there is a fine line between being honest and open and, say, vomiting verbally on a web page. life has recently been a series of difficulties following challenges following crisis. so, to prevent a messy blog i've refrained from writing. but here is my effort to write about one challenge that has left me grateful and worn.

last weekend i was talking to my neighbor when my friend jon tapped me on the shoulder and said, "sunia. chris died." at first i didn't know what he meant. "chris who?" i thought. but jon went on, "chris died. he went sailing and he drowned." and moments later, as the news sunk in, i knew he meant chris lee: the guy who first began to open up to our community through my conversations with him, the guy who bought us all slurpies and could drink his faster than anyone else, the guy who brought crackers and cheese every monday night, the guy who helped me move my furniture, the guy who was at every event we ever had, the guy who just got a great new job - my friend chris.

this was the blow that knocked me to the ground. i was tired. i was mad. but i didn't have enough energy to even try to stand up. in the last four months our community has dealt with three divorces, endured members with unemployment, seen a 30% drop in giving, supported a friend during/after hospitalization, and most recently experienced the loss of one of our own.

thank god for friends and family who pray and surround us with support during times of tragedy. let me say that again, thank god for friends and family who pray and surround us with support during times of tragedy.

in this moment (only five hours after the memorial service) the redeeming truth i have is that our church truly loved chris, cares for his family, and cares for one another. i saw my closest friends sacrifice and give beyond themselves in the past couple of days. i felt the prayers of people all over the country as we grieved. i know that the presence of god is demonstrated through people - i have experienced this truth.

let us love one another. let us continue to be with one another. let us not take any moment for granted or waste another second in strife or anger or resentment. let us forgive. let us live abundantly. let us dream together. and hope. and wait. and truly, truly, truly love.

as the apostle paul write, "i'm pressed but not crushed". i am more tired than i have ever been, but more encouraged too. thank you to everyone and the groves community for supporting me through words, prayer, and labor. i love all of you and look forward to our future together.


The Groves Hit the Trail

Last week, Paul, Trenton, Jon, and I (Chris) seized the wilderness for two days. We backpacked through Eagle Creek, Wahtum Lake, Benson Plateau, and Ruckle Creek. It was my first time backpacking. A bear attacked us, but Jon felled the beast with a mighty blow and we built an altar out of its bones.


"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37 How many times have I read that and thought, "Ok. I believe in Him and I tell Him I love Him pretty regularly" Done and done. (Sarcasm.)

But can you hear in the words of Jesus that loving God should be our everything? What does this mean? How can I demonstrate that I love God? What pleases Him? How can my life be one that is constantly bringing Him joy?

I am beginning to think that this can only happen in community: looking after others, extending a hand (or grace) when needed, encouraging one another to keep going, etc. When we defer to others, when we act to meet their needs above our own, we live in a radically different way than the world.

Actions and Truth.

This morning as drink a cappuccino and munch on a hippie cookie at Dena's Bistro (Clay and Broadway) preparing for tonight's small group I am being set free reading I John 3:16-20:

"This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God! We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God's command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us."

God is so good. And I mean really, really really good.



Two passages. One afternoon at Lair Hill Bistro prepping for the evening.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9


God, our God! God the one and only!

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!

Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

Colossians 3:16-17

Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Two questions.

Can you hear how consuming this God should be in our lives?

What is your response?



God, the one and only -
I'll wait as long as He says
Everything I need comes from Him
So why not?
Psalm 62:1-2

I had a moment of clarity the other day and the words spoken in that moment have been bouncing around in my head for a good week. And by bouncing, I really mean that unsettling-I-can't-stop-thinking-about-it-it-won't-leave-me-alone kind of thing. This is different from the times I ruminate (the word choice is for you, Erik) on a word or phrase and feel truth being absorbed into my system. This is more like a boxing match and I am losing.

The First Round
It started with Psalm 62 (above) that a friend posted on her Facebook page. In that moment while sipping on my french press for the morning I realized there is no other thing to "do" but wait. So much of what I do is out of my own restlessness and impatience. I started asking myself, "What matters?" More importantly, "Who matters?" and "What is this waiting thing all about?" After all, I have a 6 year old and a 3 year old - surely I've got this patience thing down. Turns out...

The Second
This round has been a long one. It is largely made up of me taking lots of swings and punching the air. So I haven't made any real contact, but I'm really tired out! (It's almost like my opponent let me come to the end of myself.) I'm thirsty. I'm irritable. Nothing is satisfying. I am indecisive and insecure. I'm saying things I don't mean to say. I doubt. At this point, I just want Him get it over with and knock me out.

The Knockout Punch(es)
Inside I am frazzled and desperate. I think it's beginning to show. So I turned to what I always turn to: worship.

I started singing this song (based on John 5:19, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.")

Where You Go I Go (YouTube link)

Where You go I go
What You say I say God
What You pray I pray
What You pray I pray

Jesus only did what He saw You do
He would only say what He heard You speak
He would only move when He saw You lead
Following Your heart, following Your Spirit

How can I expect to walk without You
When every move that Jesus made was in surrender
I cannot begin to live without You
You alone are worthy, You are always good

How can I follow Jesus if I don't wait on God? Waiting is being with Him. It is so simple, yet profound: Waiting on God and following Jesus is about being present. (Side note, do you see how this becomes fellowship, relationship, and community. ) Is there anything worth doing that isn't lead by Him? And the best part: the task becomes secondary to Him. And in that place of friendship, love and service, is there anything we wouldn't do for Him?

Lying flat on my back I started singing this hymn today:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.



"I don't wanna talk about You, like You're not in the room. Wanna look right at You, wanna sing right to You." - Kim Walker in 'You Won't Relent" -

I've been stuck on the above song for the past 24 hours. As a worship leader there is so much to appreciate about the recording by the JesusCulture worship team: the freedom, the flow in co-leadership, the passion, the songwriting, etc. But what I am appreciating right now is that their worship reminds me of the presence of God in my life - right now. Even as I write this. Even when I heat up my can of soup. Even when Rennick has finger painted the entire kitchen table. (Ugh!)

The reality is that Jesus is right here. Take a moment.

Is there something you would like to say to Him? Is there something He is saying to you?


Finding this stream of worship has also been an answer to a simple prayer I have been praying this week: Jesus, lead me.

Here's the thing. I've found, that if you really make your life about following Jesus you don't have to know exactly where you are, you just trust Him. (And as a side note, you are absolutely engrossed in the Person you are walking with that unless He points something out, you won't realize you're in the middle of nowhere.)

Another thing I've noticed about following Jesus is that walking with Him brings you in contact with people who need to meet Him. Broken and lonely people line the path that Jesus walks. I was telling Paul last night, whether we are reading the gospels and deliberately doing exactly as He did, or if we believe the Holy Spirit lives in us and we follow His guidance, we will find ourselves among the sick and the poor.

Think about it for a moment.

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinner." Matt 9:12-13

We see this as Jesus heals the sick (physical and spiritual) and feeds thousands. We see the life of the disciples following the Upper Room experience as they boldly share about Jesus the Christ and heal the wounded. In Acts 9, we see Peter next to a paralytic and in a room with a dead woman. How did he end up there?

Following Jesus.


Jesus has been calling me, again, to follow Him. So I've been paying attention and listening with greater intensity. Here's what He's shown me this week:

- Gave me an image of He and I walking down a path. He asked me stop and help someone along the way. As He called me to move on, I invited that person to come along and move forward. And she did.
- Encouraged me with a new (to me) vein of worship leaders and church leadership.
- Reminded me to tend to the flame in my own life and "fan into flame" the one in our community. Corrected my laziness in neglecting the inner place, the place where passion grows and where our identity is found .
- Heard His voice every morning to meet with Him.
- Surrounded me with peace and joy.
- Used me, even in all my flaws, to speak His words of encouragement and show others how He is working in their lives.

Can you hear Jesus calling you to follow Him? Whether you are at the beginning of your journey, have never heard His voice before, have failed a million times, or you are a veteran of the faith, Jesus is calling us to follow Him. He will teach us. He will guide us. He will heal us. He will invite others to walk with us.

He will be with us. Amazing.


Silence and Violence

I just browsed today's headlines:

Wife, 3 others slain hours before divorce case
Four shot, 1 dead at Calif. church camp
Deputy dies after shootout in N.C. woods
Interview with 11-year old terrorist

Last week I printed off an article by Ted Anthony of the Associated Press titled, "Has America become numb to tragedy?" He asks the question, "What is happening in the American psyche that prevents people from defusing their own anguish and rage before they end the lives of others? Why are we killing each other?"

His conclusion:

"Forty-three years and countless reams of research and lost loved ones later [after the tragedy at the University of Texas when Charles Whitman shot and killed 16 people], we have not figured it out."

War. The economy. Divorce. Unemployment. Debt. Anger. Hurt. Disappointment. Loss.

This is the place where I find many of my friends - both in and outside of the church. And I have to ask myself a question:

As a minister of Jesus, what do I have to offer?


This past weekend our friends and mentors Chuck and Sally came to teach us the way of the contemplative life. On Friday evening, we heard how the practice of silence and "ruminating" on a passage of scripture would nourish our souls. (As I write I recall Chuck saying one time that "silence is luxurious".) We took time to practice these disciplines. We read the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem on what we refer to as Palm Sunday and imagined ourselves present and wondered what it would have been like to be there with the crowds - chanting "hosanna", feeling the excitement of the Messiah who would certainly now take his place of political and religious leadership over the Jews. (Can you then imagine their disappointment when a few days later he is condemned to die?)

On Saturday we went to The Grotto and spent three hours in silence. It would take an even longer blog to tell you all that I learned from God in those few hours. But mostly, I was reminded that He lives in me, that He has sent me, and that His words are True.

I want more.

Setting aside time to listen to the words of Jesus and hear Him speak was...Life. Peace. Goodness. Warmth. Forgiveness. Grace.


In my last blog I quoted Henri Nouwen who suggested that we often go through life without pausing to ask whether what we do or say is worth doing or saying. We are so occupied with our busyness that we fail to question why or wrestle with our intentions and motivations. As a wife, mother, church planter, and Chi Alpha missionary I can easily come up with things that can be done. I could keep myself occupied for a lifetime and then some. But what happens when I fail to pause and hear the words of Jesus and allow them to wash over me?

Lonliness. Anger. Doubt. Anxiety. Bitterness. Insecurity. Pain.

Ask my husband or my kids. When I don't take the time to hear from God, I'm impatient. I start comparing myself to others. I doubt my call or whether I can hear from God. (Maybe even at times doubt there is a God.) I complain. I feel empty. (And how many ways do I try to fill that emptiness?)

Am I really that different from the rest of humanity? Don't I live in the same world that Ted Anthony or Henri Nouwen experience(d)?

Without the words of Jesus, without His life within me I am as dried up, hopeless, and discouraged as anyone else. The truth is that the roots of war, depression, anger, etc. exist in me! Only by consuming and meditating on God's word (both written and the truth I hear when I listen to Him - words of love and encouragement) do I have the abundant, overflowing life within me that enables me to walk with and into a hurting and broken world. I can then say, "Look! I am like you. This humanity is in me, but so is Jesus. And He is why I have hope." It is only then that I can be motivated by love to give to those in need.


Let me encourage you today to take a small piece of scripture (like, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart") and chew on it for 5-10 minutes of silence. Let the words move beyond an intellectual understanding and truly nourish your soul. I'm not promising an emotion. But I know that God will meet you, remind you of Himself, and He will bring you life.


Two moments. Two different readings. Same idea. Both caused me to stop and consider.

#1. Psalm 130:5 - I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

#2. Henri Nouwen - "There is seldom a period in which we do not know what to do, and we move through life in such a distracted way that we do not even take the time and rest to wonder if any of the things we think, say, or do are worth thinking, saying, or doing. We simply go along with the many "musts" and "oughts" that have been handed to us, and we live with them as if they were authentic translations of the Gospel of our Lord."


Spring break is Godly. I say this because without it, many of us student types would study until our brains imploded (or exploded) resulting in...well, a mess. For me, this break was a forced one. I had to make myself put my new textbooks back on the shelf and reach for "Twilight" to flush my brain of last quarter's readings and not "get ahead". I went to bed later than I should have, and let the kids run around the house freely for an hour before I got myself out of bed in the morning - not just once, but for most of the week. And in those moments of laying there doing nothing, I wondered, "Shouldn't I be doing something?"

I did some cleaning, some music searching and listening, and explored my new neighborhood (which btw, is amazing...I found some nice trails up to OHSU). I also did some songwriting, which is how I happened upon Psalm 130.

I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Waiting. This implies patience. Maybe even determined perseverance. And, wow. That sounds like work. And I'm on break.

But here's the thing. God was nudging me. It's like not drinking water for so long that you're past the feeling of thirst - it's something you've just learned to live with and expect - you don't remember the taste or feel of water. It's like being in a desert for so long, you forgot what the color green looked like. Hearing from God, for me, was like that. And honestly, in my own desire to not be one of those emotive Christians who felt everything, I was trying to balance experience with understanding and knowledge. (But you know how pendulums are. Swing one direction...and there you go swinging wide the other.) Anyhow, Psalm 130 crept up on me and reminded me of my own thirst and confronted my belief. Can I really experience God? I have the Bible, but does God speak to me? Were my previous experiences "collective effervescence" (when I'm with others) or a self-induced emotional made-up thing in my head (when I am alone)?

I will wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

These are the words of someone who knew that there was only one source of hope. And they would wait until they heard from that source. This need wasn't the kind of need that was satisfied from yesterday's words or even words spoken in that one great moment of the past. This was written by someone who believed that the Lord would speak today - and in those words there would be hope. Wow. To consider that in my place of emptiness or brokenness or doubt (or joy or peace or...) God could speak - here and now - and give me hope. It's limitless and personal all at once.

Two things happened. I wanted hear God (faith and acknowledgement of need) and I was aware that much of what I was doing to distract myself from my "thirst" was not noble or worthy, but simply stuffing.

There is so much more to say (when God acts, there are so many layers - His word reverberates throughout time and space) but I will close with this wonderful thought.

God loves. He speaks. And He gives us hope. Let us pause and consider a God who we can wait for, whose words give us life, and is speaking to us.


**Students** we meet ON CAMPUS!

Our main gathering is on Sunday at 10:30am at University Place Hotel. We worship and experience God through music, the teachings of Scripture, taking Communion, and reflection.


Tuesdays - "1748" meets at 1748 SE 12th @8pm.

Wednesdays - Prayer and Worship downtown at the Harrison Tower Apartments (SW 2nd and Harrison). 7:30pm.

Saturdays - 58:10, a group of people interested in justice and Jesus meets at 9:30am at 2725 SW 1st Avenue.

Sunday nights - Perfect for families or those in the SW suburbs. Meets in Tualatin. Contact for more info!


We believe our faith must be expressed through community in order to fully be a witness of Jesus Christ to the world around us. We love and like one another growing in relationships through our families, small groups, and one on one discipleship.

We are passionate about the study and teaching of the Bible. We believe it to be the authoritative guide for Christian thought and living. The Word equips and sends disciples. The Bible shows us that the influence of the Holy Spirit enables us to live as witnesses to the world. We love to talk about God anywhere and anytime.

We worship freely and authentically in the beauty of our Creator. We express joy and pain, and everything in between, while remaining committed to our role as worshippers. This does not dismiss our circumstance or situation, but corporately exercises our belief: God is ever-present and above all.

We love Jesus. We believe a profession of faith in Christ should lead to an authentic desire to follow in His ministry and mission. We embrace Christ’s example of relieving suffering and opposing the oppressive forces corrupting humankind. We value sacrificial service, to the Church and the world around us.

We believe individual and corporate contemplation of God and His Holy Scriptures transforms us. On that foundation, we recognize that some beliefs matter more than others. Therefore we value dialogue, desiring and diligently working for an atmosphere where people from diverse perspectives can disagree on theological or ideological matters but be unified by their common faith in Jesus Christ.