Wednesday, July 31, 2013

there is no other


There is nothing in this world that can snap my soul out of discouragement and faithlessness the way the simple radiance of my God can. For the second night in a row, He graciously drew my wandering heart back to Him with the colors of a beautiful sunset, reminding me that He is the holy Most High, He is in total control, and He is good.

“… I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me….”

Isaiah 45:5-6a

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

so much wonder



From the rising of the sun to its setting
The name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations;
His glory is above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
Who is enthroned on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in heaven and in the earth?

Psalm 113:3-6

I see the vibrant brushstrokes of a sunset like this, and I am breathless, wordless. Yet the Bible says that to God, looking upon something earthly—even as magnificent as twilight over the mountains—is an act of humbling Himself. His glory is above the heavens; He is enthroned on high, holy, beautiful, and incomparable to anyone or anything else. To come before His throne is not a right that I deserve, or even a privilege that I earn. It is a gift of grace—and it should leave me in the silence of undefiled awe.

Sunday, July 28, 2013




The mellow golden light of dusk + two happy horses… I missed this.

Friday, July 26, 2013

views from the interstate



It didn’t quite hit me how long I’ve really been gone until I took a roadtrip with my family to the west side of Washington for my grandmother’s memorial service. My memories of the diverse Washington landscape had dimmed more than I realized—I had almost forgotten how the scenes progress from arid ranchland (currently enveloped in the smoke of a large and growing forest fire) to the lush irrigated valleys of the east side, followed by the craggy Cascade foothills and, finally, the quiet majesty of the highest point in the Pacific Northwest region—Mt. Rainier. All this just from the lanes of the freeway! What secrets must all these acres of farms and mountains and forests hold, once you really get to know them? I want to find out one day.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

there and back again



Tonight, there are no lightning bugs. I don’t sense the heavy, relentless warmth that I’m used to. Instead, I can hear the poplar leaves clapping softly outside my window and smell the cool, dewy summer night breeze. The moon is full and its light causes a soft glow on the snowfields of Mt. Adams. I’m back again—after a full eleven months away, save the three weeks I spent here at Christmas.

I’m back again, and it’s terrifying, really. For the first time in my entire life, the foreseeable future is utterly…unforeseeable. I don’t know what I’ll be doing tomorrow, let alone in the coming months and years. There is no one telling me what time to be at class or when to attend staff training. There is no certificate, no recognition, no paycheck to mark the end of one project and the beginning of another. In a way, I feel like I’m falling. I’ve leapt off the cliff and am suspended in midair, waiting to meet the ground… but I’m not really even sure what that means.

I want structure and control, and can sense myself trying to create them. Trying to keep busy with unpacking and reorganizing, writing to-do lists and day schedules. Trying to drown out the uncertainty with music and conversation. Trying not to think.

I’ve gone far away to a place of strangers. I’ve battled two solid months of homesickness. I’ve learned to make friends and build relationships. I’ve learned to let those friends go and put effort into staying in touch. I’ve learned to start over in a new place, to make new friends, and eventually to let those friends go as well.

I’ve learned how to go. Now I just need to learn how to come back.

Monday, July 22, 2013

dear martinsburg



Dear Martinsburg,

I feel like I didn’t really get to know you as well as I wanted to. I spent so much of my time at camp that you got badly neglected by myself and my camera. But I want you to know that what I did experience of your quiet single-stoplight streets and rolling wooded hills was beautiful. I like the way you let cars pile up behind tractors and Amish buggies. Your peanut butter fudge ice cream in decorated waffle cones is pretty much the best thing I’ve ever tasted, and you’re satisfactorily close to a Sheetz, a Walmart, and a Sweetfrog without being too “city-ish.”

But all those things count for little compared to your people. If I could base my perspective of the world solely on the people who live in you and in your neighbor Roaring Spring, it would be completely unrealistic. The generosity, the care and the love, the acceptance that I’ve gotten from nearly everyone I’ve come in contact with has been phenomenal. In the short weeks that I spent here, I made friends of an unbelievable quality, and the best thing about them is how much they adore my Jesus.

One last thing. You, dear Martinsburg, played a vital role in raising up one of the best, most beautiful people I have ever had the privilege of knowing: my beloved roommate, Hannah. Thank you for the part you played in shaping her to become the woman of God and incredible friend that she is. And thanks for sharing her with me.

I’ll miss you, Martinsburg and rural central Pennsylvania… but not as much as I’ll miss my Pennsylvania family. I love you all.




Saturday, July 20, 2013

twilight over the cove



Today was my last full day in the Cove before I head off to Philadelphia and fly home. I’ve only been here for about fifty days, but I almost feel like I grew up here. I feel like I was raised in the Stern household with seven siblings, with Grandma and Pap hardly a stone’s throw away and with a plethora of cousins and church friends and people in my life who are living with abandon for Jesus. There are times when I can almost believe that the girl who grew up in rural southeastern Washington is someone else entirely.

But she’s not. I know that when my flight lands in Portland, I’ll wake up from this two-month dream, and though I may feel disoriented at first, I will remember exactly who I am. I’m Hallie, the middle child of five who spent the first eighteen and a half years of her life on ninety-two acres of beef cattle pastures and hayfields in the Pacific Northwest, under the shadow of Mt. Adams. I’m Hallie, the adventurous one—the one with a tendency toward wanderlust, but who will always come home in the end. I’m still the one who gets too attached, who never forgets, who hates goodbyes, and who is quick to get lost in the world of her own thoughts.

God has been ridiculously good to me. Just the fact that I get to spend the rest of my life (and beyond!) with Him makes me so unbelievably excited.


Sometimes we will die and sometimes we will fly away
Either way You're by my side until my dying days
And if I'm not there and I'm far away
I said, “Don't be afraid.”
I said, “Don't be afraid.”
We're going home.

“Taxi Cab”
twenty | one | pilots


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