A Routine Joy

November 30 2006

I think I often forget joy. It’s a simple concept, but one that’s rather important. Seemingly, this comes as quite the surprise in that it’s the very thing that is supposed to set me apart from those who have none. So, as absurd as it may seem, I tend to forget the very thing that identifies me. This is dangerous. When we forget our identity we begin to blend in with something we’re meant to stand out against.

We forget the raw, for-no-reason, unexplainable joy; the kind that produces a smile when no one else is around; the kind that allows one to stand when everything else in their world seems so frail? In all the routine, which is as much of the maturing process as the valley or the mountain, I shouldn’t forget that God is still as amazing and awesome as He was the day He saved me.


When I’m walking to class in the morning when it’s 10 degrees and I’m just wishing I was back in bed: He still captured my heart. (Rom 6)

When I’m sitting bored at work: He still holds the helpless

When I get frustrated in traffic: He still mends the broken, sometimes even me.

When I worry because I don’t know what life will look like 12 months from now: He still commands the lightning. (Job 38)

When I can’t understand my stats teacher because he isn’t from here: I’ll also be hearing that language around the Throne one day, only it won’t be talking about statistics. (Phil 2)

When I’m driving down the road wondering why it gets dark so early: He still painted the sunset.

When I get home so late I can barely make it to my bed: He still calls the stars by name. (Is 40)

When the things in life I can do nothing about still come up from the recesses of the past to hinder me: He has still already won the battle! (Rev 21)


May we not allow God’s kindness, love, and “incredible-ness” to be diminished in our routine.

May we open our eyes and see Him all over it.

May we welcome the day, whatever it holds.

May we stand out.

May we not forget our joy.


King Jesus is still King Jesus, even when I’m just me.


“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.” Romans 13:11,12


 - JV

Where the Echoes Stop

September 26 2006

Where the Echoes Stop

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Far past where sound has abandoned thought.
Where silence reigns over redundancy.
Where once well said is more than enough.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where words must be born to be heard.
Where speech is a gift and not a curse.
Where there is more of the unique and less of the mundane.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where meaning is rescued from noise…
Where conviction replaces thoughtless repetition…
Where what everyone is saying surrenders to what needs to be said.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where the shouting of the masses falls silent to the whisper of the one…
Where the voice of the majority submits to the voice of reason…
Where “they” do not exist; but “we” do.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where substance overthrows the superficial…
Where courage conquers compliance and conformity…
Where words do not travel farther than the person who speaks them.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.
Where I only say what I believe.
Where I only repeat what changes me.
Where empty words finally rest in peace.

I want to stand where the echoes stop.

“Be still and know that I am God…” -Psalm 46:10a

 - Erwin Ralph McManus

- JV

let it be known...

September 17 2006

the last entry was not me... not sure who it was... but it definitely wasn't me... probably some poor, lonely freshman who doesn't have better, more productive, things to do...

so rest in peace tonight... ladies and gentlemen

i haven't gone off the deep end!


               - jv

Ribs and Hearts... Lined with Cupcake Icing

September 14 2006

Ribs and Hearts lined with cupcake icing.

As I sit here my ribs hurt.

They hurt because of the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament earlier this week. I took a few hard hits and spills and when you don't usually play that hard… you feel it the next day. The rush of competition and the adrenaline it brings comes with a small price. It may be the "man" coming out in me, but I think it is well worth it! I may feel it the next day, but I wake up knowing that I played hard.

Then, as I sit here and think about it all, my heart hurts.

It hurts for some of the guys I met on the field. Who seemingly embrace everything this world has to offer but in reality only helplessly grope for the wind. The guys who bow at everything one could imagine attempting to fulfill themselves, but walk away empty night after night.

At the risk of revealing my own selfishness I admit to making a couple comments like "yeah, that's why you pay for your friends" when someone would take a play a bit too seriously. But later as I drove home and as I sit here thinking back I look a bit deeper than my surface level selfishness.  

It could be compared to a rich man looking at a poor man and making fun of him as he begs and scrounges for food.

It would be foolish and pointless to stereotype any group of people any certain way so I refuse to.

But it goes further than just that single situation. It's all around us. People attempting to fill their lives with things that were never ever meant to fill them. It's like trying to survive on a diet of only cupcake icing. The icing is the "extra" stuff in life. (A nice house, good food, loving family and nice friends, car to drive, new Bible to carry to church, money in my bank account, being warm at night, etc…) Although we as a western culture may view that stuff as necessary, and inside of these things may actually find our very identity, that's something these things aren't capable of providing. The only thing in this life that will every TRULY satisfy is a relationship with the Creator.

The world who looks so full and satisfied, is actually starving and desperate.

I pray they are lead to the table and are given the ability to feast on the reality of who Jesus Christ truly is.

What am I trying to say here… nothing ground breaking or revolutionary. Just a thought I was meant to sit on for a while.

Somewhere in the midst of the last few nights I was taught something. I was given a chance to see the value of what I have in the face of what others are missing. The gift that identifies me isn't universal, it's personal.

And I thought it was a simple game of Frisbee…

 - JV

Hawaii Revisited

August 21 2006

It's 4:31am and I'm honestly a bit perturbed to be awake. I throw on a shirt, keep my shorts and grab my hat on the way out the door. It's a silent ride to the airport this morning which encourages my thought to drift, something I haven't allowed much lately. I'm on my way to see Aaron Shew and Tyler Haynes off. The long awaited time has come and they are currently in the air on their way to Thailand for NINE months. Their step of faith is inspiring.  

We turned off the airport exit from I24 and I immediately got that sick feeling in my stomach. It's that nervous, anxiousness one gets when they know something big is coming. It's because I've been there myself… about 9 months ago. As I lay in the back seat staring at the ceiling my thoughts started to turn.

I remember leaving everything with no idea of what to expect. I remember leaving my family standing in the darkened driveway; I didn't let them come to the airport because I thought I would be easier just saying goodbye at home. Then came the long drive to the airport with my friend Tracie while the sun rose. I remember praying "Ok God, here I am…" as I watched the sun rise trying to comfort myself and understand that He was completely in control.

I remember how my heart felt when those closest too me got up early to come see me off. I remember how it felt to pray and walk away from them. I remember turning for a last glance and some of them not being "so strong" any more.

That's where the "sick feeling" comes from every time I walk into that terminal. This morning it was dark and early not promoting much conversation which allowed me to think. I've held my thoughts on that season of life tightly captive since it ended, so today has been a new thing for me.

To put what God had for me in one word would be impossible, but the best I can come up with is "desert" The dictionary here in my lovely Microsoft Word defines it as: "a place or situation that is devoid of some desirable thing, or overwhelmed by an undesirable thing." That particular definition may be a bit strong for my situation, but it expresses the idea.

Every single one of us will hit times in life we would consider to be a desert. It's more than just a "dry spell", it's a freaking life-changing, "God where are you?" season where it's all we can do to keep our heads above water. The situation will often be painful and rarely desirable. And hear this… at this very moment we are all at one of three places in life: Headed into the desert, presently in the desert, or coming out of the desert. If you've never experienced the "desert" in life, it is coming.

But why?

That's the non-productive, but human thing to do. We question absolutely everything… so why?  

Check out Hosea 2:14 – 16. In my Bible this passage is labeled "the desert."

14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;
       I will lead her into the desert
       and speak tenderly to her.

 15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

 16 "In that day," declares the LORD,
       "you will call me 'my husband';
       you will no longer call me 'my master.

Now, a few points to help us understand this "desert" concept.

Notice how the word "allure" is used. Most of the time when we find ourselves in the undesirable places of life we think God has banished us here in some sort of punishment. But that isn't even close to what the word "allure" means. "Allure" means "take my hand… I'm going to lead you somewhere. I'm going WITH you!"

Verse 15 refers to the PURPOSE of the desert. There He is going to give something "back" to her and when it's over she will "sing as in the days of her youth"

Verse 16 is where we can get a peace-giving perspective though. It's in this "desert" that our Father "allures" us to where we learn to love him. Here we learn to call him "husband" (as we are the "bride" of Christ). It's where we learn the meaning of true relationship. In this time of undesirable situations is where we learn what it really means to love Him. It's where we grow close to our maker.

Honestly, in the back of my mind, I think I had idea of what Hawaii was going to hold. It's kind of that larger perspective on life we get from time to time where we can view things in a different light. I knew, though I wouldn't have admitted it because that would have scared me, that Hawaii for me was going to be a season of growth and change. I knew things in life would be different when I came back.

I wrote in my journal almost every day I was there. I wrote an entry entitled "I sure hope hindsight is prettier" because what was currently in front of me wasn't exactly a "walk in the park."

What I'm trying to get at is the fact that hindsight IS beautiful. God is intentional and that's where we stand when we find ourselves in the harder situations of life.

Romans 8:28

Jeremiah 29:11

Romans 8:38-39

1 Kings 8:57

Isaiah 40:11  

I walked back into life and nothing was the same. I am not the same. I have experience behind me, a relationship with me, and a peace about the future I didn't know before. Hindsight is beautiful.

May we embrace, in faith, the things that make us stronger.

January 9th, 2006 - airport

January 11th, 2006 - standing on lava

All You Want...

August 18 2006

How many roads did I travel
Before I walked down one that led me to You?
And how many dreams did unravel
Before I believed in a hope that was true?
And how long? How far?
What was meant to fulfill only emptied me still
And all you ever wanted...

Only me, on my knees
Singing HOLY, HOLY
You are HOLY, HOLY

How many deaths did I die
Before I was awakened to new life again?
And how many half-truths did I bear witness to,
'til the proof was disproved in the end?
And how long? How far?
What was meant to illuminate, shadowed me still
And all YOU ever wanted...

Only me, on my knees
And somehow all that matters now is

And all I have is gratitude to offer You

Holy, holy
Somehow all that matters now is YOU ARE HOLY

You are holy, holy
Somehow all that matters now is
You are holy, holy

Only me on my knees
Singing holy, holy
And somehow all that matters now is
You are holy, holy


- Nichole Nordeman "Holy"

Notes From an Evening

June 29 2006

     We wrap our arms around one another and pray in the front yard of the house we've called home, on Thursday nights, for varying amounts of time. In the moment a soft spoken tear wells gently in my eye. In an attempt to hide it I refuse to acknowledge it. As I make my way for my truck it quietly falls, cutting at my pride, as I reach for the door. I turn my back and walk away from something I know will never return.

     With memories tight inside our hearts, the lights turned off, the doors locked and the crowd dispersed, we all do the same. What we know as Atwood Family Fun has now come to an end.

     The night is warm in late June and annoying, repetitious fireworks screech in the distance. I take my seat in what is probably one of my favorite places on this earth and begin to ponder and attempt to concentrate. Tonight my seat faces west, so as I beg a question, I watch the sun set faithfully yet again.

      I beg the 'always productive' question of "why." "Why do seasons change?" I'm completely uncomfortable with it and have never grown to like it. Why do people I love leave? Why do people change? Why do things happen that are so far beyond my control but affect me so deeply? How can a human walk in and out of a life so quickly but leave an imprint on a heart that will be felt for eternity?

     The Atwood's home is only a small example of a season changing and coming to a close. But, tonight, I think it's the thematic concept more than the event that bothers me so.

     I'm drawn back to a passage that's big in my life. It's Hebrews 12:7-11

7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

 8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.

 9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?

 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

 11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

     Someone told me the other night the thing to know about this passage is that the translator got a word wrong. "Discipline" should actually be translated "training." So everywhere we read "discipline" we should read "training."

     All training for the moment seems not to be joyful, but it hurts like crazy, yet those who have been trained by it, afterwards, it yields the PEACEFUL FRUIT of righteousness. (jv paraphrase)  

     Season changing is not comfortable. It seems sooo… NOT peaceful. It is no fun (and it tends to happen rather rapidly in college), but it is all intentional. It is ALL to train God's children into who He has for them to be.

     As the night has quietly slipped up and covered my lovely 'boro for the evening I'm reminded of the trainer and His UNCHANGING faithfulness. Just as He brings the night, He WILL bring the morning.

     So I tuck my memories back in my pocket, close my Bible and Journal, and simply pray. Rest in the maker…

                                                Clinging Yet Moving

                                                                    - JV



June 23 2006

Sometimes life gets crazy... but you can always dance when you know Jesus!

A huge storm... crazy lightning

Job 38:35 (if you can't see it there) Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?"

yeah... we goofed off, got wet and had a whole lot of fun... but there was more there... more than what just meets the eye of cool pictures... the stuff a camera could never capture

stuff inside a heart that scream "DANCE!", "you have something to celebrate", "that lightning bolt that almost killed you... You know the guy who designed and commands it and HE LOVES YOU and HE IS FOR YOU!"

"That desire to dance in the middle of a huge lightning storm... HE GAVE IT TO YOU!"


sometimes life can be no fun, sometimes life can be a lot of fun... but no matter where you are Jesus is holding and HE will NEVER let you go!

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
your perfect love is casting out fear
even when im caught in the middle
of the storms of this life
I won't turn back, I know you are near

and i will fear no evil
for my God is with me
and if my God is with me
whom then shall i fear
whom then shall i fear


I can see the light, that is coming
for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
and there will bean end to these troubles
but until that day comes,
well live to know you here on this earth

You keep on loving and you never let go...

I'll keep on singing!" - Matt Redman


"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither anfels nore demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither HEIGTH nor DEPTH, nor ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:37-39

Can you dance?

Honestly... ?

Sunsets and Journals

June 13 2006

Something only I see, but now you



My journal: May 24th, 2006 – Somewhere over the North Pole


Sunsets,             One of my favorite of all God’s creations. I look to my left and see an amazing, blazing, red depression of the object that gives physical life to the earth. I know God painted this one just for me. I knew it when I opened my shade and saw it. So, I cut off my movie and picked up my journal in an attempt to somewhat preserve the moment.


Tonight we will stay in Newark. As badly as a want to get home, I’m content with only the next stop because it puts me on American soil and out of China. I love the country and the people, but I’m ready for home.


Wow, the sunset reminds me of my favorite Hawaii moments. Observing a sunset that simply stops time and allows God to scream “LOOK AT ME!!!” And I do. I look at that and know that the millions of brilliant colors coming from outer space point to a creator who is passionately in love with me. 


Now, I never even asked to be “romanced” here, but that sets a heart at ease?!


Below is a snow-covered tundra. One I’ve never really seen before. Even though cold and non-receptive the sun still exerts incalculable amounts of energy onto its surface. Makes me wonder if there are times in my life when I resemble the tundra? The sun is still exerting energy, faithfully rising and setting, but the tundra is simply not interested.


Not interested in the life that could be. Simply content being cold, hard, and barren. It’s not an issue of a lack of effort on the part of the sun. The tundra has to look at it rising and setting each day as it lays there stagnantly unchanged. 


May I never be like the tundra. I hope I spend every morning I’m blessed to be on this waiting room, ball of dust, we call earth waking up and draining every ounce of energy I can from the one who made the sun rise and set. The tundra is vast, intricately detailed, and beautiful… but it’s dead, barren, and lonely.


John 10:10 comes to mind

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”


                           Thank you for showing me, I’m ready to go… - JV

Rhythmic Life

May 26 2006

Walking while Chris Martin soothes my thinking mind with lyrics speaking of “igniting bones” and I’m counting in beats of four... the beat does not match up and I find myself disgruntled. Then realizing the song is not written in counts of four, but counts of three. So, mid-stride… I adjust


Sometimes life falls into this… We’re walking along counting in what we did last season or what we assume the count should be only to realize things are suddenly off beat. This takes a slight mid-stride adjustment then things are brought back together and one wonders why they spent so long on the three count when the four was right in front of them.  


“To dance in the rhythm of King Jesus”


Not walk, not abide, not think, not believe, not sing… but to DANCE in the rhythmic life that is lived inside of Christ Jesus alone.


  • To Dance: To move rhythmically, usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures.



    What’s your rhythm?

    What are you dancing to?

    Are you dancing at all?


    What does it mean to “dance in the rhythm of King Jesus?”


    That’s beautiful language

     - JV


    April 28 2006

    So, in a couple hours I board my last plane out of Hilo Hawaii knowing I'll probably never come back. I turn my back to this place and walk out.
    This semester has been crazy but I'm so thankful for it. It held a few things I didn't expect but they were all exactly as God had planned. I leave here with a peace that can only come from Him.
    I'm walking out of one season of life... into a whole new one. And to be honest, I'm not sure what the next one holds, just like I was unsure what this one would hold. But my last 4 months confirm what was on my heart when this picture was taken.

    God is big! He has you in the palm of his hand! He loves you and He is FOR YOU... and if God is for us... who can be against us?

    Praise His holy name!

    Your Glory...

    April 25 2006

    in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness
    be evident to all. The Lord is NEAR. Do not be anxious about anything,
    but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present
    your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all
    understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
    your perfect love is casting out fear
    even when im caught in the middle
    of the storms of this life
    I won't turn back, I know you are near

    and i will fear no evil
    for my God is with me
    and if my God is with me
    whom then shall i fear
    whom then shall i fear


    I can see the light, that is coming
    for the heart that holds on
    A glorious light beyond all compare
    and there will bean end to these troubles
    but until that day comes,
    well live to know you here on this earth

    and i will fear no evil
    for my God is with me
    and if my God is with me
    whom then shall i fear
    whom then shall i fear


    You keep on loving and you never let go!
    Ill keep on singing...


    I can see the light, that is coming
    and there will be an end to these troubles
    but until that day comes

    oh no you never let go
    through the calm and through the storm
    oh no you never let go
    every high and every low
    oh no you never let go

    "Our God reigns, Our God REIGNS!
    forever your kingdom reigns..."

    God will have his glory...

    It's Q & A Time, People!

    April 17 2006

    Ok, just as the title suggest, it's time for a little Q & A.

    It's something some have said and some have not. It's something that, we can agree, is highly misunderstood. It's something that can be highly dangerous but it can be the biggest blessing.

    Time for the question?

     What does it mean to tell someone (anyone) the words "I Love You?" If you say is to someone (anyone, parent, friend, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend), what do you mean by it when you utter those words? If you had to replace those words with some other words to express the same thing, what would they be?

    Not to beat a dead horse, it's just something I'm learning about and I think/know it's something I've misunderstood for a long time.

    What do you think?


    April 12 2006
    "Love is giving someone the power to destroy you... and trusting they won't" - My Friend Blake

    What do you think?

    If I speak in the language of men and angels, but have not love, I'm
    only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of
    prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have
    a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I
    give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but
    have not love, I gain nothing.

    Love is patient, love is kind.
    It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude,
    it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of
    wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It
    always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Love never Fails!

    That's a strong statement, but what a promise!


    Freedom to Write

    April 10 2006

    Freedom can be determination.

    It feels good to feel the freedom to sit and write once


     â€œNow the Lord is the Spirit, and where
    the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
    2 Corinthians 3:17

    I currently find myself in my lovely little house here in Hilo Hawaii.
    I awoke this morning on a different island, Maui,
    but after a quick 7 am flight, I’m back where I began. The weekend was crazy
    and God is faithful. I got a chance to go to Maui,
    so I did. Wouldn’t you if $150 was all it cost?

    The weekend was filled with whales, fish, lots of water, a lost Japanese
    guy named Yuji who was introduced to the Name above all Names (you can pray for
    that), Krispie Kreme doughnuts (praise God), a lot of “chillin”, late night
    conversations, and very little homework done on my part.

    Bet you can't pick out who Yuji is...


    These are from a sunset whale cruise we did on Saturday night. At 30 - 40 tons and 45 feet long, Humpback whales are an awesome creation.

    It was a really romantic setting... with 3 other guys... something/someone was missing, haha!

    I’m thankful for freedom. We serve a BIG, chain-breaking, big axe
    carrying, light-shinning, freedom giving, gracious, loving God; and all the
    darkness in the world, which we are contained in for the moment, TREMBLES at
    the sound of His name!


    “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we
    wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”
    Isaiah 26:8

    I was walking with Kira (L) on campus today and the
    definition of “renown” was “something everybody should know, has no negative
    connotation, and you’re proud of.”
    Pretty good definition if you ask me,
    especially coming from a girl with no concept of the word in its truest form.

    Why don’t you pray for Kira, right now. God is working on
    her heart.

    (Did you pray for a prospective sister, or did you skip that


    Question: What’s you purpose in life? I’m not after a "church
    answer." I’m after an honest one… just honest. When you wake up in the
    morning, what’s the first thing on your mind? As you go through the day, what
    consumes your thoughts?

     "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take
    hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the
    people and a light for the gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free
    captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
    I am the Lord, that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my
    praise to idols."
    Isaiah 42: 6-8


    March 17 2006
    So... i went caving last night.

    we hiked an underground river, for a couple of miles, in the middle of the night... oh the fun to be had in hawaii at night time...

    crazy experience, awesome blessing, photos will come soon...

    She's Here...

    March 07 2006

    yeah, ... she got in on Friday...
    How awesome is that?

    One Weekend?

    February 26 2006
    SO... go head and make me jealous....
    I really wanna know...

    How was one weekend?

    At All Cost?

    February 22 2006

    So, how did tonights "At All Cost" go?

    I'm a long ways away and I really wanna know...

    The Acorn and Me

    February 15 2006

    "If God gave it to me, it's mine. I can do what I want with it."

    No, the truth is that it is our to that Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours lose, ours to let go of- if we want to find our true selves, if we want real life, if our hearts are set on glory.

    Think of the self that God has given as an acorn. It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. God's intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree. God's intention for us is "... the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don't feel that the "loss" of the acorn is a very great loss. The more you perceive God's purpose in your life, the less terrible will the losses seem.  

    Elizabeth Elliot-"Passion and Purity"