he is risen. he is risen, indeed.

Easter is my very, very favorite holiday. For lots of reasons - a big one being, that when Easter comes, the weather is getting warmer! In Chicago today, it’s about 50 degrees. So it’s not quite summer, but I enjoy pretending that it is. :)

I have let stress take over so much of my mind and my body. And there are always plenty of things to be worried about. But this Easter season, I’m more aware of how much I do NOT have to worry about… Like my salvation. That’s done, and paid for. I have an eternity of REJOICING ahead of me. Why worry, right?

God is with me, always. Jesus always lives to intercede for me. Always. That isn’t a word used very often today, is it? So much is changing and unstable. Our health, relationships, the weather, finances, etc… 

But one thing is for sure, and that one thing cost Jesus His life. The most painful experience, far more painful than anything we have ever been through.

But now He’s alive. ALWAYS alive. Forever alive.

And when I think about that….I realize that where I’ll be living this summer isn’t the biggest thing. Where I go to school next semester isn’t the biggest thing. My future degree and career aren’t the biggest things, either. They pale in comparison to eternity.

You know that feeling you get when you wake up one morning and something really, really special is happening? A wedding, a holiday, a vacation?

We have a hope that is way better, more exciting, and MUCH more permanent than those things. “Rejoice always!”, Paul tells the Philippians. 

Rejoice always. And let that joy bubble over. Tell other people…just like you would about a vacation. Share the love, the joy. That Jesus is alive and we have forever hope and forever celebration because of Him! :)

why goodbye?

Why do we make all these great connections, just to have to have them broken?

What is the point, of meeting people and growing close with them, if only to have to say goodbye later?

Why goodbye?

Why, did God lead me here, just to lead me away?

Why, did God give me so many wonderful friends here, just to move me somewhere else?

Maybe it was to teach trust.

Maybe it was to remind me what a Christian is supposed to be, what a Christian can be. To not become disillusioned so quickly by the definition of “godliness” in medical training.

Maybe to teach me to laugh about being underage. “the youngling.”

Maybe to teach me how awesome living in a city is. 

Maybe to figure out what those words mean… you know, the words you don’t learn being sheltered. Like turd. 

Maybe to learn how to prioritize exercise, and balance college life with mono. 

{Because, once you’ve had mono, anything is possible, right?}

Maybe to be even less afraid of the ghetto.

Or maybe to begin to live more fully the adult life that I’ve been trained for my whole life. 

But still, the pain in my heart, the fear of the coming goodbye, maybes me wince and cry and feel so sad inside.

Why goodbye?

it’s funny…until you’ve done it.

There is so much growth that I need to go through in the humor department. {That, friends, is a massive understatement.} My roommate calls me, very rightly so, “Michelletered” {as in Michelle+sheltered}…I am so thankful to be closer to the world and learning a great deal more about what jokes sound brutal but actually are funny, what never to say, etc…. Thank God for patient souls here!

{One quick note…..on the theology of sarcasm, my brain hasn’t yet worked past the fact that we get that word from the Greek meaning “flesh”. Fleshly, not of the Spirit…. So how can we use sarcasm to glorify God? I’m learning there are ways to do this, and it makes me so excited. But where’s the line between funny and very hurtful? Oh…Moody, you’ve taught me to think through the theology of EVERYTHING! Hallelujah.}

We can use silliness to be a huge blessing to others. We can use it to minister to people in incredible ways…I am in no way denying that. 

But what about the times, unbeknownst to us, where it goes wrong, very wrong?

I heard some friends joking once, about a murder plot. {You really have to know these people to understand that it was done in love…}. I tried very hard to embrace it and smile as they excitedly became more elaborate. 

But then they said it. 

It. 

The dreaded it that took the smile away from my face, the it that tore back a piece of my heart and made it bleed.  

They said it. 

"And then, we’ll leave a suicide note! And no one will EVER know!”

Had I been in a slightly angrier and more vulnerable mood, I would have verbalized something like this, which I am led to believe is better left in writing…

Dearest friend. This {I GUESS. I still don’t fully grasp how it was amusing} is all interesting and well, the whole idea of staging a murder as a suicide. You’re borrowing this plot from a countless number of directors in Hollywood, from numerous criminals in history. It has worked so well on the camera. It is clever, creative, suspense-building, mystical, etc., and left people so excited and entertained. For comedy’s sake, and for suspense/mystery’s sake, well done. 

However, as your sister in Christ, let me encourage you in love to think of this from another vantage point. Because, as the body of Christ, every word we say is to be encouraging, uplifting. 

Is joking about suicide funny, when you’ve been there? When you’ve held the bottle of pills in your hand and been so ready to swallow, drink the poison that will peacefully end your life and take away the person who your parents have verbally beaten, called an idiot, tried to control every move and every interaction?

Because you are so scared, terrified of living?

Is it funny, when through a blur of tears you’ve written that suicide note, hand shaking and crying and screaming and weeping and wishing, just wishing, your life was over?

Is it funny when you have LIVED this sickening moment in history and suddenly it is only a phone call by God’s divine intervention that saves your life?

And is it funny when the ones who claim to love you most start yelling at you for being so ridiculous, immature, how could you POSSIBLY think about ending your life?

Is it funny when every day after that is a hellish nightmare? When you’re taken to a swarm of shrinks who try to tell you, and who encourage you to seek help from the emergency room at times like that and then you’re forbidden from calling, from going, by the ones who took you to the shrinks to begin with?

Weeping, brother and sister, I plead with you. 

Don’t joke about death. Don’t joke about suicide

You’re preparing for ministry. Here, we all are. And you will, undoubtedly, work with people who have been through far more tragic circumstances than that. And I promise, if they did not have Christ and heard you joking about their struggle, they would be so turned off to the gospel. Their destiny, our destiny without Christ, is bleak. 

I know you meant to entertain yourselves. But I don’t believe for a second, despite all your convincing, that joking about suicide and murder is funny. I believe from Scripture that it is sinful, deadly. 

Is it worth wasting your breath to mock a fallen humanity who needs Jesus?

Moody Bible Commentary

Hey, friends!

I just wanted to share exciting news with y’all - the Moody Bible Commentary has been published! YES! :) It’s edited by two incredible Moody professors, and I would highly, highly recommend you check it out. I struggled with reading commentaries at first…okay, I still do….but I appreciate so deeply how they help enhance my understanding of God’s word as I read them alongside Scripture. 

Here’s the link: http://moodybiblecommentary.com/romans

Enjoy! :)

last semester of moody.

I am so, so thankful for my classes this semester. I’ll have a bit more work than last semester, but I know that’s just more incentive to be focused, and so much more to learn and grow from… Lots of encouragement and processing helped me realize that I needed practical ministry classes this semester, and fewer of the bible/theology classes. They destroyed me last semester. And the practical ones are going much better. :)

But as I was thinking today of how this is my final semester at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago as a student, and how quickly the last semester went by, I got kinda sad. And really discouraged.

Because I’ve been taught here, how important community is. And been given an incredible one to be a part of. 

And I’ve also been taught here, about how so many people wish they had my spot as a student. But God gave it to me. 

And so I’ve felt guilty, about being here and not loving it. 

Guilty, about being here and cringing when I hear someone tell me they are a theology major. Because, I think, it’s the stuck-up people who drown in theology and are lacking in love who hurt people - believers and non - and make me, make them, wonder at Christianity.

Thankful, that a professor told me that my personality doesn’t mesh well with the educational system in place in America. That affirming note that I am not meant to be a teacher, still to teach, but not in a classroom. 

But guilty.

Isn’t full-time ministry the highest calling? And weren’t Moodys supposed to be the spiritual giants of society, and shouldn’t being at Moody be every Christian’s aspiration?

Uh, no. Heck no. Thank God no. 

And in this body of Christ (σομα χριστου) theology majors, Bible majors, whatever-the-heck “apologetic philosophical theology” is supposed to mean majors, aren’t superior to a believer who feels God is calling them to full-time ministry in a hospital, sweeping floors and cleaning up urine-stained sheets and comforting a mama whose baby was birthed stillborn, blood-covered and gray. Lifeless. Not better than the respiratory therapist who cleans mucus off of a CF patient, than the occupational therapist who teaches someone to use the bathroom again, than the trauma surgeon who has to resort to CPR and prayers daily, when bodies are broken and hope is lost and medicine fails. 

No. 

I believe that God is calling me to be a medical professional. Perhaps a doctor of physical therapy, perhaps an ER doctor, perhaps an OB. He hasn’t shown me specifically yet, but He’s surely lighting the way.

I am not called to be a Bible major. But I am called to be a student of the Bible. 

I am not called to be a teacher. But I am to teach by example and by love the grace of God to a sick and dying world. 

I am not better than a Bible major. But I am not less. 

Brothers and sisters, as the body of Christ, I challenge you - and myself - to remember that each part of the body is critical. Vital. We desperately need each other. No part is better, no part is lesser. 

One goal. One purpose. One calling. 

And so many ways of loving the world. 

αποθνησκω…

The Greek above translates to “I am dying”. Don’t get ready to give me a lecture because I am really too morbid at this point, that I have really lost it…

…because, friends, we are all dying. Physically dying, and (hopefully) dying to self. 

Lately, I have been reminded of the physical aspect of dying more than anything else. My body is wasting away on me. Older people will laugh and say “You’re only seventeen…you’re not GETTING OLD!”

(Well, not technically. Sadly, seventeen is that unfortunate age at which you’re too old to go, as a new patient living away from home, to a children’s doctor, and too young to go to an adult general practice doctor. Leaving you absolutely no options except for urgent care, the ER, and some specialty doctors. Who knew…? Always an adventure.)

But anyways. Death. θανατος. Friends, if we are believers, our eternity is secure in the all-powerful hands of the Lord. In the meantime, though, our bodies are slowly (or more quickly, for some) wasting away…we are constantly having to surrender our wills to the Lord’s. Dying to self. 

Though I am still fighting desperately for the joy in being sick, I know that the physical brokenness is reminding me of my great need to be surrendering every part of myself to my Father. αποθνησκειν. And to find that in dying, I truly live. 

moody bible institute - thoughts pre-missions conference

Wow. It’s time for my first Moody Missions conference! I can’t believe it’s actually now, that we’re gearing up to talk about one of the hardest topics ever - human trafficking. The theme for this conference is “Into the Darkness”, and I already know it will be a rough, rough week for so many of us. Tonight is the opening ceremony, and with it the opening musical - one that discusses the life of a prostitute and how a missionary couple is able to reach out to her.

So my thoughts? I am nervous. It’s going to be beyond heart-breaking and saddening and crippling. It will make me mad at the pimps who treat people like objects to be sold around and played with…sickened by the horrors they subject people to.

But, I am finding so much strength in knowing that God is ever-passionate about these issues, even more so than myself. He loves the trafficked - and the traffickers - more than I will ever be able to.

We do not go into this conference alone, but rather with a God who overcomes and will see all of this to completion!

moody bible institute - now we’re city girls.

During my time at Moody, God has been teaching me SO, so much. There is a great deal to be learned simply in leaving home to explore the college life (which I love, by the way!), but adding to that the dynamics of living in Chicago and being a Moody Bible Institute student make life incredibly interesting. 

I can walk to the store to buy my groceries. And when I do, I always, always walk past homeless people. One tried to jump out and grab me. Praise God I was with brothers, and plus I didn’t act scared and that seemed to make the little incident not as fun on his part. But it’s a real part of living in Chicago that takes getting used to.

We live right near Cabrini Green, the housing projects that God has placed heavily on my heart. There are cops there, 24/7. Because this is a broken city filled with beautiful but broken people who need Jesus. Really, though, the people there are so precious. We get scared away from them because we hear about gangs and violence and murders and hear the constant sirens that pierce Chicago air. 

We also forget the people who are forced to live in that all the time. I never have been angrier than when one of my relatives made a comment in passing that urban ministry is a waste of time. (Ooooh, it STILL makes me mad to think about! But if you’re not totally sold on the desperate need for missionaries in the cement jungles of America, talk to me and I promise to share with you what God has taught me about ministry there…friends, it is so needed.) The children there probably would not have chosen to be born into the violence and the dysfunctional families that they are….but they are there, waiting for us to love them. The ladies who are mistreated and abused….the daddies who don’t know how to provide for their families….

And so, me and my friend’s trips to Cabrini every week to love our sisters are some of my very favorite parts of the week. It’s a tiny piece in ministry. But every piece matters.

Two Moody brothers and I are able to take CTA to our weekly ministry at a performing arts center. Love, love working with the Hispanic dramatics there! The crazyness of showtime has always been one of my favorite things, and naturally I love helping with their rehearsals and directing and finding costumes and makeup, etc. Even performing sometimes. :) 

It isn’t a normal night here unless we hear five sets of sirens from some emergency vehicle, somewhere. As normal as it is, though, I never want to let my heart get numb to that…never want to forget the stories of dear patients in the hospital that I’ve picked up from blogs and from working at a children’s hospital. 

We cross the roads when the orange hand is still on the sign. We cross them when there are two seconds left of walking time, because we’ve learned that we get an extra three seconds before the light turns green and we’re trampled. Praise God for that revelation….especially for emergency Starbucks runs! (Which, by the way, is also right down the street.)

So, between college, and living ALMOST in the inner city, just like I’ve dreamed of doing for so long….there are so, so many answered prayers! God is teaching me that I must make resting in His green pastures a priority, and that has been a tough lesson, but it’s a good one. 

God is good. 

"All the days of the (lit., afflicted) poor are (lit., bad) a constant struggle to make ends meet; but his cheerful (lit., heart) frame of mind (lit., has a continual feast) enables him to enjoy life continually" (Proverbs 15:15).

in the storm, You are peace.

You lifted me out, You lifted me out,

And set me dancing, dancing

Free, now I am free

Your love rescued me

Now it’s the anthem I’m singing

Freedom is an interesting thing. Because so much of my life, I don’t feel free. I feel kind of stuck. Stuck in someone’s decision, stuck with lots of work, stuck with stress and fear.

We’ll always be responsible to some authority for something, of course.

But what does it mean that, in Christ, we are free, truly free?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. {2 Corinthians 3:17}

There is freedom here, Lord? Where my future doesn’t make sense, where mono keeps me plenty exhausted, where fear is ever paralyzing?
Yes. Because, Lord, Your Spirit is here. And Your Spirit is freedom.
I am so blessed to have such great big sisters here at Moody, sisters who listen and who care so much. And that, that is the Lord’s freedom in a small way.
There are professors here who will spend hours with you and share wisdom with you, who love you and care for you and pray for you.
My roommate is always here to make me laugh and help me be optimistic when my feisty, drama-queen self gets overwhelmed and discouraged with a week that’s piling up with lots of unknowns and worries. Thank God for wonderful roommates.
Lord, revive this earth. Set your church on fire; set my heart on fire. Remind me that in Your presence is fullness of joy, and fill me to overflowing so I can love other people well. Unleash Your kingdom’s power.

moody bible institute, week one.

Wow.

I simply cannot believe that, after one of the worst summers of my life, I am sitting here in my dorm room on Houghton 5, looking over the plaza at Moody Bible Institute, with the best roommate in the word and with the beautiful sound of some of my 5 North girls worshipping in our “fox den” at the end of the hall. “God can use very unhappy situations to bring us to these places,” a dear professor told me.

And as I sit here, a migraine threatening, plenty of homework impending, I realize more than ever that this is truly a spacious place, the open, peace-filled oasis where God is already healing me from the hurt of this past year.

Not every moment has been sunshine. Already, I’ve been stretched out of my comfort zone - and while it wasn’t fun, I know deep down that I grew and learned from the experiences. And, while I have been here, I have met some of the sweetest people in the world. God is good!

Moody is a unique place - one where theology jokes are normal, where someone mentions “predestination” and everyone knows about all the insane amounts of time that theologians have spent arguing over what Scripture does not say regarding the topic, where exegesis of a passage is the goal of all the pastoral studies majors, and where all the girls on my floor - like, all of them - want to go into ministry. Where they love God, love His word, and love his people. It’s not perfect here, by any stretch of the imagination. But God’s goodness is woven so evidently here, I can’t even begin to describe…

…the sound of everyone standing to worship in Torrey-Gray, and it sounds like a thunderstorm. The sound of my Greek class singing the alphabet. Professors joking with their classes. Being able to spend time with my “daddy” professor on campus, in his office, being encouraged and admonished in the Lord. Entering my credentials so many times on my.moody that they are stuck in my head…FOREVER…and having teh same thing happen with the Greek song.

All of You, Jesus, is more than enough for all of me. And if He loves me so much to take me into a spacious place that, while being very busy, is a place of rest and healing, just to rescue me and whisper hope and life into me and remind me that I am His, and I am loved…

…does He not deserve my everything?

The theme on my floor this year is “Rooted”. Rooted, refreshed, and restored in His love. I am praying that for myself, and for my sisters on this floor…to rest in the forever-assurance of His love.

"Beautiful and free, the song of galaxies, it’s reaching far beyond the Milky Way…..let’s join in with the sound, come on, let’s sing it out, as the music of the universe plays…

You are holy, great and mighty, the moon and the stars declare who You are. I’m so unworthy, but still You love me, forever my heart will sing of how great You are!”

thankful for the precious gift of chronic pain

Fourteen months of back pain later, I am finally ready to say the one last thank-you that I’ve avoided saying for all this time.

God, THANK YOU for spondy!

Without spondy, I wouldn’t appreciate life without a back brace nearly as much.

Never would have gotten to visit the nuclear medicine department at Akron City Hospital.

There would never have been a trip to the Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Akron Children’s Hospital. The trip that, little did I know, would change my life completely.

I never would have gotten to use my very own personal TENS unit, never realized what a huge blessing electricity can be.

I would have gone aimlessly into college applications, ignoring the fact that God has clearly wired me to do something in the medical field….for without spondy, I would never have gone back to a physical therapy clinic, realizing again how much I loved therapy.

I would never have experienced the healing that can come from being able to laugh about pain, to learn that not being Mrs. Incredible is ok.

And how would I ever have learned of the miracle that is dynamic tape?!

Without spondy, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be studying musculoskeletal anatomy and neuroanatomy – in my leisure time. Or be prepared to study those things times one thousand in college.

Without spondy, would I even be able to begin to understand what it’s like for someone to lose the freedom and ability to do what they love? To be in pain all day, every day? To stretch and use ice and heat and massotherapy and aquatic therapy and STILL not experience relief? To try as many treatment options as you can, but then come to the end when the doctors say that there is no longer anything they can do for you, except for giving you a referral to pain management?

Would I have had the “honor” of nearly passing out after only two of the prescribed seven cortisone injections? And then having the same thing happen after four? (I felt bad for the anesthesiologist and nurse that day.)

Would I be able to see kids and adults who have had limbs amputated and be able to know how hard it must be, but also how much they need loved and encouraged?

Friends, without spondylolysis, I wouldn’t have truly begun to learn the lesson that limitations can be liberating. That God is faithful, even when the healing doesn’t come.

In “Hind’s Feet on High Places”, the Shepherd gives Much-Afraid two helpers to help her on her journey – Sorrow and Suffering. She flipped at first. But, as the journey continued, she learned to love and appreciate them.

Spondy 2.0, I love you. I don’t know where my life would be without you. And, even more, I am thankful for the Great Docter who gave you to me – as my special friend and companion, to remind me of His love and compassion.

If you never, ever leave, Spondy 2.0, that’s okay. I love you.

So honored to be considered an employee and get this great newsletter. :) #akronchildrens #hospital #medstudent #health #amazing

So honored to be considered an employee and get this great newsletter. :) #akronchildrens #hospital #medstudent #health #amazing

You know you’ve read a few too many theology books when……a non-formal journal entry spits this out for a paragraph starter. Hmm. #bible #theology #amused #alwaysformal #writing #journal #lol

You know you’ve read a few too many theology books when……a non-formal journal entry spits this out for a paragraph starter. Hmm. #bible #theology #amused #alwaysformal #writing #journal #lol