Unedited Questions

I'm sure you're familiar with the non-edited, the non second draft, the non grammar perfect kind of questions. The kind that ruin the perfectly rolling handwriting of your journal and become real, scribbled out and re-written, ink-blotted, and unveiled. Well, I've had a lot of those questions lately. 

As I sat cross-legged on my bed and fought through the longest and quietest part of the afternoon, I let the questions come. I didn't moderate them or make them more attractive for fear that God would be offended. 

I admitted I felt directionless. That even though I had desires blossoming in my heart, I didn't know if a door would ever open to see them come to fruition. I asked an even harder question: what if there have been open doors but I have been too afraid to walk through them? Do I hold fast to a faithless way of living because I can't stand the feeling of faith? Has my passion and love for God cooled so that I am not answering the call He has placed on my life?

It's hard to want something that God has withheld so far. To wonder if you have mistaken God's call on your heart because you want it so much. That just maybe, I'm missing it all. Maybe my ministry will be something I never wanted. That statement by my very own heart makes my stomach sink. I didn't want to say that because I know it might be true.

All of the questions addressed to God are followed by questions to myself. It's the question that always makes me cry because it pulls painfully at the heart. Because it's real and this is what it all comes down to: "If God took it all, would I follow Him? If He never opened the door for music, never brought me an opportunity to minister in that way, never allowed me to sing into a mic, write another song, or ever pen another lyric, could I trust He had something better? If He never fulfilled any other precious desire I ever had, could I follow Him even though it would hurt?" 

If my life were to stay small, would I be okay with that? It used to be the idea of living big that scared me; now I wonder if it would be even scarier and more disappointing to live small. Living small is hard because you feel as though everyone else around you is living the life you want. Have been given the blessings you feel you're owed. Stands in the ministry you want to have. Radiates with the joy you long for. Is the prayer warrior you should be. Though you know that no one is put together or perfect, you feel like you're the only one that is actually true of. You feel like you're the only one God has ever said "no" or "not yet" to.

And then I stop asking questions and admit my current heart condition to God: Even though I don't want to admit it, I wage a bloody war with my flesh every day and so much of the time, the flesh wins. Sometimes I don't feel the passion for God I long to have. Sometimes I feel so tired and worn thin that I wonder if God will ever use me. Will the silence following the long-held dreams and prayers always be silence? Will there never be a break-through with God's fingerprint written all over it? God, do you still love me even though I'm struggling? 

Though being honest and writing out these words is good and I'm not afraid to tell God the truth (because He already knows it), in the end I don't have the immediate answers to any of these questions. Rather, I know the truth, but I know God is the only One who can help my heart believe it. We don't have to be afraid of our very human questions and struggles because in the end, the truth is always the same.  GOD NEVER CHANGES. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
— James 1:17

I was not put in this place by mistake. Every detail, every moment, every struggle, every day of waiting, every question, was put here by God Himself. Sometimes it's best to come before God and admit that you feel especially broken in this moment, this day, this month, this year, or this host of years. That your faith is taking a beating and you're really tired. That you don't love Him as much as you want to. That you wish you were not here right now where He has placed you. 

I'm not sharing this here on my blog to give you answers or to tell you that God will give you an "aha" moment. I'm telling you this so that you can know you're not alone in your questions. So that you can have the courage to admit all of the un-pretty parts in your heart to our Savior. That you're not perfectly held together. That today you feel really ugly. To tell you that in the midst of all of our questions and struggles, the truth never changes but we desperately need Him to help us believe it.

Read the below scriptures to replace the lies with never-changing truth.

Ephesians 3:20, Psalm 73:23,  Psalm 68:19, Matthew 10:30, Psalm 139:16, Hebrews 2:17-18, Isaiah 48:17, Psalm 139:13-14, Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 138:8, Philippians 1:6, Isaiah 26:7

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Greeting Autumn in Between Sips of Coffee

I always feel it in the turning of the light. In the dark chill of the night. You'll find me more often at the coffee shop or wrapped up in the pages of a book in the company of a lighted Chai spice Yankee Candle.
I find myself with a sense of expectancy and eagerness as the change of season arrives. What will God do in these turning days? 

The glorious sunset we were blessed with following the first rainfall of Autumn.

The glorious sunset we were blessed with following the first rainfall of Autumn.

Celebrating Autumn  "Pumpkin Spice latte style" with my sweet friend, Katelyn.

Celebrating Autumn  "Pumpkin Spice latte style" with my sweet friend, Katelyn.

How do you celebrate Autumn's return?

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My First Car

My mom loves to reminisce about her first car. It's what I have lovingly dubbed a "boat" and her friends called "the bomb." It was a 1970's orange Dodge Dart Swinger. Now they're rare and a classic but back then they were "boats" and "bombs" and probably not so cool. 

Her dad bought it for her because it was safe and not for it's "cool factor." But now I don't think any 17 year old girl would mind driving around in such a classic. ;)


A 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger.

A 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger.

All that to say, I just got my first car. Maybe my kids will say "Mom, you had a boat! And you dressed weird, too!" ;)


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Spreading It Before the Lord

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: “O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God..." (2 Kings 19:14-16)

Though Hezekiah knew that God knew the content of the letter and the intent of the king of Assyria's evil heart to destroy Jerusalem, he still "spread it before the Lord." He went up to the house of the Lord in prayer and told God about this evil, godless people's threats. 

God knows the intents of all people's hearts. He knows the coming and goings of life and death. He knows the rise and fall of every nation, great or small. He knows the hidden and unseen. He knows the sighs and tears; the joy and pain of each person's heart. He knows what's going to happen tomorrow and all the whys of what happened or will happen. He knows because He foreordained it to be so. 

Though He knows all of these things. Though He knows your heart and the often silent grief, confusion, difficult situations, mounting pressures, weaknesses, loneliness, dreams and desires, go to the Lord and spread it before Him. Go, pray, and do not hesitate to lay before the Lord the things He already knows. To admit your weakness or fear, your seemingly impossible situation, the weights and burdens that bear you down. Go to the house of the Lord, pray, and spread it before Him.

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"No Evil Will Befall You." Really?

This is a wonderful explanation of Psalm 91 by John Piper from his book "A Godward Life", book two. I loved it so much I had to share it with you!


Chapter 12

"No Evil Will Befall You." 

Beware of Satan's Use of Psalms

The beloved Psalm 91 seems out of sync with experience and other Scripture. What are we to make of its promises?

A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you. (verse 7)

No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. (verse 10)

With a long life I will satisfy him. (verse 16)

   Do people of faith never perish in battle? Do they never succumb to plague? Do they always live long lives? 

   There are three ways to resolve this problem. 1 ) We could say that the person who wrote the psalm and those who included it in the Psalter and the Bible had their heads in the sand and got it wrong. 2 ) Or we could say that those who fall in battle and get a disease and don't live long did not make the Lord their refuge and walk by faith. In other words, the promise is absolute and everyone who fails to experience it must be unbelieving. 3 ) Or we could say that what the writer means is that God does in fact rule the flight of arrows and the spread of disease and the length of life; and he can and does give safety and health and life to whom he pleases, so that it is always a free gift of God. But he does not mean for us to presume upon these promises as guarantees that God will not permit us to fall by an arrow, succumb to disease, or die at age thirty-eight. In other words, the promises have exceptions or qualifications. 

   When he says, "Ten thousand may fall at your right hand, but it shall not approach you" (verse 7), he means for you to understand this unspoken qualification: "It will not approach you without my permission and design. And my design for those who are ever in my care is always good, even if I permit the arrow to take their life." Thus Derek Kidner says, "This is a statement of exact, sweeping providence, not a charm against adversity...What it does assure us is that nothing can touch God's servant but by God's leave" (Psalms 73-150 [London: InterVarsity Press, 1975], 333).

   There are several reasons in the context of the Psalter and the Bible why I think this was intended by the psalmist. The first is that even in the psalms themselves there are predictions that "many are the afflictions of the righteous" (34:19). And though the Lord delivers us "out of them all," yet we do go into them and may come out only in heaven (Psalm 63:3, NIV, "Your love is better than life.") Moreover in Psalm 44:22 those who have not been false to God's covenant nevertheless confess, "For your sake we are killed all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered," which is probably why Paul quotes this verse in Romans 8:36 about Christian martyrs, and then says, "But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (8:37, NIV).

   Perhaps most significant is the observation that Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12 to Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11). How does Satan use this psalm? He uses it as though it had no qualifications. He takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple and says to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here." And then he quotes Psalm 91: "For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone" (verses 11-12). So Satan wants to exploit the very problem I am posing about this psalm. He is saying: "See! It is absolute. No qualifications. Use it. Prove the promise of God in your life! If it will apply to anyone, it will surely apply to you, the Son of God." 

   But Jesus rejects this use of the psalm and sets his face to prove that the psalm does have a qualification: He dies at a young age; he feels the blow of ripped flesh; and he is pierced by the nail and sword while ten thousand get off without a scratch. Jesus also teaches his disciples the paradoxical warning and promise: "They will put some of you to death... Yet not a hair of your head will perish (Luke 21:16-18). And Paul confirms this way of thinking, not only in Romans 8:28 and 35, but also in Philippians 4:19, where he says, "My God will supply all your needs," alongside the testimony, "I have learned the secret of...going hungry...and suffering need] through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:12-13).

   I urge you to follow Jesus' interpretation of Psalm 91, not Satan's. That is, in your Gethsemane of suffering, pray for deliverance according to God's sovereign power and mercy (twelve legions of angels could have rescued Jesus, Matthew 26:51). But then say, "Not my will but thine be done." And believe that whatever befalls will not, in the end, be evil for you, but good (Romans 8:28).


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My top 10 favorite songs right now!

There is just something neat and organized about "top 10" isn't there?! But anyways, I have been on a serious music "binge" lately (aren't I always?) and have discovered some new (new to me), beautiful, uplifting, and worshipful music which has been on repeat a lot . Since I love these songs so much I thought I'd share them with you! If you click on the title it'll take you to the song on YouTube. Pretty nifty, eh?  

I Shall Not Want by Audrey Assad 

Overcome by The Digital Age 

Jesus Paid It All by Newsboys

Strong by The City Harmonic 

Holy (Wedding Day) by The City Harmonic 

Holy Ghost by John Mark McMillan

Future / Past by John Mark McMillan

Heart Runs by John Mark McMillan

My Lighthouse by Rend Collective 

Your Love by Shane & Shane 


For now, 

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The Sweet Things

Her un-adulterated laughter as she pulls the well-loved pink blanket over her face hoping you'll join in on her game of peek-a-boo. 

She raises her chubby little arms and sways to the beat as the sounds of worship music fill the kitchen. She looks up to me with her dimpled cheeks and irresistible smile as she waits for me to follow her lead. 

She wants me to hold her up so she can reach to examine the not-yet-ripe walnuts on the green orchard trees. She softly fingers the rough green leaves with their barely noticeable veins running through them and touches the hard shell of the walnuts.


When did I stop looking at the small but sweet? When did life become so big and cease to be made up a succession of the small, everyday moments? 

Enjoying feels like risk to me. Taking a break from looking at the big picture might mean I have to surrender control, like looking over at the scenery while I'm driving. 

But I can sit down inside. I can experience, laugh, dance, and lift my arms up. I can because God gives us the small but sweet.

For now, 

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Road To Calvary | Another Original Song

While reading When I Don't Desire God: How To Fight For Joy  by John Piper, an excerpt from the book planted itself in my heart. 

"The fight for joy in Christ is not a fight to soften the cushion of Western comforts. It is a fight to live a life of self sacrificing love. It is a fight to join Jesus on the Calvary road and stay with Him there no matter what."

The Calvary road for Jesus took him to a place called Golgotha which means Place of the Skull. The Calvary road's end destination took Jesus to the place where He would be crucified on the cross and suffer unimaginable pain.

Then Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. - Matthew 16:24

The imagery is powerful. This Calvary road for us, the bearing of our cross, often traverses through wastelands, fierce battles, dark fears, death, weakness, sacrifice, persecution. 

Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. - John 15:20

I wrote this song out of a desire to show three life stages of a young woman as she walks this road to Calvary. Coming to know Christ at six years old, going through fear and struggle as a young woman, and experiencing enormous joy as a bride. All three of these, for me, captured a different stage of the journey on this road to Calvary. All three, mixtures of joy and pain, were each overseen by a loving Father and all are different parts of this road we traverse.

Sometimes it feels so easy to stay on this road with our Savior, other times we feel the strong temptation to give up this fight and stop walking up all the hills and through the rocky places. When our dreams and expectations are seemingly washed away and all we have left is the evidence of our own weakness and fear. When those times come, it is surely a fight to stay on this road to Calvary, but a fight we do not wage on our own.


The first rays of sun broke over this house
I walked through the fence to the grass
I felt the cool breeze sweep over me so surely
You broke over me
As I touched the scene
With un-scarred eyes at six years old
It was the first time 
That You asked me to follow You 
On this road to Calvary

I wrote on the page with lurid ink
A tear broke free as I called Your Name
It seems all my dreams were washed aside
Is it supposed to be this way? 
So with a trembling heart
And trembling hands
I got on my knees
It was the first time You reminded me
That I was following You to Calvary

The door opened to a vivid smile
To his love locked eyes 
At the end of the aisle
The film of the veil couldn't hide
My wonder-filled eyes
I promised him and he promised me
Til death do us part, through everything
Then he took my hand, whispered fervently
Would I join him on this road with You to Calvary

The Lord has promised good to me
His Word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

Final Line: 
Because You asked me to follow You
On this road to Calvary


For now, 

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When the past is beautiful

Things have changed a lot since the death of my Grandad three years ago. Not only is the home where my Grammy still lives a lot quieter, but my desire to hold onto the precious memories is a lot stronger.

Dad and I visiting Grammy.

Dad and I visiting Grammy.

I sit here in my Grammy's home with my dad while Joanna (Grammy's sweet caretaker) takes a much deserved break from the 24 hour care she provides. The living room is filled with pictures, some aged more than others, of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. On the wall above the fireplace are three paintings of my dad and two uncles when they were just boys. The past seems so close in this room. 

Though the past always comes to an end and moments are not held in our hands forever, there is a great joy amidst the reality of that fact. I am truly humbled by the fact that these generations past were shaped by the Lord and continue to be. The love and warmth in the faces of the generations around me were/are shaped by the reality of a loving Savior who lives in each of our hearts.

There is a brightness to the past as there is for the future because of our great Lord who continues to be so evident among us.

The whole Langley clan. 

The whole Langley clan. 

My Grandad & Grammy four years ago.

My Grandad & Grammy four years ago.

For now, 

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My First Engagement Photoshoot

Jenn and I have been friends for around eight years now. Those years have been full of laughter, dreams and desires shared, Jenn's five years of college and graduation, ups and downs, lots of Starbucks and shopping mall visits, growth in the Lord, and sharing with each other the prayer of being blessed with Godly husbands. (My goodness, we went into a lot of jewelry stores and discussed our dream engagement rings!)

So when she called me just an hour after she got engaged, we both squealed and jumped around and laughed and said, "I can't believe this is happening!" a lot. (He actually succeeded in surprising her!) I asked her if it felt as amazing as we had always imagined it would and she answered with a resounding, "Yes!!!!" 

I never thought I would have the gift of photographing her engagement! What a tremendous blessing it was to work with not only one of my best friends of our growing up years, but to get to work with the man she will soon call husband. 


We did the photoshoot at the dairy where she has lived and worked all of her life. 


We had a lovely sprinkler accident! ;)


The amazing evening of shooting ended on a gloriously golden sunset. 

For now, 

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Peace edging over my soul

It was evening, a time of peace and quiet that I enjoy immensely. The lightly tinged blue sky that had shone outside of my bedroom window just moments before had now faded and been replaced with the bright light of a half-moon. The cool breeze of the June evening stirred my white curtains and brought with it the fresh smell of country earth. 

"I pray I'd see You as a big God,"  I scrawled across the pages of my prayer journal, desperately. 

"You hear my prayers and You will do great things."


I felt worn out from the day and especially disbelieving of God's great truths. I had come to realize that even in the midst of swirling doubts, though, I could still repeat what I knew to be true and my soul would be lifted up. 

"I see You evidenced even in great tragedies. Only You could give people the faith to carry them through in the long and drawn out trials and the deepest valleys. I see You. I see Your faithfulness."

The first stars had begun to show outside my window. I smiled, peace edging over my soul, as I basked in the truths of my great Savior. 

"I can finally see the truth. I can understand a little better how big You really are. That You are in everything and we are never separated from You. You go above and below, before and behind us...I want to ask for big things because You want us to act out our belief that You are a big God. You want us to act out our faith even in the most typically believed things about You."

The night had overtaken the sky completely and only the light of my small lamp lit the room but the darkness of doubt and weariness had been taken away. The truths of my Savior echoed in my soul.

For now, 

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Be still.


How often do I just rest in the fact that I am my beloved Savior's daughter? 

I come before His throne of grace with a long list of all the situations, circumstances, and problems I want fixed. I forget to just rest  and know that He is God, and I am His daughter. That is incredible.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;... (Psalm 46:10) 



Spring and Summer are my favorite seasons. Not to say that I absolutely love the 100+ degree weather here in California, but I do love the feeling of life and activity that the warmer months bring. 


In the early Spring months the almond orchards by my house are covered with white blossoms. I try to take as many long walks during the short time that the trees are covered with my version of "snow."


Our friends hold a Spring barn dance every year. Overhead are strings of lights and a sky still tinged with the sunset til it gives way to bright stars. The smell of the campfires lit all around fill the air along with the sound of good ol' country music.


My brother, Jared, started teaching himself guitar this year. It makes this sister proud. ;)


Kaylee (my scrumptious, lovable, squeezable, little niece) likes to enjoy the warm weather by enjoying her bottle on our bench. 


My brother, Jordan, joined our church's softball team this year! Isn't he handsome?! 


Kaylee is so proud of her Daddy (Jordan) as she watches the game. 


My Daddy loves his granddaughter...especially when she wants to hang out on his lap. 


Kaylee likes to go down the slide again, and again, and again, and again...


My two dear friends, Paige & Katelyn (Paige on the far right, Katelyn next to her), returned from a three month mission trip to Africa! We met them in San Francisco where their flight came in and had a lovely dinner in Ghirardelli Square. 

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Enjoying the view of San Francisco from Treasure Island. 

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Celebrating Mother's Day! (Kaylee was obviously so done with taking pictures. She just wanted to play, for goodness' sake!) From left to right: Me, my awesome mother, my amazing grandmother, and my sweet sister-in-law, Michaela (married to Jordan). 


Attended a friend's graduation ball at Kasteel Noz! (A beautiful mini castle tucked away in the middle-of-nowhere amidst walnut orchards and vineyards.) Being that I never went to prom, it's so much fun to dress up all fancayyy and dance the night away!

That's all the pictures for now! So, be sure and make memories and enjoy the fantastical alive-ness of Spring and Summer!

For now, 

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He Is Worthy To Be Praised

"I felt myself slowly rising from the floor. I knew that I had no choice but  to trust my Lord. Even in the most painful, crushing times, He is still worthy to be praised. Praising Him still strengthens us. And praising Him is still a signal to the enemy of our souls that he cannot, will not triumph, even when it might look like he has."

That quote is from Jeremy Camp's book "I Still Believe." (Highly recommend this book!)  I started reading it today and couldn't put it down. I will admit, I cried through the first nine chapters. I didn't cry just because of the tragic circumstances that Jeremy went through, but because of the evidence of God's hand at work through it all. Because of the amazing example of worshiping our Lord through the darkest, most painful, and heart rending times. 

The idea of worshiping and praising our Lord even when things are hard is not a popular notion. The very thought ushers forth a feeling of rebellion, at least for me. I have to admit, I am just now starting to grow in this idea of worshiping all the time, no matter what. 

When things are hard I sometimes feel like it's all I can do to ask God to get me out of the circumstances as fast as He can. The very idea of lifting my hands during that time and saying, "You are good, no matter what!" is sometimes distasteful. I too often equate His goodness with how good my circumstances are at the time. 

A good example of proper worship is found in the Psalms. We see David again and again crying out to the Lord asking why and begging for deliverance but always at the end he proclaims God's faithfulness and goodness. 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...

But later,

Yet you are holy,...

(Psalm 22)

(I always wanted to believe that David wrote the "yet You are holy" part after his circumstances got better.) 

Through my incorrect view of worship I continued to miss out on the gift God gives in this act of faith and obedience. His gift is peace, increased faith, and a firm belief that what we are actually saying is very true.
This concept has begun to grow in my heart and take form. Sometimes it's out of sheer obedience that I worship, at times reading words from the Psalms when I cannot find my own.  When circumstances are wearing me thin, discouragements are weighing me down, I see more clearly that the strength and ability to even whisper halting prayers comes from the Lord alone. In those weary times, I find my greatest freedom and strength is found again when I get on my knees, lift my hands and say "Lord, I don't get it right now and I'm having trouble seeing all of the good in this but I believe You are good, and Your plans for me are good."

We are never to fear that somehow God's goodness isn't true, and so the act of worship is not due Him, in the worst of times. That every detail isn't acted out in perfect love and in His good and perfect plan for us. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I rejoice because we can praise Him with absolute confidence that He is good, is holy, His will for us always works together for good, and He is absolutely worthy to be praised!

For Now, 

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