversations with students and adults alike. So we plowed forward, reading widely on the topic of hope, preparing to launch our fall teaching series. At the end of August we started Monsters, Zombies, and Things that Go Bump on Wednesday nights. Little did we know we were going to be living this out this fall.

Over the last four years, my mother in law, Nancy, has been battling ovarian cancer. At the end of September she had her fourth surgery to remove a tumor and give her the best chance to prolong her life for another year or two. Two more surgeries, sepsis, weeks in the ICU, and countless procedures later, and we now sit in her room at a hospice facility.

Earlier this week Nancy received a package that contained cards made by children in a relative’s Sunday School class. Most of the cards had carefully written words copied from the board in the classroom. But one little girl named Savannah simply wrote the word Hope and signed her name.

Hope. We toss this word around quite glibly. “I hope I get a pony for Christmas.” “I hope that boy asks me to the dance.” “I hope my mom makes meatloaf and macaroni and cheese for dinner.” We use the word freely and frivolously lowering the true meaning of hope to the same level as wish or desire. But true hope, Christian hope is nothing like making a wish or desiring a specific outcome.

As Christ followers, our hope is rooted in our salvation. Paul reminds the Corinthian church of this in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. Because of what Jesus did on the cross and through his resurrection, because of his work of restoration, reconciliation, and redemption, we have the hope of an eternity with him. As Paul says, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54-57).

But hope isn’t just for one day at the end of life here on earth. We can also experience the hope Jesus brought through his advent here, right now. Mark Oestreicher defined hope this way: “the faithful confidence that God continues to author a story that moves us from vision to action” (Hopecasting*).

 Hope is the confidence that God is continuing to author a story.

Regardless of circumstance, God is still at work, making beauty out of our messes, leading us and guiding us through the storm, walking us through life’s dark valleys, and celebrating with us in life’s joys. God is at work everywhere.

And we have definitely been experiencing this as a family walking through this dark valley. On the day we rushed back to Fort Worth for Nancy’s emergency surgery, we got a call from our adoption agency telling us we did in fact qualify for their China program after months of no progress. HOPE. We also found out the timeline for bringing a child home could be shorter than we originally thought. HOPE. We have seen God working in the hearts and lives of students calling them “further up and further in” to his love, and we have seen them respond to his call. HOPE.

The faithful confidence that God continues to author a story that moves us from vision to action. Hope for now. Hope for later. So yes, Savannah, hope is a perfectly fitting word for this time.


*For further reading about hope, check out Mark Oestreicher’s book, Hopecasting, a well articulated, interesting, and accessible book on hope and how we experience it as Christians.

Tangible God Sightings


A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on presence. You can read it here. (For those of you reading from our Scriptures 1 class, it was a post I did not tag for class.)  In that post, I share my thoughts on the presence of Jesus with us specifically when we pray. Perhaps this is why the presence of God at the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8 stood out to me.


In 1 Kings 8, Solomon has finally completed the temple, and the time has come to dedicate it. The author tells us as the ark was brought to the temple Solomon and the people were “sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered” (1Kings 8:5 NRS). What a joyous day in the life of Israel. They had finally constructed a permanent dwelling place for God. After the ark was installed in “the most holy place,” the inner sanctuary of the temple, “a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD” (1 Kings 8:10-11). What an amazing theophany of God’s presence among God’s people!


Sometimes I wish God would show up in such a  visible way. Often, our experience of God’s presence while tangible, is nearly indescribable. However, I wonder, if God did show up in a visibly tangible way, would we recognize Him? Or would our western, scientific brains have some explanation for the theophany? Is our view of God big enough to allow for such unexplainable events?


A quick story. One summer during camp, rain was threatening our last night of worship which was to take place in an amphitheater overlooking a lake. Rain was imminent according to the radar and the clouds. Swimming and other outdoor activities had been rained out several times through the week. So I prayed for God to hold the rain until after our service which on the last night of camp could be quite lengthy. We started our service with the distant rumble of thunder, but as we watched the clouds (and the radar) the rain split and went right around us. It was raining nearby, but not at the camp. We were able to finish our worship service, time of response and prayer, and eat s’mores around the bonfire. The rain came right as our campers headed back to their cabins. One of the workers at the camp facility tried to tell me the lake had some impact on preventing the rain, but I choose to believe God acted on our behalf protecting our time of worship and displaying his glory for all to see.

The Power of Presence

I am taking a spiritual formation class this semester, and one thing we have been talking about recently is truly being present with people. Present in the mundane, present in the messiness, present in the highs, present in the lows. Presence is the idea of completely setting myself, my agenda, my problems, my joys aside, and truly listening to the other person. Presence is allowing someone to fully express the depths of their emotion without interjecting my advice or my stories.


Our professor begins our class every Tuesday and Thursday with a spiritual practice. Tuesday we began with an imagination prayer exercise in which we imagined ourselves sitting and talking with Jesus about things which we had recently been on our hearts. As I sat there next to Jesus, I poured my heart out to him. Words came tumbling out of my mouth as they often do when I’m at my most vulnerable place. The interesting thing to me was not what I said, however, but what Jesus did in response. Rather than tell me some grand advice or comforting word, Jesus just held me. Jesus, God Incarnate, the Savior of the world, simply hugged me.

At first this was frustrating to me. Why didn’t Jesus tell me something? But as I’ve had time to think and process this experience, I began to realize Jesus did the only appropriate thing. He was present with me. He listened to me. He gave me space to express my deepest heartaches and frustrations and He sat with me in that place. I wonder how often Jesus desires to be present with me, but I fill our time together with a bunch of words. Not that words are bad, they are a necessary part of our lives and play an appropriate role in prayer. But sometimes I think Jesus desires to sit with us and offer the comfort of His touch but we miss it because we are so busy talking at Him.

I’ve often wondered how some people spend hours in prayer. “I would run out of things to say,” I’ve often thought. But perhaps that’s the point. These people are not spending hours talking but simply being and allowing Jesus to be with them. We expect answers when we pray. What if the answer is Jesus’ presence?

The last 24 hours have been a roller coaster of emotions. We have been to the deepest, darkest valley and back again. Through it all, I have been overwhelmed by God’s presence and the peace He brings. Sometimes presence is more powerful than words or answers. With presence comes peace.

Aunt Steph

As of 3:09am eastern time on Sunday, October 16, I am an aunt. Nolan Andrew Beazley was born yesterday to Aaron’s brother Luke and his wife Brittany, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!  Aunt Stephanie. That still sounds weird to me! It’s also quite a mouthful. Maybe Aunt Steph is better. Either way, we are super excited and ready to meet the little guy. The only problem? He lives in North Carolina. Boo. I really hope we don’t have to wait until Christmas! Congratulations Luke & Brittany!


What a difference a year makes…

This time last year my life was turned upside down. We had just moved to Waco and were anxiously awaiting the first day of seminary. We had no job and had no idea what to expect. Then school started. It took an entire semester for me to get used to being in school again, and we still didn’t have jobs. In fact, we went through the whole year with nothing more than part-time-not-coming-close-to-paying-the-bills-jobs. This was NOT part of our plan for seminary. Aaron was supposed to find a job as a youth minister, and I was supposed to find a campus job. But instead, I had no job, and Aaron tutored athletes and took care of horses for the Baylor Equestrian team. Eventually, we gave up on finding a church job and decided we would just push through and try to finish seminary as quickly as possible so we could focus on Camp Machaceh again and move back to our family and friends in Dallas.

Fast forward to July. Aaron and I had the privilege of going to Sonlight Camp in Pagosa Springs, CO this year. Aaron was the speaker at a week of camp for middle schoolers. We had a blast! We saw God move in amazing ways, and He reminded us how much we love hanging out with teenagers. The desire to work with youth more than just in the summer was set ablaze again. But we had little time to think about it because we had one week to put the finishing touches on Camp Machaceh and head to camp. The week was absolutely insane! But between all the planning and pakcing, Aaron took the time to apply for 3 youth ministry positions in the Waco area. We heard back from all 3 the next day. Two days before we left for camp, we had an interview with one church. With everything that was going on, we barely had time to think about it!

A few days later while we were at camp, they called Aaron  to set up another interview for the following Sunday. We went back for that interview, and by the next afternoon, we had received an email informing Aaron that they wanted him to be their youth minister! In case you are keeping track, that was only 11 days after the initial interview!

Two Sundays ago Bosqueville Baptist Church voted  to hire Aaron as their youth minister. God is so faithful. He heard our cries. He knew the desire of our hearts to work with youth on a day to day basis. And He has blessed us immensely! We are so looking forward to working with the youth at BBC! God has brought us full circle, and the best part is that it was completely on His time table. Next time, I will try to be more patient! :o)

Enjoy these pics of our new church home! More to come…




Waco hates my car.

Have I ever told you how Waco hates my car? When Aaron and I moved to Waco last August to go to seminary, I figured that we would have a difficult transition. I mean we left friends, family, a wonderful church, and a fun job all to go back to school after being out for nearly five years. Little did I know our transition would be easy when compared to that of my car.

It all started on moving day. As we neared our new home, I was overwhelmed by the smell of burning rubber. We had just driven through a construction zone, so I attributed the lingering smell to that. However, when I went to unload my car about an hour or so after arrival, it was filled with a putrid smoke. Ironically, my car was loaded down with all the items deemed either too valuable or too flammable to ride in the back of our big yellow truck. We started pulling things out of the car at breakneck speed and determined that our pillows were smoldering. Apperently, our pillows had shifted during the two hour drive, bumped the light on the grab bar, and turned it on. Side note: Those lights are the only thing I don’t like about my car. They get bumped on all the time, and they’ve even drained the battery on one occasion. However, this time the light got so hot that it melted the black trash bag our pillows were in and caught our pillows on fire. The header in my car was scorched, the light and grab bar were melted, two of our pillows were barely more than ashes, and everything (I mean everything) in the car was inundated with the putrid smoke. We had stuff sitting on our back porch airing out for days. Thank goodness for good insurance! My car was fixed and returned as good as new a few weeks later. But I couldn’t help but think, “Does Waco hate my car?”




The same week we got my car back we were getting on the highway when a rather large bolt came raining down from the sky. We were on the entrance ramp and could do nothing to avoid it. BAM! Just like that we had a divet the size of a 50-cent piece in the windshield. Are you kidding me?! Waco must really hate my car…

After these two incidents, we managed to make it through the rest of our first semester without incident. But as we reached the halfway point in semester two, I started to get cocky. Waco didn’t really hate my car. That was just a figment of my imagination. I spoke too soon. After making a horrible noise for a couple days, the air conditioner went out. We got it fixed only to have it break again a month later. Two different parts broke at two seperate times. Grr. Waco hates my car.

Fast forward to Memorial Day. We had people coming over and Aaron was supposed to be home already. My phone chirped- text message from Aaron. “Hey it’s going to be a bit. I got rear ended. I am fine. Just waiting for the police.” What?! Waco, you’ve gone too far this time. Pillow fire=freak accident. Bolt hitting windshield=wrong place, wrong time. Air conditioner breaking=the car is 6 years old and has upwards of 90,000 miles on it; it was only a matter of time. But rear ending my car and my husband? That is just too much. This is all out war! Waco, please stop attacking my car. I don’t think I can take it anymore.


Thus, I must conclude that Waco hates my car.

What’s in a name?

Names and name meanings are very important to me. Sometimes I spend my free time researching the meaning of various names. Thus, it should be no surprise that I often think about what to name our children one day. I even have a list on my computer with names that I like and their meanings. I really am a nerd. (Family, don’t get any ideas. I am currently going to school! We are not planning on kids in the near future.) Anyways, this brings me to my point/rant. Why do people give dogs people names? Growing up we had two dogs, Sunset & Midnight. I have never met a person named Sunset or Midnight. Why does this bother me, you ask? I have reached an age where most of my friends are married and having kids. And that has me thinking, “How would I feel if someone close to me decided to give their pet a name I really wanted to use as a name for a child? Would I still want to give my child that name?” Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I could give my child that name knowing a pet he or she would encounter regularly had the same name. Now I know most of the world doesn’t agree with me, and I’m ok with that. I promise not to judge you if you give your dog (or cat) a people name (because I admit it, some of them are really cute). All I’m asking for is a little sensitivity for those of us to do care. 🙂


Cute Sunset. I miss him. 🙁


So apparently, unbeknownst (yes I just used the word unbeknownst) to myself and my face, I decided that this is the year I am going to give myself a black eye. It’s only April, and already I’ve made two attempts.

Attempt #1

Back in February, I was sitting on the couch watching the Olympics when my phone rang. It was across the room. So naturally, I hopped up and ran towards it. But the little rubber grabbers on the bottom of my socks were defective. Before I knew it, my feet flew out from under me, and I fell face first into our concrete floor, catching myself with my cheekbone. Aaron thought I had knocked myself out, but turns out I am pretty hard-headed. So despite my best efforts to give myself a black eye, I escaped without even a bruise. (I’m still trying to figure that one out.)

Attempt #2

Yesterday morning. I was heading into our bathroom to get ready for church, when I spotted Aaron’s dirty socks on the floor. (The man leaves a sock trail all over the house. I’ve begged and pleaded to no avail. The socks and Aaron are winning.) So needless to say, I was annoyed that his socks were on the floor, but instead of getting mad and nagging him to pick them up, I decided to just do it myself. I bent down, picked them up, and then  attempted to go into our bathroom. But I forgot to tell my nose. The rest of my body managed to make it into the bathroom, but my nose tried to stay in the bedroom. All Aaron heard was a loud bang followed by screaming. I hit the side of my nose on the door frame. No blood, but an instant bruise. My nose is a bit tender this morning, but besides a red bump on the side of it, I once again appear to have escaped a black eye.

I guess I will have to try harder next time. 🙂


A couple of weeks ago while we were reading Luke in one of our classes, we discussed the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane on the evening of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. You know the one I’m talking about. Jesus and His disciples go to the garden after the Last Supper, and Jesus asks the disciples to pray. He kneels down a short distance from them and prays, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Yet when he returned to the disciples, they were sound asleep. Jesus would be crucified hours later, but the disciples were asleep!

This is not the only time the disciples fell asleep at an important time in Luke’s Gospel. A few chapters earlier, Peter, James, and John nearly missed Jesus’ transfiguration because they were “very sleepy” (Luke 9:32).

I would like to think that if I had been there with Jesus I would have stayed awake and prayed. But the reality is that I would have been the first one with z’s floating above my head.

I have an ongoing battle with sleep. I can get a full 7 hours of sleep and then sit down to read my Bible in the morning, and I can barely hold my eyes open. Yet if I check email, study for class, or watch the news in the morning I have no problems staying awake. It’s a maddening cycle. I long to spend time with God early in the morning before I do anything else, but I am lucky if I can get through reading one chapter in my Bible before my head starts nodding, much less spend much time praying.

Thus, I am no better than the disciples. Despite my best efforts, I fall asleep. I can picture Peter in the garden that night, “Must pray. Must…stay……..awa……….” I can just picture his face when he realized that once again Jesus caught him asleep. But that’s the beautiful thing about Jesus. No matter how many times we fall asleep, He patiently wakes us up and allows us to start anew.

So my battle with sleep continues. I am confident that one day I will overcome this obstacle, but until then, I will take solace in the fact that the disciples fell asleep with Jesus standing right there in front of them.

Peace & Grace,