Tuesday, February 25, 2014

the Tuesday ten

Ok friends, it's about time I introduce a little weekly special to this blog. For some reason, Tuesday has always been my least favorite day of the week. So in thinking about how to be more consistent with my writing and my committment to this blog, I figured I should give a little love on my least favorite day. This little feature will include a random list of things I'm learning, loving, and listening to. I hope you enjoy it! Here goes nothing.

1. "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong United
Cannot stop listening to this song. Acoustic, radio version, album cut; it doesn't matter. Absolutely love it.The lyrics are definitely the cry of my heart.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the water
Whereever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

2. Celebrating marriage.
No, I'm not getting married. But I consider it an honor to stand with friends who are, and just tonight, an old and dear friend of mine asked me to stand with her. I can't wait. :)

3. Downton Abbey

I'm about to watch the season finale (which came way too soon, in my humble opinion). This season has been cray, to say the least. Lady Mary is growing on me. I still miss Sybil. And Thomas just needs to quit lurking.

4. Third graders.
My class is absolutely adorable this year. I love them so. Today, one of my kids told me that he "goes out with the girl from Frozen." Seriously?!

5. Running.
I'm training for the Chick-fil-A half marathon right now, and the time spent pounding the pavement has been nothing short of therapeutic.

6. Snow days.
We got three snow days a couple weeks ago, and let me just say that I enjoyed every. single. minute. (But I'm also ready for spring?)

7. This book: Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider
Absolutely fantastic read. I was so encouraged and challenged by everything in this book, and it spoke so deeply to desires and convictions I hold as a result of living abroad and coming back to the frenzied crazy that is America.

8. Bacon.
Need I say more? I've been putting it in like, everything.

9. Friends-old and new.
This weekend I was immensely blessed to be able to spend time with two of my oldest friends, along with my sister. Good times were had by all.

10. Memorizing Scripture.
One of my friends told me that she memorized the entire book of James as part of a Beth Moore Bible study, and I decided that I wanted to do the same. I love it,  and the Lord has already brought Scripture to mind just when I needed it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

on gathering and running your race

So there is this place I like to imagine. A place where the body of Christ works together in harmony as Jesus intended. A place where we take care of our own and reach out to the lonely and the forgotten. Where we laugh deep, cry hard, and savor often. It’s called community. And the Lord has been speaking to me about the importance of it lately-how it cannot be replaced or faked.

Community is of the utmost importance when walking with Christ. We need each other. I am an extrovert. I crave to be around people and thrive in one-on-one quality time spent with those whom I love. It energizes me and gives me the strength I need to push through and keep on keepin’ on. And yet sometimes, I want to go it alone. I don’t want to need anyone. I am strong and capable on my own. Until I’m not.  As believers, and especially as women, we have to remember the importance of gathering together. Of encouraging one another towards the pursuit of our dreams and holiness. If not, how will we move forward outside of our own striving?

Last weekend, a couple friends and I sat down to watch the simulcast of a women’s conference called IF: Gathering. The premise was a simple question: “If God is real, then what?” How do we live if God is who He says He is? Should our lives look any different if we say we believe the Bible is true and infallible? I sure hope so. Many amazing women shared during this conference, but one woman truly stood out to me. Her name is Bianca Olthoff, and she is a speaker, blogger, and activist for the A21 Campaign, which fights human trafficking in various countries worldwide. The focus Scripture for the weekend was Hebrews 12:1-2, which says

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Y’all know I love to run. Yes, I’m so slow that I should call it jogging, but that’s beside the point. These verses in Hebrews give us the push we need to keep going. We are not alone. And the fight is worth it. We need each other, and we need Christ. How else are we going to win the prize?

I’ll leave y’all with  an excerpt from Bianca’s closing prayer.

We are whole-heartedly devoted to the purpose and calling God made for us and we have no intention of letting the world define us because we know who we are:
Humble fighters, dedicated runners, and strong and mighty servants of the living God.

In Christ we are courageous.
In Christ we are confident.
Our heart is steadfast.
Our purpose is immovable.
We are always abounding in the work of the Lord.
And our potential is unlimited because the limitless God lives within us.

We will run.

The cross before us, the world is behind us.
We’ll never turn back.
We’ll never give up.
We’ll never settle.
We’ll never stop short.
We will press towards the mark for the prize that is already ours.

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation shall be able to separate us from our God.

And if our God is for us, who in HELL can be against us?

We will run.

Read the whole prayer here.

Grace and peace to you, friends. 

P.S. Happy Valentine's Day. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hey friends!

Bloglovin is a wonderful way to keep up with all of the blogs you read in one place. If you'd like to follow me at Bloglovin, click on the title link and add my blog to your list. :)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

on poverty...and other things

So there is this thing called poverty. It’s unfair, it’s unjust, and I hate it. Why should I be able to count my many blessings night after night when others don’t have a place to lay their head? Jesus Himself was homeless, so I feel as though His words in the New Testament come from a place of personal experience and true empathy rather than a charge made just because it sounded nice. He said that “the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” And yet my entire life, I’ve never been without. And um, newsflash, I’m a little lower than Jesus. He’s like, infinitely greater and beyond me. Times a bajillion.

Yeah, there was a time in my family where we didn’t always have as much as we have now, but we were still fine. More than fine. Completely and totally blessed. My parents made things work. I didn’t really know the difference anyways. And now that I’m a “young professional” and all (sometimes I don’t even remember how old I am, and I really barely feel like an adult. Anyone else?) I see how difficult it is to resist the temptation to consume more more more. It is a crippling thing, this society we live in. There is always a push for more.

Let me be real. I’m a teacher. I don’t have a master’s degree. I haven’t been teaching for very long. So I’m kind of at the bottom of the totem pole. But the so-called “little” salary I make is still- a salary. With benefits. Read: blessed. And yet, I, at the bottom of the American ideal for what is financial success, make just about enough to be in the top 1% of the world. Top 1% in the WORLD, people. That’s insane. Ridiculous.

So what can I do about it? I’m coming to this place where the Holy Spirit is stirring within me. I can’t continue to be comfortable and justify my materialism. Mary Oliver says, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” He’s asking me to act on what I say I believe. I say that I believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God. Inspired and breathed by His heart. Living and active. All that we need. And yet I live like the American dream is my Bible. It is my truth. Do more. Get more. Be safe. Be comfortable. Don’t get messy. Protect your stuff. But I don’t want that to be my story. I was made for so much more. And so, I will continue to press in. To ask of Him, what is it You want me to do with this life You’ve given me?

I don’t want to spend my life serving the saved and blessing the blessed, as Jen Hatmaker says. Because while that is all well and good, and it’s wonderful and cozy to have our holy huddles, it’s not at all what Jesus envisioned when He told us to make disciples. He said that others would know us by our love for one another. With so many battle lines drawn by denominations and music preferences, we’ve got a ways to go. But the bride of Christ is beautiful and broken and redeemed and ready. We’ve got to champion Christ. He is our everything. And He is worth giving everything. Because He did the same for us.


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