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all my fountains

If you know me at all, you know I am a naturally busy person, and I really like reflecting on the impact my busy-ness has on my life. And if you’ve read any of my writing, you know I love metaphors. So, for those of you for which these two charming qualities about me have grown on you, don’t worry, this post will not disappoint.

There have been times in my life that my busy-ness was a reflection of my inability to face things going on in my own life. But, I think truly my busy-ness now is simply a reflection of how many things and people in this world I want to take part in. Admittedly, most of these things have selfish desires driving them, and they often become a distraction from what truly matters.

I have been reading in Psalms, and this week I was struck by a familiar verse.

“As they make music they will sing, ‘All my fountains are in you'” Psalm 87:7

Immediately, I thought of the image of building a fountain in an ocean. I’m sure you’ve heard this metaphor before so stick with me…and it seems silly, but this would certainly be the most sustainable course of action for an ever flowing fountain. My metaphor kinda falls through here because most fountains now have a super-efficient drainage system that just reuses the water. But, I suppose it makes more of a statement to think of a drinking fountain.

Because I can be honest and say that there are times when I feel as if people come up to me, press buttons and expect a large gulp of freshly flowing, cold water, and walk away. And in the moment, I feel as if I was made to do that, and I feel as if I was glorifying the Lord. And so, I begin to set up a drinking fountain in every dry spot I can find, with a large sign above my head that says “Cold Water Here.” 

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ok now this is funny…this is me. It’s pretty obnoxious if you think about it.

And there is something good about seeking out the dryness; but after a month, or a week, or a day, of building a fountain in the middle of a desert, I don’t have any cold water left. And that not only creates a deficit for me, but it also totally strips the glory right out of the power that the Lord gave me in that moment. Because I have taken a gift, something so sweet, and made it selfish, coated in pride, and temporary. 

My prayer right now is to build my fountains in an ocean. So that when the Lord prompts me to go out in the desert daily, I bring those I find back to the shore. So that I root my energy and life in the Lord. So that no matter how many people or things look to me for cold water, I still have an abundant supply. So that I do not advertise a temporary satisfaction or my own personal ability, but that I overflow continually with an eternal source.

If you find yourself feeling depleted and overworked, or like all the work you are doing for the Lord is physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining, I prompt you to revisit your blueprints. Where are your fountains built? 

Join me and the Psalmist in singing to the Lord “All my fountains are in you.”

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skip the drive-thru

It has been awhile since I have written. But that is not because God has been silent. In fact, He has been quite loud.

Last week at work, my boss asked me if I had any “prayer networks” to tap into. Honestly, I kind of chuckled to myself as I thought about the extensive network of believers I could contact quickly.

I’m not really a mass email or text person, but she asked, and it was for something that is important to her. She was about to give a speech to present a motion to make it policy of her political party to criminalise the purchase of sex, essentially to tackle the demand of prostitution (a legal act in the UK).

I told her I would ask my friends to pray. And so I did. I sent an email to maybe 50 people that I know who would be willing to pray. Within minutes, the email had been forwarded to over 100 people—and this was just the beginning.

I was able to tell her she had a host of people praying for her across the world. However, to be honest, this moment might have been more impactful for me than for her. I was blown away by the faithfulness of my fellow believers. I was lucky enough to experience a moment where the power of prayer was heavy and extraordinarily evident.

If you know me at all, you know I like to talk. I spend a lot of time talking. But if I assess my day, I direct an embarrassingly minimal amount of words to the Lord.

I have the incomparable ability to speak to the creator of the Universe who tells the sun to shine and the rain to fall, and yet I utilize him at my own leisure. It’s kinda like I let him sit on the other side of a drive-thru window at McDonalds. When I’m hungry, I push the button and speak, waiting for a response just long enough to see what I owe before moving on and expecting my order within minutes.

I have been moving closer and closer to a place that I am lucky to say I have been before: where I am so in love with Jesus that I am consistently seeking His words and the freedom He promises. But, that does not mean that I am devoid of responsibility to continue pursuing Him.

After listening to a convicting sermon, I’ve decided to call a spade a spade. I do not want to make excuses for my relationship with Jesus, operate in comparisons, or sit idly waiting for God to do something big.  As the sermon noted, if I have been “too busy” for months, that’s indifference. If I consistently choose sleep over Jesus, that’s idolatry. If quiet time becomes a chore, thats not a discipline issue, its a heart issue.

But, if I consistently turn my heart toward Jesus,  if I fiercely destroy the drive-thru window barriers that I meticulously put up, if I deny the human expectation that I “owe” God anything besides my heart, if I boldly speak words of fear, praise, sorrow, joy, and if I wait hungry and expectant for his faithfulness, thats devotion. It is the kind of devotion I want to mark my relationship with Jesus.

One of my dearest prayer warriors wrote recently to me including a favorite C.S. Lewis quote: “Relying on God has to begin all over again everyday as if nothing had yet been done.” And wow is that true. In a sense, it is frustrating that my human nature can shift my heart at a moments notice. But in another sense, it is beautiful that I get a chance every morning once again to right my ugly, wandering heart–to bind it once again to Him.

So, here’s to devotion. Here’s to recognizing and utilizing the power of prayer.

Here’s to skipping the drive-thru and going inside.

Thank you to those who joined in my prayer parade. It was truly an awesome experience. If you’d like to help me in my devotion to prayer, send me prayer requests 🙂

 

to be radical

 

One of my favorite things about Scotland thus far has been the small group I have joined at church. It is obnoxiously placed late on a Tuesday night, and each week I find myself with a list of excuses as to why sleep or a proper dinner is a better idea. And yet, each week, I feel the silent nudge to return to small group. Not only has the Lord been faithful in providing sleep and time for food, but He has made small group a sweet, sweet time to gently speak to my heart.

The past few weeks, I have felt the Lord acknowledging something about me that I have known for awhile. I have a tendency to think of God only in light of negative qualities. Though I know deeply that the Lord is gracious, loving, and kind, I quickly assume that  these characteristics of the Lord are not so pertinent to me. With many things in my life, I often assume that what the Lord wants for me must be the thing I don’t want.

I read a book called Radical, and it totally changed the way I saw my faith, in a good way. But I also allowed it to begin to fill my head with lies that in order to be serving the Lord I needed to be in the slums of Haiti or giving away every material possession I own. And don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first one to tell you that I have learned a great deal from being in the slums of Haiti, and I believe there is real truth in being called to this kind of radical life. But the Devil is smart and cunning, and tends to trick me into seeing these good ideals as burdens. As if in order to be serving the Lord in a radical way I have to be miserable, that the Lord’s will is always big and scary and if things are going right I should just step back and wait for the wheels to fall off. 

Many of you reading this probably think this thought process and crazy–and it is!

I recognize there is value in understanding the nature of fearing the Lord. However, I don’t think the Lord ever calls us to act or live IN fear.

This week I have been intentionally praying about noticing areas of my life in which I am bound by fear: planning for the future, relationships, day to day interactions.

Questions for myself that are maybe relevant for you to:

What does it look like to trust the Lord enough to know that any interview, application, test grade, position or title, can’t change or thwart his plan? 

How do I live FREELY in the goodness of relationships and opportunities given by the Lord? What does it feel like to be discerning of lies and be intentional about receiving truth? 

How would it feel to be so in love with Jesus, so completely dependent on His guidance for every move, that I ask first before I pass by someone on the street, enter any conversation, indulge in his blessings of food and sleep? How much more could I enjoy the blessings of the Lord if this was my mindset?

SO, short and sweet. That’s the prayer. To be SO in love with Jesus, that my every breath, step, thought, and word is naturally and yet intentionally infiltrated with a conversation with Him.

hows that for radical.

 

I would love to chat with anyone who has thoughts on this. And I would love to be praying for you, lexie.harvey@furman.edu

 

tug-of-war

Today, I went to lunch and a museum with Abi and her son Nate. I forgot how much I missed being around children.

Being with Nate, I was reminded of the thing I love most about children: the innocent unselfishness and curiosity with the world around them. To use an image from GK Chesterton, I might be excited and amazed if you opened a door and there was a dragon standing behind it.

But Nate would have been excited and amazed if you opened a door.

I was reminded of a recent conversation with my roommates about the power insecurities have to strangle the life and joy out of every precious moment. I would tend to argue that the preoccupation with self manifests in any social setting as each person consistently mulling over the same worry, thought, or doubt about themselves, although letting on no hint that their mind is fighting in this tug-of-war with the present.

Although I decided a long time ago that I didn’t care what people think, I realize this decision is one I have to make daily. Becoming more conscious of my own thoughts, I was disgusted with the amount of time I still throw away to concerns of worldly success, physical appearance, or intellectual status.

I like a passage John Piper recounts in his book When I Don’t Desire God:

“How much happier you would be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you! How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin to be interested in them because they are not interested in you. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theater in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers” (Chesterton)

He goes on to say that ultimately God frees us from self-absorption by granting to us (though gradually) a “childlike faith.” This term has been used countless times throughout church group and Bible studies, but I have yet to have been affected by it as deeply as this next passage:

“Children always say, “Do it again”; and the grown up does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daises alike; it may be that God makes each one separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we”  (Chesterton)

The point is that we are to be amazed “not by the strangeness of people’s noses, but that they had noses in the first place” (Chesterton). And I know that sounds silly.

But I think we live in a world where we want to be floored; we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars taking ourselves to concerts, museums, traveling abroad (hmph), in order, in part, to experience joy in the physical blessings of the world. And I don’t believe these things are bad, not at all (and I recognize there are alternate reasons for doing these things). In fact, I agree with Piper that physical blessings are gifts to be enjoyed and meant to be “pure partners in the revelation of God’s glory.” But I also think there is something special about the practice of being in awe, and truly satisfied, with the mundane, or shall I say the usual. As nothing feels mundane about the sunset, however commonplace it is.

And the more we exalt in the joy of the Lord in the little–the more childlike we become–the easier it is to avert our eyes from our own imperfections and concerns. What a joy it is to find a “street full of splendid strangers.”

So,

To the girl who finds herself concerned with her body: The God we serve never takes his eyes off of you. And he watches you, because he is wild about you.  Remember the days when your concern about physicality was which color bow would look best on the playground. 

To the one who constantly wonders if he is fitting it: Most of the people around you are wondering the same thing. Pray for the ability to focus your energy on making others feel comfortable, rather than seeking comfort for yourself. Remember the days when it didn’t matter if you brought goldfish or animal crackers to snack time. 

To the one who stresses about the future (jobs, finances, schools, marriage): I believe firmly in spending more energy on being rather than doing. Be present and remember that no job or accomplishment will change the way God looks at you. And at the gates of Heaven, I’m pretty darn sure Peter won’t ask what you got on your math test.

To the one who wishes they were a child again: Me too. If only to experience that unashamed joy in the simple act of the opening of a door.

So folks, thats the prayer for the week. And honestly, perhaps my life. I don’t want to continue growing old and continue expecting more and more behind the door. I want to fall to my knees in awe of the God who created it all, including the door. Every single time.

I would love to be praying for you, shoot me at email at lexie.harvey@furman.edu

In spirit of the times, here are some photos of commonplace, mundane, or usual things I have experienced here abroad thus far including food, people, and random items. I am learning to take as much joy and exaltation of the Lord is these, as I do my trips to the Alps.

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prison, hikes, and Abi

So, I went to prison this past week. Don’t be concerned mom, it was for work.

On my way to meet my boss (Ash, a member of the Scottish Parliament) in the lobby of parliament, I got a text that said “can you bring my coat, brolly, and crisps.” We were already running late, so just picture me in heels literally running through parliament trying to figure out what the heck a brolly is.

We climbed into the taxi and Ash began to ask for briefings on a seminar and about where we were heading. Thumbing through my notes and files as she put on her lipstick, I felt intimately connected to Anne Hatheway in the Devil Wears Prada. Except Ash is entirely too kind to be Meryl Streep’s character. I took notes as she talked with a tall, Scottish, well-mannered man. I’m proud to say it was my first time in a prison.priso

For the weekend, I was supposed to go to Paris, but heard the Lord speak loudly and clearly and we diverted our plans. On a whim, we booked train tickets to Windermere, England—in the Lakes District. We found an incredibly cheap Airbnb outside of town advertised as “a small room with 8 beds.” It was exactly as advertised, except only had 7 beds. This town consisted of New Dungeon Ghyll Tavern and Old Dungeon Ghyll Tavern. We ate at both. We also took one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever taken. First, we hiked up to Stickle Tarn, and then proceeded up the next mountain. Photos below.

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My Come to Jesus Moment 

My internship supervisor, Abi, is a single mom with an 8 year old son. Her son, Nate, was diagnosed with NF1 as a two year old, when his father left the picture (NF1 is a genetic malfunction, progressive, frequently causing noncancerous tumors all over the body. In some cases, they may not only be benign). Abi told me that in December, Nate began having more severe headaches than normal, and was given an “urgent” appointment through the National Health System. Set for January 25 (almost an entire month out…) Nate received multiple scans, MRIs, and optic ultrasounds last weekend. Abi was essentially a nervous wreck all week. Thursday, she and I distributed flyers across Ash’s (the member of parliament I work for) constituency all morning. About 6 miles into our 8 mile parade, she realized she had missed 3 calls from the doctor. Trying to hide her panic, we stopped and both began dialing the doctor and NHS operating board. I reached the doctor (no idea who I was speaking with just had better luck getting through to the correct ward) and handed the phone to Abi. Standing there trying to give her space, I realized that this moment very well might be one of the biggest moments of her life. I knew there was a high probability that the doctor find a tumor in his brain, and by the looks of 3 consecutive calls, the urgency of the matter seemed high.

As I tried to read the expression on her face, I began thinking about what the heck I would do if the news was bad. Praise the Lord it was good, and no tumor was found. The scans were being sent to the optometrist to look at the optic nerve. Abi was relieved, and so was I. The moment, however, weighed more heavily on me than expected however. Mostly because I simply felt so unequipped to handle it. With a dear friend, I typically respond well and without thought to comfort, pray, and encourage. However, with someone who still feels like a stranger, and also someone whom I know does not share my faith, my ability to comfort, pray, and encourage, seemed quite flat. I spent the rest of the morning pondering what exactly I would have done if the news had been bad. I realized that I felt pretty uncomfortable with the idea of asking to pray over her, even though that’s all my body had the idea or capability to do. I found myself thinking, “prayer wouldn’t even really mean anything to her since she isn’t a Christian, so I could just walk in silence but pray to myself.” I’m actually kinda mad I had this thought. I later rationed through this and realized I was totally stripping prayer of its power. And what the heck Lexie, how could I possibly think that prayer only works for people who know God? I had a brief come to Jesus moment about claiming my faith and being prepared to boldly love people the way I know best, regardless of how they might perceive it. My job is to trust that the Lord will use me how He wills.

The Lord is good, and the Lord is loud. If you will, pray for Abi and her son Nate, and pray that I would be bold enough to listen to the Lord’s still, small, yet often loud voice.

a security deposit

My time in Edinburgh has continued to be a time of learning. Menial (yet momentous) things include how to work a radiator, how to get rid of a mouse, how to work an AGA (look it up. it takes roughly 5 hours to cook 1 potato), how to work the bathtub. These might sound like small victories- but when your heat hasn’t worked for a week and you feel like an idiot for most literally not even being able to LOCATE the drain, these are large victories. 

Quick update: I began classes and I began my internship in the Scottish Parliament. I am confident I will learn a lot in this role, however I am also sure that even this will come with its own host of challenges. It’s too soon to tell what the Lord has in store for me there. I also skied in the French Alps. I was 100% the person that moms flagged and told their children to stay away from on the slopes. “Honey, if you ever see the girl in the blue helmet. Avert immediately. She’s unpredictable.”

For Christmas, my family each wrote me a series of letters to take abroad with me. They each specified a time or date to open. Some said things like “open when you miss home” or “open when you are traveling alone.” My dads were rather specific, thing like “open March 9th (pm),”– needless to say I’m curious about those.

One of my moms said to open “when God seems distant or even silent.” 

Last week, one morning as I sat alone in my flat I ventured to my letter box and searched for this letter. I was honestly kinda mad that I had made it only 2 weeks before needing to open what I imagined being one of those middle-of-the-trip-kick-in-the-butt kinda letters. But I felt the urge and so I proceeded. It led me to Psalm 13. Perhaps one of the shortest chapters of the Bible. I’ve copied it below.

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

The first 4 verses David spends crying out to the Lord and begging for Him to appear. He even acknowledges how awful it would be if his enemies triumphed over him. In the margins of my Bible I found chicken scratch that wrote “when you cry out to God, you are in good company.” My moms letter talked about how David spent years and years crying out to God and waiting on Him. He was anointed in His youth and wasn’t led to the throne until he was 30- that’s a heck of a long time to be waiting. 

Verse 5 takes a pretty drastic turn, as David praises the Lord and announces his confidence in Him. Another margin noted that in between verses 4 and 5, David was wrestling with God. Perhaps for hours. Perhaps for days. Perhaps for years. 

My mom wrote:

 “When you are doing what Jesus calls you to do, you can be assured that the enemy will attack. He never concentrates on secondary targets. So sometimes God brings us to the end of ourselves so that we are completely and utterly relying on Him. And sometimes, we stay there. years. (Jospeh, Paul, Abraham, David, can all attest to this!)”

A lot of my heart feels like I’m just wrestling with God. Whether it be over understanding timing or placement, over joy and fear, over peace and anxiety. It seems like a constant tug of war between me begging for Him to come closer, and me pleading for Him not to take another step.

 I think I’m sitting between Psalm 13:4 and Psalm 13:5. And I think I’ve been here for awhile. And I think the Lord might be asking me to get comfortable. And I really don’t think that is such a bad thing anymore. 

Perhaps the only thing the Lord is asking me to do while I’m here is to find joy in the waiting, to get over my fear of the nearness of God. To declare His victory before it even happens. To recognize, like David, that my salvation is so intimately connected with God’s victory that I trust even in the moments that feel lonely and quiet because I know that my defeat is His defeat. And He cannot be defeated. 

I am reminded that my longing to move on from this place of waiting is Biblical. Because to some extent, this place of waiting will not end on this side of Heaven.

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:4

But I was also reminded of the guarantee we have been given. The next verse says that God has given us the Spirit as a deposit. A deposit is often the first installment of the rest of a payment. And for us, the Spirit is a physical promise of something more to come. 

So yes, I very well might be stuck between two drastically different verses–and even more so I might be here for awhile. But I have taken hope that this deposit, “guaranteeing what is to come” promises an eternal intimacy with Jesus that will most certainly be worth the wait.

If you are joining me on this journey of prayer, or want to hop in for a brief moment, my prayer for the week is that I would join David in the cave in praising God for the rescue that has not yet happened. 

I’d love to be praying for you, send prayer requests to lexie.harvey@furman.edu

Some of my favorite photos from the past few weeks, take a scroll:

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don’t worry mom, I had another coat.
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literally inside of a snowglobe
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the time i found the longest bench in the world in Switzerland
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an uncomfortly urgent restroom sign
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preparing for a mouse
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How exciting for this tree!!!

a bad turtleneck

Nineteen weeks.

This next semester will no doubt be different than my past few semesters at Furman. At the beginning of last week, I sat next to my mom in the Nashville airport as I stared hesitantly at the security line. Nineteen weeks. That’s a really long time.

My thoughts were consumed by a terrifying timeline and the chance that I might not enjoy the months ahead.

After yet another pep talk from Mindy, I strapped on my backpack and walked away, feeling the all-familiar lump form tightly in the back of my throat. As I approached the TSA checkpoint, I read the sign demanding me to leave behind any weapons and to strip myself of any liquids or aerosol gels. As I untied my new hiking boots and took off my extraordinarily large winter coat (soon to become my best friend), I heard the Lord gently whisper additional requests. Along with my boots and coat, He asked me to untie my perfect plans and to take off my fear, one that seemed to be suffocating me like a bad turtleneck.

I promptly denied and continued to unlace my boots.

Upon arriving in Edinburgh, I became familiar with the feeling of my stomach sinking every time I realized this was not going to be a week-long vacation. To be honest, I was frustrated with myself. I wanted nothing more than to be racing up the steps to the Edinburgh Castle and signing up for bagpiping lessons. Rather, I was allowing my fears to fester and ignoring any sign of God’s tender whisper.

Sunday morning, I sat in my first church service in Scotland. Attending a beautiful cathedral blocks away from my flat, I listened to the Scottish pastor speak about the power of fear. He said that emboldening our fear increases the size of our problems and reduces the size of God. I quickly realized that I have reduced my God to perhaps the size of a Polly Pocket and shoved Him into my wallet.

As I walked back to what is my home for these upcoming months, I had a conversation with Jesus, pleading with Him to accompany me on my journey, to bring me joy and peace, to strip me of the fear that feels woven into the threads of my sweaters, even.

At the end of week one, I am happy to say that I look back on a week of victories. A week of discovery in a new city, of laughter with some of my best friends, of excitement in what lies ahead. A week spent attempting to open my palms and force fear to tremble in the light of His glory.

Beginning a new week, I am excited about the journey that Jesus and I are embarking upon. No doubt there will be moments of relapse and no doubt I will be consistently calling upon the grace of the Lord. But I am happy to say that I know with certainty that my God is not the size of a Polly Pocket.

How could He be?

If you would like to join Jesus and I on this journey, I would love for you to walk alongside me in prayer. This week, if willing, I ask for you to plead with me; plead for the freedom from fear.

I would love to return the favor. Turns out Scotland is a city requesting long bus rides and even longer walks. If you have something I can be praying for this week, please shoot me an email at lexie.harvey@furman.edu . It’s a sobering realization that the same God I find outside bus stop #8 is riding with you down your local highway.

In these upcoming posts, I cannot promise consistency. But I do promise to be genuine, as I challenge you to be genuine before others and before the Lord as we dive into the new year.

 

with love,

Lexie