Sunday, November 30, 2008

Final Stretch....

And so begins the countdown to Christmas break, and all that that entails.

Thanksgiving was really good: Good time with family, good laughs, great food, and some time to rest and collect myself before entering into the homestretch of my year.

Top ten things I enjoyed about my time in St. Louis:
1) Catching up with my family, my cousin Angie especially. It's always good to have girl chat :)
2) All the amazing food we consumed. So stinking good. I only hope some of the Miller cooking talent gets passed down to me....Hopefully it will show itself sometime soon?
3) Watching some good old boys and girls breaking it down at Fast Eddies. They are either fearless or drunk, but man...those dance skills are a force to be reckoned with!
4) Watching my brother dance with my aunt. They both loved it.
5) Watching my Mom dance with some guy MY age, who asked her (During "Brown Eyed Girl") "Are your eyes blue? Smooth operator, that one.
6) The zoo. It's so good, and completely free! I loved seeing the seals and bears get fed and the little tiger cubs run and pounce! It makes me excited to get to Thailand and hold some frisky little "kittens."
7) Sleeping late and naps. So marvelous, and so infrequently done lately in my life!
8) Commiserating with my Dad over our unbelievably sucky bowling games.
9) Getting a strike in bowling....It was no turkey, like I got last year, but hey - I take what I can get!
10) Spending time with the Lord. I have gotten done some reading and journaling, and I am so thankful for who God is and where he has me right now!

So, it was a nice little break, albeit, not so productive on the school front for me :( I'll be nose to the grindstone this week and the beginning of next until finals are over, and then I'll be DONE with my first semester of seminary. So, I'm looking forward to all my fun Christmas events, but learning to enjoy life right now, this moment and this day, because it's a gift from the Lord.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving....Now it's time for CHRISTMAS!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I am about to go destroy some turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes, so I'll make this quick :)

Things I am giving thanks for today:
-The One who is my Savior, Best Friend, Redeemer, Lord, King, Comforter, Provider, Great High Priest, and God.
He has given me so many good gifts, including:
-Family, both blood-relations and my Church family
-Friends, both human and canine :)
-Love: What an incredible thing to give and recieve
-A great job in the midst of economic uncertainty
-A roof over my head
-Provisions of food and sustenance
-Technology wich makes things easier
-Discipline, which makes things harder, but makes us holier
-Purpose in life

That's all for now. Those things can be "unpacked" and expounded upon, but you get the idea. There is so much to be thankful for, and none of it apart from the incredible blessings and riches of Christ.

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." -Psalm 100

Monday, November 24, 2008

So much to be thankful for....

It's been serious on here for too long, no? God is good, life is good and here are some of the fun things going on in my life!!

Recent excitement includes:
Movies watched:
-Into the Wild (Beautiful, but tragic, and I knew what was going to happen!)
-Quantum of Solace (the new Bond movie...Well done, although I had a bit of a tough time following...haha)
Activities completed:
-Christmas tree lighting/Sip & Stroll at North Hills
Books bought:
-Aw, heck. I bought 26, so I won't list them all, but I bought a box of books at the Wake County Public Library sale for $5! Including some Dan Brown, John Grisham, random fiction books, some devotionals and some travel books!
Position Gained:
-Spot #3 in Fantasy Football. Watchout, gentlemen. Man Eaters moved up two spots to #3 this week! Thank you, Michael Turner :)

Future Excitement Includes:
Family time:
-First, time alone in the car with my Father, praying and singing when I hit the road in a couple of hours
-Secondly, time with my parents in the car on the way to "the Lou" tomorrow!
-QT with the Tuercranian clan for Thanksgiving - eating, laughing, playing cards, and playing ladder golf. "Worm burner" anyone?
Christmas parties and events:
-Girls night Christmas party
-Shane and Shane Christmas concert
-Department Christmas party
-Chocolate fountain Christmas party (hosted by yours truly)
-Office Christmas dinner
-BL College/Singles Christmas party
My birthday and birthday dinners with friends and family
Christmas break
-Spending time with my parents and Brian who is coming home!
-Catching up with friends from high school
-Having an adventure with Justin and Jamie
Future Trips:
-AMSTERDAM! I leave 3 days after Christmas. It's a work/mission/study trip, and I am so excited to get back to Europe, even if it will be frigid!
-What WON'T be frigid is my trip to MEXICO in April! Also a work trip, but on this one, I'll be teaching small children how to play baseball. Ha. But, I'll get to refresh my Spanish! Que bueno!
-Thailand trip is coming up in July! I'll be journeying to Southeast Asia (an region I have yet to step foot in!) for another work/mission/study trip. Have I mentioned lately I love my job? ;)

So, that's the update from here! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my sweet friends, and remember to be most thankful for the Gift-Giver Himself!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Out of the silence, and singing His praises

Well, I'm back in the blogosphere. If you're reading this, thanks for sticking with me. :)

I don't know how to begin to summarize what has been going on in my life, my head, my heart and my spirit. There has been a lot, and although some of the lessons have been less-than-pleasant to go through, I am rejoicing that God is putting me through the tough times, because it's taking me to a deeper level of faith than I have been in before.

I have spoken the words of David this week when he said, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?" (Psalm 13) and "To you I call, O Lord, my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit." (Psalm 27).

To find myself at a point where God is silent before me has been really hard. As long as I can remember, I have heard the voice of the Lord guiding me, comforting me and giving me peace. This week, nothing but silence stretched out in front of me, at a point when I feel I need it most. However, through the silence and the time of spiritual darkness, God has been good, and has been teaching me. Here are a few things I have learned/am still learning:

- The silence is a beautiful thing. In it, I am forced to stop the "temper tantrum" I am throwing, which is exhausting me, and just listen for the quiet whisper of the Lord.
- Even when I don't hear a whisper from God, I can be confident that HE IS STILL THERE. No matter what I am feeling, or how silent He may (seem to) be, I have faith that His presence is just as near as ever.
- Times of silence teach me to fall more in love with the Gift-Giver, rather than the gifts he gives or the words he speaks.
- When I seek him out of desperation, or because I want out of my circumstances or pain, I am not treating the Lord as he ought to be treated. Rather, I am treating him like a genie who should snap his fingers and change my life, instead of praising him for being God and doing and knowing what will bring him the most glory. I must learn to faithfully seek Him at all times, not only in rough times as a solution to pain, but out of a thankful heart as God.
- Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. He wants to turn our wailing into dancing. Even when we don't "feel" like rejoicing, we must, because He is God, and He is good, and that is enough.
- The silence has shown me those things I have been trusting in more than I trust in the Lord, and thankfully, God is merciful and forgives me for my idolatrous heart when I ask.
- His presence is something I will never lose, will always hunger for more of, and will never fully grasp. How deep the unsearchable riches of Christ!

I am discovering that even when things make me sad, God is using even those experiences to refine me and sanctify me, making me more holy and more fit for Him to use. Using the example of when Jesus broken the 5 loaves and fed 5,000 with it, I'm going to steal a line from one of my favorite books: "If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad."

Though it's been a rough week spiritually, I am here, and I am thankful. God is still God, no matter what petty issues of the heart come up in my life. I am so thankful He is breaking me, because I trust Him that the brokenness will make me holy, and the pieces will feed many, and more than just me. He gives all, and He asks all. Am I willing to surrender all?

I have spoken with David this week, crying out from the darkness of my heart for the Lord to not be silent and to hear me. He has also spoken to me this week, and all I can now do is echo David's words, "I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths. I called to you for help and you healed me...Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."

Monday, November 17, 2008


Three posts in a day. That might be a new record for me.

This one is just a quick note to let you guys know that I'm taking a break from blogging for a bit. I don't know how long, but I need to be quiet before the Lord and try and figure out what He is teaching me. My mind is jumbled and my heart strays so easily, so I need to cut out those things (however petty) that provide solace and comfort for me, including Facebook and blogging, so I can learn how to be comforted by the Lord and seek only Him. So, for now, I am going to try to be silent before a holy God and learn what I need to during this period of my life.

Thanks for reading. I would love it if you would pray for me during this time, that during this silence, God would reveal himself to me in new and fresh ways, that he would teach me what I need to know so I don't have to go through this again, and that my heart would be yielded only to him.

At some point, I will look forward to sharing what I have learned through this. Blessings - Lauren

When cultures collide...

Thanks so much to my boss, Jason, for introducing me to this amazing video.

Check out this "ghetto" church choir. It is amazing how a group of old people can massacre and yet, make SOOOO much better some of these hip-hop classics, all at the same time.

Anyways, enjoy this little bit of amazingness, and I hope it improves your Monday as much as it has improved mine!!

PS - Scroll down just a tad and pause the music player before you play the video!


I am so tired.

This weekend was a good time of celebrating a friend's birthday, helping out with Bay Leaf's Toy Chest ministry, and studying, but I am left just as tired after two days of "rest" as I was before. I have been working my little tail off to get things done for work and school (1 paper down, 3 to go), and I am ready for a break, but I have another week of stress to go before that happens.

At this point, I'd be really excited if I could get my brain to shut off for a little while. Does that sound strange, considering I need it to be functioning to get all of my assignments and papers done? I definitely need brain power to accomplish the things I need to do, but it would be delightful if, in the rare few moments of mental breaks from work/school, I could truly just mentally rest. Instead, I find that at those moments, my mind and my thoughts attack me, until I am even more mentally wound up from trying to sort through things.

I desire rest, and an end to my mental struggles, but I have a sneaky suspicion it's not over yet. I need time to think things through, pray them through and work them out with the Lord, but I don't see that happening for at least another week or so...Knowing that fact then - that I won't be able to diligently pray/think/wrestle these issues for another week - why can I not just be patient in the meantime?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Lord, I beg you - free me from the prison of my own mind and my thoughts that drag me away from you. Fill me, and teach me to find rest and restoration in you and you alone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Here is a snapshot of what my life looks like right now, just in case you'd like to lament and whine with me:

Schaeffer conference article (Done)
Outlook magazine preparations
- Library renovations (done)
- Re-write Patterson Hall dedication
- BOV recap
Alumni newsletter
Re-write Williamson article

-Book review over Cross-Cultural Connections (lots of pages) - due Tuesday
-Book review over Breaking Missional Code (6-8 pages) - due Thursday
-Reading review over Questioning Evangelism (1 page) - due Thursday
-Paper over Jonah (5 single-spaced pages) - due Friday
-Book review over some hermeneutics book I don't even possess right now (no idea how long) - due Friday after Thanksgiving break
-Read Cross-Cultural Servanthood, Cross-Cultural Conflict, and Called to Reach (which I also do not yet possess) by the week after Thanksgiving break

Is it safe to say I've hit the freak out point? I would think so. This means grumpy/stressed Lauren will be out in full force probably for the next week, so I apologize in advance. Christmas break can't get here soon enough.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wait for it....

Waiting is hard to do for me. I tend to be an impatient person, which, as I am learning, is very un-Christ-like of me and a poor reflection of the immeasurable amount of patience the Lord has. One of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit is patience, and when I don't have patience, it really is just me being unfaithful to God. Has he not promised to take care of me and reveal all things I need to know in His perfect timing? Of course he has. Now, I must wait for it.

"Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers (or tarries), wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3

Although this passage in Habakkuk speaks of the coming day of the Lord, it also speaks directly into my heart today, as I find myself in a "holding pattern," waiting and seeking direction from the Lord. Today, I am okay with waiting, for I know that which God has promised to me will happen, though likely in a way and time-frame of which I know nothing about.
Waiting is not a comfortable place for me, but it is in this time that I am finding myself on my knees the most, beseeching God to fill me with the Holy Spirit and patience and faithfulness. As I walk through this "valley of waiting" I am in, I am trying to drink deeply of the One who supplies peace like a river, restoration of the soul, and most importantly - the gift of Himself.

As I wait on answers to some very specific questions, I am realizing that this time is precious. In this waiting, I am coming to know my Savior more intimately, I am realizing His glory more fully, and I am recognizing more clearly how far off I am from worshiping and delighting in Him as I should be.

In the meantime, while those answers as yet tarry, God is keeping my mind and heart busy with others things - school (papers, book reviews, etc.), planning for my upcoming trip to Amsterdam, looking ahead to other work trips (so exciting, more to come at a later date!), looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas and my birthday....

Mostly, during this time, I am focusing on desiring God more, because it is only when I glory in Him will I find joy. More than my joy, though, is the realization that my joy in God is a fraction of the delight He gets as we delight in Him. That's what I want - For Him to be delighted and glorified in me. As Piper states - God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God...For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." - Romans 4:20-25

And so....I wait patiently, delighting in the Lord...hoping, because it's not over yet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The little things...

God blesses me with so many good gifts.

Free steak dinners, late mornings in bed to the sound of rain, my darling dog, gorgeous fall weather, exciting excursions with precious friends, (early) Thanksgiving dinners with fun people....and laughter and the reminder of how sweet life is. Thank the Lord for the little things that point me back to Him and remind me of His great love.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My strength indeed is small

Yesterday I prayed the Lord would hold tightly to me. Praise Him - He is holding onto me.

Today, my prayer is for understanding and wisdom.

"What do I need to learn from this, Lord? What are you trying to show me? Please, teach me in the way I should go, so I don't have to come back through this again. Incline my heart to your words, oh God. Open my eyes to your precepts. Draw me close to you. Satisfy me."

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all."

"Yes, Lord. My strength and my faith are so tiny. Teach me to have faith. Show me how to be patient and draw near to you through prayer. Be my portion, today and forever, and change my unbelief into belief."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barely holding on...

I'm falling apart
I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart
That's still beating
In the pain
There is healing
In Your name
I find meaning
So I'm holding on (I'm holdin on)(I'm holdin on)
I'm barely holding on to You

I had no idea how hard it is to surrender something you so desperately want. I guess that's what God calls us to, isn't it? He wants us to surrender that which we most desire, so our desire is only for Him.

Lord, I'm trying to hold on to You, but I am so weak. In Your strength, hold on to me. Carry me through into your marvelous light, Lord.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's amazing how in the blink of an eye, things change.

Hearts change, circumstances change, governments change, outlooks change, habits change and desires change.

Today, I'm thanking the Lord that no matter what changes come at me in this life, He is rock-solid. He stands steady in a world of shifting allegiances. What happened yesterday, what happens today, and what takes place tomorrow are all small changes in the grand scheme of things, in which God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Praise God that though His people hurt, His love and healing is unchanging and is capable of mending all wounds.

May the Alpha and Omega, He who came before and will come after, be our comfort and peace today.