Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dissonant Love

I had a strange revelation in my theory class the other day. I was thinking about dissonance and how, by definition, it is two notes that sound unpleasant when played together, but I find that in most music I tend to savor the beauty of dissonance. That's when I realized that our relationship with God is dissonant. God should be nowhere near us. We simply do not belong together. And yet, by His grace, He draws us into this incredible love relationship with Him. He holds us. And it's beautiful. It takes my breath away and sends chills up and down my spine (as all beautiful music does), and the strangest part of it all is that this dissonant love, this love that seems like it simply does not belong, brings Him glory. When God allows a sinner to call Him Abba He is glorified. It's pretty much amazing, isn't it? The dissonant love analogy is really quite deep. For one, we must open ourselves up to dissonance. To understand its beauty we must tune our ears to it, much like the message of the cross is foolishness to those who do not choose to believe. Dissonance also makes connsance so much sweeter, much like we are made perfect in Christ. Dissonance, like imperfection in life's journey, is not to be shunned, but rather embraced. Connsanace is to be longed for. I could go on, but that would take away the fun of allowing God to reveal truths to you specifically. Enjoy!

Dissonant Love

I have tried to understand Your love Lord
How a holy God like You
Could love someone like me
And there is so much beauty
To be found in it
But it seems so wrong
To see Justice juxtaposed
With Mercy
To see Holiness holding
To see Perfection pursuing
The imperfect
It makes no sense
This divine dissonance
You and I should not be together
And yet You call me Yours
And it is music to my ears
Beautiful and lovely
Yet dissonant

Stephanie M. Frakes
(October 31, 2008)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Among the Ruins

I can't believe how long it's been since I last wrote something. I guess life just got the best of me. Things are still going great and I still love college life. Granted, I am most definitely counting down the days til the end of the semester. I am so ready for the holidays. Anyway, I don't really have much to write about, but I do have a bunch of poems I've written recently. Here's one of them. Enjoy.

Among the Ruins

Sitting among the ruins
Pondering my imperfection
And the extent to which
I’m only human
And broken

The sun beats down on me
But then I feel a breeze
Cool as it caresses me
And reminds me
Of Your grace
And the extent of Your divinity
Your perfect, perfect love for me
And I am lifted up on eagles’ wings
To think
That You love me
When I can’t even love myself

Oh how holy
And marvelous
Are You oh Lord, my God
That you pick up broken pieces
And teach me to love
And to see
And to be
As you set me

Stephanie M. Frakes
(October 29, 2008)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lesser Words

As I sit outside looking at a sky that is finally blue again, enjoying the gentle breeze, my mind wanders, and my affection for words overtakes me. I feel consumed by my love for words. I search desperately for the right ones. In reality though, I find that I am truly consumed, not by my love for words, but by my love for the Word, the Word that was God and is God and lives within me. I can do nothing with this consuming love for the Word, except allow it to manifest itself in lesser words. Lesser words. They are all lesser words. Even the deepest and most beautiful crafting of words is shallow when compared to the grandeur of creation, let alone the grandeur of the Creator. I am struck by how temporary it all is. How lacking. It breaks my heart. And yet, even as I ponder how my words fall short of anything my soul longs to express, and I struggle to find something that might even scratch the surface, I am interrupted by one phrase: bring God glory. Yes, all my words fall pitifully short of the glory of God, and my life is only a vapor, yet I know that everything on earth will soon fade away, not just me. Even still scripture says that the earth declares God’s glory. So do I. God values the temporal. God takes pleasure in the temporal. God is glorified in the temporal. We were created for eternity, yes, but there is value in the here and now. How crucial it is that we live in grace and love to bring God glory! Without that purpose, there is no hope. We will all simply fade. Why live? Bring God glory. That is the abundant life that Jesus talks about in John 10:10. That is our “Promised Land.” To bring God glory.


I can say the sky is blue
I can say the clouds are white
I can say the trees are green
I can say the breeze is light
Or I can reach for greater beauty
Search for words profound and deep
The breeze is like God’s life-breath
The clouds dust from His feet
I suppose that brings more pleasure
But it still does not fulfill
This stirring deep within me
To find something that will…

Bring God glory!

I sit here pen in hand
Not knowing what to say
Words contain such wonder
And yet mine fade away
Spoken they ride upon the breeze
Never heard again
Written they last a moment
Then they’re washed off in the rain
Still there is this stirring
That I cannot contain
The need for deep expression
From which I can’t refrain…

Bring God glory!

Even as I sit here
This one resounding phrase
Consumes my very being
And fills my heart with praise
The earth declares God’s glory
The sky, the trees, the birds
Still all these will fade
Like all my crafted words
And yet they bring God pleasure
That He would choose to live among
In the lives of all His people
Who walk in grace and love…

Bring God glory!

Stephanie M. Frakes
(September 11, 2008)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Starlight and Daisies

So... I thought I'd write a simple update about what's going on in my life right now. Surprisingly enough, this is much harder than some of the more profound things I've written. Life's pretty awesome right now. College is work. I can't say I like that, but I'm willing to accept it. I had a good weekend. Friday I went with a group of friends to the West Texas Fair and Rodeo. That was fun! Then we stayed out and played Catch Phrase at the Den (the coffee shop on campus). That was a blast. Saturday I slept in until about 12:30. I'm learning this about college. You go a week on 5 to 6 hours of sleep and then catch up on the weekend. haha. Then I had lunch and worked on a bibliography for my Honors class until dinner (yes... four hours or more!). That night I went to a play on campus ("Moonlight and Magnolias"... it was amazing!). I can't remember if I did any more work after that. Yestersday was church and a ton of homework (two papers and a bunch of reading). I did get to go to the first meeting of ACU's swing dancing club. That was really fun. Today I go back to classes and what not.

Honestly... people wonder why I don't write about things going on in my life! haha. Truly, it isn't quite extraordinary, but I'm having a good time. This Saturday I think we'll start our girls' Bible study over Believing God, the book that changed my life. That should be amazing. Oh and last week I got to play accompanist for University Chorale. That was an experience, I must say. It did make me really happy though and got me playing piano again. Wow... this has been quite the scattered collection of thoughts. Hopefully you feel a little more up to date on my life here in Abilene. Nothing spectacular, but I can see God at work and inviting me to join with Him every day. By the way, sorry I don't mention starlight or daisies anywhere in this post... it was a spin on "Moonlight and Magnolias." Yeah.... Blessings all!

Always smiling,

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Holy, Surrendered

If my life theme for my senior year of high school was grace, then I think my life theme for my freshman year of college may be surrender. I am amazed at the affection for writing He is stirring in me, but more than that, I am amazed as I watch God teach me what it is to surrender in obediance and put time in His presence first. This will be a long post, but I wanted to share with you all the latest project God is leading me into. Enjoy!

Wholly surrendered,

Holy, Surrendered
By: Stephanie M. Frakes
August 27, 2008

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21

Looking back 1,975 years ago. I place myself in the most pivotal scene in history (albeit that statement may be debatable). The crowd murmurs. I can sense their indifference in the atmosphere. It pains me. Imagine frost-bite in Israel! Yet that’s what it feels like, an eerie sense of numbness and pain, as if part of me is dying and I can do nothing to stop it. I cannot escape. To them it is nothing, or more than that, it is justice. Three criminals, tried and found guilty, now hang on three crosses in payment for their sin. I sink slowly to my knees, weak, and look up at my Lord who hangs in the middle. Tears run down my cheeks, for I know the truth. I know Jesus has no sin. I know He is all He says He is. I know He is God, and I see Him. Blood streams from His wounds. His eyes are swollen; His body broken. The thorns forming a crude coronet on His head are grossly ironic; their mockery disgusts me. His arms are spread wide and nailed there leaving His heart exposed. As He proclaims with His final breath, “It is finished,” it occurs to me: here is Holy surrendered, for Jesus Christ is the embodiment of holiness.

We often speak (even sing) in our Christian circles of being wholly surrendered. The more I think about it, however, the more I wonder whether or not we as Christ followers really understand the true implications of this phrase, or how crucial it is to us as we live to walk in freedom with Christ. I genuinely believe that we should seek to be wholly surrendered to our Lord Jesus, and His death certainly portrays that. Now, in my affection for language and belief that our Father takes joy in us as we take joy in His Truth, I wish to play with the homonym of this phrase (holy surrendered) in hopes that we (I) might come to a new understanding of its profundity and value in our lives as Christians.

Let us begin with a look at the first part of 2 Corinthians 5:21: God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us. Who was Jesus the day He died on the cross? He was Holy surrendered. God in the flesh, the One who had no sin, took on our sin and died a criminal’s death. One day, we as the redeemed will kneel before Christ as He sits at the right hand of the Father and cry, “Holy!” What a wonder it is that the very One whom we worship as holy is also the very one who was surrendered to death, “even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) Hallelujah! Holy surrendered.

In regards to our everyday lives, however, the phrase bears a very different meaning to me. Centuries from the time Holy surrendered, we as Christ followers find ourselves in a world governed by our enemy. We are foreigners forced to stand in a hostile land, and frankly, each day here is a battle. It seems to me the farther we come from Christ’s death and resurrection, the more difficult the battle gets, and the more we see holy surrendered. Once again we look at 2 Corinthians 5:21, this time as a whole, but with particular emphasis on the second part. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We are saints made holy by the blood of Christ, yet so many times in the heat of battle, rather than standing in His power as “the righteousness of God” and clinging to His freedom, we surrender our holiness and unwittingly allow the enemy to take us captive. Oh how it breaks my heart to look around me (and to look in the mirror) and see the holy surrendered, after the Holy surrendered to set us free! We were, after all, called to live in victory, to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) My question then is this: What is it that causes us (me) to forget all Christ accomplished on the cross and surrender all hope of living a life of holiness, walking in defeat rather than the victory of the Spirit Who lives in us (me)? I believe we face many obstacles in our day to day lives. We all experience the effects of fear, pride, doubt, faithlessness, busyness, and so much more in our lives, which sap us of our strength and lead us into surrender. So how do we escape the pull of these hindrances?

Here is where we come full circle. What often keeps us from standing in holiness is the fact that we as Christians are not wholly surrendered. We can sing about it. We can say that we are, but have we really given every part of our lives to Him? Are we actually wholly surrendered? I know there are many areas in my life that I tend to hold back, and the fact is that each one of those things makes me more vulnerable and more inclined to surrender my hope of holiness. Now, I can’t say I know exactly how to become wholly surrendered to our Lord, but I do know that the more I look back and see the Holy surrendered on the cross, the more being wholly surrendered to Him becomes my deepest desire. And in that I find my answer: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) Our Savior was Holy surrendered. We’ve all experienced the danger of seeing the holy surrendered. So my prayer is that we would make being wholly surrendered the deepest desire of our hearts and delight ourselves in the Lord, thereby allowing Him to accomplish in us what we cannot do on our own, so that we see “His grace to [us] was not without effect” (1 Corinthians 5:10) and we might truly live lives that are righteous and holy as He intended. Lord, I am yours!

Soon, I will begin to explore what God is revealing to me about what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord.” I believe He is calling me to look at concepts such as losing yourself in praise and His glory, seeking His countenance and walking in that light, and living with your heart exposed before Him. We will see where this journey takes us.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Around Campus

Well, the first cold front of the season blew in last night and it is a gorgeous morning. As I walked outside I think I truly understood the concept of God's mercy being new every morning and the motif of a new song. There's just something about that fresh morning air just after sunrise that makes me smile, despite that fact that I'm awake just after sunrise. haha. Anyway, I thought now would be a good time to share a couple of pictures from my favorite places around campus. I'll get some more later. Enjoy!

Singing a new song,

Jacob's Dream at Sunset - This is my favorite place on campus!

The Bible Building

Jacob's Dream - This is the gate. Neat illusion.

Williams Performing Arts Center - I spend a lot of time there.

Hardin Administration Building - Honors Program Headquarters

McDonald Hall - Dorm Sweet Dorm

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Here it is. It's just me, a different drummer but the same old beat...

it seems like everything is gonna be just fine, cuz I'm having a good time! And so Relient K once again tells the story of my life.

It's Saturday afternoon after my first real week of college. I'm currently in the process of doing my laundry. It's kinda fun actually. I've also balanced my checkbook, dusted my desk, and sent out a check to World Vision. Pretty productive I'd say! It has been a crazy long week!!! Despite the difficulty of the transition (namely having to learn new sleeping habits and not getting more than six hours of sleep all week, plus fighting homesickness) it seems like everything will be more than fine, because I am having a great time! I've made a great group of friends. The girls on my hall are all becoming really close. I've found a great church that I see myself getting plugged into really soon. We've even got a plan in the works to start a girls' Bible study on our hall. Exciting times! Oh yeah, then there's the other, only slightly more important part of college life, the classes. haha. After having gone a full week, I think I really like my classes... for the most part. Here's my schedule/commentary:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

8AM- Elementary Music Theory: Keyboard Analysis & Part Writing
I really like this class. It's pretty simple, seeing as I learned most of this stuff when I was six, but it's been good for me to get back to the basics, especially if I ever want to teach. Plus, if I pay attention to what I'm doing, it should be an easy A and cushion the GPA. Yay!

10AM- Honors Cornerstone
I think this will become one of my favorite classes. The whole class is already really close because we spent all of Welcome Week together. It's discussion based with a lot of reading, but the teacher is really realistic and understanding, so it shouldn't be too bad. We're discussing modernity and the development of other cultures is hopes that we can become more well-rounded citizens and Christians. At least I think that's the idea. haha. The semester will end with a 15 page research paper based on a topic of our choice. It should be a good experience.

1PM- Life & Teachings of Jesus
My professer for this class reminds me of Coach Ramey! Maybe it's only because his name is Randy, I don't know, but I really like the class and listening to his lectures. He's actually an internationally acclaimed speaker in the Church of Christ circle, so it's really cool to get to listen to him twice a week. Our class has like 250 people in it and then on Fridays we breakout into smaller groups. I think I like it. It should be good.

2PM- Fundamentals of Communication (Honors)
I don't like speech, but I think I might actually like this class. I have a few friends in there and the content is actually really interesting, even though I complain about it. Our prof is a little spacey, which makes us laugh, but she really does know what she's doing. I really like how she's integrating our faith (using different Bible verses in class) with communication. It's really neat.

5PM- University Chorale
I only have this class on Mondays and Wednesdays. I'm not sure what I think. I think I may withhold judgement for a while longer. It's definitely different from the choral experience I'm used to. There's only one director (and he's certainly not Mr. Tanner), and our accompanist is a piano performance major (ie: she's not Ms. Hickey or Ms. Morton). I'm working to keep an open mind and just enjoy making music, which I always do. One thing I will say is that it's really cool that everyone in the music department here views what we do as an offering to God and an act of worship. That is neat.

Tuesday, Thursday
8:30AM- Elementary Theory: Sightsinging & Eartraining
This class may actually be a challenge for me. Sightsinging isn't too hard, but I've never been very good at eartraining. That said, I'm excited to be able to practice all that. The prof is great. I really like her. Not much else to say

1:30PM- Environmental & Technological Science
This class just sounds intimidating, doesn't it? It actually was at first, but it's really growing on me. My prof is very much a believer in not simply feeding us information but making us responsible for our learning and teaching us how to become life-long learners. I am excited to learn about the environment since conservation and "going green" are such hot topics right now. One bad thing (and possibly a good thing) is that we'll be doing a lot of group work. I'm not very good at group work, so it will definitely be a learning experience for me.

3PM- Lifetime Wellness
This is going to be the one class that will take everything in me to attend. I don't know anyone and frankly, it's not my favorite subject matter. I'll get through though, I'm sure. Hey, maybe I'll actually learn something!

Well, I guess that's it for now. I have homework to get to now. Oh joy! Truly, I can't wait until Thanksgiving! Blessings all! Love you and miss you!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A New Dawn: A Connection to Joshua of Old, an Allegory

Here's a story God gave me the other day. I've felt really connected to the story of Joshua this summer and if you've read the book, you can understand why. The story of Joshua is one of new horizons, new lands, and the inevitable unknown. More than that though, it is a story of God's faithfulness and power. As I prepare for the first day of classes tomorrow, I stand at a strange vantage point. Looking one way, I see a vastness, a land waiting to be conquered, and yes, I feel fear. I wonder if I can face it. Looking back, I see the beauty of the land I know and I'm reminded of the huge victory that God brought this summer. I love it, and I already miss it, but thank God for the opportunity to move forward and continue on the journey to the promised land. It's not easy. I'll be that honest. Praise God, it's been amazing, but it's still hard. No matter what though, I'M BELIEIVING GOD! Enjoy! Stephanie<><
A New Dawn: A Connection to Joshua of Old, an Allegory
By: Stephanie M. Frakes
August 18, 2008

Staring into the distance too shocked to join in the victory celebration. Afraid that it was all just a dream, an elaborate story conjured up by my deep sub-conscious desires, I replay the events in my head once more. It was no dream. No question the battle was real, too real. I can still see the scars from before I was ready to fight back. The enemy had the power to crush me completely if I had not had the Almighty on my side. It was only in the confidence of His Spirit that I stood in battle for hours.

I looked at the sun. It moved across the sky in the same leisurely motion it always has, unfazed by my pain, almost mocking my struggles. I knew I was running out of time. If I lost the light, I would lose the battle as well. I cried out to the Almighty. I had no preconceptions of what He should do; I simply knew He needed to move… and quickly.

He heard my cries, and to my astonishment, I saw the sun stand still. This manifestation of His faithfulness gave me strength, and now, as I fought, each blow made me stronger, and each fall taught me new and unsearchable things until finally the enemy was defeated. The camp received me with great joy and they too marveled at the work of the Almighty. The victory was real. The sun truly stood still. Glory!

But now I stare into the distance and the sky fills with the familiar orange, pink and purple hues that signal sunset. I realize it’s time to move on and my heart sinks a little bit. What will happen in the dark? How long must I wait for a new dawn? Will I ever see His glory like that again? Will I remember this moment and His faithfulness, or will I lose sight of it all as day fades into day?

As purple fades into a deep, deep blue, I smile, for the Almighty whispers to me, “The sun sets, and the dawn breaks, but I never change. As the sun stood still in battle, so I stand every moment. Simply learn to believe.”

Friday, August 22, 2008

By the Light of a Thousand Candles

Wednesday night was our Candle Light Devotional here at ACU. It was amazing. I have no other word to describe it. All the incoming students (about 1500 of us) walked from Moody Colliseum to the ampitheatre while the sidewalks were lined with hundreds of upperclassmen, faculty, and alumni holding candles and singing worship songs. Once we were seated, all 1500 of us lit our candles (you know, the whole passing the flame along one by one). It was a beautiful picture. There were thousands of candles burning, and then the stars were just beautiful! It was really great.

The whole evening spoke volumes to me about unity, unity not only within ACU, but in the entire body of Christ. Seeing all those different faces and hearing all those voices just blew me away. God is so awesome (and I do mean that as in I am truly in awe of Him). He's an artist with limitless creativity. I mean, not only did He speak the beautiful stars into existance, but He formed and made so many people, each with their own specific gifting, passion, and purpose. Billions of people on earth, each different and each deeply loved. He's a Father with limitless love. God's devotion to us in His love truly blows me away, and I pray that by His grace and His strength in everything I do, every choice, every relationship, I would be devoted to Him. We've been talking a lot about revolution (our theme for Welcome Week is rLOVEution) and I had to stop and wonder as I saw all those candles burning: If we each have Christ's power in us, shouldn't revolution be a natural byproduct of our coming together as a body? More than that, (and to be honest, this is more of a comfort than a conviction) if God's Spirit (His Word, the sword of the Spirit) is living and active in me (as Ms. Beth Moore would say) shouldn't there be revolutions occuring daily in my own life?

I hear a resounding "YES!" echoing off the walls of my heart even now. And that is precisely why I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has some amazing stuff waiting for me on the horizon. I don't know what it is exactly, but I can hear God telling me to simply trust His limitlessness and say yes to Him daily. The truth is, whether we realize it or not, revolution does happen daily. Each morning when I climb down from my bed (haha.) and recognize the fact that it is the Lord's day and make the choice to "rejoice and be glad in it" even when there's really nothing special going on, that's a revolution. I pray that that will become my mindset once again, and that God will use that to make a difference somehow, and maybe, no definitely, that will lead to even greater things as I venture on this beautiful journey with the Lord of the Universe. Oh what joy it is to think that I walk each day hand-in-hand with the Lord of the Universe!

I love these times when the Lord ministers to me and I feel so confident and victorious in His Spirit. I'm still blown away when I think that the Lord of the Universe (I use that repetitively because to me it speaks power, grace, control, radiance, victory, and beauty) makes His home in my very heart. My Jesus conquered the grave and now He is living and active in me. How can I not embrace the fact, yes pure, unshakeable fact, that we are all "more than conquerors" because of God's amazing love?!

Oops. I think I started preaching there. Haha. I guess it's a good thing. It means I'm doing well right now. On a lighter note, I'm meeting tons and people and making friends really quickly. Last night was really fun, and refreshing. I was starting to feel overwhelmed with all the activities and information overload that is Welcome Week, but last night our whole floor got together in the hallway where we have some couches and just started sharing stories. It was really really neat and relaxed and I met some great people through that. It was the first time that a lot of people on our floor had really talked. I'm really excited to see relationships form. Good times!!!!!! I miss you all though. Really. Until next time, be blessed all!

More than a conqueror,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Picture Perfect?--Wow I wish I were more clever!

Here are the pictures I promised you all. This is home for the next few months. Sometime soon I'll try and get some pictures of campus up. It's really beautiful. Blessings!

Closet & door. Kudos to the girls back at the office, and my favorite cousins!

Sink, books, etc.

Keyboard area. Shadowboxes from my favorite sister and card from my favorite Maribel!

My bed and two of my favorite pictures. Thanks Lisa & Ms. Morton.

Desk and entertainment area. Yes, I have a SWEET tv! Kudos to my favorite aunt. ;-)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A New Journey

Greetings from ACU and welcome to the initial installment of my new blog, "A Journey in Grace." I hope that this will be a place where I can stay connected to the people that I love, but more than anything, I hope this will prove to be a medium through which I can share with you all how God is moving and what He is speaking to me for His glory. With that, enjoy, and please, check in often! From poetry, to deep thoughts, to pictures, to simple updates, you never know what you'll find!
As I sit here in my new dorm room, I can't help but smile. I can't believe I'm finally here! More than that, I can't believe how happy I am! It's been raining all weekend (praise God, it stopped just long enough for me to get moved in yesterday), but then again, I love rain; it reminds me of renewal and grace. I guess I don't really know what to say. The last couple of weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster, but I'm amazed at the peace that I felt the moment I walked onto campus. God has it all planned out. This is where I belong, and I am so blown away to see how God has prepared me for this. Even as I look around my room (this little world of pink, black, and treble clefs...) I see little reminders of all the people who continually cover me in prayer as I live life to seek His face. I can't wait to see where He's taking me!

Speaking of seeking God's face, I visited Univeristy Baptist Church this morning. I really liked it. It was a strange combination of BT and Trinity Baptist back home. It was Trinity's feel and small congregation with BT's charisma (no, not Charismatic... just charisma) and music. I'm not sure whether or not this church is "the one," but we'll see. It's going to be hard to find a new church family, but I'm believing God.

Well, I guess that's enough for now. Be blessed y'all!

Always smiling,