Looking Back on 2017

Dear 2017,

You have been something else. You swept in, all high on hope and dreams, and promised me many things.  Some have come, others have not. And that is okay.

You have taught us, as humanity, many things.  I want to thank you for reminding me of  the people I really and truly need. My circle has dwindled from a gaping oval to a tiny little circle, and for this life -of -the -party extrovert, it hasn’t been the  easiest  transition. I’m learning some people come into your life for a season, and others stick around for the duration, and both are okay.

You taught me I am capable of more than I thought I was. I traveled to the Philippines  by myself,  I got a job as a translator, I moved out into my own apartment, and probably more things than I can think of right now.

When pushed out of our comfort zones, we often surprise ourselves.

I learned not to judge so much. Friends come to us from all different places, and our job is to be light and love, not analyze and compartmentalize. I’ve had some major surprises this year, and whereas in the past I may have been too close minded, this year I have learned to expect the unexpected.

I learned The Office is the best television show of all time.

I learned my parents and my brother and sisters are really the best humans out there. I think I already knew this in 2016 though.

In 2018…..

I am learning to say no.

I am learning to say yes.

It’s all about timing.

I’m learning to forge ahead and not wait for someone to come along. God has a plan, my job is to keep moving forward.

I’m learning to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn.

I’m learning I am not as together, organized, or as sweet as I thought, and that’s ok. I’m a work in progress, and so are you, dear reader.

 

My prayer for us in 2018 is that our joy would be secure in Jesus, not in the shifting waters of this world. In the midst of trending topics which make our heart sink, unexpected endings and beginnings, divorces, job changes and new marriages, our hope can be secure.

Truly.

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, All Other Ground is Sinking Sand.

 

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I Think I Might Have Lied Yesterday

I Think I Might Have Lied Yesterday

I said something yesterday, something I’m  not sure I meant. I  had rushed into the hallmark store to escape the sudden onslaught of dreary winter rain. While I was mindless browsing through the jewelry, the proprietor made a dull comment about the weather. I (too) cheerfully responded, “I love the rain,  because it brings the cold! And I love the cold!” He harrumphed, and said, I can’t wait for summer. I hate the cold. Again, too cheerfully, I said, and this might have been the lie, “I love whatever season I’m in.”

Do I really? Do I love the seasons of harvest, of  bounty, where it’s good vibes and good times, do I love those days, and do I love the dead of winter, where I am having my own personal snow storm in the midst of my friend’s perfect, endless summer?

Do I love the seasons of painful, spring growth, where I am stretched beyond my limits, forced into the sun, forced to grow, forced to change?

Do I love the seasons of unanswered prayers just as I love the seasons when the rain falls plentifully and it’s frightfully easy to say, “Lord, you are good!”

Do I love feeling the endlessness of dreary gray days as I look outside my window to see my friends skating gleefully without me?

Do I really count it all joy? Do you?

This is my goal. To be unshakeable, immovable in my joy, no matter the temperature or the  heaviness of the garments I must wear. To be ready, in season and out of season, to help others, to serve others, to find joy in my heart for others receiving the blessings of the season I wish I was in.

My times are in your hands Lord. You have me in just the season you want me to be. Because your love is better than life, I will have  joy, rain or shine.

 

Our Great Privilege 

Another day. Anther atrocity. 

I turn my eyes from broadcast news, wince as I look into the eyes of those who have lost loved ones. Again. 

In a different city. By a different person. With a similar evil in their heart. 

I can’t watch it anymore. I was not made to bear this kind of grief. We were not made to bear this load. 

How do we have joy in a time where sorrow would love to be our constant companion. 

I believe I am reading a series about World War 2 at a very timely hour. 

We are not the first generation to wake up with hearts sunken in as evil appears to triumph from sea to shining sea. 

This is life. This is the world we live in, without Christ. 

We can expect nothing less from those who hate God, those who blaspheme God, those who choose self day after hellish day. 

I do not watch the news because it does not help. 

I do this. 

I smile. I choose joy day after hellish day. I fill my lungs with hope and dream of the future, Even as I marvel at those who dared to hope amidst the horror of the holocaust.

What a privilege that we are alive in this hour. To share in Christ’s suffering, to feel a tiny prick of persecution. 

I refuse to speak curses over my country, this world. 

I refuse to live in fear, to remain at home, paralyzed. 

This is the day the lord has made. His joy is my strength. There is evil, but he has overcome the world. And even as the early church awaited with great expectation the coming of Christ our savior and redeemer we await him now, and take joy in the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

These are beautifully tragic days. These are days we get to choose Jesus. Days we get to wake up and know our security is found in him and him alone. 
I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. – Anne Frank
“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:1-12‬ ‭

Hope!!!

Hope!!!

Before I finish my lunch break, I have to share this little thing on my heart.

Its changing my walk with God. It’s changing how I see people, and it’s really not complicated, but if you will take hold of it it will mark you and strengthen you.

Bill Johnson says “Hope and hopelessness are both contagious. Choose the influence you would like to have.”

I want to spread hope, friends!

This world needs hope, more hope than we can even begin to imagine. People are scared and anxious and sick and unhappy and discouraged, but I’m not!

And there is only one reason… because I have been  filled with hope by the hope- giver and I can’t help but spread it like confetti.

I used to be scared of telling people about Jesus, specifically strangers, but if I remember that I LITERALLY HAVE JOY AND PURPOSE AND A REASON TO GET UP, how can I not talk to strangers all the dang time about this person who makes life abundant and joyous and ok when it’s  not ok.

Suddenly for the first time I’m not scared to go up and share what I feel the Lord has given me for them because I’m not selling a product, I am offering the one thing we all desperately need.

We have this hope and He is an anchor to our souls and we no longer are bound by what’s happening around us because we are too distracted by what’s going on in us!

It’s not complicated theology or a set of rules or a weird thing you have to say, it’s hope, and if you will wake up each morning and ask God who you can give hope to that day, I can tell you from experience, your days are going to get interesting.

We have no excuse to be discouraged or down for more than a few minutes because we have this hope…and we know God is good and he is working it all out. We should be the most amped up, excited people on planet earth because we have this hope.. this world is not our home!

 

Go spread some  hope today!

The Birth Control Issue

As an advocate for adoption, family, the unborn, and children in general, I have not yet arrived on my perspective on the whole idea of birth control.
I have an especially hard time with the idea that we as a country would be mandated to provide it for free.
From what I have read about the newly enacted mandate, this policy will only affect a small percentage of women. Approximately 120,000 women may be forced to pay for birth control whereas the vast majority who are currently receiving free contraceptives will continue to do so. Even still, I am perturbed.
So here’s the question, is birth control a human right? Is the access to contraceptives a liberty women are owed? Are we anticipating a rise in unplanned pregnancies as a result of this mandate, therefore increasing the number of children which may end up orphaned or in foster care systems?
Wouldn’t it be better to give the ladies free pills so they won’t have children they can’t provide for?

To me, that’s a very depressing question to ask.
It would seem some are encouraging conservatives to lean left on this issue because we are pro life, so as a result we believe these children should be born, but we don’t want everyone to be dependent on the government and so by not providing birth control we are creating a problem we wish to avoid all together.

These seem like Band-Aids that cover a

gaping hole.

Last night I went to a fund-raising dinner for a pregnancy center. Together we took a stand for adoption and family and caring for those who have no voice. We committed to empower women to choose life and to choose adoption if they feel they cannot parent.
Even as I was moved and grateful for the beauty of adoption, I thought about how I wish this birth-control issue didn’t exist and that everyone would just keep their pants on until they got married.

That way, children would be born into families, they could stay with their biological parents, and we would all live happily ever after. In this perfect world, there would be no need for adoption or foster care or pregnancy centers, because everyone would be making the right decisions.
As I considered the ramifications of this perfect world I was imagining, I realized outside of heaven this will never exist. We can’t fix unplanned pregnancies with birth-control, we can’t fix unplanned pregnancies with sex education, we can’t fix broken families with birth control, and

we can’t fix our mistakes with abortions.

 

The only one who can cover and heal this gaping hole and are very broken society is Jesus. And even as that is my hope all will come to know him, the Bible clearly tells me that not everyone will choose that. So how do I live in a world full of temporary solutions, knowing full well there is only one solution but also knowing full well many will turn from this One who has given everything, risked everything, lost everything, and been accused of everything. For us. For you. For me. For the joy set before him.
I am fed up with politics, because politics doesn’t factor Jesus into the equation. They see a problem and they want to slap a Band-Aid over it and hope it fixes the issue, and even as I am a voter and I have to pick a side, I am burdened, knowing my side will not bring the restoration I desire.
So how to proceed. I’m not really sure. I suppose the best way to move forward is to choose Jesus every day, and when we encounter someone who is lost and alone and uncertain of where to turn, maybe instead of considering our political stances, we should see them as a person in need of a Person. I know this doesn’t fix the debate, but maybe it will help us change our perspective a little.


“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:1-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

To my future children:

Dear future children,

Some people are saying I should stop dreaming about you. They are telling me, decidedly  even, that the world is getting too evil to think about bringing children into it. All around me, they are saying we should stop dreaming. Just like that. Turn a key, close a lid, shove under the bed a lifetime of dreams and hopes and plans. They are saying we should stop traveling, stop going to concerts, stop going to sporting events. Stop, stop, stop, everywhere. Look both ways before you cross, and then turn around and don’t even cross anymore, just go back. Don’t dream of the future because there is no future because it’s all imploding.

Maybe they’re right.

But I don’t give up that easily.

I can’t merely cease to hope, to imagine, to find purpose and meaning in my days. I can’t just wait for it all to go up in flames. It goes against who God has created me to be, and I think it goes against who God created them to be too.

You see, I believe you’re going to happen. I believe you’re going to arrive in this big beautiful world, wide-eyed and innocent, just as I did. I believe I’m going to spend lots of effort teaching you about this world I’ve grown to love so very much. I believe I’m going to tell you about the God who spun it  all into motion, the one who is holding it all together, yesterday, today and forever.

There will be days I have to tell you bad things have happened. And I’ll figure that out when I get there. But I’m committed to this one thing, hope, and it’s an anchor in my soul.

I have this hope when I wake every morning and I see God has painted another sunrise, and so I know He’s not finished with us yet.

I have this  hope when I see someone give sacrificially to someone in need, and I know he’s not finished with us yet.

I have this hope after a day so perfect my face hurts from smiling, so I know He’s still  not finished with us.

16422206_381659682195008_8429689888390296818_oI have this hope that in the midst of really dark days there is a light shining brighter still, drawing people to it at lightning speed.

Guys, I think you’re going to have a great life. I’ll help it be as amazing as I can.

And who knows, maybe you’ll never happen, but I have this hope..

 

 

Voices

Lately, I have been thinking about voices. Who are the voices we allow  to speak into our lives? When we get on Facebook, we are allowing hundreds if not thousands of voices to have an active role in our conscience and our emotional processing.

Many of us fall asleep mindlessly scrolling through social media, crowding our mind with voices of dread and fear and negativity.

And we wonder why we struggle with anxiety and depression.

A few weeks ago everyone was afraid for their safety in Thomasville. Now everyone is scared for the hurricane. We are so quick to assume God must  be judging us, but we haven’t listened to HIS voice at all.

If the voices in your head are telling you the world is falling apart and nothing is safe, and God hates us and so does Trump (😉)listen to this voice instead:

“The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

‭Psalm 18

Wait. I thought God was angry. ?? Y’all. Don’t you know if God was angry he could do a  whole lot more than send a hurricane ?? Don’t you know he could wipe us out in a millisecond ? Don’t you think God is bigger than a storm? Could it be as these days are upon us he is waiting and pressing and pursuing and hoping against all hope we will turn to him in distress rather than cling to our own pathetic attempts at control?

There is nothing new under the sun. Bad things have been happening since day one. People have been awaiting the end since the beginning. Being scared and hiding out won’t change that.

Here’s our invitation.

Drown out, silence , do away with voices that don’t know what’s going to happen.

Tune into the only voice who holds the future, holds you.

The Bible is full of incredible stories  about a God who used crazy acts of nature to draw people to him.

Do you believe God is good or are you more worried about your plans ?

It’s all going to be ok. I’ve had to get to this point and you can too.

Repeat to yourself: God is good. God is good to me. God is drawing us to him. My plans are ok to change.  I am not in control. The weather channel is not in control. The news is not in control.  I have the awesome privilege of being a child of God, and so I can speak to the storm and tell it to be still. I am a child of God.

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