Saturday, December 12, 2009

Only Christ

Let us hold fast the confession of our faith, without wavering, for He who promised is faithful... let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.

I wanted to entitle this blog, "From Crowds to Cows"... but on this Saturday morning, with the hope of a new day, a different season and unlimited possibilities Christ can bring about in every single life... only one title would work.

Since my most recent wrestling match with the Lord, many things have come about in my heart and mind... which resulted in a trip home to the big D to meet up with a completely rad guy - Nick Vujicic.

The Thursday night before (December 3), while processing much of what our God had done, I began to remember the 'good times.' I thought of JAF and the TV gig, I thought of Scottish Rite and my work there, I thought of Family Retreat and how I missed it so... and began to feel alone again. Surprise, surprise.

But this time it was different... I was different. Not wanting to allow the sorrow overwhelm to the point of utter despair, I decided to spend time with someone who understood.... someone who could feel the pangs of my heart without a word being spoken.... then I thought of Nick.

So for the next 3 hours I proceeded to stalk him on YouTube.... ok, maybe not stalk, but I sure did watch a lot of his messages. The jokes about children's reactions had me laughing so deep and so hard I could hardly stand it.... the truths about how lonely it really is being stuck in this broken body penetrated to my heart and mind so powerfully it brought comfort to my soul and tears to my eyes.... I finally felt in 'good company.' I then see on his site, he was scheduled to appear in DALLAS December 6.

Long story short (with many thanks to Dan'l and Sheryl Lynn:)) - I got to see Nick last weekend and hear him live for the first time.

I arrived backstage. Nick shot me a look and immediately had someone carry him over to a nearby chair. As soon as he landed, I insisted he see the others waiting, and thanked him for caring to even say hello.... but Nick wasn't having it. HE insisted I sit down and relax.... me.... like he didn't need the same advice, after having addressed thousands... :)

Sitting there, I was at a loss for words. Which was totally weird, because let's face it, that rarely happens when I'm conversing... but I couldn't find what to say. So he encouraged, I soaked it up like a sponge, and tried to communicate over and over how I appreciate his honesty and devotion to Jesus. He then prays the longest prayer ever in the history of mankind, with his sweet face against my neck. It ended, I begin to pull away, he digs his chin back into my shoulder (to pull me back) and says.... "And God, please bring Holly a husband QUICK!"

Backing up with my eyes as big as saucers, I said... "See Nick!!! You do get it." He and I hadn't even GONE there in our discussion, and for this man to understand one of the deepest and most heart-aching results of this disability.... well it made me feel loved and not alone.

And not just loved by this international minister, but loved by the Living God. The God who has called Nick out of darkness and into marvelous light. The God Who KNEW Nick's journey, Nick's cross, would comfort me in a time of confusion and desperation.

Rarely do I get to be the comfortee - I'm usually called to be the comforter (not to the degree Nick feels), but it was extremely nice and refreshing, for the Lord to think it appropriate for this great man to, for just a moment in time, speak life and encouragement back into my heart.

So yes, I proclaim only Christ. I SHOUT ONLY CHRIST. For ONLY Christ could create such a moment. Only Christ could intertwine two roads in such a way. Only Christ can call these two young adults out of the darkness and have us LEAP into marvelous light.

Only Christ.

Nick, if you're reading this, I TOTALLY had fudge for you. ;) And good luck with the driving, I know you'll do fantastic.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Aches, Tears & Questions

I lost my first patient. So as to not break the bonds of confidentiality, she will remain Nameless, however, though I am not able to label her in this piece, it does not mean her life did not have a profound impact on my own.

Nameless was always ready to greet me when I came trudging through the sliding glass doors of the dialysis center. Her greeting would never change: "How's it going kiddo?" Or there were times she came knocking on the little window peering into my office saying: "I need to speak with Holly," with a tone of urgency in her voice. Hearing this, I would rush out to see how I might assist, and as I approached she would flash this huge smile and say, "I just wanted to see how you were doing kiddo...." Being the sarcastic that I am I would reply, "HEY!! You scared me! Next time just say: I wanna hang with Holly," and we would both giggle.

Yes she was a crack up. Out of my entire caseload, Nameless was the one my heart related to the most. She has Spina bifida you see, along with many other medical complications, so we would talk crutches, wheelchairs, walkers... past, present and future challenges... and relate on a level neither of us had experienced much in the past.

When I heard the news, I felt my heart fall below the earth. It didn't seem real. I felt that I would still see her come wheeling into the center that night with her spikey orange hair (used to scare her momma) and that humongous smile... but she never came.

Nameless lived in a Nursing Home, and so often I felt those 'questions' to get me out to the lobby every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, were just ploys to have some fellowship, some laughs, and some love.

My heart is broken honestly. My patient lived a difficult life, endured a heavy cross and passed on from all of this alone in her room.... and being human I began to buckle... I began to wonder if I would travel the same road some day.

With these concerns spinning in my head I went home, crawled into bed in hopes of sleeping off all of the pain I was feeling. In the wee hours, I heard my phone signal I had a new email. The message was informing me that my favorite biblical teacher, Matt Chandler, has been diagnosed with a small mass on his front lobe and endured a seizure just the week before.

Again... this can't be real. I went back to sleep and dreamt of Nameless and I sitting in The Village Church listening and being encouraged by Matt.... he cracked jokes, and Nameless laughed awkwardly loud as I looked over and smiled at her.... then I woke up to the reality that Nameless is gone, Matt is not preaching right now... and I'm not home in Dallas.

With all of these difficult occurrences to process, I only felt more and more issues begin to boil over as I shlepped around the apartment in my nightgown and socks. I signed on to Facebook to distract, but couldn't focus. My questions were becoming too much...

"Why did Nameless have to endure that life? Why do I? Why has this happened to one of the most anointed pastors I have ever known? Why has God led me to a desert to deal with all of this? Why am I alone? Why am I single? Why can't I have a family? Why is my spine broken? Why do I feel completely abandoned? Why Lord, WHY???"

I felt overwhelmed and lost. The aches were too heavy, I had no one to answer me, no one to hold me, no one to catch me as I collapsed to the floor in tears and pain. I felt so alone. Then anger came rushing in. I was mad because my pain seemed to go into the oblivion, with no husband, no friends, no parents or sisters to tell me it was going to be OK. So I buckled under the weight of this cross, and sadness of others.

I cried for Nameless. I cried for her family. I cried for Matt Chandler and his family. I cried for The Village Church. I cried for my anger, my confusion, my frustration, and my loneliness. I cried and cried and cried. Forever it seemed like.

Then an IM: "Holly Bell!!!" Amie exclaimed. Immediately I poured it out onto my so very strong sister in Christ. She waited out my questions, my fears, my hate, my hurt, my frustration - only to love me in the midst and speak life back into my pain.

Through my sobs I was able to converse with Amie and be honest with her. With tears streaming, and my nose completely closed up - I asked the Lord if He was here. Stepped back from the computer and collapsed again. I asked if He couldn't answer all of my 'why's', would He please just guide me in this day. I thought to myself: should I go to work and 'game face it', or should I stay, rest and recover from all the buckling and hits to the floor....

Then IM's again: "Holly. You are not alone." More sweet statements of truth and love in between and then, "Maybe you should take this day to rest."


Amie didn't know what I was doing on the other side of the country... she lives up north. She had no clue I fell to the ground and cried out to our Lord to save me... to answer me.

Again, I read the words over and over. This can't be real. The answers, SO clear. So insanely clear that it made my soul buckle this time, under the Majesty, Power and Love of the God of all... our aches, tears and questions.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of Nameless. May her spikey hair and huge smile be the sweetest addition to heaven.

It is dedicated to the love and respect of Reverend Matt Chandler. May the tumor disappear as though it never existed and Christ be praised.

It is dedicated to every lonely heart. To everyone who feels they have no one to catch them when they collapse.

It is dedicated to my dearest friend (and neighbor ;)) Amie, who speaks nothing but the truth, power and love of Christ. May her skills and wisdom be used to glorify Him forever.

And finally, it is dedicated to my Lord, Jesus Christ. The One Who loves the lunatics ;), the One who stays silent and loud in the same moment, the One who catches me when I fall... the Love of my life, the Lord of all my questions.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where the Wind Blows..

It is a GLORIOUS morning here in the Arklatex... one in which golfers are busy cracking their clubs even before the sun has hit a decent rise. I tried to stay in bed for a while, but the laughter of "nice shots" drew me to the window.

I stood there watching the leaves dance to the rhythm of the wind, then decided to open up all the windows and invite the nice breeze in. The coolness of it awakened my senses and I was happy to have that moment. As balls fluttered in opposite-desired directions, leaves danced and senses awakened I thought about that scripture:
"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit..." John 3:8.

Meditating on what it means to be born of the Spirit, I began to wonder how in the heck I ended up in this place, on this morning, doing this very thing.

I want to rewind back one day and let you into the dark, secret parts of my life... the parts that are difficult to share... the parts that are humiliating and humbling...but the parts that ferociously change, sanctify and move my spirit as freely as the wind...

I started the day off right: sipping orange truffle coffee, dressing in a pretty outfit, playing up my eyes and lips and straightening my hair... making all efforts to feel comfortable, confident and energetic.

I walked out of the apartment thinking, "I look pretty, I feel great and I'm going to work really hard... but tonight, I will be dressed up with no place to go and no friends to see." As the thought depressed me and feelings of loneliness began to overtake my spirit, I turned the corner, saw the truck and decided to only focus on what God gives in every single moment - and in that moment I thanked him for allowing me to drive, go to work and be independent... so off I went.

The day drew on... I laughed with patients, I grieved with them... I assisted, I encouraged... I did paperwork, I giggled with co-workers... I accomplished, I went home alone.... I fed Fancy, I turned on the television... I ate a cheeseburger, I felt tired... I turned off the television, I sat in silence...I thought of family, I thought of friends... I thought of those with love, I thought of those without... I felt alone, I felt nothing... I went to sleep, I woke up...

Then suddenly, through the beauty of a morning wind and the coolness of a new day - real love, clarity, truth come barreling into the soul: "The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER ceases...great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him." Lam.3:22-24.

No matter how many different places I see or friends I make; how many outfits I purchase or products I apply; how many meals I eat or movies I watch; how many patients I serve or lives I touch... one thing remains the same... the steadfast love of the Lord - and while I am born of the Spirit, drifting from emotional mountaintop to valley...He remains the same, His truth unwavering, His passion unveiling, His ferociousness frightening and His love freeing...

And His plan may move me to a place I feel all but comfortable in, but one in which I experience more of His favor and provision, than ever before on my journey...

So I'll continue to move as the wind moves, continue to be sanctified by the mysterious Holy Spirit, blowing from one glorious mountaintop, right into a depressing valley - all the while experiencing a steadfast, never-changing love of a Good Father.

"Wondrous Lord,

Thank You for caring more for my soul, rather than my physical comfort. Thank You for caring more about my wisdom than my nightlife. Thank You for caring more about my discernment, than my ability to line up dates far and wide. And finally, Thank You for Who You are. Thank You for loving a wretch like me.

Always Yours,

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Bridge

When youre weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
Im on your side. when times get rough
And friends just cant be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

This morning I needed some perspective. So I popped in the dvd of, "The Pursuit of Happyness" - desperate to be reminded of the brokenness that drowns our entire planet... not just in my own head and heart. I needed to be reminded of how truly blessed I am. I needed to be reminded my own heartaches don't measure up to the sufferings of no work, no food and no place to lay your head.

Toward the end of the movie, when everything that could go wrong does, Chris Gardner gives blood to buy food for his little boy while the soft music of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" plays in the background. I watched in amazement how the love of a parent will make such a significant sacrifice. As tears filled my eyes because of the reality of this story - I was reminded of other blood that was given to heal my own disparities, my own heartaches, my own needs.

I listened to the song intently - suddenly seeing a picture of Christ giving all He had to those in need - whether it was physical or emotional - He poured out Himself so that we might find what we need in His sacrifice, His blood.

We are separated from the One True Need our hearts so long for - and Christ laid Himself down, as a bridge over troubled waters, so that we might get to the other side.

This season has been rough. It has been my first independent step of faith, and to be completely honest, it has taken everything I have not to buckle under the pressure, the stress and the disappointments. Out here I see who I really am, without the distractions of friends, family and activities - I see what I treasure, I see what I don't - and I'm not proud of the results.

A new place is a difficult thing. If you've ever moved, you know this truth. I have left the oh so safe environment of my home, my family and my friends. I have come to a new place where nothing of familiarity can be found, and it's just me; me trying to understand the plan of my Divine Father.

I am wading in 'troubled waters' right now. Not wanting to give into the lies of the enemy: "you are forgotten, you are alone and your dreams will never come true." But humbly I admit, instead of crying out to my Father, so often I turn to the television and ignore the reality that is around me.... but I can't anymore.

And now I am ready. I am ready to swim to shore, and instead of 'plunging into' the troubled waters - I'll take the Bridge. I'll believe He is enough, I'll find my strength in Him alone and He will lead me to the other side.

I know you are wading in troubled waters today, I know you are because we all are. My prayer is these words will inspire you to take the Bridge too... don't try to do this yourself, because you can't. Choose to believe together that Christ in enough; His yoke is easy, His burden light, He is our Bridge over troubled waters, and He's sailing right behind.

Sail on silvergirl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
Im sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Below is a video I created of my friends and family - playing "Bridge Over Troubled Waters".

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

... He cheers each winding path I tread...

These past six months have been difficult. I completed graduate school only to fly from one end of the country to the other in hopes of getting to those “high places” I so often long for and dream of.

A few weeks ago I received a random phone call from an east Texas aunt, informing me of a social work position open in Texarkana. Because the pay was good, and benefits even better, she urged me to just apply… stating, “you never know what God wants Holls.” “Fine,” I rebuttled, “I’ll apply.”

Two hours later an interview is scheduled. Four day later an offer is made. Five days later I’m on a plane to Orlando, Florida. And six days later I know this is what God is giving.

When I wrote the note that God does things “beyond all we can ask or imagine,” I meant it and am a living testament to it today. I NEVER imagined this is what He would ask of me… but in His grace, I’ve seen His movement, and as a child I obey and move forward.

So my friends… I’m moving to Texarkana. I joke that it is “the place we don’t speak of” or “exile,” but deep in my heart I know this is what Christ is calling me to. I have NO IDEA why, but I go. The position is wonderful, my employers are Jesus lovers and I am spreading my wings. The Lord knew He wanted me to move forward in adulthood and professionalism, not backward into an internship or unrelated position.

I kicked and screamed for months because I truly wanted to go to DC and/or south California, but for whatever reason, He doesn’t want me there. He wants me in the pasture with the cows. So I go in great expectation that my faith will be tried, my mind will be stretched and my love will be used.

I’m most excited for this opportunity because I’m going alone. No one is going with me; no one is following me. I’m taking this step of faith into the wonderful promise that our God protects, provides and sanctifies wherever life may land us. I get to put His word to the test, and expect fully that every single need will be filled and those that aren’t will result in the opportunity to know the everlasting love of an incomprehensible Creator.

So, I say goodbye singing: “all the way my Savior leads me.”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In love

"All for love, the Savior prayed, Abba Father have Your way. Though they know not what they do, let the cross draw man to You." - Hillsong

It's good Friday, and I wanted to take a moment and offer admiration to the One true God, Jesus Christ. This morning I have been pondering His life, what it meant, what He taught, who bought it, who didn't... then I began to think of all of the great worship songs I love to listen to, and all of the years past I have heard powerful hymns, all inspired by this man, this man Who changed all of reality.

Did you know there's not another person who's ever lived that has inspired more artists, writers, theologians, philosophers, scientists, mothers, fathers, daughter, brothers, and countless others than this man, this Jesus?

There's something ABOUT the Gospel - seriously. There's something about this story that changes you forever. We are all desperately seeking love, acceptance and belonging - we feel we may die if we are lacking, you know it's true. And wrapped up in one man, is the wellspring of every single human need... every single one.

More than that though, this man Who came with all the answers to our brokenness, all the answers to our insecurities, the answer to our suffering - this man who healed us, He layed down His life, so that we might truly live. Can you believe it? Someone has actually died for you, and not just anyone, the One Who made you.

"Search your heart, you know you can't deny it. Come on, lose your life, just so you can find it. The Father gave His only Son, just to save us...

The earth was shaken in the dark. All creation felt the Father's broken heart. Tears were filling heaven's eyes. The day the True Love died, the day the True Love died.

When blood and water hit the ground, walls we couldn't move came crashing down. We were free and made alive, the day the True Love died, the day the True Love died.

But Jesus is alive, Jesus is alive, Jesus is alive, Jesus is alive. Jesus is alive, OH HE IS ALIVE!" - Phil Wickham

I am in love with this man. How could I not be. He makes sense of who I am, and He moves mountains in even the most unlikely people. He is Who He says He is, and He is alive.

All praise to the One True God, Jesus Christ,

Saturday, February 28, 2009


I'm not having a very good couple of days.  Since my last blog, I have graduated, spent a month in South California with dear friends and have come home to determine my 'next step'.  Well, it hasn't been easy (to say the least), and I have stared at job listings for hours upon hours, willing the perfect position to make itself known to me, giving me hope that this degree is not in vain. 

I finally found a wonderful position, believing it was prepared totally by the Lord.  I guess I let my imagination take off in this idea, and began planning what my life would look like while working for this organization.  Not only (in my imagination) had my daily responsibilities changed, but my living circumstances (I had moved into a sweet little apartment in Dallas), my ministry (I had become involved in a thriving church with a great disability ministry)... everything had changed.... in my head. 

You may be laughing now, and I don't blame you... it's weird, isn't it? How our imaginations run so wild with "possibilities"... leaving plenty of room to dream of different, better lives than the ones we're living now?  Well, humbly I admit this to you dear friends, I did... and am now paying the consequences.

I received a very kind email from the man who seemed so interested in me from the beginning, sincerely regretting the change in requirements for the position, but affirming my talents and abilities over and over with his kind words.  It was bittersweet, well more bitter than sweet if we're being COMPLETELY honest here.  

While I appreciated the sentiment, I couldn't help but feel rejected.  And this isn't the first position I have been rejected from, there have been quite a few actually, but this one stung the most.... probably because of this "other life" I was living in my head.  I felt (and still feel) frustrated by his words: "I know you'll do great things in your career," along with other kind statements. I'm frustrated because I too thought I would, as did many others, but I'm still here, in this place; no direction, no promise, nothing.  I'm frustrated because, people see talents and abilities, but no one is willing to take the chance on me.

Last night, I had a low.  I sat at my little white desk, staring at the laptop screen, re-reading the email until I couldn't bear it anymore.  Then I thought, "I guess I'll get nothing I want in life." And from that moment, I sunk into a bad place, listing the "I don't haves" and allowing myself to buckle under the weight of the cross, wishing it would go away once and for all. 

You see, I had come to terms with not having a busy social life, being a person who is expected to encourage, but not having anyone to let me fall, not having a relationship (but perpetually being invited to be a part of beautiful weddings).... 

BUT, academia, hard work, papers, projects, programs... THAT has been mine, and now I can't even obtain employment, the goal I have had for the past six years.  All the while watching fellow social work friends land great jobs, seeing their lives come together easily... So yes, it's disheartening. 

But then - I read over my last blog... "though the work yields no job... yet, I will rejoice in the Lord."  You see, when I wrote those words, I meant them.  But I can't help but wonder, did I?  Do I?  Do I believe the Lord is my joy, my salvation?  If I did, wouldn't I see His hand over these rejections?

I think the problem is this: I have expected the Lord to do something in this area of my life, I have expected He would bless my efforts, I have expected to be working, independent, serving... but now, I think Christ is taking away something I haven't laid down, or maybe something I have been "hiding in" for the past six years... 

I'm not sure what He's doing, but I know this: He's doing.

So this blog is more of a petition.  Family and friends, please pray for me in this moment.  I feel directionless and exhausted.  Pray I will surrendur every single dream to Christ, and leave room for Him to sanctify me into His image, in every single area of my heart and mind.  Please pray the enemy has no say in this matter, pray I will be guarded from the discouragements that so easily overwhelm me in these valleys, pray I remember the Lord is Emmanuel... with me even now, loving me beyond my shortcomings and calling me to His side.

I love you and thank you for your prayers,